football Edit

Fact or Fiction: Mike Leach went too far in calling his team out

Mike Leach
Mike Leach (USA Today Sports)

National recruiting director Mike Farrell and national recruiting analyst Adam Gorney tackle three topics daily and determine whether they believe the statements or not.

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1. Washington State coach Mike Leach went too far

Farrell’s take: FICTION. The Washington State head coach called his team fat and dumb among other things after yet another disappointing loss this past weekend and many people are outraged. My response to the outrage crowd — deal with it.

Anyone who has played or been around football has been called much worse by head coaches and it’s used as a motivational tool. Leach knows what he’s doing and he’s not fat shaming or dumb shaming or whatever other terms people like to use — he’s sending a message. He wants his team to step up and work harder and respond to adversity better. Keep doing you, Coach Leach.

Gorney’s take: FICTION. There’s a saying in sports that a team is a reflection of its coach and if anyone is to blame for Washington State being fat, dumb, happy and entitled, it’s Leach. I admire Leach for giving an honest assessment of his team - it’s certainly not the first time - and I still believe he’s one of the best offensive minds in college football but he was basically criticizing himself and his coaches by calling his players those things.

Did he go too far? No, not at all, but his comments are really a reflection of his poor job coaching his players and not the players themselves.

2. Greg Schiano could return Rutgers to respectability

Farrell’s take: FICTION. If the former Rutgers coach is re-hired after the firing of Chris Ash, many Rutgers fans are hoping he can start keeping players in state and recruiting Florida again. Schiano led Rutgers to heights they had never reached before and haven’t come close to since, but now Rutgers is in the Big Ten and in a nasty division.

Having success in a watered down Big East is one thing but success in the Big Ten against Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State and others is a different animal. I just don’t see Rutgers breaking through anytime soon.

Gorney’s take: FACT. In his last season at Rutgers, Schiano won nine games. Into his fourth season with the Scarlet Knights before getting fired, Ash had won eight games during his entire tenure. That is an incredible stat and to my eye that means Schiano can rebuild the Rutgers program once again into at least a respectable program and a place that’s tough to play.

There is a ton of talent in New Jersey and the border states to make the Scarlet Knights interesting again. Ash was a disaster, going 8-32 and making Rutgers a laughingstock. When Schiano took over, he turned the team from 2-9 and 1-11 in his first two years to 11-2 a few years later. He can do it again.

3. Not enough people are talking about Penn State.

Sean Clifford
Sean Clifford (Steve Manuel/BWI)

Farrell’s take: FACT. Ohio State has already won the Big Ten according to most, Michigan gets all the attention because of how Jim Harbaugh is struggling and Wisconsin is in the news after a huge win over the Wolverines. But let’s not sleep on the Nittany Lions who just dominated a pretty good Maryland team and have one of the best defenses in the country. If anyone is going to give Ohio State a run in its division it’s Sean Clifford and Penn State.

Gorney’s take: FACT. In full disclosure, I’m a Penn State grad so I keep a close watch on the Nittany Lions and I have been very impressed by the team this season - except for the Pitt game - and especially on defense. Against Maryland, Penn State’s defenders were flying all over the field, playing loose and making plays. Clifford has been a big surprise this early and the offense looks great, too.

But a lot of big challenges are coming up especially with Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and a tricky Minnesota team all in a row. Going to Ohio State late in the season is going to be difficult. Although the Buckeyes are head and shoulders better than everybody in the Big Ten, with a potent offense and an aggressive defense, Penn State at least has a fighting chance to win the division.