PULLMAN, Wash. -- In the wake
of a tumultuous week shrouded with controversy after the fallout of the
Marquess Wilson allegations,
Mike Leach and his players met with the media on Monday afternoon to
discuss the lingering distractions within the Washington State football
As expected, the focus centered on Wilson's exiting remarks which
accused Leach and his staff of "verbal, emotional and physical abuse" -
the latter carrying the most weight and concern. Following a
pattern we've seen over the course of the week, Leach defiantly refuted
Wilson's claims and wanted to focus on players that were still members
of his football program.
"They're all categorically denied," Leach said when asked about
Wilson's accusations. "There's no truth to it at all."
The players are also sharing the same sentiment, alluding to the fact
that there is, under no circumstances, abuse occurring within the
program. Offensive lineman Elliot
Bosch denied any abuse and had encouraging words for
his coaching staff.
"They're trying to change the culture, they're pushing us very hard
like a good football staff should," Bosch said during his press
conference. "They're treating us the way a coaching staff should
treat their players."
When asked whether he thinks the team would have benefitted from being
coached this way in the past, Bosch quickly agreed.
"From the team standpoint I think it would have been good for us,"
Bosch said. "Some players respond to it differently getting
pushed hard to be successful, so I can't speak for everyone, but I
think it would have been helpful for us."
Wilson's stepfather, citing hearsay in an interview with the Seattle
Times, claimed that there was physical abuse that occurred in the
locker room during halftime of the Utah game. Leach has
previously denied those rumors and Bosch did the same on Monday.
"Basically, coach Valero came up and he had the O-line and D-line come
up and he was just trying to get us fired up and he grabbed some guys
by the chest plate," Bosch said. "He just wanted to look us in
the eyes and see if they really wanted to be here, if they were here
for the right reasons, if they wanted to win."
Leach also commented on the Utah halftime rumors.
"Typical locker room stuff," he said. "I can tell you with
certainty that nothing inappropriate happened."
It's clear, based on remarks made by the coaching staff, Leach and a
handful of players do not share the same point of view as Wilson, who
is directly accusing the staff of 'physical abuse,' which is a matter
that needs to be investigated for the sake of everyone involved.
On Sunday, Washington State University president Elson Floyd released a
statement concerning the recent debacle and stated that the University
and the Pac-12 conference will conduct two separate
investigations. Senior quarterback
style="font-weight: bold;">Jeff Tuel made it clear that this
entire ordeal, coupled with the recent investigations have not, and
will not cause any distractions.
"It's not a distraction for myself or the team, we've got to move
forward," Tuel said. "We're not worried about that, we're not
going out on the field saying Marquess wrote a letter. It's not a
distraction for myself and this football team."
Tuel also mentioned that neither the Pac-12 nor the university has
approached him in regards to the investigation.
Leach, who as you recall, has been embroiled in a similar controversy
at his previous stop in Texas Tech, continues to flat-out deny any type
of abuse under his watch.
"We have don't have anything to hide around here," Leach said when
asked whether the pending investigations will cause any
distractions. "I don't know anything about it, haven't talked to
anybody about it, don't care about it."
"Basically, I think he [Floyd] wants to dispel all the falses and I
have no problems with that," Leach concluded.
The overall vibe during the press conferences was upbeat. The
team is focused on their upcoming road trip to Arizona State and is
determined to finish the season on a strong note.
With their performance on Saturday night, this football team showed
that they are not a locker room divided. There are still players
on this team - and it seems like it's the majority of them - that are
adhering to this coaching staff and want to be a part of this
turnaround. After being publicly criticized for their extreme
lack of effort against Utah, they certainly bounced back with pep in
their step against UCLA.
Though their comeback bid fell short, the team knows they're getting
closer and proving that, despite a winless conference record and riding
a seven game losing streak, they're still fighting to win football
games amid turmoil.
"I thought we gave our best effort," Leach said. "Now we need to
sharpen that up a bit."