Following allegations that came out earlier this month stating that he mistreated his players, Washington State head coach Mike Leach was feeling the heat going into an in-state rivalry game with Washington on Friday.
The Cougars may have cooled hot-seat talk with a 31-28 OT win over the 25th-ranked Huskies, but Leach's job isn't completely safe.
Looking at how his team has fared on the field in 2012, it's easy to see why Leach could be sweating bullets. The Cougars were 3-9 this season, which included an eight-game losing streak leading up to the Apple Cup matchup against Washington.
Washington State finished dead last in the Pac-12 North for the second straight season at 1-8—worse than 2011, when it finished 2-7.
Leach's hiring was met with big expectations in November of last year, but this season showed no improvement from 2011.
Add in the fact that this is the second time Leach has been accused of abusing his players, and you have a presentable case for him to be fired.
In December 2009, Leach was suspended indefinitely at Texas Tech, pending allegations that he mistreated Adam James.
Since then, Leach's appeal was rejected in a wrongful-termination lawsuit against Texas Tech, and the issue faded in the media soon after.
Now that Leach finds himself in yet another abuse controversy, the Cougars may be forced to let go of the head coach for fear that his presence may stir up legal troubles in the football program.
At the moment, Leach is denying accusations that he abused players, and no further reports have come out stemming from the investigation.
Instead, Leach is proclaiming that 2013 will be an "offseason for the ages", which leads many to believe that he will in fact be the head coach of Washington State in 2013.
Until the investigation is complete, I find it hard to believe that Washington State would fire Leach after just one season. As far as his coaching, Leach was given little to work with in terms of experienced players—the Cougars played 17 freshmen this season.
For Leach to turn around this struggling football program, it's going to take more than one try.
Besides, Washington State put a lot of faith into Leach when it signed him to a five-year, $2.2 million contract. And while it's not a guarantee he'll last through 2016 with the team, the university has plenty riding on his contract, which made him the third-highest paid coach in the Pac-12.
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