Every morning, the fine folks at Sports Radio Interviews sift through the a.m. drive-time chatter to bring you the best interviews with coaches, players, and personalities across the sports landscape. Today: WSU has banned players from tweeting.
Mike Leach joined KJR in Seattle with Ian Furness and Jason Puckett to discuss why he banned his players from using Twitter, Washington State fans' reaction to the decision, his efforts to rebuild the Cougars' program and if everyone's a little to sensitive these days.
Why did you ban your players from using Twitter?
"Anything that's a distraction out here, we're going to eliminate. And, for the time being, we don't have Twitter on this team. It became a distraction; a couple guys were a little irresponsible with it. We just want to focus on football and academics and so it's really about as simple as that. Quite frankly, between various colleges and the NFL, this really isn't something new under the sun. It may be different for how we started this year, but there isn't anything particularly dynamic about it."
How much of it is about it being a distraction and how much of it is about making sure your guys represent the university well?
"I think it's both. As representatives of the university, it can elevate into a distraction. And the thing is, I think we just need to be smarter with it. I can't say that there will never be Twitter here. We certainly started the season with it. And then it developed into a distraction, so now we don't have Twitter. At some other point, we'll revisit it."
On a segment of the fan base that isn't happy about the decision:
"Those that don't agree with it, I don't know what their professions are, and I can't say that I wouldn't offer advice on their profession if they asked me, but I certainly wouldn't expect them to follow it if they didn't think it was in their best interest because they know more about what they're doing and their situation than I do."
Has taking over this program been more challenging than you anticipated?
"Difficult to say. I knew it would be challenging; every year is challenging. Even my best seasons I've ever had were challenging. … That's kind of what's exciting about it to begin with. I can't say it's more challenging than I thought. We're a team that's pretty good at making plays. We're a team that needs to learn how to win. We've had several games where we've made enough plays to win, but there's not really the context of those plays. There's an expectation that exists with the team that is winning and knowing how to win is literally skill and that's one we need to develop. … The other thing that's exciting here is we're a young group, so every time you go out there, you see stuff that you didn't see the day before."
How hard is it to change the culture and mindset?
"We have a little too much woe is me. We have a little too low of expectations of ourselves in some instances. And we're too easy to resign ourself to, ‘This is how it's been.' Well, there's not going to be any change if you accept that this is how it's been. The thing is, we have to be able to transcend that. And, really, the mindset of our younger players, overall, is a little healthier."
Is the public too sensitive in how you can talk about a student-athlete these days?
"I don't know, don't pay much attention to it, just worry about what I have to deal with from one day to the next as far as improving. But tough teams that expect to win generally aren't sensitive teams. And, as a team, if we are sensitive to that, then that's something we have to work through. The other thing is is you're never really going to be able to address problems unless you're honest about problems. And so candy-coating problems and issues that we have I really don't think is the answer, nor do I think it's very healthy for us right now."