It has been an interesting first season for Washington State football coach Mike Leach.

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The hire a year ago of Mike Leach by Washington State was itself a shocking development. And Leach made sure the surprises didn’t stop there.

In what was mostly a season of shortfall on the field and tumult off it, WSU lurched to a 3-9 record in 2012, worst in Leach’s 11 years as a head football coach.

By itself, the football action was less than inspired. But it was away from the stadium that Leach grabbed headlines with regular firestorms.

Some of his senior leadership, he said, had an “empty-corpse quality.” He said, “Hell, no, they’re not tough,” referring to his wide receivers. He banned Twitter accounts.

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After a 49-6 rout at Utah, he lashed into some offensive linemen for an effort he said at times “bordered on cowardice.” And he ordered both lines out to face the media, which hadn’t requested them.

A night later, during a tough conditioning workout, standout receiver Marquess Wilson walked out and quit the team, eventually lodging charges of physical and verbal abuse.

The good news for Leach: The all-but-dead Cougars rose up from an 18-point, fourth-quarter deficit to stun Washington, and weeks later, a WSU panel cleared Leach of the abuse charges, finding him “firm, fair and consistent.” A Pac-12 investigation, which has engaged a law firm, hasn’t rendered a verdict.

What’s next? Serenity off the field. More touchdowns and less turbulence. Or so Leach hopes.

Bud Withers

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