Mike Leach already making an impact for Cougars

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In Pullman, they’re buying a lot of tickets, asking a lot of questions and making a lot of commotion over the Wednesday hire of football coach Mike Leach at Washington State.

“It’s been crazy,” said Chris Walker, WSU associate athletic director for development. “It’s been nonstop. The phones have rung in our office, and down in the ticket office, we’ve had tons of emails, we have interest in premium seats.

“I was wondering (Wednesday) night when the fervor may die down. It hasn’t died down today from yesterday.”

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At midafternoon Thursday, the Cougars had some 350 new season-ticket holders and added $170,000 both in tickets and ticket-related donations.

“It’s been a crazy day here,” said Paul Finn, director of ticket sales. “We’ve had calls from Texas and Kansas, saying, ‘I love Mike Leach, how can I donate?’ We had a person from Texas who wants to donate $3,000.

“We’re getting new people interested who hadn’t been interested.”

A spokeswoman at the Bookie, the student bookstore, said it has ordered a new shipment of Leach’s biography, “Swing Your Sword.”

“What we had in stock has already sold,” she said. “We have a lot of requests.”

Walker looks for another bump in interest next week, after the Cougars introduce Leach at a Tuesday news conference.

“The fan base is stirred; it’s excited,” he said. “It’s not just calls to make donations, but emails of congratulatory support to Bill (athletic director Bill Moos), and ‘How can I get involved, how can I help?’ “

The buzz has been significant among football players, who learned only Tuesday that Paul Wulff had been fired. Twenty-four hours later, Leach was named.

“That really helped us players and the people in the program just kind of get our spirits up,” said quarterback Jeff Tuel. “People are real excited for what Coach Leach is going to bring to the program.

“We can’t wait.”

Asked how he thinks the rest of the Pac-12 Conference might be reacting, Tuel said, “I think they’ve got a little fear to ’em — I would. With the things he’s done in the past and some of the athletes we have at this university, it’s going to make people think about us.”

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com

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