Washington State head coach Mike Leach joined The Jim Rome Show on CBS Sports Radio Tuesday and described the scene in Pullman after the 16th-ranked Cougars sealed a 30-27 victory over No. 5 USC.
“Well, the whole stands exploded and all of the sudden I had about 40,000 best friends out there,” Leach said. “There is kind of a tangible energy there, so I mean it was just a blast to be a part of, all the colors. We kind of get clouds that sort of come around the stadium, just a great night for football.”
Yet there was more to the weekend for Leach than just celebrating his biggest win since coming to the Pacific Northwest. The victory was the product of an entire week of preparation.
“It was a really exciting game and I thought we had a real great week of preparation, and as we prepared there was a lot of energy around, because you were playing the Trojans who are a great team and all that stuff,” Leach explained. “Of course, we won, there was kind of a mission accomplished (feeling) to it.”
But with a College Football Playoff berth still possible, and the Cougars in the running for a Pac-12 championship, Leach had to make sure that his team savored the win and moved on to the next challenge.
“The tough thing is were playing Oregon this week. So you don’t get much time for it,” Leach said of the celebration. “So we’re pretty well past the USC win or we should be. I mean if we’re half as mentally tough or disciplined as we think we are. We’ve got to be fully invested and focused on Oregon because we play them, and they are an extremely high quality team. They’re extremely fast like they always are, and they’re a real explosive team. And it’s at Autzen, so were excited about that one. So yeah, the thrill a minute quality that goes around here, makes it tough to really relish the USC game as long as we might like to.”
As Leach tries to take his team to a place they haven’t been, he uses the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots as an example for his team. Leach talked about the sign that hangs in the Patriots practice facility that reads, “Don’t Listen to the Noise.”
“Obviously they’re going to hear stuff on the outside, and you know, I get a ton of advice from my relatives and friends on all the things that we need to do or things we could do differently and the rest,” Leach said. “Football time is football time. So if it’s a meeting or a practice, we’re just locked in there for that period of time. And kind of practice it in a fashion as if you’re on the sideline, you’re about to go out there, you are mentally locked in. So if it’s a meeting or a practice, no noise—it’s just football time.”