Everybody knows what pirates hate more than anything: ninjas. But it's a less well-documented fact that --much as, say, Georgia hates Florida more than anything but still desperately wants to beat Georgia Tech -- pirates also despise the lifeless "walking dead" creatures known as zombies.
Which goes a long way towards explaining why college football's biggest pirate aficionado, Mike Leach, chose such a colorful metaphor to describe some of his seniors' listelessness in the face of Washington State's disappointing 2-4 start. Per the Spokesman-Review, when asked about his team's senior leadership Tuesday, Leach said this (emphasis added):
“I think it's mixed. I think some it's stellar. I think [receiver] Gino [Simone], Gino's a guy elected team captain this week. Came from not playing hardly at all to elected team captain. A lot of it is just he's kind of accelerated his focus and effort. Some of them have been great and some of them have been very poor. Some of them have had kind of this zombie-like, go through the motions, everything is like how it's always been, that's how it'll always be. Some of them quite honestly have an empty corpse quality. That's not pleasant to say or pleasant to think about, but that's a fact. That's why it's been necessary for us to have the youth movement that we've had.”
Clearly, the move to Pullman hasn't done anything to take the edge off Leach's trademark candor.
But as refreshing as the talk about zombies might be in this era of coachspeak pabulum, was it the right move? Charlie Weis has taken plenty of heat this week for yanking his seniors out of a practice (among other things), potentially tuning them out for the rest of the season. Might Leach's stinging comments -- and his palpable disappointment in their reaction to the regime change from Paul Wulff -- likewise cause a rift in the roster and the further mental checkout of his seniors?
Maybe, but whereas Weis seems to be telling his seniors he simply doesn't need them anymore, Leach at least appears to be trying to light a fire underneath them before giving up on them entirely. Whether it works or not remains to seen, and of course comparing them to zombies is a highly unorthodox tactic. But when has ever Leach ever opted for the orthodox?
Photo by James Snook, US Presswire