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July 25, 2012
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. - When you put the 12 head football coaches of the Pac-12 Conference in one venue and give the media about half a day to pull aside anybody, there's bound to be a memorable line or two.
The conference had its Media Day Tuesday at Universal Studios' Gibson Amphitheater, at the same time formally introducing four new coaches among the group to the reporters who cover the league.
We met the quirky personality of Mike Leach, who has apparently already taught his players the art of playing along and adding to a confused writer's error for a laugh. When the first-year Washington State head coach was asked about the quarterback position but mistakenly identified as "coach Price," signal caller Jeff Tuel said, "Um, well, I'm 100 percent healthy ? and I'll hand it to coach Price."
And in seamless fashion, Leach started his answer: "On behalf of coach Price ?"
And that was just the first question. Talk about winning over the crowd immediately.
So, then, the questions started to intentionally match his off-the-wall persona. The topics included Civil War generals his players best compare to and which coach in the league he would take hunting.
"Good question. Let's think about that carefully because we don't want to get this one wrong," Leach deadpanned. "Rich Rodriguez has spent a lot of time in West Virginia so potential rub‑off there. I'm not as familiar with - let's see, I have it down to a playoff, Rich, and Kyle Whittingham is definitely a good one. Colorado, I'm not so sure what his hunting skills are.
"I'm going to give the nod to Kyle. He's sandwiched between a bunch of mountains, surrounded by them, and he's been there for a while and fairly certain - and he's a tenacious guy. So I think that if you were to go hunting in Utah, Kyle would be the key guy to have around.
"You know, I would have to say that Jeff (Tuel) would be a little more like Stonewall Jackson. Gets ahold of the play, attacks from different angles."
Meanwhile, fellow first-year head coach Rodriguez had his own tongue-in-cheek moment when he let it be known how grateful he is of the previous Arizona coaching staff's decision to redshirt quarterback Matt Scott and help ease his transition as he installs the spread-option offense.
While Scott was addressing how "humbling" an experience it was to sit back and watch the Wildcats last season without being able to contribute, Rodriguez found a moment to chime in.
"Best decision that coaching staff made, redshirt Matt Scott last year," Rodriguez said. "Unfortunately he's here with us."
Then, in the individual media session portion, Rodriguez was asked about his first depth chart, which debuted in the team's media guide that was released earlier in the day. Just one problem, however.
Rodriguez - as well as Scott and linebacker Jake Fischer, as they each pointed out to GOAZCATS.com - was unaware there was even a new media guide or that schools still produced physical copies. So, forget the fact that Mickey Baucus was moved from left to right tackle, according to the depth chart inside.
"Oh, is he?" Rodriguez joked.
As much fun as both new coaches are off the field, Rodriguez and Leach also are bringing a pair of offensive schemes that are expected to put up a ton of points on the scoreboard.
But nobody will know how high scoring that matchup will be until 2013 because the teams will not meet this year. Seriously, Pac-12, you couldn't find a way to get these two on the same field in Year 1?