Hello Followers. Hope you’ve had a great week.
Today’s post is one of the more difficult ones I’ve had to write during my time on the blog. But, in light of the information included in the report submitted by Bill Moos to President Floyd two days ago, I feel compelled to offer a few thoughts which I’m sure will be controversial.
Followers, whenever controversy breaks, being a blogger is no easy task. After all, the WSU Football Blog is a fan blog. And because of that, we always encourage each other to fire away with opinions or thoughts whenever they come to light.
That said, writing for a blog that has a significant readership (and 500-2000 readers a day is significant in my book) is not devoid of personal and/or social responsibility. Because we have the potential for thousands to read us on any given day, we always have to be careful not to unduly hurt the people and agents of Washington State University, our diverse readership, or ourselves.
And so it is with a fair amount of trepidation that I pursue the following commentary about the Marquess Wilson report. However, in light of some of the issues presented in the report, I feel compelled to offer an honest assessment of how I would view these issues and events were I not a diehard fan of Washington State University Football. So, here we go.
For starters, I wish to acknowledge the most basic facts at hand. First, the evidence suggests that Mike Leach DID NOT ABUSE his players.
This is no small fact for WSU or for Leach given the fraudulent abuse allegations which led to Leach’s ouster at Texas Tech. Let me say this again: The facts are conclusive that Mike Leach was NOT involved in abusing any person or agent associated with Washington State University.
The second fact that came from the report is that Marquess Wilson withdrew the claims of abuse stated in the press release issued prior to the UCLA game. This admission also is significant because it shows, as many of us suspected, that the emotions surrounding Wilson’s decision to leave the program got the best of him and his family.
Both of these central facts are keenly reflected in the thesis advanced by our friends at CougCenter this week. Their point: No one was going to win this thing from the beginning, no one won in the end, and because of that, its high time to put the whole thing to bed.
Although I applaud the message, balance, and restraint offered by the Cougcenter authors, I cannot support the entirety of their view when I consider key aspects of the report from a perspective other than a WSU alumnus or fan....
Notwithstanding the vital importance of the facts highlighted above—facts which I have purposefully placed in bold to highlight their critical importance—when I read the admission that football/strength and conditioning staff used water to spray players during sandpit exercises, well, my heart sank.
I mean, not only was that news beyond what I expected, it struck a chord in me that I try to avoid at all costs when writing on this blog: My role as a faculty member at a major research university.
Followers, if I heard that an employee of my university, be it a faculty member, a staff member, or a member of the Athletic Department sprayed water on student athletes as punishment (or as a means of instilling discipline or “toughness”), I would immediately look to talk to the Provost as well as the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, and I would be far from alone. And frankly, I wouldn’t be demanding additional investigation on the matter, I would be asking for the dismissal of the person or persons who were involved in spraying that water. The reason: All universities have very stern policies regarding student hazing—and those policies are in place for student-to-student conduct.
Simply put, there is NO TOLERANCE in any public university for university sponsored agents or employees to be involved with hazing students in ANY capacity. And truly, it is very difficult to make an argument that spraying water on kids is an established “best practice” for enhancing the capacity of students to play BCS-level football. It just reeks of hazing.
Beyond focusing on the actual perpetrators of water-spraying behaviors, I would also ask the Faculty Senate and/or university administration to investigate the conditions in which the perpetrators’ superiors allowed them to remain in good standing with the university following those incidents.
In other words, if an Assistant Coach (be it a position coach, a graduate assistant, a trainer, or a strength coach) hazed a student without the prior knowledge or consent of the person in charge (e.g., the head coach), my expectation would be that, upon learning about the actions and behaviors in question, the person in charge would immediately take severe disciplinary action upon the perpetrator. Absent such action, I would assume (a) Lack of institutional control within the department or program; and/or (b) That the person-in-charge was complicit with the hazing behaviors.
Toward that end, there is nothing in Mr. Moos’ letter to President Floyd or elsewhere in the media that suggests that there was any disciplinary action imposed by Mike Leach upon the coaches and/or trainers involved in hazing/spraying water on players. What’s more, in every press conference which followed those allegations, Leach was explicit in dismissing all allegations of abuse or impropriety within the football program—of which the strength and conditioning staff are a part. And as importantly, he never suggested that there were any incidents or persons which required corrective action. In fact, he snidely dismissed those questions whenever members of the press asked them.
Instead, it appears that it was Mr. Moos that intervened on behalf of players and the university to promote acceptable disciplinary behavior and conditioning practices. And for that, Moos is to be lauded not only for supporting the well-being of his student athletes, but for also taking the bull by the horns and having the buck stop, at least temporarily, with him.
Mike Leach, however, does not appear to have taken such actions upon himself, nor did he stand up publicly for his AD in correcting those behaviors. And because of that, he appears to have—at least implicitly—condoned those behaviors which I fervently believe to represenative of hazing.
And so, to be clear: To the extent to which those incidents happened at my university, and to the extent that the person in charge of that program did not take immediate corrective action regarding the persons in question (e.g. by removing them or suspending them), then I would want that coach disciplined if not fired.
After all, there is no way that I would keep my job if I sprayed water on students as a way of improving their motivation and condition to perform academic work, and you can bet that I would lose my position of leadership if such events happened under my watch as Chair…
Lens #2. The Eyes of a Parent
Just so you know, when it comes to coaching my own kid or watching him play sports, I am not “one of those parents.” But let me tell you, I’m pretty close. I mean, I’m intense. I’m demanding. And oftentimes, I push my kid WAY beyond the limits of what he thinks he can do re: conditioning before football starts in the fall or during winter breaks during basketball season.
And so, while I am not “one of those parents,” I think that I am close enough to the “hard core” label that I would never be described as “soft” or “overly protectionist.”
But, if my kid called me up and told me that he was sprayed in the face with a hose during conditioning drills, I would be beyond angry. What’s more, you can bet that Mrs. Sutra would be on the next plane to wherever to let the AD hear it before she went straight to the press.
To be clear, every parent is bound to have different interpretations of what types of behaviors and/or types of discipline are safe, acceptable, or over-the-line. I’m just saying that if it was my kid, I would be demanding considerable accountability from the man in charge. In other words, absent the immediate firing of the folks who were handling the hoses which sprayed my kid—as well as any other school officials/coaches who sat back and watched it--I would want the coach to be fired, or at the very least, fined.
Finally, if all of these events were happening at a school that my son was being recruited by—say the University of Oregon—I would not want my kid to play for that coach. Plain and simple. That offer would no longer be on the table for him.
Ultimately, this whole thing is one giant mess. And I don’t know that there is a right answer for how to proceed.
To be clear: Mike Leach himself did not abuse anybody himself, nor is there ANY indication that he directed others to administer inappropriate acts of discipline.
In addition, I hope you all know that I do not hate Mike Leach. In fact, I think it would be nothing but devastating to our program to lose him, and I think he offers us by far the best chance of anyone I can think of to restore WSU to winning football.
But if we put the exact same situation or series of events in front of me—in a context in which I have no investment as a fan or Cougar diehard—the facts in question would be more than just disturbing: They would invite a swift and strong corrective course of action. This course of action would involve the firing of any and all coaches involved in the water spraying and, at minimum, a censoring of the main man in charge.
All for now. Go Cougs.
Am I missing something? Moos' report doesn't say anything about spraying water in the face of players. Adam Lewis' only states water was sprayed in the face of players - does not quote anyone (parents, administrators, a source, or otherwise). What did I not read?
Sutra, I think that it is absolutely healthy for you to express the viewpoint above. And I agree with your basic premise that as a parent viewing any activity where my/your child can get hurt to be extremely concerning. But I would like to add a couple of personal points. First, this word "Hazing" is an interesting one to me. My son is currently in a fraternity at WSU and we have talked about hazing - by the way, he did not have a "hazing" experience. You see, when I was in college I was also in a fraternity and I was hazed. Although back then we didn't call it hazing it was called initiation. All that stuff you have seen on TV about college fraternity hazing I know about first hand, but I digress. This whole thing is a mess and I while I hope it is behind us I think not. The whole "water" thing may or may not be considered hazing bt I'm glad that AD Moos stepped in. I'm glad because I think as a teaching method I am not sure of its purpose. Perhaps as a teaching method it could have been done better. Have another way of teaching discipline or effort. Based on the results of this season, it looks like it didn't work as planned. By the way Sutra I am a college faculty member and if I thought "watering" would motivate some of my students I would use it too.
You guys are idiots, don't write this kind of crap if you want a little bit of credibility. I read your blog but your writing is horrible and you use way too many exclamation points!!!
Sutra, very seldom do I disagree with your comments on the blog, but this is one of those rare times. I think you are blowing this out of proportion. You seem to be confusing the proprieties of the class room with those of the practice field. I can’t think of a practice field “punishment” that would be acceptable in the class room and they are generally more rigorous than those in boot camp (basic training boot camp that is).
From the information I have, I believe the water spaying episodes to be just silly and that putting a stop to them was probably a good idea. I was far more troubled by the public criticism of the players (particularly the seniors who had already given 3 or 4 years to the program) than with anything physical that has been alleged.
@sfalconer7 You should be able to get it here:
@Sutra Thank you! I am surprised to see that it is only 4 pages long. I am somewhere in the middle regarding your assessment of the situation. I too work as a Professor at an institute of higher education with a very well known football program. Without all the facts it is tough to determine whether or not the actions of the 'staff' were appropriate. The most disappointing issue is the Moos not Leach was the one who intervened. You also may have a different perspective as Chair, whereas I have only been in this position for approximately one year.
When I first read that the players were being sprayed with water, I originally thought of those misters, the type you pumped up and sprayed on people, but the more reading I've done, the more it seems like it was a hose that was being used. But without knowing the force of the water, etc. it is tough to tell how inappropriate this action was.
Further, I am concerned that there was a conflict of interest with Moos leading the investigation. If he was the one who was required to intervene, an outside agency should have done the investigation to ensure reliability and validity. I have taken a personal interest in this issue as I was a graduate student at WSU, and a Professor of Criminal Justice, so this is well within my research realm (one of which is sports and crime). However, without the proper documentation and evidence I am not sure that we will ever receive a clear picture of the events. It seems like a no win situation.
@sfalconer7 The report shows that the AD is engaged and that there is institutional control. Beyond PR, my sense is that it was conducted/completed to meet that objective...
@Sutra I am interested in reading the Pac-12 report as well. I am curious to see how in-depth it actually is. I was very surprised to see only 4 pages from the WSU report, but ultimately it got to the gist of things. I would be happy to provide any insights that I can. Viewing the situation through different lenses seems like a great idea, not being a father, I do not have those same perspectives on the situation.
@sfalconer7 An independent evaluation contracted out by the Pac-12 conference is forthcoming. It should give a more holistic account of inner workings of the program as well as any relevant critical events.
Personally, the whole thing makes me feel terrible. As a blogger, fan, and alum i want this whole thing to go away. I was just struck by how my reaction to the issues and events of the report changed when I viewed the report through different lenses...
Would welcome insight from you when the Pac-12 report is issued in the coming weeks!
"After all, there is no way that I would keep my job if I sprayed water on students as a way of improving their motivation and condition to perform academic work, and you can bet that I would lose my position of leadership if such events happened under my watch as Chair…"
You would also lose your job if you made your ACADEMIC students run (in any capacity), HIT EACH OTHER (in the football sense, i.e. blocking, tackling, etc.) or asked them to go to the weight room, gain 10 pounds of muscle and lose 15 pounds of fat. The comparison is not relevant.
Would it be abuse to have the players run 5 miles in a torrential downpour? We celebrate this type of conditioning in movies. What is the difference? If the water were causing anything more than temporary discomfort, yes, it would be a problem. If it was making them work harder to achieve the same goal, then it is conditioning.
To paraphrase Leach, this is football, not cuddling.
Also, if 'Sutra' is going to hide behind an alias, why should we give a rip about what he thinks, anyway?
@tmblsn Thanks for the comment.
The only reason why the comparison has any validity is for the precise reason that spraying water on someone's face is orthogonal to both academic and athletic performance. Its that out of bounds IN MY VIEW.
That said, I am more than mindful that there are folks out there who 1000% believe that such tactics are necessary to breed toughness. I just happen not to be one of them. And I think that the general view presented here would hold for most faculty members--whose views, last I checked, are sometimes important to university presidents and their decision making processes (but certainly not always).
@tmblsn You should always be skeptical and/or critical of the views of anyone, irrespective of their moniker, title, company, etc.
In any case, you've clearly caught on that I am, in fact, a dryer lint salesman. And my real name is Denny Blaine.
Congrats on that...
Sutra raises some good points, most of all though it's all in the detail of what actually happened. If guys were getting sprayed in the face with the intent to basically fuck with them, then that's wrong. Whether Leach knew about it or not, action should have been taken when those details were discovered.
If they used a hose to wash away some vomit and some it it might have kicked up and gotten on a player or whatever, then it's nothing to be worried about. But that's the point - WHAT REALLY HAPPENED!? Do we actually know without any doubt the what, who and where on all this? One report you see it was spraying guys in the face in the sand pit and you picture boot camp or a prison or torture/hazing. The next you see that Moos says that it wasn't done in the sand pit?
I just don't know what to believe. Message board comments, Deadspin, guys hearing things in and around Pullman, it just goes on and on. I really want to see the third party investigation wind up and that report get released so we can see it from a group of people with no agenda, hidden or otherwise. That seems to be the only way to get to the bottom of all this. It's not that I don't trust Moos or President Floyd, I believe they have done their jobs. But I can picture in my mind how those 12 players who are really young kids and not an early-40's adult like myself might have answered questions when asked by higher-ups in the department vs. an independent third party. Whether it's fair or not, I just tend to believe that people will often skew some of their answers towards what they believe the person on the other desk wants to hear, and an internal investigation always seemed like it could be prone to something like that. But I really want to see the Pac-12 report before commenting further.
It is my guess that the letter is tied to AG Wasseem, Spencers dad. He has been referring to this letter for months and has stated that he has spoken to Leach and Moos about his concerns. Mr. Wasseem also runs a recruiting service in Florida and has a vested interest in that some of the players he placed on the team have since left.
Great post Sutra. I'd heard grumblings about this hose thingy a month or so ago that came from the mouth of a parent; actually, I was told about it during the UCLA game. However, I heard the hose had been used to wash the vomit that was on the sand, off of it. I'd never heard that these kids were being sprayed in the face as though they were pledges at the Delta house or prisoners at Guantonamo. That being said, there was that email that came out in the public record's request, it appears to be written by a parent or player. Unfortuantely, with names redacted, we will never know who wrote it. My guess, a player or parent of a player who was kicked off the team, and we all know what those people's intentions can be. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I haven't read anything that's indicated players were actually waterboarded during conditioning, like this one email claims. While we know Moos intervened and eliminated the use of the hose, all we know that's confirmed is that it was used at The Beach, not necessairly in the way this one email claims. While obviously not a parent myself, I think it's better checkulate, before you speculate. Remember when Wilson's allegations came out about abuse, people (Longball) were clamoring that Leach was acting out of control, and it proved to be false, from the horse's mouth not more than 3 hours after accusing Leach of abuse!
@LucasNurmi For the record, I "clamored" about Leach's behavior before the MW letter and when the letter came out I referred to it as "potentially libelous".
@LucasNurmi I did checkulate. The facts are pretty well spelled out in Adam Lewis' article as well as the Moos report proper.
The bigger issue, I think, is whether or not folks are content with the fact that Moos himself handled the issue,
I am not, but it is obviously 1000% fair to think differently...
I didn't see Cougar Lew's article. I too would have appreciated our coach to have handled the situation instead of our athletic director. Does Adam's article spell out that Leach knew what was happening or was the issue first brought up to Moos?
Found the link. http://tinyurl.com/d9xre5p
Lewis said players were sprayed in the face. The Moos quote below makes it sound like he doesn't actually know. Damned glad he put a stop to it.
“It was, as I understand from my sources, getting sprayed on the players at times, whether that was on purpose or not or whatever. I felt that was something we didn’t need to do. It wasn’t necessary to achieve the results. Once I became aware the water was being used, I stopped it.”
@LucasNurmi Good question. I don't know.
I couldn't disagree more with your position on hosing down the athletes. Iirc hadn't the practice ended in earlier October. Up through the middle of that month we had been having exceptionally warm weather. Between the benefits of helping to cool players down I can see the added benefit of instilling toughness by having to work harder due to the weight added to gear from the water. Let's not forget mqw has had an attitude issue since last spring. His actions that he elected to take the week leading up to the UCLA game were his decision. Now he has to accept the consequences. He let down his team mates and himself by quitting, and much worse the fans. Not to mention the detrimental light he voluntarily elected to shed WSU in will his blatant lies. Cougs support cougs not someone who quits and turns their backs on one.
@350zcoug You make some great points about instilling toughness and not quitting on your team. That being said, the only thing this has to do with MQW is that the details came out in the report about him. That being said, if players clothes were getting wet, that's fine by me. If a player is getting blasted in the face with water, from a hose only 6" from their face, that's a completely different beast.
Anyone who has been to the beach knows it tougher to run in dry sand than wet sand so why would coaches or trainers be using water? None of us were there when this took palce so it's all specularion on our part. What I will say is IF the hoses were used to wash away a players lunch left in passing, so be it. IF in the course of said washing, some players were hit with water, so be it. IF players were deliberately targeted, I'M NOT OKAY WITH THAT!
Brother Sutra, you are absolutely right on this one. That would harassment and potentially abuse and I really think anyone participating in such behavior should be deciplined...severly!
@350zcoug you're not crazy. There is no evidence which suggests Leach authorized the treatment. So, he is NOT responsible for the actions of others. He is, however, charged with responding to things that happen outside of his presence. And that is where the debate lies. I appreciate the tone in which you levied your disagreement.
@Ambush184 @LucasNurmi I agree with none of us being there to see what the practice of the hose was. I sincerely doubt it would be any sort of a high pressure or fire hosed used on the athletes. It just seems like there has been a culture change with this staff and there were players that didn't want to accept or be a part of it. They wanted the status quo that had been in place from the previous staff. Call me crazy, but I'd be highly suspect that with the history following cml that he would allow or engage in any such acts that'd possibly cost him his reputationor job .