Coach Walden Interview

I talked to Jim Walden last week BEFORE the latest developments in Pullman. You’re probably aware of those developments – Marquess Wilson quit the team Saturday night, citing physical, emotional and verbal abuse from the coaching staff.

Then on Sunday, WSU president Elson Floyd called for an athletic department and Pac-12 investigation into Wilson’s allegations.

You say cluster, I’ll say bleep.

Anyway, keep in mind that I talked to Walden BEFORE these things happened and wrote the following story late last week…

Jim Walden is not happy with the way that Mike Leach has publicly criticized his players since replacing Paul Wulff as coach of the Cougars this year.

A former coach at Washington State himself, Walden supported Wulff and did not think a coaching change should be made. He still feels that way.

Walden was on the Cougar football radio broadcasts for many years until this season but still follows the team from his home near Coeur d’Alene.

“I’m sick of the word ‘change’ and all this talk about changing the culture,” Walden said. “I didn’t think we needed to make one, and now with this change, we’ve given up our decency as Cougars.

“This guy (Leach) represents everything not to do in coaching.”

Walden said he has heard from “umpteen” coaches who believe that Leach has crossed the line with his public criticism of players. It reached the breaking point last Saturday when Leach forced his offensive and defensive linemen to meet with the media to explain their sorry play in a 49-6 loss at Utah.

“The coaches are asking me: ‘What’s going on? This guy’s a joke,’ ” Walden said before continuing.

“I know I didn’t take 10 teams to bowl games, but I played football for many different coaches, and not a one ever tried to destroy my dignity. I grew up in the South. No one can mistreat you more than football coaches in the South. I was brought up in that environment, but none of ‘em ever tried to take away my dignity.

“In less than nine weeks, the school that I hold dear, to watch a football coach take away dignity from the entire football program…”

Walden’s voice trailed off, but his feelings were clear. He still thinks it was the wrong move to replace Wulff in spite of his 9-40 record.

“You go back one year,” Walden said. “We fought ASU and Utah tooth and toenail. Nobody saw the football team fighting its ass off. They were playing hard for Paul Wulff, and you’ve got what you got now. We’ve got to listen to the AD talk about changing the culture and letting the football coach do whatever he wants to do.

“The last coach they let do whatever he wanted to do, they just removed his statue.

“Everyone wanted to fire Paul Wulff. If Paul Wulff had said any of those things that this coach has said, where in the world would he be today? They would have skinned him alive. Yet this coach can do whatever he wants to do.”

Walden used to yell at his players too. He also used some colorful words when he met with reporters, one time saying “the Cougars got run over by a mo-ped” after losing a game to an inferior team. He put his players through rigorous workouts the following week.

“Football players will take a browbeating,” Walden said. “You can holler at ‘em. But don’t do what he’s doing. Don’t denigrate ‘em. It violates every rule in coaching.

“I don’t know who this guy is, and I don’t care if he goes on to big wins and big seasons. I don’t want to be around someone who treats people this way. I can’t sort out being a Cougar and being around this guy. I’m proud of the Cougar way and how Cougars operate and the culture of which they are. He’s embarrassing my profession. He’s taking me somewhere I don’t want to go.”

Walden knows it’s a polarizing issue and recognizes there are a lot of Cougs who believe that Leach is doing what’s necessary to build a winning program.

“If this is what the new Cougars are all about, I’m glad I’m an old Cougar,” he said.

Walden has been in contact with Wulff, who’s an assistant coach with the 49ers.

“He’s getting barraged with phone calls from parents who are so disappointed and frustrated,” Walden said. “It’s breaking his heart. It’s just a mess.

“I said since day one (when Leach was hired) that it would set us back, and that was before I found out what a weird dude he was. I’ve been upset since last December and I don’t see myself feeling any better for awhile.”

48 Comments

  1. newcoug /

    Us “new Cougs” demand accountability and won’t tolerate quitters. We enjoyed the most successful teams in WSU history during our tenure as undergrads, including multiple Rose Bowls and top ten teams. I support Leach 100 percent. He is shaping a winning culture at Wazzu and I look forward to watching us return to our winning ways.

    • winning ways? 10 bowl games in 117 years…. a long history of average and a few good years…. WSU will never compete and Leach will never even take them to a bowl game. He’s a terrible coach, TT went to bowl games the 3 years before him and the 3 years after him…. he’s nut job.

  2. Walden’s a joke. Wulff continually publicly criticized his players and the previous staff. Leach’s criticism starts with himself, then goes down the pecking order to his assistant coaches and, finally, the players. He has not singled out any singular player. This isn’t a nursery school. Grow up!

  3. 72-109-7. WSU doesn’t need to change the culture? I guess it depends what type of tradition the Cougs want to have.

  4. mike jones /

    Good call Jim….Leach is a joke…As a Husky fan I jad a great deal of respect for Wulff…Leach, not so much…It was very sad to see Travis Long brought to tears by his coach.

    • Patrick /

      Of course Husky fans respected Wulff, they kicked his ass every year.

      • Huskyfan here,

        You guys were a formidable opponent in every conference game I recall you playing last year, with the exception of at Cal.

        Utah was lucky to escape with a victory. UCLA was lucky to escape with a victory. If Tuel doesn’t get injured, you guys would have bene a bowl team.

        Look at this year.

        Nice coaching change. Lucky to have found two teams on your schedule worse than you, and your recent publicity has people feeling sorry for Craig James again – if such a thing is even possible.

    • rugbydad /

      Travis Long left in tears because the lose meant he lost his last chance to play in a bowl game.

    • I thought Wulff was a schmuck. He was no different than Ty. He always placed blame on the players and never himself. He wasn’t trustworthy, in my opinion. But, I am very unclear what you get with Leach. I understand his message but his delivery is awful. Calling out members of the team in public is brutal. I think he should keep it in house. I don’t mind that he had an extra brutal conditioning practice after the team gave a terrible effort against Utah either. But, the public doesn’t need to know. It’s a team thing experience. The team can choose to grow from up or shrink. MW couldn’t take the heat, so he quit. So what. You have to weed out the week. But, keep it private.

  5. Coug1990 /

    Jim Moore, since you are good at interviewing Jim Walden, ask him about the USC game back in 1986 and what he did to James Hasty.

  6. Shannon Matthews /

    Jim, i am really taken back and honestly shocked at your recent change of stance with the leadership of the football program. I thought you were above getting sucked into the circus and would remain supportive. Obviously your now leading the bandwagon. Sad to see. Wulff needed to go, and so does the whiners. This is big boy football, which takes big boys to play it, none of which we had. WSU, the school you love needs you now more than ever, not this guy who’s acting much like Marquess Wilson. Stay the coarse, we will be better than fine

  7. Steve Olson /

    I’m a Husky, wait wait, don’t delete me. I loved Coach Walden. He represented what Cougar football was all about. I don’t like the way he beat us to take us out of two Rose Bowls. Some forget in 1981 the Apple Cup was for the Roses.But he could give us fits and that’s what a rivalry is. As Huskies, we had to respect him and his teams.In today’s college football world Jim would be a far bigger success. Yeah the Veer is a thing of the past, but I absolutely hated seeing that offense lined up against us, with a better talent pool, he would have the Cougs in the Bowl picture year in and year out.
    I’ve watched this guy Leach from the beginning. Oh, no Husky fan in their right mind was happy about the hire. He represented another potential threat to our own attempt to get back on top. It’s a competitive world out there. About the only good side I could see to this guy coming into the league was that he could be a threat to Oregon. For a Husky that’s a mixed blessing.
    I know that deep inside the downside to the “Pirate” is eating at you. There is a disturbance in the force that is Cougar football. I think other fans feel it too. Long range, I don’t know how Leach’s tactics are going to work. There is toughening up a team and then there is downright abuse. How’s Leach’s attitude going to play in living rooms come January? The high school landscape is full of kids with a sense of entitlement. It’s hard enough to recruit to Pullman but I think the upside of that was that mom and dad felt their kid was going to be safe. Are they going to trust their son to someone who appears to be borderline socipathic?
    I have been following college football for a lot of years, I can’t remember that many instances where the coach, who is supposed to be the leader, pulls an immature stunt like Leach did last week in calling out his offensive line. Verbal or physical abuse aside, that should have been enough to get him a public dressing down by the Administration.
    Be honest Jim, the allure of what Leach could do for the program is wearing off and wearing off quickly. This whole thing was dirty from the start, even before Wullf was fired Moos was down in Florida talking to the guy. It’s not Coug football.
    Look, I’m a Husky fan so let me add my own feelings about what being a Husky is about. I’m bothered that we’re talking to a 14 year old kid already, I don’t like the way the Tosh Lupoi hiring happened. Sark’s first week had him violating a couple of minor rules. That looked and looks bad and puts a tarnish on a football program that may suffer from a sense of hubris but had pretty much tried to play clean. Leach is the same kind of stain on what being a Coug is. I don’t see him leaving anytime soon, but honestly given what he may wind up costing the program is it worth it?

  8. Wulff never denigrated his players? What a selective memory. I remember reading time and again Wulff belittling the team he inherited and how talentless they were and what a rough job he had ahead of him in rebuilding the program. The first season was nothing but him throwing the players under the bus for the mounting embarrassing losses they suffered. The only reason Wulff never got the kind of criticism that Leach is getting is because he was a Coug. Walden is just taking his ire out on Leach because Wulff didn’t get the chance he thought was deserved. All this upheaval in the program happened in 2008 as well but we were willing to turn a blind eye because a “Coug” was coming in to save the day. Walden is being extremely hypocritical.

    • Wulff NEVER call guys out, he’d say the “team” needed to get faster, tougher, stronger and so forth. Leach is a scumbag, it’s documented and has not had ANY offers to coach besides WSU. After this job ends, and it will end in the next 2 years, he’ll be out of coaching. He’s a joke to his peers, not one person on here would have a boss treat them this way. Why is okay to be a jackass to college football players but not in real life? If you want production from anyone you need to lead by example, that’s what real men do. This Bullshit bully will get his ass kicked by a player or parent soon enough. No one on here that defends Leach has any idea what’s going on……. there is more to come..

      • And Leach has never negatively called out a specific player either. He’ll call out units but not a single player if they screw up

      • E. W. Parks /

        Very well said, Jo Jo. Why do college football coaches get a pass when it comes right down to just being human? Being a licensed lion trainer doesn’t give you a pass when you’re dealing with people.

  9. Jon Erickson /

    I was there when Walden walked out of WSU for ISU. He could have given a rip about the cougs. Now he talks like a evangelist about my beloved cougs . When did he get religion and not take a pay check. I stand behind the cougs and the coach until he is replaced but standing up to mediocre expectations of walden makes me think I am on the right side. Go leach and go cougs

  10. Doug Blosser /

    I was a huge fan of Jim Walden for a long time.
    No more.
    His crusade for Paul Wulff and his hostility toward Mike Leach have nullified any help he may have been to the WSU football program.
    As for Jim Moore, is it any surprise that he went running to fellow Leach-hater Jim Walden for a comment?
    It would surprise me not at all if some of the current Cougar football players are unhappy with Leach. This happens all the time during coaching changes.
    Let’s see where the investigation of the football program goes. If the inquiry leads to an indictment of Leach and his coaches, I will be the first to say Moore and Walden were right. If not, they should shut up or take their act to another program. I’m sure the Huskies would love to have them.

  11. CrimsonGeezus /

    What a lazy piece of journalism!!! Jim, are you completely out of ideas that you have to pull that windbag Walden out of his Coeur d’Alene bunker to rail on Leach? Ian Furness got his 10 minutes of fame by letting Walden completely implode on the radio last year and now you allow Walden a column. Jim, do something impressive and get that quitter Marquess Wilson to give you a column specifically stating the “abuse” he suffered while in the program? You probably wrote the Walden article while standing on the sidelines watching the “Go To” kids play soccer – I’m sure they’re happy with their participation trophy and end of year pizza party. C’mon man inspire to more greatness and a lot less acting like a Sigma Chi getting ripped at The Coug the night before his journalism final.

    • PullmanMecca /

      I totally agree. When you want the most irrational sensationalized opinion in Cougar Sports, there is only one “Go2Guy.” And the fact that he uses Walden as a credible source shows that they are both two peas in a pod. Jim Walden has a career record of 72-109-7 with one bowl appearance in seventeen season. No wonder he feels so connected to Paul Wulff. Walden got sent packing for his incompetence just like Wulff did. They are both two disgruntled employees.

  12. Wow. Jim Moore wants to align himself with bitter Walden and Paul Wulff? Of course those two are upset…they were FIRED by WSU (and rightly so). The only people who are upset are the Wulffians that bought what Paul Wulff was selling.

    “Recruiting at a level never seen before. Building it the right way. We inherited the worst BCS program in the country”.

    Wulff drove a program that was trending downward into the ground. The 2007 won 5 games (more than Wulff could ever muster) and returned the most starters in the Pac 10. You don’t remember 66-0, 66-3 blowouts? Setting school and Pac 10/12 records for futility?

    Leach is eradicating the Coug loser mentality. Unfortunately, Wulff’s AWFUL Big Sky recruiting of the offensive line (11 O-line recruits in his entire tenure with only 6 qualifying) will leave a huge hole on any football team. Paul Wulff is the biggest fraud in WSU history and the gift that keeps on giving.

    If Jim Moore wants to align himself with Wulff and Walden, I say find another program to support. We do not want the status quo. I want a winning football culture. This is big boy football. If you want to feel good and slap each other on the back without accountability or results…go support 3rd grade little league.

    Coug alum, CAF member, and Season ticket holder.

  13. Wow. Reading this thread, it’s clear it’s a tough week to be a Coug. I think Wulf said Cougs don’t eat their own. Well apparently they do.

    Have at it, gentleman.

  14. Doug Bunge /

    Steve Olson is on the money! Dido! Very honest and objective, thanks, Go Cougs

  15. GroshKar /

    As a Husky fan with virtually no skin in this game, it’s amazing to see Cougar nation eat it’s own like this. To some degree, no matter how things got this way, Leach has to bear a large part of the responsibility as the one in charge of the program. Even if your plan is the blow up everything you inherited from the previous Head Coach, it seems there would be a better way.

  16. Bob Colson /

    I’m also embarrassed about this circus that has become Cougar football. We’re getting attention alright, for all the wrong reasons.

    Did anyone in our administration stop to think there was a reason Texas Tech fired this goofball in spite of him taking 10 teams to bowl games? If he was so wonderful for their program why would they ever want to fire him?

    Many Cougars were ok with Leach’s lack of class because they thought we would win more games. Now we’ve got neither class nor wins.

    It’s time for this Leach “experiment” to be over.

  17. James White /

    Leach is not borderline sociopath. Leach is full-blown sociopath.

    • Exactly…. ZERO job offers besides TT and WSU, the coaching industry all knows this..

    • Hank Stevens /

      Yeah, I don’t think it dawned on Coug fans that there might be a reason Leach was passed over for other jobs, he’s “BSC”. Watch the guys mannerisms, look at his eyes. He might have some football genius, but his cylinders are not all firing correctly either. Texas has a huge pool of great football players at the skill positions and he got just enough of them to put them together with his offense to get 8 wins a season. Good luck and when it implodes, where will you turn.

  18. Kenn Webb /

    Wow Jimmy, you’re starting to get eaten by your own. Is it time to pull out the Husky hat from under your bed?

    Love your articles!

  19. There is a balance somewhere. Leach could not have had large expectations and the fans likewise. I doubt if Bill Bellichik went on to coach the Jacksonville Jaguars that he or the fans would have expected immediate success or been prepared for the curve of the challenges. Can you win without good talent? If you can, it must come from scheme and from players being inspired and really buying in.

  20. Cougar 81 /

    Hey Coach Walden. Where’s the proof of abuse? What Mike Leach said after the Utah blowout is TRUE. They go play a great game against Stanford and then have amnesia and get their asses kicked by an average Utah team. Where’s the consistency? That’s what Leach and his staff are trying to establish, along with all-out effort all the time. Sorry, Coach, I’ve always liked you but you’re all wrong. Even Bill Doba was getting irritated with Wulff always blaming him. The Cougars do need a new attitude and culture change. It’s called WINNING.

    • The proof is players being shoved into lockers and called pussies and POS at half time of the Utah game. Asst Coaches getting in Tuel’s face and calling him a pussy and a loser. The proof is over parents calling the campus to complain.. do you think current players will report it to the public or press? they want to play and get an education. That’s like asking the battered wife where the proof is… they keep quit for security… the truth will come out soon….

  21. All you “new Cougs” are idiots… I know you loved Pullman and and had a good run for a few years because of a select group of players. This is what you need to understand for the future of Coug football so you are not crushed over and over again. Not only does WSU and Pullman have NOTHING to offer over any other Pac 12 school, but really nothing to offer over any D-1 school. You don’t have the facilities, the resources to compete. 10 bowl games in 117 years!!! Come on be honest with yourself, no recruit will chose WSU unless they have limited offers. Secondly, you are the poorest alumni in the US. Limited successful people to generate income on a year over year basis. I was at most of the road games the last 5 years… there is no support. Most schools have 10,000-20,000 at every road game, WSU would have 1,000!
    I like the school, but lets face it, WSU is and always will be the ugly step child. Leach will never take them to a bowl, he has zero CA contacts and that is where all the talent is. In state high school coaches will never send kids to him. Moos, Floyd and Leach…. 3 idiots that deserve each other, ego maniacs…

    • “I like the school, but lets face it,”? After you spent the first part of your comment spewing hate about my school? Go away Troll.

    • dawgfather /

      You can see by the vitriol here in these posts. What was a family blog has turned into boodsport. Half the comments here are against Jim. I’ve known him for 30 plus years, no one, no one is as vicious a supporter then him.

      I’ll will say this and leave. Lately I’ve been in the dog house of this moderator, so here goes.

      You cannot take the stripes off of a tiger. Leach has demonstrated he answers to no one. This includes Moos. Moos is walking a fine line between making his management and Leach happy. He can’t do it.

      Leach is what he is. He’s gonna do things his way. Ask yourself this. What does Marquess Wilson have to hide? What does Leach have to lose?

      Was Jame’s kid put in a hot equipment closet? Of course he was. Was he badgered? Go to youtube adn watch Leach berate him at practice calling him names. Is that how a coach operates? He does.

      This was a mistake. Jim is right. This program, this schools integrity is larger than Mike Leach. You Leach supporteres are so blinded by the need to succeed you’ll sacrifice anything and anybody. You’re so blinded by the truth you don’t want to admit it for fear of taking a step backwards. It’s sickening, it really is.

    • rugby rules /

      JoJO you know we all value your opinion about as much as we value your ability to be the role model for “Summer’s Eve”. What is your favorite flavor?

  22. Thanks for your comments, greatly appreciated. Also want to thank you for stopping by the site. I’m glad there’s a Pac-12 investigation. That way if anybody has concerns about Leach, they can be put to rest.

    All along, I’ve just said I wouldn’t react well to Leach’s coaching tactics. I understand they’re designed to motivate the players and get rid of the losing mentality. Guess it works with some players but not with others. Just not a fan of negative stuff in a public forum…and it can go too far behind closed doors too.

    so we’ll see. i think steve olson’s comments kind of captured some of my feelings about the whole thing. have a good day. go cougs.

  23. *Thump* The sound you just heard was the legendary Coach Bear Bryant rolling over in his grave while remembering the story behind “The Junction”.

    ESPN seems to be keeping a low profile regarding these ALLEGATIONS by a person of one and rightfully so after the Craig and Adam James debacle.

    I don’t necessarily agree with all of Coach Leach’s methods however I remain a staunch supporter and truly believe the Cougar Football Program will be turned around and all of the present hoopla will be a thing of the past.

    Quite frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Washington State doesn’t happen to win their last two games and a corner has been turned in some way, shape or form for the good of the order.

    Go Cougs!!!!

  24. Cougar 81 /

    Hey JoJo.. Not sure if you’re a Dawg or a Coug, but I’m pretty confident that the 2 investigations will find that MW was much ado over nothing. How do you know that kind of language was used against players? Were you on the sidelines during the Utah game?
    All of us can merely make assumptions about Leach based on his past. We’ll all see where the investigation leads.

  25. Like it is any surprise that Mike Leach is a mad man. The Go 2 Guy begged Moos to hire Leach. Any of these upset Cougs could have used Youtube and watched Leach rant. Here is Leach ranting after a WIN at Kansas State:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXRrqwD1GRo

    After a WIN at Baylor:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZaOFTp5_C8&feature=relmfu

  26. dawgfather /

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLTOYX6_1v4

    Is this how you treat a kid? Is this how you talk to one of your players? For those of you who think the verbal abuse wasn’t going on behind closed doors.

    And don’t give me this, ‘hey it’s football’…..

    You know what, maybe, maybe Pullman is the right place for this kind of person. Low standards, low self esteem.

  27. dawgpack /

    It’s fun watching Jim being bashed by WSU fans. Talk about complete chaos at WSU. Jim, hopefully you will get over your bitterness and jealousy toward UW eventually. I doubt it though. Oh well, I’m sure there’s something WSU is good at. Baseball? Cow tipping? Got to be something.

    Washington State University – Celebrating mediocrity since 1890.

  28. Dawgpack – when WSU had a baseball team, they were usually better than the UW. However, I believe they no longer have a baseball team.

    On the other hand, I will take Jim Moore any day over a rabid Husky fan. FYI – I did not go to WSU, even though my sisters and brothers went to elementary school, junior high school, and high school in Seattle (the city, not the metro area) — and a couple of them set the Metro swim records that stood for decades — we went to college in California. Go Stanford, Go UCLA.

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