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November 12, 2012

Leach: 'There's no truth to it at all'

PULLMAN, Wash. -- In the wake of a tumultuous week shrouded with controversy after the fallout of the Marquess Wilson allegations, Mike Leach and his players met with the media on Monday afternoon to discuss the lingering distractions within the Washington State football program.

As expected, the focus centered on Wilson's exiting remarks which accused Leach and his staff of "verbal, emotional and physical abuse" - the latter carrying the most weight and concern. Following a pattern we've seen over the course of the week, Leach defiantly refuted Wilson's claims and wanted to focus on players that were still members of his football program.

"They're all categorically denied," Leach said when asked about Wilson's accusations. "There's no truth to it at all."

The players are also sharing the same sentiment, alluding to the fact that there is, under no circumstances, abuse occurring within the program. Offensive lineman Elliot Bosch denied any abuse and had encouraging words for his coaching staff.

"They're trying to change the culture, they're pushing us very hard like a good football staff should," Bosch said during his press conference. "They're treating us the way a coaching staff should treat their players."

When asked whether he thinks the team would have benefitted from being coached this way in the past, Bosch quickly agreed.

"From the team standpoint I think it would have been good for us," Bosch said. "Some players respond to it differently getting pushed hard to be successful, so I can't speak for everyone, but I think it would have been helpful for us."

Wilson's stepfather, citing hearsay in an interview with the Seattle Times, claimed that there was physical abuse that occurred in the locker room during halftime of the Utah game. Leach has previously denied those rumors and Bosch did the same on Monday.

"Basically, coach Valero came up and he had the O-line and D-line come up and he was just trying to get us fired up and he grabbed some guys by the chest plate," Bosch said. "He just wanted to look us in the eyes and see if they really wanted to be here, if they were here for the right reasons, if they wanted to win."

Leach also commented on the Utah halftime rumors.

"Typical locker room stuff," he said. "I can tell you with certainty that nothing inappropriate happened."

It's clear, based on remarks made by the coaching staff, Leach and a handful of players do not share the same point of view as Wilson, who is directly accusing the staff of 'physical abuse,' which is a matter that needs to be investigated for the sake of everyone involved.

On Sunday, Washington State University president Elson Floyd released a statement concerning the recent debacle and stated that the University and the Pac-12 conference will conduct two separate investigations. Senior quarterback Jeff Tuel made it clear that this entire ordeal, coupled with the recent investigations have not, and will not cause any distractions.

"It's not a distraction for myself or the team, we've got to move forward," Tuel said. "We're not worried about that, we're not going out on the field saying Marquess wrote a letter. It's not a distraction for myself and this football team."

Tuel also mentioned that neither the Pac-12 nor the university has approached him in regards to the investigation.

Leach, who as you recall, has been embroiled in a similar controversy at his previous stop in Texas Tech, continues to flat-out deny any type of abuse under his watch.

"We have don't have anything to hide around here," Leach said when asked whether the pending investigations will cause any distractions. "I don't know anything about it, haven't talked to anybody about it, don't care about it."

"Basically, I think he [Floyd] wants to dispel all the falses and I have no problems with that," Leach concluded.

The overall vibe during the press conferences was upbeat. The team is focused on their upcoming road trip to Arizona State and is determined to finish the season on a strong note.

With their performance on Saturday night, this football team showed that they are not a locker room divided. There are still players on this team - and it seems like it's the majority of them - that are adhering to this coaching staff and want to be a part of this turnaround. After being publicly criticized for their extreme lack of effort against Utah, they certainly bounced back with pep in their step against UCLA.

Though their comeback bid fell short, the team knows they're getting closer and proving that, despite a winless conference record and riding a seven game losing streak, they're still fighting to win football games amid turmoil.

"I thought we gave our best effort," Leach said. "Now we need to sharpen that up a bit."








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