A coach who never threw his players under the bus

A coach who never threw his players under the bus

Nine seasons after he retired as football coach at Montana Tech, Barstool Sports discovered Bob Green.

An employee of the website found a compilation of Bob Green quotes from a local television station and tweeted it to its more than 2 million followers. So far, the video has 5.7 million views.

It is classic Coach Green delivering his hilarious one liners we like to call “Greenisms.”

Green was always breaking out those lines, especially after an Oredigger win and even more so when someone had a television camera on him. He still is.

I covered Green’s Orediggers for nine seasons for the daily newspaper. Other sportswriters would tell me how lucky I was.

Covering Bob Green, they said, had to be a writer’s dream because his quotes were always gold.

They were right. Covering his team was, as Coach Green would say, more fun than a centipede getting his feet tickled.

The thing I most remember about covering Green’s Orediggers, though, was talking with the coach after a loss.

According to the “Geriatric football coach,” the losses were all 100 percent his fault. Every single one of them.

It did not matter that his long snapper picked a bad time for a bad snap in a one-point loss to Carroll College in double overtime. It did not matter that his quarterback threw to interceptions for touchdowns in a 17-14 loss to the same rival.

Those loses were on Green.

“Victory has a thousand fathers,” Green would say. “Defeat is an orphan.”

Green, however, was never one of those fathers of victory. When Tech won, which was a large percentage of the time when Green coached, the players and assistant coaches got all the credit.

Not every coach is like that. Over the years, I have dealt with coaches whose teams lose because the players just will not listen to their coach.

They lose because they did not execute the game plan. They lose because they did not play hard enough. They lose because they are young.

Not Green. Not one time did he point the finger in a loss. He made no excuses.

That brings us to the sad case of Washington State football coach Mike Leach.

Granted, comparing Leach to a man with such impeccable character like Green is not fair. It is like comparing apples to turds.

After losing the “Apple Cup” to Washington for the seventh straight season, Leach pointed his finger every way but toward him.

He also took aim at the great columnist John Blanchette of The Spokesman-Review, referring to the writer as a “sanctimonious troll” for asking a simple question at the postgame press conference.

In doing so, Leach fell victim to one of the classic blunders — one that ranks right up with going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line. Leach picked a fight with a columnist.

A week after the press conference, the school gave Leach, who is 36-36 in Pac-12 games over his eight seasons in Pullman, a contract extension.

What Washington State should have done was fire Leach. They should have thrown him out the door like the cowboy who would not take his feet off the table in the movie “Casino.”

They should not have fired Leach because of his out-of-line comments to Blanchette. The former Missoulian writer can and will take care of himself.

Nobody is worried about that.

Leach should be fired because he put the blame for the loss solely on the shoulders of his players.

He did not subtly blame the players, either. He plainly threw every player on the Cougars’ roster under the bus. Again.

When Blanchette asked him about his seventh straight loss to Washington, this is how Leach answered:

“Well it’s frustrating. I do find this part of it interesting, though. You guys rank their recruiting class in the top 10, then you’re always surprised when they win. So I think that maybe that would have a little something to do with it.”

Translation: I did not lose. My players did.

That begs the question as to why anyone would ever agree to play for Leach in the first place.

He is, after all, only at WSU because Texas Tech fired him a decade ago because he allegedly mistreated a player suffering from a concussion. He supposedly locked his concussed player, Adam James, the son of former NFL player and broadcaster Craig James, in an electrical closet for hours.

Leach denies it still, but that is such a strange and worrisome allegation that any player should think at least twice before deciding to play for Leach.

His publicly blaming of losses on his players should make all of them tell the coach to take a hike. Fans, students and school officials should do the same.

Recruiting players to Washington State is clearly tougher than it is to recruit players to Washington. Nobody will question Leach on that.

While Pullman, Washington, is a beautiful city of about 34,000, the Washington Huskies get to live in Seattle.

The lure of the big city is a huge recruiting edge for the Huskies, and Leach knew that going into one of the few jobs he could get after his disgraceful exit from Texas Tech. He seemed to embrace that.

Recruiting disadvantages are part of college sports. They are also part of what makes college sports so great.

If every school had the exact same recruiting advantage, college football would be boring.

Leach knows that because overcoming such advantages with big wins at Texas Tech put him on the map in the first place.

Now, after Leach’s team lost the biggest game of the season for the seventh year in a row, he is crying foul.

That prompted Blanchette asked a simple follow-up question.

“So, you’re not supposed to beat teams that have higher-ranked recruiting classes?”

That’s when Leach went off.

“Well, we certainly have before,” the coach said. “We didn’t win this one. And I don’t care to have a big discussion with you on it because I don’t really care what you think.”

The writer tried to ask another question but was cut off.

“You run your little column and stuff like some sanctimonious troll, where you’ve never been fair or even-handed with us, so I really don’t care what you think. OK, go ahead, because you’re going to write some really nasty stuff like you always do. And I don’t know which Coug way back when did something that offended you, but I don’t really care about that either. If you can live your little meager life in your hole and write nasty things and that makes you feel even, you go right ahead.”

To his credit, Blanchette did not address the insults in his column following the game. He simply buried the coach with facts and the coach’s own words.

His final line was killer. (Read it here)

Bob Green never had any kind of exchange like that with any writer. Not even close.

But as much fun as it was to cover Green’s Oredigger was, I have to say that Blanchette right now has the dream job of any writer.

Blanchette is in the enviable position of comparing apples to turds.

— Bill Foley, who would never mess with a Sicilian even if death wasn’t on the line, writes a column that appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. Check out his NFL picks every Thursday.

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