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Rattlesnakes and sturgeon: Washington State coach Mike Leach ready for another unique season

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BURBANK, California — Looking for a date in the greater Spokane area? Washington State coach Mike Leach has a few ideas.

In Leach's world, there's never a shortage of wild ideas.

When he was asked for dating advance during his Pac-12 football media day session at Warner Bros. Studios, Leach suggested a few outside-the-box activities.

"If you go to Washington State, we've got five of America's greatest rivers around there. That would be a great place," he said. "You can hunt rattlesnakes, if you want to. You can fish for sturgeon. I tell you what, if you took her sturgeon fishing I don't believe she'd ever forget it."

Washington State linebacker Jeremiah Allison wasn't shocked to hear his coach encouraging people to hunt venomous snakes or fish on a first date.

"Coach Leach does some bizarre things," he said.

Allison, a senior from Los Angeles, isn't planning on heeding his coach's advice in the dating game. He'll stick with Leach's advice on the football field.

PHOTO: Washington State linebacker Jeremiah Allison speaks to reporters during NCAA college Pac-12 Football Media Days, Friday, July 31, 2015, in Burbank, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Washington State linebacker Jeremiah Allison speaks to reporters during NCAA college Pac-12 Football Media Days, Friday, July 31, 2015, in Burbank, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

"Our coaches have caught a sturgeon, I believe, and it was a really huge fish," he said. "I don't think that's really a date activity."

After going 3-9 last year to drop to 12-25 in his first three seasons on the Palouse, Leach's fourth year in Pullman could be pivotal. He expects big things from his first full recruiting class and from classes to come, now that the Cougars are finally able to reap the benefits of their new training facilities.

The Cougar Football Complex, completed in early June, is a significant upgrade from the old campus digs. The 75,000-square-foot building features a locker room that is more than double the size of the previous one, with meeting and film rooms as well as a new gym and dining hall. The complex is right in the middle of campus as well, making it easier for the players to plan their days with easy access to classrooms.

Leach says that when it comes to the facilities game, the Cougars went from worst to first in the Pac-12. The new complex features state-of-the-art technology that even the admittedly un-tech-savvy coach has come to love.

"Football has always been obsessed with technology and innovation," Leach said. "What I embrace is the fact that the job can be done more efficiently. That you can come back from injuries efficiently. You can feed guys quickly and efficiently and nutritiously. You can show your film in a meeting room where you're not crowded and somebody is looking over each other's head and you've got great film and technology to show them. So you can teach better and more efficiently with more clarity."

Leach's favorite new feature is an underwater treadmill. He hasn't used it himself, at least not for exercise purposes, but he has found a few ways to play with the program's new toy.

"There would be people that go in and jog, but I haven't," he said. "I raised it real high and I pretended I was walking on water one time."

Leach likens dating to recruiting. If his outlandish ideas of courtship don't work, a glimmering new football facility and the college-town atmosphere of Pullman just might.

"The biggest thing with recruiting is you figure out what somebody wants, what's important to them, and then you illustrate how your situation fits with them," Leach said. "Because you're going to be dead in a hundred years anyway, so you want to go to a setting where you think you can flourish, and then you're going to have great memories and enjoy."

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