The big-as-an-elephant issue hovering over campus — quarterback Luke Falk’s health and Apple Cup status — was certainly no closer to be resolved Monday.
And it produced a testy exchange between Washington State coach Mike Leach and an out-of-town newspaper columnist.
On his weekly Monday teleconference, Leach was reminded of his postgame comment Saturday night to ESPN about Falk, who was carted off the Martin Stadium turf midway through the third quarter with an apparent head injury after taking a sack in a 27-3 victory over Colorado.
Leach told the sideline reporter that Falk was healthy and just being rested in the second half.
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The columnist asked, considering many in the public though Leach was being flippant over Falk’s injury, “Would you like to answer that question differently if you had a chance?”
Leach sent off a blistering response:
“Not really, because I think it is ridiculously foolish to ask me anything that relates to injuries to begin with, especially given the fact I never answer questions on injuries,” Leach said.
Leach has had a longstanding policy never to discuss his players’ injuries.
“The idiocy of asking me about injuries goes even several layers deeper when you consider the fact I have virtually no input on it. The doctors handle it.”
Leach paused, and then turned the table on the reporter.
“I guess I would turn the question back to you — if you had it to do over again, would you ask a better question, or would you stick with that foolish question?”
It did not stop there. Another reporter inquired about the logic behind Leach’s no-comment policy on injuries, especially given other college coaches around the country do discuss them.
Leach proceeded to explain that just because other coaches violate Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy laws does not mean he will; that he’s not qualified to discuss injuries because he’s not a doctor or trainer, and that there’s no benefit to giving that information out to opponents.
“The last thing we are going to do is create a distraction for our team, and sing the blues and act like somehow we are working our way out of a hole because someone else is playing that position,” Leach said.
“I, quite frankly, don’t understand coaches who are constantly talking about injuries, because to me it smells of hiding behind … an excuse in case they need one after the fact if the game doesn’t go the way they hope it does.”
When pressed on when he would name a starting quarterback for the Apple Cup — Falk or backup Peyton Bender — Leach bitingly said that decision would be made “27 seconds before kickoff.”
For what it is worth, WSU athletic director Bill Moos said on his Spokane-area radio segment that Falk’s injury does not appear to be season-ending, and that they are hopeful he can play.
Not a lot of juicy Apple Cup rivalry snippets came out of the WSU side Monday. Linebacker Jeremiah Allison was asked what he thought of the color purple. “What — what is that?” he said with a wide grin. … The Cougars will hold their Thanksgiving team dinner Wednesday night at Zeppoz for 100 people. And because it is a bowling alley, they will roll a few games, too. They will take a charter flight out of Pullman on Thanksgiving Day and should arrive at the hotel mid-afternoon for their walkthrough.