Mike Leach: 'I focus on my team'
Mike Leach, saying he was concerned about only his team, declined to escalate blunt criticism by Nick Aliotti into a war of words Sunday after the Oregon defensive coordinator ripped the Washington State coach over his play calling with a 62-38 rout already decided.
Leach's Cougars, despite trailing 55-24 to start their first drive of the fourth quarter Saturday night, continued to pass the ball against the Ducks, and quarterback Connor Halliday broke a Football Bowl Subdivision record with 89 pass attempts, surpassing Drew Brees' previous mark by six.
"I don't criticize other teams or coaches," Leach said in a text to The Seattle Times on Sunday night. "I focus on coaching my team."
The bottom line is, I'm sorry. I'm embarrassed that I got caught up in the moment after the game. There's no excuse, but sometimes right after the game the adrenaline is still flowing and I made a huge, human error in judgment.” -- Ducks defensive coordinator
Nick Aliotti in a news release
Aliotti, who later apologized in a statement released by Oregon, said in a postgame session with reporters that the decision to not run the ball -- Halliday didn't hand the ball off once during the fourth quarter -- was "low class."
"In the end he's still throwing at a time when most guys would try to end the game and go home," Aliotti said, referring to Leach.
"I thought he kept battling in there," Leach said after the game, according to The Spokesman-Review. "Some of those picks he had some help. He got hit on one, and we dropped one and flicked it up to them."
Halliday, who leads the nation with 17 interceptions, was picked off four times as he threw for 557 yards and four touchdowns.
"I knew going in, on about Monday of last week, that we were going to throw it a lot," Halliday said. "I mean, nobody ever thinks 89 is going to be the number."
Aliotti apologized for his comments Sunday night.
"The bottom line is, I'm sorry," Aliotti said in the statement. "I'm embarrassed that I got caught up in the moment after the game. There's no excuse, but sometimes right after the game the adrenaline is still flowing and I made a huge, human error in judgment. I wish I could take it back, and I promise it won't happen again.
"I'd like to apologize to Mike Leach and Bill Moos [Washington State athletic director], Washington State and its fans, and Oregon and our fans."
On Monday night, the Pac-12 Conference reprimanded Aliotti and fined him $5,000.
"The Pac-12 has specific rules that prohibit our coaches from making public comments about officiating, and this prohibition specifically includes comments that create doubts about the credibility of the Conference's officiating program," commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. "His comments also showed a lack of support for the Pac-12's policies on Sportsmanship and Standards of Conduct, which call for our coaches to treat opponents with respect."
Aliotti had been adamant in his criticism of Leach when speaking to media after the blowout.
"I am kind of stunned he would keep his quarterback and crew in there,'' Aliotti told reporters, according to The Oregonian. "And still he threw the ball with 20 seconds left. But he did.
"They want stats, they got stats. But we got the most important stat, and that's the 'W,' and we are happy about that.''
Leach was complimentary after the game of the Ducks, who led 34-24 at halftime.
"One thing that is really impressive about Oregon is how decisively they play," Leach said. "They're probably the most decisive team in how they play in the country."
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