Cougars, Sun Devils desperate for a win

Associated Press Modified: November 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm •  Published: November 16, 2012
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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona State has been in a funk over the past month, its offense stuck in neutral as the losses have piled up.

The Sun Devils are at least in a better place than Washington State.

The Cougars have had a tough initial season under Mike Leach, yet to win a Pac-12 game, just two wins overall. Making things worse, star receiver Marquess Wilson quit the team this week, claiming he was physically, emotionally and verbally abused by Washington State's coaches.

Facing a desperate team and trying to play amid a swirling controversy, the Cougars are going to need all the focus they can get Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium.

"I tell you guys, it's not a distraction," Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel told reporters this week. "We're not worrying about that. We're not going out on the field and going, 'Oh man, Marquess wrote a letter.' It's not happening. It's not reality."

Washington State hired Leach late last year to revitalize a program that had been stuck in mediocrity.

It hasn't happened yet.

While the fan base was excited about the hiring of a coach known for his offensive creativity, Leach has yet to get his Air Raid offense in full gear, leading to a dismal opening season.

The Cougars managed to beat Eastern Washington and UNLV early in the season to open 2-1, but are winless in seven games since the Pac-12 season started, the latest loss a 44-36 setback against No. 17 UCLA after giving up 30 points in the second quarter.

Wilson, the team's leading receiver, also released a letter on Saturday to announce he was quitting the team, saying the coaches would "belittle, intimidate and humiliate us."

Leach has been through this before.

He was fired from Texas Tech after the 2009 season for allegedly ordering a player with a concussion to sit in a storage shed during practice. Leach disputed the allegation, which was not proven, and has sued Texas Tech, contending he was fired so the school could avoid a large payment due him at the end of the year.

Leach denied the latest allegations, but Washington State President Elson Floyd asked the school's athletic department and the Pac-12 Conference to conduct separate investigations into Wilson's allegations.

"I just think he wants to dispel all the falsehoods that surround the thing," Leach said. "I have no problem with that."