Washington State is officially in the National spotlight.
For the first time since 2003, the Cougs beat a top-5 team. That season has been the benchmark for this program for more than a decade, but one man came to Pullman determined to change that mindset.
"Me an my staff are going to do the very best we can to put the best product on the field," Washington State head coach Mike Leach said after his introductory press conference in 2011.
Success did not happen overnight. There was a mentality of losing on the Palouse, a mentality Leach would never stand to tolerate.
"For too long around this university expectations, performance--all that has been too low. We need to expect more out of ourselves and get more out of ourselves," Leach said after the loss to Rutgers in 2014.
The WSU head coach might be robotic in his message, but his method is undeniable.
Leach often talks about making the next step and beating No. 5 USC is the biggest stomp this team has made during Leach's tenure.
"Yeah, it's up there," Leach said. "I'll enjoy it tonight. It's exciting."
As important as Leach's arrival was for this school, another man's arrival was just as important:
Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.
"(Grinch) makes it fun," defensive lineman Hercules Mata'afa said. "It's fun for us to come downhill and attack the offense like we do."
Quarterback Luke Falk and the 'Air Raid' offense gets all the publicity at Washington State, but shutting down Sam Darnold is no fluke. The 'Speed D' needs some love.
"Man, they've played great this year," Falk said. "We're not in it without them. Their 'Speed D' should get that (reputation) here pretty soon. I think they're our most strongest points of the team right now."
The Cougs will now experience something they have never had to deal with before, a target on their back. USC was this week, but a road trip to Oregon is looming.
"If you don't get your feet back on the ground than you're just trading one game for the next game," Leach said. "Yeah, this was a big win, but the other one you just let yourself down. We'll see how tough we are, I guess."
Who knows how the season will play out, but for the first time since 2003, we might finally stop talking about 2003.
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