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Washington State football: Is Mike Leach on the hot seat?

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Washington State football began practice on Saturday with many questions. New defensive coordinator Alex Grinch and special teams coach Eric Mele will work to shore up the Cougar's weakest links but the main question is how much patience is left for Mike Leach in Pullman?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State football began its fall camp on August 8th, and the team has several lingering questions. Who will replace record-setting quarterback Connor Halliday? Will the defense be any better? What about the special teams that lost WSU several games last year? Last and most importantly, is the administration and the fans running out of patience for Mike Leach?

The quarterback situation will remain to be seen, with Luke Falk in the drivers seat after filling in for the injured Halliday at the end of last season and averaging over 400 yards a game. As for the defense and special teams, new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch and special teams coach Eric Mele have their work cut out for them but should bring overall improvements to their squads.

This leads to the last question: is Leach in danger of losing his job after going 12-25 in three seasons at Washington State? The short answer is no. Leach isn't going anywhere, probably for at least five years.

Leach's contract, originally for five years, has an automatic rollover clause that goes into effect every January 1st. In short, unless Leach or WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos provide written notice of stopping the automatic rollover, it happens. Both parties let it rollover last January and Leach's contract currently stands at five years for $2.75 million per year.

In order for WSU to fire Leach, they have to pay 60% of Leach's remaining salary, or $6.6 million. Washington State isn't paying that kind of money for virtually any reason. If Leach decided to leave WSU he would owe a $2.25 million buyout to the institution.

Besides the monetary concerns, Moos has been supportive of Leach and seems very content with his head coach. Moos has publicly stated it would take a while for Leach to turn the team around, and has been happy with the football program's progress. Leach has also been happy with the support he has had from WSU and Moos. WSU recently completed a new football operations building that Leach has said is the best in the Pac-12, as well as major upgrades to Martin Stadium.

While Leach is good with the university, the fans have other ideas about his record. WSU was 3-9 in Leach's first year, 6-7 and reached a bowl in his second, but only 3-9 last season. Most fans expected a bowl game last season and were majorly disappointed with Leach's third season.

Many WSU fans fully expect a bowl game in 2015. Leach has had four years to recruit his players and to fine-tune his coaching staff. Many feel there will be no excuse not to win at least six games in 2015. While there are many fans that expect a bowl game this season, there are still a lot that don't think it will happen and that Leach needs more time.

However divided WSU fans are, it really doesn't matter. Leach's contract will not allow WSU to fire him and his job is perfectly safe, at least for a few more years.