Washington State tries to rebound from tough opening loss
But coach Mike Leach said he does not worry about his job security.
''I don't, because all they have out of me is my best,'' Leach said. ''I do the best I can every day and that's all I got. There's nothing else to give beyond that.''
Washington State's 24-17 loss in Pullman on Saturday was the first time the Cougars have lost to an opponent from the lower-division FCS. It was also Portland State's first victory against a Pac-12 opponent.
The result created much angst among Washington State fans, who had been hoping for a major turnaround in Leach's fourth season.
Leach is now 12-26 at Washington State, and questions about his effectiveness are rising. The coach never had a losing record and went to a bowl game following all 10 of his seasons at Texas Tech.
To be sure, his hiring reinvigorated football at Washington State.
He took the Cougars to the New Mexico Bowl in 2013, breaking a decade-long bowl drought. But the team suffered a late-game collapse against Colorado State to finish that season 6-7, and seems to have been backsliding since.
It's not for lack of trying. Since Leach arrived in Pullman, the athletic department has invested almost $150 million in upgrades to Martin Stadium and a new Football Operations Building, hoping to attract better athletes to the remotest outpost in the Pacific-12.
Entering this season, Leach called this the most talented team he has had at WSU.
That made the loss in the season opener even more deflating.
''It's a shame, because we're a lot better team than that,'' Leach said. ''We haven't had a practice that was worse than that game.''
While some fans are calling for his ouster, the program would be hard-pressed to fire Leach.
The contract he signed in 2011 included a five-year rollover clause after the second season, which was renewed again in January. It can only be terminated early if the school agrees to pay him 60 percent of his base salary over the duration of his contract, which currently runs through 2019. Leach makes $2.7 million per year.
Leach has a theory about why his team came out so flat against Portland State.
''I think some of the new guys had a slight amount of stage fright, and then I think some of the older guys wanted to make too much happen, they wanted to be really good, really fast,'' Leach said.
The team had a good practice on Sunday, Leach said, and he is now looking ahead to Saturday's game at Rutgers.
''It'll be really exciting for all our guys to go to that part of the country and show what we can do there,'' Leach said. ''You don't get a lot of cross-(country) trips like this and we're excited about this one and so, we're looking forward to a good week of practice and then getting over there and playing.''
Leach said starting quarterback Luke Falk would start again against Rutgers even though he was injured near the end of Saturday's game.