Trailing 19-13 with roughly eight minutes left in their game against Wyoming this weekend, Washington State’s offense got into a rather strange formation.

All eleven players bunched up between the left hashmark and sideline. Center Kyle Sweet set up on the hashmark far away from the rest of the linemen and snapped the ball with one hand at quarterback Gardner Minshew, who was standing diagonally to Sweet. Instead of letting the ball to get Minshew, running back James Williams snatched it out of the air and then proceeded to gain five yards.

If that wasn’t strange enough, WSU lined up the exact same way on the next play and did it again, this time gaining four yards.

Washington State went on to win the game 41-19. While this kooky play wasn’t the reason they won, it certainly got everyone’s attention and made people wonder where head coach Mike Leach had come up with it. Turns out, he had some help from Microsoft. Really.


“I know this engineer from Microsoft and he likes football and says, ‘Hey, have you ever thought about this?’” Leach said. “One of those idea guys. Very brilliant guy. He’s got a lot of ideas. So he came up with a bunch of formations and pretty good ideas and said they’d be interesting. Got me thinking, so basically on the enthusiasm and energy of some of his thoughts, what he saw, we thought we’d mess with it and it was fun for our players and things.”

As for what the play’s name is…Leach calls it “Big Gulp Left.”

That sounds fairly random, but because this is Mike Leach we’re talking about, it’s anything but. Leach said the naming is a homage to “a friend of mine” but that “friend” is actually USA Today columnist Dan Wolken, whom Leach got into a tiff with over the summer.

Back in June, Leach tweeted out a heavily-edited YouTube conspiracy video of a Barack Obama speech and then asked people to share their thoughts. It wasn’t clear what, exactly, Leach wanted because when people started calling out the video as being fake, he started deflecting blame and responsibility to sharing it. The whole thing came to a head when the USA Today’s Dan Wolken later wrote a column titled, “Mike Leach’s tweet of an anti-Obama hoax showed why many schools won’t hire him.”

That then led to Leach to launch a diatribe against Wolken, calling him out to debate…something.

Leach then did a Q&A with The Seattle Times in which he said Wolken would “probably be selling Big Gulps here in a couple years.” And that’s how we get to “Big Gulp Left.”

After finding out about the naming of the play, Wolken refused to back down from the tete-a-tete.

If we’ve learned anything, it’s that, yes, Mike Leach is obsessive. Can’t wait until we see “Big Gulp Right,” “Big Gulp Center,” and the eventual creation of the “Little Gulp” formation.


About Sean Keeley

Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and many other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle. Send tips/comments/complaints to