This is the second in a series of seven columns counting down the search for a new Hog football coach.
Last time around, I made the case for Lane Kiffin being no better than seventh-best prospect for the Hogs’ coaching vacancy. At number 6, Leach is not much closer to God’s Country than Kiffin, but I could tolerate him because he’s had a lot of Power 5 success. He he’s stuck around programs where he’s been the HEAD coach.
AS AN ASSISTANT? NOT SO MUCH:
From 1987 until 1999 he spent 1 year at Cal Poly, 1 year at College of the Desert, 1 year with the Pori Bears (whoever they are), 2 years at Iowa Wesleyan, 4 years at Valdosta State, 2 years at Kentucky and 1 year at Oklahoma.
However, as a head coach he spent 10 seasons at Texas Tech and he’s been with Washington State since 2012. In between Tech and WSU he did some media stuff.
The reason he left Texas Tech is because……..well, he was fired.
It’s been 10 years, but remember when he mistreated the son of Craig James of ESPN and the SMU Probation Ponies? Adam James suffered a concussion in practice and couldn’t practice the next day on doctor’s orders.
He made James stand in the equipment room close to where Tech practices. The vision I get here is that he was trying to make James seem like a sissy to the rest of the team for not playing through a concussion, even though doctors advised against it.
Look, I’m the first to say, “You play through the small hurts, but not real injuries.” But a concussion is a real, sometimes life-changing injury. It shouldn’t be made fun of.
Mike Leach was ordered by the University to apologize to James in writing, but refused and was dismissed. Then, a bunch of lawyers made a lot of money.
He also had a player (Marquess Wilson) quit at Washington State because of “physical, emotional and verbal abuse” from the coaches. Investigations led to a decision that there was “no merit” to the claims. But, there’s got to be something there when your ace receiver quits.
WSU’s record since he’s been there……
—2015: 9-4 (opening game loss to Portland State)
—2019: 3rd in Pac 12 North with a 6-5 record
You can see a good trend here, until this year, and there’s no denying his success at Tech……until he mishandled what we now call “concussion protocol.”
There are a few ways to look at “balance” in an offense:
—You can ask, “Are you personally balanced enough to handle both advances in the game and the treatment of a guy who has a concussion?” The jury’s out on that one.
—Did you call an equal number of passing plays vs. running plays, which he scoffs at. “I want all of the positions to touch it,” Mike Leach said in October. “There’s nothing balanced about 50 percent run, 50 percent pass, because that’s 50 percent stupid.”
Instead, he sees balance like this: “When you have 5 skill players……if all 5 are contributing to the offensive effort in a somewhat equal fashion.” That’s balance to him, but that pre-supposes that you have 5 skill players who CAN contribute somewhat equally.
HERE’S THE DEAL:
Hey, I’ve never taken Texas Tech, Washington State, or any other college football team to a bowl game and he has, so take this for what it’s worth. But, balance to me is about being mentally balanced enough to call the plays that your current personnel can execute and have a good chance of working against the specific defense you’re facing. That seems fairly reasonable to me.
Is what I’m saying, and he has, although it’s been spotty at times. The 3-9 vs. 11-2 seasons point to a coach who is going to coach the way he coaches regardless of his players’ talent or experience. That leads to wins when you have the right players and losses when you don’t.
It should also be mentioned that he has a history of using his post-game press conferences to beat down the referees for what he sees as bad calls. This is a big no-no in the SEC. If he’s going to come here he’s gonna have to change his ways a little bit.
But, unlike Kiffin, he lived in Lubbock for 10 years. If you can take Lubbock for 10 years, you can take Fayetteville for 150.
Learn more about Leach’s “Air Raid” offense and his experience in the SEC starting at 3:35 below:
Lane Kiffin update
Recently, the next Hogs coach prospect has followed a few Arkansas sports personalities on Twitter. They include:
- Jacoby Criswell, a c/o 2020 bluechip recruit from Morrilton
- Wess More, a sports radio host for The Buzz 103.7 FM
- Jon Fagg, a UA assistant athletic director helping Hunter Yurachek with the search
Get more Kiffin-to-Arkansas insight here: