This Christmas, one of the gifts that I got under the tree was the book "Leading the Charge in Football and Life: Swing Your Sword". I didn't really have a chance to read it until I went to the beach this spring for a few days. I didn't know a lot about Mike Leach before reading the book. I knew he was very successful at Texas Tech, I knew he was labeled as a bit of a free spirit and of course I knew how he was ousted by Texas Tech.
The book is a very good and insightful read. From the early years where you learn about a unique way Mike Leach dealt with a neighborhood dog who was bullying him to how Leach coached a youth baseball team when he was just a kid and had the team doing a shadow infield drill to warm up.
The book has some very interesting stories about Leach as a person and also details a lot of his thoughts about coaching and his offensive philosophy. Again, it's a very interesting read and highly recommended.
Leach stands out as being different from the average coach. One of the things that makes Leach different is that he puts himself out there. Most coaches are going to go about their business and talk to the media and fans when they are slotted to or when they have time. Leach makes a point to be accessible and to reach out and to learn from any situation that he's in. A recent example of this was a Q&A that he did on reddit.
Here is a sample of some of the questions posed by the reddit members and Leach's answers:
Q: What do you personally think about concussions in college football?
A: We always pay special attention to concussions. In 2009, we sat our starting QB down for a month because he had a concussion. I think that it is a sensitive issue that technology needs to address the best they can and doctors have to find a way to clearly define. I have always stayed out of it and left it in the hands of doctors and trainers. That has been my position the entire time that I have been a head coach and any statements contrary to that are completely false.
Q: I read some where that your perfect offense would involve no playbook, just letting the offense happen on the field. Is that true?
A: I don't think that is totally accurate. Your playbook is your film clips. Written playbooks became a little obsolete when they shifted from film to video. We put our playbook on a DVD using film clips.
Q: How do you go about building a program such as Washington State?
A: It's a constant process of evaluation and teaching. You try to do your best every day to emphasize what will move you forward the quickest.
Washington State has a unique identity that few other places do. WSU has a clear, concise direction lead by Dr. Floyd (the president) and Bill Moos (the AD) with very little bureaucracy. We are building all kinds of new facilities and I think there is huge potential here
Q: I've got a first date with a girl and I was wondering if you might have some recommendations?
A: First take her to CDs Pit House BBQ in Moscow, ID. If she will get her hands dirty with some great BBQ, you will know you are on the right track! Then I would go enjoy the incredible college life on College Hill at WSU but make sure you have the opportunity to talk to her a lot.
Q: Is Bill Snyder really a sorcerer?
A: I suspect Bill Snyder may be a sorcerer...he's one of the coaches that I admire most!
In an era where guys like Buzz Bissinger are making a stink out of "banning college football" it's refreshing to have a guy like Mike Leach championing the sport despite the fact that he's been used by some of the morally bankrupt that live in the college football world. I'm sure we will talk about it more this off-season and when the season starts but Washington State is one of the teams that I'm most interested in watching this year.
I was very disappointed when Arizona State didn't hire him when they had the chance. Leach would have thrived in Tempe with some of the athletes ASU has on their roster. And it is a lot easier to recruit to Tempe then it is to Pullman, so he would have had a better chance of getting some of those Michael Crabtree type of athletes in the future.
@SaturdayEdge Seems like it would have been a good fit. What ever happened with the whole June Jones/ASU mess?
@CFBZ When the Alumni got wind that AD Lisa Love was even considering Jones they revolted, which I believe pretty much sealed her fate (she was fired soon thereafter).
As for Graham, I wasn't too thrilled with how he left Pitt. But he has since explained that the entire Pittsburgh move was a mistake. He didn't like Pittsburgh, his family didn't like it and they wished they had stayed in Tulsa.
So I'll give him the courtesy of waiting and seeing how he does. The team did look more disciplined at the spring game. Discipline was a serious issue last season.
@CFBZ I had read that they (the alumni) thought he had too much baggage and that he supposedly wasn't even on the "short" list. The AD Love totally botched the entire hiring process.
Her first choice was Sumlin, but when the A & M job opened he bailed so she panicked and went after Jones. After the alumni nixed that idea Graham was next in line.
And through this entire process Leach was available but was never even considered.
@SaturdayEdge Interesting. Why the intense hatred of Jones from the alumni? He's not an A-list guy but neither is Graham.