Mike Leach’s undefeated Texas Tech Red Raiders will be center stage Saturday as they host #1 Texas in Lubbock. The game reps the pinnacle of Leach’s coaching career, which has seen him go from the smallest of colleges to coaching football in Finland to an assistant-ship under Bob Stoops at Oklahoma.
(Creepy: Leach has painting of himself as Van Gogh in his office)
I’ll be rooting like crazy for Leach, because he’s the kind of guy that makes the main media uncomfortable. The reason he isn’t a bigger name on the national scene? He’s always in control of the conversation during interviews, which the hair-gelled types in Bristol despise.
He doesn’t fit into the little, tidy box that the College GameDay crew wants him in. The Bob Stoops, Urban Meyer buttoned-down profile. Kinda like Kansas’ Mark Mangino last season, who was generally ignored by ESPN & Co. despite authoring one of the most astonishing stories in the history of college football.
Mangino and Leach, though different personalities, are the same guy. Outsiders. You can put Pat Hill in that group too. Too honest, too quirky, and in some cases, too innovative. Take for instance Leach’s attempt to get the head coaching jobs at UCLA and Miami in recent years.
Leach, who has pursued the UCLA job twice in recent years, was passed over in favor of Karl Dorrell, who turned out to be a turd hire by AD Dan Guerrero. Then Leach was spurned in favor of two-time loser Rick Neuheisel, who had UW and Colorado both in decline and facing NCAA violations when he departed. And Slick Rick is off to a flying start this year with the Bruins!
You may also remember Donald Trump begging the Univ. of Miami to hire Leach over Randy Shannon two years ago. Shannon has since turned out to be underwhelming at best.
Meanwhile, Leach quietly has turned Tech into a powerhouse while being largely ignored - until Saturday. Funny thing about those national rankings, now the major nets have no choice but to come to Lubbock.
Leach is the reason I love college football. Yes, you have the colossal bores like Stoops, Mack Brown, Jim Tressel, etc. Preaching the same tired dogma, year after year. But then you get the interesting guys on the outposts of civilization. Like Leach in Lubbock, who is the kinda fellow who isn’t above giving serious dating advice on his weekly coaches show:
And a weather forecast:
And hangs out with the students (no, not like Larry Eustachy):
God I hope Tech wins Saturday.