Great column from SI's Stewart Mandel today about the plight of former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach trying to find a new gig. Check it out and meet me at the next paragraph.
Those of you who did the required reading can print and mail this to me as a prize, but since most of you probably didn't, here's the rundown: Leach is down in Key West doing a radio show, occasionally working as an analyst, and of the 21 Division 1-A schools that had recent coaching vacancies, Maryland was the only one to contact him.
Mandel talked to an anonymous administrator whose school recently passed on Leach, and the source said Leach's 84-43 record with 10 bowls in 10 years at Tech isn't enough to make up for the headache that comes with the Adam James fiasco and Leach's pending lawsuit against Tech, not even when you throw in the fact that Leach had the nation's best graduation rate when he left the Red Raiders.
That administrator did say Leach would probably be met with tons of excitement from fans, but media attention and complaints from the higher-ups at a university would be the problem. Would you have been OK with Florida hiring Leach instead of Will Muschamp? For that matter, would our guests from Coral Gables have chosen Leach over Al Golden to run Miami's program?
I want to hear your thoughts on this. I can see it going both ways. Muschamp and Golden were both questionable hires because neither has been the top dog at a bigtime program, but Golden can't be punished for being successful at Temple, and Muschamp is intriguing because of his familiarity with the SEC.
If it's me, I'll take Leach all day. When Skip Holtz left my favorite team for South Florida, I wanted East Carolina to hire Leach right away. He's an offensive genius (and maybe a real-life genius. he also holds a law degree), he's funny, he's really funny, and he's obsessed with pirates, making him a natural fit at ECU.
Instead, they hired his hula-hoop-waisted defensive coordinator, Ruffin McNeill, who brought along Leach understudy Lincoln Riley to run the TTU offense, which made ECU one of the best attacks in college football this season. It's hard for me to imagine the Pirates wouldn't be better with Leach at the helm. Let's not forget, he was the man behind one of the best moments in recent college football history.
I have little doubt Leach would be a good head coach should be find a new job, so the next question is all the attention that athletic directors and school officials feel he'd bring. In a word, I'll refer to those people as "idiots," since it fits them so well. This can be taken care of with a press conference or two. Hire him, come out and support him. This isn't an ongoing scandal. He may or may not have locked a kid widely regarded as a prick in a closet. There's a decent chance one of your coaches did worse to you in pee wee football.
Sports is all about redemption stories. Tear them down, build them back up and call them heroes. It's a cycle of BS, if you ask me, and no portion of the cycle is more absurd than the part Leach is stuck at. He'll land somewhere, and Tom Rinaldi will show up with his piano for a tear-jerker ESPN piece letting everyone know that "Leach is, once again, the captain of his ship."
I can't believe no one in charge feels that way, and it's especially shocking that Leach can't even get interviewed. It's one thing to fear hiring a guy who just sued his last employer (with good reason) and may very well be smarter than you, but no one has cited that as a reason that I know of.
And I don't want to hear anything about how a coach is supposed to be a molder of men. This isn't middle school. It's college, it's crooked, and everyone is pretty much going to do what they want. (See: Hill, Will). For real, click that link and remember that at the very time he was Tweeting those things, UF coaches were telling reporters about how mature Hill was.
Leach is a great coach and a captivating character, and I'd love to see what he could do with a program like Florida or Miami. Would you? If you don't think he'd fit, is it because of on- or off-field issues?