In the late 1990s, the football coach at Kentucky was Hal Mumme, who I had met while he moved up in college football’s ranks. One day in Lexington he introduced me to his offensive coordinator, Mike Leach, and I immediately latched onto him, following his career at Texas Tech and currently at Washington State. He is easily one of the best coaches in the country at any level.
Earlier this week my heart skipped a beat when it was revealed UT athletic director John Currie --- who was severely chastised yesterday – had spoken with Leach about becoming the Vols’ head coach. Mike’s WSU team was one game away from the Pac-10 championship before Washington waxed the Cougars, 41-14 in the annual Apple Bowl. Still, a 9-2 record in Pullman ain’t as bad as a 4-8 in Knoxville.
One report coming out of the nigh-crazy scramble was that Currie had reached a verbal agreement with Leach before UT chancellor Beverly Davenport called him back to Knoxville. She promptly suspended Currie, making Phillip Fulmer the interim guy. But this story has nothing to do with any of that.
Several days before last Saturday’s fight for the Apple Cup in the state of Washington Delicious, a sports writer in Pullman asked “The Pirate,” as Leach is sometimes called due to his strong affection for all things Jolly Roger, if he might have a tip or two on marriage. Understand, Leach is known for his hysterical humor and the reporter’s timing couldn’t have been better. (Leach once took his wife on a date to A&W Root Beer and, as she got out of the car, Mike handed a coupon book to her with the words, “Get anything you like …)“
Only by a trace of luck 10 days ago, a couple of camera crews caught Mike’s epic answer and sports people the world over are still laughing… Here is part of what he said:
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A FOOTBALL COACH’S ADVICE ON MARRIAGE
(Taken from a video of Washington State’s Mike Leach)
“My Wisdom would be: You have to stay out of the way...
“When it comes to marriages, the women lose their minds. Your fiancé is going to lose her mind. Your mother in law is going to lose her mind. Your mom is going to lose her mind...
“They’re going to barrage you with constant questions. What should we wear? To which my answer is: I don’t care. What color should the invitations be? I don’t care. What should be have for dessert? I don’t care.
“You see, I don’t care is not satisfactory at all. You’re going to get caught in a catch-22, and I’m sure you already have. That Catch-22 is, ‘I want you to be a part of this too!’
“So what color invitations? Alright, the blue ones. ‘I kind of like the tan ones.’ Alright, the tan ones, then. ‘Well, you’re just saying that because you want this over with, you’re not even thinking about it!’ Which is of course, true.
“It’s just going to go back and forth and they’re going to play keep away from you until you’re married. So, what you need to do is work late hours. Be very nice and supportive, but they’re going to play keep away from you and there is no answer you can give that is going to be satisfactory and correct.
“So you need to work late. Go in the back room and read a lot of books. You have to go take the groomsmen out and make sure that they march in just right. In the end, you’ll wish you eloped.
“You need to find excuses that they’ll buy to stay as far out of harm’s way as you possibly can. But take comfort in knowing that once the ceremony is over that life will get progressively better from there, even though there is some adjustment.” (To watch Mike’s rant, click HERE)
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MORE GREAT QUOTES FROM MIKE LEACH
* -- On Texas Tech’s first victory (over New Mexico): “It’s kind of like doing surgery with a chainsaw instead of a scalpel. We had pieces and parts flying everywhere. It turned out in our favor. We’ve just got to clean it up the next time around.”
* -- An admonishment to his players: “If you get into a fight, don’t take your helmet off. We’re looking for smart football players, not dumb ones.”
* -- “Moses was in high school the last time these guys lost a Homecoming game.”
* -- On social media: “I'm not really good with technology. All this button pushing and whatnot. I mean, you can just imagine based on what's happened in the last 15 years. Conversations won't happen 10 years from now. There aren't going to be people to talk to, it's going to be this [mimics pushing buttons]. 'Do you want to go out on a date with me?' 'I don't know, what do you look like?' 'Well I look kind of like this.' 'OK, what are your interests?' 'Well, what do you think my interests are? Looking to this thing and typing into this just like yours are.' 'Yeah, no kidding, that's what everybody's doing.' 'Well, where do you want to go?' 'Well, what difference does it make? Because all we're going to be doing is looking into machines anyways.' Well, that's true and in the end, it's going to be tough to perpetuate the species. There's no question about that. So we're all going to look in this box and eventually be extinct. That's how it ends.”