Mississippi State made the hire of the year (decade?) this week when they picked up Coach Mike Leach. I’ve never been to Starkville, but I imagine the city isn’t a big draw for recruits. Not to mention the SEC West is already crowded with football programs that have more to offer. Leach’s system matched with eccentricity is just what the Bulldogs need to get back to being relevant.
After turning around Texas Tech in the 00’s, and Washington State in the 10’s, Leach has earned the reputation as an offensive guru. A total record of 139-90 isn’t bad, but the individual records are off the charts. More than 150 NCAA, Big 12 and school records were broken at Texas Tech. While at Washington State, he was twice named Coach of the Year in the Pac-12 and was the first coach in school history to win 11 games in a season.
His fingerprints can be found all over the sport by his coaching tree. Art Briles, Sonny Dykes, Dana Holgorsen, Lincoln Riley, Kliff Kingsbury and Neal Brown just to name a few. A look at your followers might be the best barometer of judging the impact a college coach and Leach’s disciples testify to that.
What does his hire mean for his team? Looking at his previous early seasons at a school, probably not a quick turnaround. But certainly, a dramatic increase in passing. Last season the Bulldogs attempted 24 pass attempts and 179.5 yards per game. Compare that to 55 pass attempts and 437 yards per game for the Cougars.
This style of play will not only be new for the program, but for the conference. SEC West coaches will have to adapt to a very different, very #PAC12AfterDark game plan. Speaking of opposing coaches, I can’t wait to see Leach matched up against Saban, Orgeron, and especially Kiffin.
Love or hate his style, Leach is going to make a huge splash in Starkville. The man who fancies himself a pirate is going to turn Mississippi State into his newest air raid outpost.
Pat Benson has been a sideline reporter, P.A. announcer and radio personality. Tweet him @Pat_Benson_Jr