If Mike Leach goes to Tennessee, would that be the saving grace after the weirdest coaching search in a long, long time? Maybe, but can he win something?
Oh sure, it would be a blast if Mike Leach ends up getting the Tennessee job.
What do you do if your major college football team finished 124th in the nation and dead last in the conference in total offense, dead last in scoring offense, and below dead last – if that’s possible – in being fun and interesting?
No matter what it took to get to this point, yeah, you go get Mike Leach.
Mike Leach is a sound bite.
Mike Leach is attitude.
Mike Leach is brash, attitude, unapologetic, surly and opinionated.
Mike Leach is offense, offense, offense for a program that needs, needs, needs just that.
Mike Leach might be able to fill the void left by Steve Spurrier when it comes being cocky, confident and entertaining.
Only without the same legendary playing career the Ball Coach had.
Or the wins.
And there’s going to be the concern with the Leach hire – if it happens. He hasn’t actually won anything.
Yeah, Tennessee spent the last week doing everything possible to show how a big-time superpower program – and yes, that’s what it is, or will be again – can screw up a job with absolutely everything in place to win and win big. But can Leach actually get it done at a higher level?
Once you strip down all the hot air, and all the boorish behavior, and all of the humor and entertainment that goes into his offenses and his press conferences, there’s one big problem.
You’ve won as many conference championships as a college football head coach as he has.
Granted, he made Texas Tech fantastic in the era of Oklahoma and Texas as the stars among stars, and he cranked the Washington State program up again after years of being stuck in neutral. But Leach has yet to prove he can be that one-step-away guy from getting the job done.
This year should’ve been it.
This year, his Washington State team had the defense to go with the O. The Cougars finished the regular season No. 1 in the nation in third down defense, they finished fourth in takeaways and 15th in total defense.
The high-powered passing attack might have had some issues here and there – there was NOTHING downfield happening and the yards after the catch were minimal – but in a league with Darnold, and Rosen, and Browning, and Herbert, and all the great offensive stars, Wazzu still had the conference’s No. 1 passing game.
This might have been his best team in his 16 years as a head coach, and yet, when it had the chance to finally get the job done and come up with a win to play for a conference championship …
Washington 41, Washington State 14.
His one claim to resume fame was the 2008 Texas Tech squad that stunned Texas and finished in a three-way tie for the Big 12 South title, only to finish up with a 65-21 loss to Oklahoma and a blowout Cotton Bowl loss to Ole Miss in the final three games. And that’s it. That’s the only time a Mike Leach-coached team finished a season with fewer than three losses.
But here’s the thing – Washington State and Texas Tech aren’t Tennessee.
What can a guy like Leach do with all the resources? All the recruiting advantages? All of the money generated from such a monster of a program?
Washington State and Texas Tech had histories of high-powered offensive attacks when he took over, but Tennessee is Tennessee. This is different.
Now, he’d be bound by nothing. Now, the mad scientist would get to create in a lab with every possible beaker, test tube and Bunsen burner to see if he could make this all really, really work. He’d get his shot to show what he could do in the grandest of college football experiments.
But in the short term, here’s your quick fix for a Tennessee offense that played like it was trying to go long stretches of time without scoring.
Here’s your guy who’ll crank up the fan base in a hurry.
Here’s the guy who’s going to constantly poke the bear – or the Tide. He’s going to be a thorn in the side of Florida and Georgia. He’s going to be a character among characters with the higher-profile and bigger stage.
If he gets this Tennessee job. he’s going to make Football Time In Tennessee a whole lot of fun again.