Mississippi State hired Mike Leach away from Washington State. Whether or not it works, it’s going to be fun.
Daily Cavalcade: Mike Leach Hired By Mississippi State
Okay, Mississippi State. Play this out.
What do you get by hiring Mike Leach as the next Bulldog head coach?
Here’s the positive. You’ve established your identity.
Now you know that with this guy, you’re going to have a team that can at least hang punch-for-punch stat-wise with all of the high-powered offensive teams on the slate.
You know that your passing game is going to be one of the best in the nation, you know that your running game is going to be one of the worst in the nation, and you know that your defense is going to be a polite suggestion a wee bit too often.
You also know that that once in a while, he’s going to have the offense and the firepower to knock off one of the big boys on the SEC schedule.
You also know that Mississippi State is probably destined to hit a rock-hard ceiling of eight wins every year.
And you also know that the next few seasons certainly won’t be boring.
Does Mississippi State fire Joe Moorhead after two seasons – one of them really good – if Lane Kiffin isn’t hired at Ole Miss? Eh, maybe, but probably not.
Does Mississippi State hire Mike Leach if Ole Miss doesn’t hire Lane Kiffin? Ehhhhhhh, maybe, but it probably hires Lane Kiffin.
To be fair to Mississippi State, it absolutely makes PR sense to hire Leach – that’s not a negative.
It’s hard enough as is to get everyone fired up about a team in Starkville, Mississippi that plays in the same division as Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M.
If LSU beats Clemson, Mississippi State had to find a guy who could at least make three national championship-winning head coaches and another who coached in one – again, in the same division – think a little bit.
It also had to find a guy who could hang with Kiffin when it comes to media attention. Mississippi State isn’t Alabama, or LSU, or Auburn – it has to make some noise, and it can’t be invisible.
And again, it needs a differentiating factor of a style. MSU can certainly recruit compared to the rest of the college world, but next to the monsters in the SEC West, there’s no way to play it straight and win.
Throw the ball a bazillion times, do it with – presumably – better talent than he was able to get at Texas Tech and Washington State, and let’s see how it works.
With all that said …
Really, where is this going?
Fine, Mississippi State might finish every year between 6-and-8 wins, it’ll pull off an upset or two, and it’ll go to a fine bowl in a lovely location, but can Leach really do anything to create a team that will threaten Saban, or Ed, or Jimbo, or Gus … or Lane?
In many ways, for all of the mad scientist stuff, he hasn’t really won anything.
Quote all the stats you want about how Washington State did next to nothing for several years before Leach got there, but in his 18 years as a head coach he has no conference titles, no conference championship appearances, no outright division wins, two co-division championships, one top ten finish, has lost five of his last seven bowl games, and has just two double-digit win campaigns.
Whatever. Let’s have some fun.
There’s a LOT of frosting here, but not a whole lot of cake. Mississippi State might get a sugar rush … and it’s all good.
We know what Leach is. We know what he’s capable of, but do we know yet whether or not Louisiana’s Billy Napier is the next big thing?
Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy would be a whale of a college head coach. THERE’S your shot for the stars in terms of upside and system.
And what about … it doesn’t matter. Mississippi State got its guy.
To be hypocritical, I wrote about wanting Tennessee to hire Leach two years ago to see what he could do with a bound-by-nothing program instead of the Wazzu/Texas Tech type that has to scratch and claw to be among the respective league’s stars.
And there is a difference between the SEC East and West – you have to get by two killer programs in the East as opposed to three and and possibly four in the West.
We’ll analyze this to death over the next few years, and maybe it’ll work, and maybe it won’t, and blah, blah, blah … the SEC West just got itself a high-powered offense that the rest of college football is going to care about every week.
The SEC West was already fun and awesome. And then it got Lane Kiffin. And now it has Mike Leach.
The Egg Bowl, by the way, will be Thursday, November 26th in Oxford.