Let’s cut the formalities and just talk straight. Mike Leach is one weird dude.
A strange ranger. An odd fellow. A law-degreed football coach who steps to the beat of a different drummer, and I don’t mean the percussion section of The Goin’ Band From Raiderland.
You find a lot of eclectic people on a college campus. Just not in the football department, most certainly not in the head coach’s office and most absolutely certainly not in the head coach’s office at Texas Tech, where men are men and supposed to be tough ol’ Texans with raw bones and just a pinch between your cheek and gums.
But there sits Leach, riding his roller blades down Lubbock’s wide streets or pontificating about pirates or eschewing punts on fourth-and-long from his own territory.
And here also sits Leach: near the summit of college football. The Red Raiders are 9-0 and ranked No. 2 in the all-important BCS and hosting, for the second straight Saturday night, the sport’s game of the week, against Oklahoma State.
So it’s time to praise Gerald Myers. Praise him and warn him.
Myers is the Tech athletic director, a retired basketball man who had no pedigree in sniffing out good gridiron coaches but did so anyway.
Myers brought Bobby Knight to Lubbock. Who knew the hiring of Leach would trump the General?
Myers said he first knew of Leach at Kentucky, helping direct Hal Mumme’s spread offense. Then when Bob Stoops hired Leach at OU in 1999, and the Sooners started short-circuiting scoreboards, Myers’ interest zoomed.
"I’m sitting there looking at OU scoring 50 points a game,” Myers said. "Everybody else in the league was playing power football.
"Bob was a guy on everybody’s radar. For him to hire Mike, that said a lot about Mike ... but the thing that really caught our eye was scoring points.”
Myers and his search committee looked at some interesting candidates, including then-Clemson offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez and ex-Auburn coach Terry Bowden.
But Leach was their man. "We decided we were going to hire a throwing coach,” Myers said.
Stroke of genius. Leach’s Tech offenses have become legend. But truth is, style of play have tended to overrate Leach’s offenses and underrated his defenses.