Big 12 football: Bring back Mike Leach
Kansas fired Turner Gill on Sunday, agreeing to pay off an overmatched coach who lasted just two years on the job. Don’t ask me where KU is getting the money. But do ask me who I hope gets the job.
Mike Leach. Leach’s name was trotted out Sunday by Kansas City Star columnist Sam Mellinger, and while I think it’s a longshot, I think it would be fantastic for the Big 12. And its networks.
Inventory has become a catchword in conference realignment. Does a 10-team league have enough quality inventory to warrant the big bucks being paid out by ESPN and Fox Sports? Especially a 10-team league that has lost Nebraska and is about too lose Texas A&M and Missouri. Inventory is why West Virginia is headed to the Big 12; the networks want the Mountaineers.
Cold truth: Kansas football adds nothing to the inventory. There hasn’t been one KU football game the last two years that had anyone excited, not after Gill’s debut game was a defeat to North Dakota State.
But Leach would change that. Fans love to watch Leach games. He turned Texas Tech into must-see TV. Leach actually did more for Tech’s television ratings than he did for Tech’s BCS rankings. That Leach offense, coupled with his quirky personality, attracts fans.
And think of the inventory. West Virginia is headed for the league with Leach protege’ Dana Holgorsen as coach. KU games against West Virginia would be wild. Same with the KU-Texas Tech grudge match. Or KU-TCU, where Leach would match wits against old adversary Gary Patterson, who in his last two games against Leach lost 70-35 and won 12-3. Leach-OU. Leach-OSU. I’m telling you, the Big 12 might supplement Kansas’ contract offer to Leach.
But I don’t think it will happen. It’s a political nightmare for Kansas. Think how we got here. Kansas fired Mark Mangino two years ago amid allegations of mistreatment of players, even though there are reasons to think that was just a ready excuse. Tech fired Leach two years ago amid allegations of mistreatment of players, even though it’s clear he was railroaded out of Lubbock for other reasons.
Wouldn’t it be difficult for Kansas to hire a coach with a checkered past on player treatment, considering how and why it fired Mangino?
I think Kansas could afford Leach. He’s clearly a little bit of damaged goods, with his pending lawsuits against Tech. The job offers haven’t flooded him down in Key West, where he’s holed up doing a radio show, waiting to get back in coaching. Leach isn’t in position to demand a huge contract.
Kansas could have probably have Leach if it wants. I just don’t know if KU can rationalize such a hire. As much as it would help the Big 12 and as much as we’d all like to have him back in the league.
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