Mike Leach May Be the Last Real Renaissance Man Left
For those of you in Nashville with us who might not stay up late to keep tabs on the Pac-12 come football season, I wanted to introduce you to a man who is one of my favorite follows in the game. In case you don’t already know, Mike Leach is a pretty interesting cat. He may be known for his football coaching prowess, but the man has one of the most unique intellects on the planet.
From what we’ve seen and read in interviews, the man just thinks differently than the rest of us. Sure, it makes him pretty damn entertaining. But, more often than not, he also provides a bit of perspective that you don’t typically get out of the ordinary football coach. It’s certainly a breath of fresh air.
When we’re talking about Leach, the conversation is going always going to begin with his success on the football field. But, he didn’t even get there through conventional means. Leach went to law school first. Then, he got into coaching.
His tenure at Texas Tech was pretty well unprecedented. Under Leach, the Red Raiders finished with winning records for a decade. 10 years in a row, they finished the season with more wins than losses – that’s quite something for a school that’s always had to contend with Texas, Baylor, TCU, Texas A&M, and programs of the like in the area. To this day, Leach remains the winningest coach in Texas Tech history.
But, it wasn’t just the production that was staggering. The way Leach’s air raid offenses changed the landscape of college football was fun to watch. Lighting up scoreboards was the calling card of his Texas Tech teams. It was a new brand of football, but one that Leach found great success utilizing.
He’s since gone on to coach at Washington State, where he turned a perennial loser into a perennial contender in the Pac-12 North. It took a few seasons, but Wazzou has posted eight or nine wins in each of the last three seasons.
A great example of Leach’s fresh perspective is his relentless pursuit of a 64-team playoff. Some of us are out here just begging for eight teams, but even that isn’t good enough for Leach. But, the conversation about what makes the man interesting goes far beyond football.
Just scroll through his Twitter feed. You’ll find funny animal videos, interesting articles, viral clips, historical columns, inspirational quotes, and much more.
The Viking runestone embedded on a street corner in Gamla stan, the old town of Stockholm, is believed to be older than the city itself. Its origin is unknown, but it’s estimated to date back to the 11th century. It’s officially called “Uppland Runic Inscription 53.” pic.twitter.com/4QP8UCkVhT
— Atlas Obscura (@atlasobscura) July 13, 2018
His Twitter feed reads like a direct stream of consciousness. It’s a glimpse into Leach’s mind and his insanely wide array of interests.
But, not only that, the man is a published author to boot. Not only did he write 2011’s Swing Your Sword, a chronicle of his football philosophy and career, but he also wrote 2014’s Geronimo: Leadership Strategies of an American Warrior. That’s right. Geronimo.
I wouldn’t be an honest writer if I didn’t mention the controversy that led Leach from Texas Tech to Washington State. The perception was that one of Leach’s coaches, on his orders, locked a kid in a closet after suffering a concussion. From the always reliable Wikipedia:
On December 28, 2009, Leach was suspended indefinitely by Texas Tech pending investigation of alleged inappropriate treatment of Adam James, son of former SMU and New England Patriots running back (and former ESPN college football analyst) Craig James. On December 16, James suffered a concussion. He was examined the next day, and told not to practice that afternoon due to the concussion. According to a James family source, Leach ordered him to stand in the equipment room near the Raiders’ practice facility. According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, school officials claim they gave Leach an ultimatum to apologize to James in writing by December 28 or Leach would be suspended. His attorney, Ted Liggett, disputed the characterization of events as reported by the university and other news sources, and said that James had been treated reasonably in light of his condition.
All in all, heresay, speculation, and he-said she-said gossip, not so much proven facts, surrounded Leach’s departure from Texas Tech. Leach fought the allegations…even suing Texas Tech for wrongful termination. Therefore, it doesn’t really dampen my opinion of the guy. He comes away credible in this scenario, and I feel a lot of what was said about that incident was entirely overblown.
Leach is a bona fide Renaissance man in an era when Renaissance men come few and far between.
Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD and #BeBetter. “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Alabama Crimson Tide football, the WWE, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley