January 5, 2009

Leach's tenured success has critics in awe

Category: NCAA General — Patrick Stumpf @ 9:10 pm

After all the playoffs games were done last night I sat down and watched 60 minutes. Scott Pelley, one of the show’s senior reporters sat down with Texas Tech head football coach Mike Leach to assess the secret behind the Red Raider’s success. And the reality is, Leach didn’t even have a succinct explanation.  And frankly, neither do sports writers. Also interviewed during the segment was sports writer Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball, a book on how small schools are able to become the cream of the crop (as in Tech’s case this season, holding the #2 overall ranking at one point). Even Lewis couldn’t provide a reasonable explanation other than glorifying Leach’s ability to get the absolute best out of his players. The perfect case in point comes when looking at Leach’s quarterbacks-most recently Graham Harrell-who’ve led the NCAA in passing six of the past nine years, and this year wide-receiver Michael Crabtree, whose skills lend himself to being a top ten pick this coming April should he decide to leave early for the NFL Draft.  The spread offense Leach runs certainly is complicated, but only rooted on one basic principle: spread the ball around to ensure defenses don’t key on one guy.  So what makes this story truly amazing? Well, for one, Leach hasn’t even been fully committed to football despite his team’s winning ways. 60 minutes mentioned his leaving the coaching ranks at one time to earn a law degree from Pepperdine. The even more amazing aspect? Leach is doing all this with a constrained budget and limited recruiting power. With Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M the local powers that be, Leach has been forced to bring in whatever’s left and become particularly innovative. CBS specifically mentioned a fan who became the team’s kicker after knocking a 30-yard field goal through at a halftime show for free rent.  Pretty nuts.  And despite all the forces they’ve had against working them, one recruiting ploy Leach just wasn’t going to let go to waste for the Red-Raider football program was being placed in the national spotlight.  Just imagine what this guy could accomplish with some major recruits.

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