Sidelines with John Clay

Mike Leach has never had the advantages he would have at Tennessee

In this Oct. 21, 2017, file photo, Washington State coach Mike Leach watches from the sideline during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against Colorado in Pullman, Wash. A person with direct knowledge of the meeting says Leach met with Tennessee athletic director John Currie to discuss the school’s coaching vacancy. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side intended to make the meeting public.
In this Oct. 21, 2017, file photo, Washington State coach Mike Leach watches from the sideline during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against Colorado in Pullman, Wash. A person with direct knowledge of the meeting says Leach met with Tennessee athletic director John Currie to discuss the school’s coaching vacancy. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side intended to make the meeting public. Associated Press

UPDATE: Reports now that Tennessee has fired Athletic Director John Currie

Could Mike Leach be returning to the SEC?

The latest from the train wreck that has been the Tennessee head football coaching search reportedly has now turned to former Kentucky assistant and current Washington State head coach Mike Leach.

“Tennessee coaching search update: Source tells me the meeting with Mike Leach went very well. And . . . stay tuned,” tweeted Bruce Feldman late Thursday night.

Of course, this is after the Vols may or may not have been turned down by Jon Gruden, Dan Mullen, Mike Gundy, Jeff Brohm, Dave Doeren. It’s also after Athletic Director John Currie was all set to hire Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano on Sunday before a fan revolt caused the school to pull out of the deal.

Big Orange Nation said it objected to Schiano’s time on Joe Paterno’s staff at Penn State during the days of Jerry Sandusky. A deposition alleged that Schiano knew of Sandusky’s behavior, though Schiano forcefully denied that was the case.

Steve Politi, columnist for the Newark Star-Ledger during Schiano’s time as head coach at Rutgers, wasn’t buying that argument.

“Let’s be clear on what this is really about,” Politi wrote. “The people in Tennessee aren’t outraged about what Schiano might have witnessed a quarter century ago when he was a young assistant coach. They were furious over his middling 68-67 record as a head coach in Piscataway and his failed two-year tenure in charge of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“If Schiano was a hot-shot coach headed for the national playoff, you really think those Tennessee fans are spray painting that rock? You think Clay Travis, the backward-thinking professional blowhard in SEC country, is really tweeting out the Tennessee athletic director’s cell phone number to the mob if Schiano was head coach of a top-10 team right now?”

After that fiasco, Tennessee reportedly went after Brohm, the former Louisville quarterback who was highly successful at Western Kentucky before coaching Purdue to bowl eligibility in his first season as the head coach in West Lafayette. Brohm said no thanks.

Then it was Doeren, who has done well at first Northern Illinois and now North Carolina State. Doeren ended up getting a better contract from his athletic director, Debbie Yow, the former Kentucky women’s basketball coach.

Now it is Leach’s turn to either get a better deal at Washington State or return to the SEC. After going 84-43 in 10 seasons at Texas Tech, Leach has gone 38-37 in six seasons at Washington State, including a 9-3 mark this season.

Something to consider: Bill Moos, the AD who hired Leach at Washington State, left WSU in October to become the athletic director at Nebraska.

Before all that, of course, Leach was Hal Mumme’s wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator at Kentucky. He left after the 1998 season to become Bob Stoops’ OC at Oklahoma. From there, it was on to Lubbock and his first head coaching job.

I was the UK football beat writer during Leach’s time in Lexington. He’s eccentric, entertaining and very smart. Tennessee has surely experienced a reality check with regards to the national perception of its program, but football is important in Knoxville.

And as a head coach, Leach has never had the resources and profile he would receive at Tennessee. It would be interesting to see what he could do with those advantages.

Mike Leach’s head coaching record

Year

School

Record

Conf

Bowl

2000

Texas Tech

7-6

3-5

Galleryfurniture.com

2001

Texas Tech

7-5

4-4

Alamo

2002

Texas Tech

9-5

5-3

Tangerine

2003

Texas Tech

8-5

4-4

Houston

2004

Texas Tech

8-4

5-3

Holiday

2005

Texas Tech

9-3

6-2

Cotton

2006

Texas Tech

8-5

4-4

Insight

2007

Texas Tech

9-4

4-4

Gator

2008

Texas Tech

11-2

7-1

Cotton

2009

Texas Tech

8-4

5-3

Alamo

2012

Washington State

3-0

1-8

2013

Washington State

6-7

4-5

New Mexico

2014

Washington State

3-9

2-7

2015

Washington State

9-4

6-3

Sun

2016

Washington State

8-5

7-2

Holiday

2017

Washington State

9-3

6-3

TBD

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