FAB 4. Bucs Should Look At Leach – The Real Pirate
There is a good chance that next week the Buccaneers will be looking for the next captain of their ship if Dirk Koetter is fired on Monday, as expected. One coach they should give strong consideration to the original pirate – Washington State head coach Mike Leach.
Leach has a strong interest in pirates and has studied pirate history throughout his life, reading numerous books on everyone from Blackbeard to Calico Jack. More importantly, Leach is an offensive genius, who made his mark at Kentucky as the offensive coordinator under Hal Mumme where he coached record-setting quarterback Tim Couch, who went on to become the first overall draft pick in 1999.
From there he went on to Oklahoma to coach Heisman Trophy runner-up quarterback Josh Heupel under Bob Stoops in 1999 before becoming the head coach at Texas Tech from 2000-09 where he coached the likes of more record-setting quarterbacks like Kliff Kingsbury, Graham Harrell and B.J. Symons, in addition to wide receivers Michael Westbrook and Wes Welker. The Red Raiders went 11-2 in 2008 when Leach was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year.
Leach took over a struggling Washington State program in 2012 and after three years turned it into a winner, going 10-2 this year en route to tying for the Pac-12 division championship. He won the Pac-12 Coach of the Year award for the second time, and Gardner Minshew, Leach’s quarterback, finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting this year. Leach was also named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year in 2015.
The Big Takeaway
The outspoken Leach is a straight shooter who doesn’t mince words. He holds his players accountable and is an offensive wizard that could do wonders with the arsenal of weapons Tampa Bay has on its roster, and could aid in the development of quarterback Jameis Winston the way he’s developed less physically talented players like Kingsbury, Harrell and Minshew at the collegiate level.
Plus, selfishly speaking, his press conferences are always entertaining and he would be a dream for me to cover professionally. If there is a time where the 57-year old Leach would consider making a jump to the NFL, the time is now coming off his best season at Washington State, and the Buccaneers would be the right team for the ol’ pirate.
Leach’s autobiography is called “Swing Your Sword” and he’s used pirates as a metaphor when talking to his teams about football before.
“Pirates function as a team. There were a lot of castes and classes in England at the time. But with pirates, it didn’t matter if you were black, white, rich or poor. The object was to get a treasure. If the captain did a bad job, you could just overthrow him.”
Leach is every bit the offensive innovator that Sean McVay gets credit for being, and has quite a long coaching tree in college, including Art Briles (former Baylor head coach), Sonny Dykes (SMU head coach), Ruffin McNeill (former East Carolina head coach, current Oklahoma defensive coordinator), Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia head coach), Seth Littrell (North Texas head coach) and Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma head coach). I think Leach could attract good coaches and build a quality staff in Tampa Bay and really enhance the offense that Koetter and general manager Jason Licht have built.
Quotes That Matter
“The players really got into the whole pirate thing. We were the ‘Pirate Team.’ I’ll never forget that day Coach Leach came into the meeting with that sword and started explaining how pirates lived. It was wild, but it made so much sense as he got into it. We took three things from that speech: Don’t hesitate. Be Smart. And be violent on the field. We were a young team and that pirate thing gave us an identity. We needed an attention-getter. We needed something to rally behind. That was it.” – Antonio Huffman, Texas Tech CB, 2003-05
“I called Six, or our call for four verticals,” Leach said, recalling an exchange with Kinsgbury. “We had it, and I called it, and Kliff shook me off. Now most of the time I’m fine with quarterbacks shaking me off, but we had this, and I got mad and called time out and said some things to Kliff. So Kliff goes out there, and I call Six again, and he shakes me off again, and now we get delay of game. It’s fourth down, and we’re on our own 40, but I just call it again and have some words with Kliff. We hit it against that corner cheating up for a touchdown, and Kliff comes up and starts yelling at me angry on the sideline. ‘FINE, FINE, ARE YOU HAPPY NOW? WE DID IT YOUR WAY, AND NOW ARE YOU HAPPY?’ And I was.”
On being criticized for running the score on an opponent while beating Nebraska 70-10 while at Texas Tech in 2004: “Football is the only sport where [you’re supposed to] quit playing when you get the lead,” Leach said. “In golf, you keep trying to improve your score every hole. In basketball, you don’t stop shooting when you’re ahead. In boxing, you don’t quit punching when you’re ahead.”
Stats That Count
• Leach, who never played college football, spent 10 years at Texas Tech from 2000-09 and had 10 winning seasons, going, 84-43, including an 11-2 campaign in 2008.
• Leach has been at Washington State for the last seven seasons where he has gone 48-40, including winning seasons over the last four years, winning at least eight games, including a school-best 10 wins in 2018. He’s always been known to do more with less talent.
The Videos You Have To See
Leach was profiled on CBS’ 60 Minutes after his 11-2 season at Texas Tech in 2008. This is a pretty remarkable look at a fascinating coach.
This video is from a press conference at Washington State where he is ripping into his team and demanding mental toughness. There is no B.S. with this guy. I love it. I absolutely love it. The Bucs need mental toughness, folks.
WARNING: The video below contains explicit language and was Leach’s post-game speech after a 20-13 win against Baylor in what would be his final game at Texas Tech before being fired for alleged mistreatment of wide receiver Adam James, who is Craig James’ son. This the way Tampa Bay’s next head coach needs to level with this Buccaneers roster, who has no clue to how to win on a consistent basis.
The FABulous Ending
Leach would be an off-the-wall, out-of-the-box hire, but maybe that’s what the Buccaneers need right now. I love his candor and the fact that he has turned two smallish schools in their respective conferences – Texas Tech and Washington State – into winners, bowl teams and ranked teams with sheer will and ingenuity.
Unless the Glazers trade for Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh or perhaps take a chance on Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, I don’t know that there is another candidate that excites me quite like Leach does. It will be interesting to see who replaces Koetter, but I guarantee the Bucs’ next head coach won’t be as interesting as Leach would be.