Mike Leach’s coaching resume in 10 years at Texas Tech should have made him one of the most coveted college football coaches in the country.
An 84-43 record. Ten bowl appearances in 10 seasons. The promulgation of the “Air Raid” offense. And all of it at a non-traditional football power in one of the toughest conferences in college football.
But Leach’s abrupt firing for “insubordination” in 2009 left a dark cloud over him that seemed to prevent programs from going anywhere near him for almost two years.
On Wednesday, Leach finally got his second chance when he agreed in principle to a five-year contract to be the head coach of Washington State.
“It’s a university on the move that is experiencing growth,” Leach said of his new school in a statement. “I’m excited for what they are doing with the facilities and it’s a team that has battled through some hard times and shows great promise in the future.
“I’m proud to be part of this team.”
Fired amid allegations that he mistreated a concussed player — namely receiver Adam James, the son of ESPN analyst Craig James — Leach openly admitted he felt black-balled by the “Worldwide Leader” and was unable to pursue new coaching opportunities as a result.
Two days after he was suspended for the alleged mistreatment of James, Leach was fired. He was due an $800,000 bonus the day after the firing. Leach later sued for wrongful termination and has maintained he did not do anything more than put James in a dark room during two practices.
Leach was in the conversation when Maryland was searching for a new head coach last spring. The Terrapins instead went with former Connecticut coach Randy Edsall who just finished a 2-10 campaign with the team. On Wednesday, running back D.J. Adams announced he plans to transfer after an “extremely challenging and disappointing” season.
“I could’ve provided a lot of things that they needed — filling the stadium, selling tickets, graduating players, keeping them out of trouble and winning a lot of football games. No question about that,” Leach said in a June interview with the Post’s Rick Maese. “But they needed to go with the guy they wanted.”
During Leach’s time at Texas Tech, the Red Raiders led the nation in passing six times and in total yards three times. That offensive prowess is a major reason why the Cougars — who have not been to a bowl game in nine years — went after Leach.
“I asked athletic director Bill Moos to select the best head football coach in the country and I am convinced he has done exactly that,” WSU President Elson S. Floyd said.