Report: Mike Leach hired by Washington State

Bruce Feldman and others are reporting on Twitter that Mike Leach will be named as the new head football coach at Washington State.

Leach has been sitting tight waiting for the right opportunity after he left Texas Tech in a controversial breakup at the end of the 2009 season. He’s been hanging out in Key West and doing some announcing. Leach is widely considered to be one of the best offensive minds in college football and he turned the Texas Tech program into consistent winners. His overall record at Texas Tech was 84–43.

Meanwhile, Washington State has become an embarrassment in the PAC-12 under Paul Wulff, going 9-41 over the past 4 years. To put it in perspective, Wulff is coming off his best season with the Cougars at 4-8. Washington State isn’t considered to be on of the marquee programs of the PAC-12, but the school has had some excellent teams over the years and has produced some good quarterbacks like Drew Beldsoe and high draft picks like Ryan Leaf.

Leach has helped to develop some excellent college quarterbacks. He coached Tim Couch at Kentucky and Couch became the #1 pick in the NFL draft. At Oklahoma he coached Josh Heupel and he coached Graham Harrell at Texas Tech. Michael Crabtree was considered the best receiver in college football under Leach’s supervision.

It looks like a great fit for both parties involved. Leach will bring a high-powered offense and some attitude to a program that has hit rock bottom. The PAC-12 is competitive, but Leach comes from the equally competitive Big-12 where he battled the likes of Oklahoma. Leach probably won’t elevate Washington State above USC and Oregon, but he’ll likely make them competitive. He should also do well with recruiting given his history of coaching scoring machines.

Leach also brings some baggage as well, so he’s a high risk/high reward candidate. The Adam James incident was ugly for Leach and for Texas Tech. For that reason, he didn’t get serious consideration from the biggest programs. For example, I couldn’t see Leach being considered for the open UCLA job. But Washington State is perfect. Given their recent history, what do they have to lose? At the same time, it’s a big enough program where Leach could do some serious damage and build a dangerous football team.

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Oklahoma goes down at home against Texas Tech

No. 3 Oklahoma couldn’t overcome an early deficit as they lost to Texas Tech 41-38. The much-hyped Sooners’ defense gave up 572 total yards to the Red Raiders along with the 41 points, pretty much destroying any notion that they belonged in the National Championship game. Meanwhile Landry Jones completed 30 of 55 passes in the shootout for 412 yards and 5 touchdowns against one interception.

This result will shake up the BCS rankings, as No. 4 Wisconsin also lost a heart-breaker to Michigan State. Few people have been talking about No. 8 Stanford, but with Andrew Luck at the helm, they might pose the most interesting challenge to the eventual SEC winner if that’s how things play out. Last night Luck barely had to break a sweat in Stanford’s 65-21 thrashing of No. 25 Washington, as the running game for Stanford exploded for 446 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Of course the entire BCS discussion is ridiculous. Oklahoma is still a very good team, and if we had a sensible 8-team playoff for example, the Sooners would have a chance to redeem themselves and learn from this loss. Unfortunately, that notion doesn’t exist often in college football unless everyone ends up losing a game.

Mike Leach is waiting it out in Key West

I was never a big fan of Mike Leach, but I always respected what he accomplished at Texas Tech. The scandal that ended his tenure at Tech always seemed bizarre, and he’s in the middle of several lawsuits with the university and with ESPN.

Ron Modra has written an interesting profile of Leach in the Washington Post, which finds him in Key West as he waits for another opportunity to coach a major college football program. he had a shot at the Maryland job but they picked Randy Edsall from UConn instead.

I think he’ll get another shot eventually. My guess is you’ll see him at a BCS conference school that has hit rock bottom.

2010 Big 12 College Football Preview: Oklahoma reclaims top spot

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 3:   Quarterback Landry Jones #12 of the Oklahoma Sooners hands the ball off to teammate runningback DeMarco Murray #7 in the first quarter against the Miami Hurricanes on October 3, 2009 at Landshark Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Here’s a quick and dirty look at how I see things playing out in the Big 12 this season:

#1 Oklahoma
In Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy, Trent Williams, Jermaine Gresham, Keenan Clayton, Brody Eldridge and Dominique Franks, there’s no doubt that the Sooners lost a ton of talent from last year. However, this season is all about two names: Landry Jones and DeMarco Murray. Jones filled in admirably when Bradford went down last season, throwing 26 touchdown passes and gaining valuable experience throughout the year. Murray’s health history is a major concern, but if he can stay upright he’s scary good. He’s more versatile than Adrian Peterson was in that he can catch the ball out of the backfield or beat teams as a rusher. He’s big, he’s fast and he can get north and south in a hurry. He’s also going to get a ton of opportunities to shine this year as both a runner and a pass-catcher and again, if he can stay healthy he has the ability to be one of the best backs in college football. Defensively, Bob Stoops’ team has good depth and while the loss of McCoy hurts, don’t forget that Jeremy Beal was fifth on the team in tackles last season and first in sacks with 11. The linebacker corps has a chance to be special thanks to redshirt freshman Tom Wort and sophomore Ronnell Lewis. I know many pundits still like Texas in the South, but with Landry, Murray and nine starters returning on offense, I think Oklahoma reclaims the conference this season.

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Even with expansion, Pac-10 could eliminate the need for a title game

Expansion talk in the Pac-10 continues to heat up, as ESPN.com reports that Colorado has accepted an invitation to join the conference. Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech should receive invites as well, while Nebraska is likely heading to the Big Ten.

Despite adding more teams, the Pac-10 could eliminate the need for a conference championship game by pushing for two automatic bids to the BCS.

The coach said it’s possible the Pac-16 would push for two automatic bids to the BCS, one for each division champion. That potential bonanza could open the possibility of the two division champs from one league playing for the national title, and it would eliminate the need for a conference championship game.

“The Pac-10 doesn’t believe in a championship game,” the coach said. “And coaches in the Big 12 don’t like it anyway.”

Does anyone else think that it’s ridiculous to have 16 teams play in one conference but no championship game? It’s amazing how these schools manage to eliminate playoff-like games at all costs, even though that’s the structure that most fans want.

Fans want to see the best teams play each other, whether it’s in a conference title game or a playoff format in the postseason. But clearly the BCS and the schools themselves don’t want to breed head-to-head competition. They’re fine with crowning a champion based on record and moving on. As long as they can increase revenue, then who cares about the fans, right? I would be shocked if the Big Ten didn’t try to follow in the footsteps of the Pac-10 and figure out a way to avoid a conference championship game themselves.

Another interesting takeaway from the article is that expansion might not happen for another two years. So even though Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma would be joining other conferences in 2012, they’d still play in the Big 12 for the next two seasons. How awkward.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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