Gainesville Ramblings

This is a blog, and thus it barely qualifies as writing, let alone formal writing, so I'd not let it bother you.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Mike Leach = Greatest Coach Alive

(Disclaimer: I wrote half this article while drunk, and the other while hungover. I'm not sure if that makes me more or less coherent, but I thought I'd let you know.)

Read this article and disagree with me.

This is a guy who is beyond weird, inspired the 'Mike Leach Pirate School,' and appears to be reinventing college football as we speak. The only thing holding him back is that he leads Texas Tech, a mid-major team at best.

One of the things I absolutely love about football is the strategy in it. It’s a mini war, broken into distinct segments (plays). And no one I've read or heard from acknowledges this better than Mike Leach. Reading that article, I see a Patton or Rohm of football: Someone who sees new possibilities in their craft, and exploits them because no one else has done so yet.

The Spread Option, the Spread, the West Coast Offense: These are all just variations on what came before. Leach's offense, which I've heard called the "Aerial Assault," is completely different than the standard. You run when you can, but the forward pass is the standard. There are no trick plays, no reverses, no hand offs (that 'clumps players together'). There is no establishing the run. There is only the pass. And when the pass scares the defenders so much that they pull back, the quarterback runs forward because no one is there to stop them.

I've read the above article about five times so far, and as much as I love Urban Meyer and what he's done with the Florida Gators, I shudder to think what Mike Leach could have done with Chris Leak and our wide receiver core. We're talking record breaking performances. Performances that would never be surpassed. At least until the next Leachen breakthrough in football.

Also, you have to love a guy who thinks this up:
As his team raced onto the field, he gazed into the stands filled with screaming fans and wondered about the several thousand "cadets" from Texas A.&M. clustered in one end zone. They wear military uniforms and buzz cuts, holler in unison and stand at attention the entire game. "How come they get to pretend they are soldiers?" he asked. "The thing is, they aren't actually in the military. I ought to have Mike's Pirate School. The freshmen, all they get is the bandanna. When you're a senior, you get the sword and skull and crossbones. For homework, we'll work pirate maneuvers and stuff like that."

And the even better thing is that the Texas Tech students read this and ran with it:
Orson Swindle: Speaking of coaches with one little concern for one side of the ball…this brings us to Mike Leach, another one of your subjects you’ve profiled.

That article–in case you don’t know–has circulated its way around the college football blogosphere and become part of the vernacular.

Michael Lewis (author of the above article): Is it?

OS: It is. It’s very common for us to post something about Mike Leach and someone will post “YARR” because of his fascination with pirates.

ML: You know what’s funny about that? When you turn on their games now, you see all these students dressed up as pirates. I thought this might be my greatest achievement as a writer. He might singlehandedly end up changing the mascot of the university. And one day when you turn on the Red Raiders, there’s going to be a pirate on the back of that horse when the Red Raider comes out before the game. But I didn’t realize that the article had gone around the blog like that.

OS: There’s actually a student section in Lubbock that refers to themselves as “Mike Leach’s Pirate School.” The eyepatches, the plastic swords…without knowing it, you helped to popularize the phenomenon.

As a matter of fact, just read the entire interview with Michael Lewis. You can find it here and here. Fascinating talk with a guy who has thought way too much about football.