It’s been more than a month since our last Mike Leach update, and here we go: The Mississippi State Bulldogs are a train wreck, even for a season that is rather silly itself, of course. Since we last checked in on the matter, Mississippi State has won one game (24-17 at home) over winless Vanderbilt and lost three more games to mediocre competition by a combined 28 points to fall to 2-7 on the season.
The Bulldogs have one game left on their schedule, at home against Missouri, and that will wrap up a terrible season for a terrible team with a terrible coach. Don’t believe us? Check out the stats. They don’t lie:
- The offense ranks 119th in the country for scoring points, out of 127 teams
- The SRS overall ranking for the team is 99th in the country
It’s not like the Bulldogs have played a top schedule, either, regardless of the mythos the SEC likes to pretend exists. Without the bloated out-of-conference wins this year, the conference’s schedule strength is normalized: Mississippi State’s SOS is middling (49th). So the Bulldogs have stunk against barely-above average competition, basically.
What about the final game this weekend against the Tigers? Missouri is just 5-4 itself, with a 41-0 win over Vanderbilt. Comparative scores aren’t good predictors, but if the Tigers could do that to Commodores—while the Bulldogs could eke out a mere 7-point win against Vandy—then Missouri should be able to beat Mississippi State, handily. The Tigers certainly will have more motivation.
Not that it matters: The reality is this may be Leach’s worst coaching job ever. The 2020 Bulldogs certainly do rate out sabermetrically as the worst team he’s ever coached, even worse than the 2012 Washington State Cougars team that Leach guided in his first season there.
However, here’s the catch: The Cougars had been a 4-8 team before Leach took it over, and he led them to a 3-9 season. Usually, there can be an allowance for a new coach to shape the roster to his liking, and so that’s kind of regression is no big deal. It might even be expected for a coach like Leach with his unique style.
Leach inherited a Bulldogs team that made a bowl game last year. Mississippi State lost the bowl game to finish 6-7, but this kind of regression is way beyond normal for a new coach stripping down a roster and rebuilding it in his own image. This is an unmitigated disaster, especially when a self-proclaimed “offensive genius” can’t get his offense into the Top 100 of the sport, scoring wise.
The key here is to recognize that Leach was already losing it (assuming he ever had “it” to begin with): His 2019 WSU team was the fourth-worst team he’s ever coached, and that was his eighth season in Pullman when he should have had the team rolling. Instead, it was regressing sharply under his “leadership” and guidance.
Leach also has done nothing this year to attract better recruits than Mississippi State was already getting, and we all know he can’t coach his way out of a paper bag. The Bulldogs rightfully shouldn’t pull the plug on this expensive experiment so soon, but we stand by our assertion that Leach won’t make it through the 2022 season in Starkville.
The facts are there, and the pattern is clear.