This piece is just for the historical record, to demonstrate that college football coach Mike Leach was always an overrated entity. Below is a breakdown of his coaching record at three different Power 5 schools, based on records against other Power 5 schools (broken down by in-conference and out-of-conference matchups) and against smaller schools (non-Power 5 FBS, FCS, et al).
So, without further blather, here we go:
- Texas Tech (overall, Power 5 OOC, Power 5 conference, Other): 84-43, 1-3, 52-36, 31-4
- Washington State: 55-47, 3-7, 36-36, 16-4
- Mississippi State: 19-17, 2-1, 11-15, 6-1
- TOTAL: 158-107, 6-11, 99-87, 53-9
What we see here is stunningly clear: Leach padded his coaching record with 53 wins against non-Power 5 opponents. Take away those games (wins and losses), and his overall record is just 105-98, revealing Leach to be a barely above-average coach against the best competition in the country. Furthermore, he got worse at every stop along the way, peaking with a 53-39 record at Texas Tech—when his gimmicky offense was still “novel”—and dropping along the way (39-43 at WSU, 13-16 at MSU).
The same pattern is reflected in his conference records in the Big XII, the Pac-12, and the SEC: He was progressively worse the more familiar with his offense the league opponents became. The 52-36 record in a relatively weak Big XII (pretty much always Oklahoma, Texas, and some other schools) was his best effort, but he was just a .500 coach against Pac-12 competition and under .500 against SEC opponents. We already noted the miracles of 2022, but long term, the pattern at MSU would have been the same.
(What this says about the respective “quality” of the Big XII, Pac-12, and SEC is open for debate; we will let you decide that.)
Finally, the OOC record against Power 5 opponents mostly reflects some bowl games and the very few scheduled OOC games in his career: 6-11. So, even opposing coaches who didn’t see his gimmicks every year knew how to shut his offense down simply from watch some film. These are damning stats for those who claim Leach was a “great” coach: When you are barely above .500 against real competition in your career, that doesn’t equate to much more than merely “above average”!
That’s not saying a lot. Innovator? Debatable. Bully? Yes. Again, consider the reality that 23 percent of his coached games came against teams from small conferences and the FCS … that is a high percentage. The overall record of 105-98 against Power 5 schools tells us much more about Leach’s coaching skills. The fact he was under .500 at both WSU and MSU when facing real competition tells us the “magic” of his Texas Tech tenure disappeared quickly. He wasn’t fooling anyone but the clueless then.
We’re not intending to spit on the departed, but we cannot stand the lies, the myths, and the shite spewed when someone passes away. We prefer honesty, integrity, and transparency. As noted, we have deep empathy for Leach’s family, but we also need the facts presented when assessing his coaching career—so here they are … do with them what you will.