Arkansas 2019 Coaching Search: Making the case for, against Mike Leach
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Arkansas 2019 Coaching Search: Making the case for, against Mike Leach

Washington State head coach Mike Leach.
Washington State head coach Mike Leach. (AP)

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Arkansas’ search to replace Chad Morris is underway, with athletics director Hunter Yurachek’s search firm already putting out feelers to agents and coaches.

A full list of possible candidates can be found on the HawgBeat Hot Board, but we recently began our “case for/case against” series in which we take a closer look at a single coach. A coach whose name has been trending since day one of the search is Washington State head coach Mike Leach–one of the most recognizable coaches in all of college football.

“Order… Order in the court. We’ll now hear the case of Washington State head coach Mike Leach…”

Case for Leach

- One of the best coaching trees in CFB

Mike Leach has propelled the careers of so many of the top names in both college football, and the NFL as well, and his staff at Washington State is full of the disciples of the his great coaching tree. Mike Leach's tree is so large on its own but it's also connected and made stronger by Hal Mumme's very impressive tree.

Mumme and Leach created the Air Raid offense at Iowa Wesleyan. The quarterbacks there in Leach's three seasons passed for over 11,000 yards and broke 26 nation records. Leach then went to Valdosta State and Kentucky with Mumme before leaving his staff to join Bob Stoops at Oklahoma. Leading the Oklahoma offense, Leach turned the Sooners around from 11th in the Big 12 in 1998 to first in 1999 and 101st in the nation to 11th. Before leaving Oklahoma, he coached then-QB, current UNT head coach Seth Littrell.

Leach then coached more future head coaches and coordinators at Texas Tech, including Littrell's former OC at UNT Graham Harrell, TCU's Sonnie Cumbie and Arizona Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury. He developed great talents like Michael Crabtree and Wes Welker, who is now an assistant for the Texans. Coaching under Leach at Texas Tech: Oklahoma HC Lincoln Riley, SMU HC Sonny Dykes, Houston HC Dana Holgerson. It really just goes on and on.

At Washington State, Leach has continued to find some of the best and brightest with connections to his tree to add to his staff.

- Do You Enjoy Exciting Offense?

Arkansas fans were sold on Chad Morris's up-tempo spread offense but it failed to deliver much excitement in his short tenure. Leach's offense however, has proven to work, it's proven to work quickly, and it's proven to work with talent that's not the best of the best.

Leach turned Texas Tech and Washington State into occasional top-10 contenders when it was unheard of at both programs. In 10 seasons as a head coach, all at Texas Tech (2000-09) his program earned 10 bowl bids. The Cougars have had top-5 passing offenses three times in the last five seasons, and they're heading for yet another one this season. Not only are they currently the top passing offense, but they're also top-10 in overall scoring offense.

Given how prolific the offense is, Leach's defenses just have to be passable to keep the team winning. Want Petrino offensive excitement without the scandal? Hello, Mike Leach.

- Doing more with less

I don't know if you know this but Washington State's recruiting is "not very good," at least as far as traditional rankings go. Due to Wazzu's relative distance from top California talent and the isolated landscape of Pullman, Washington, Leach's program has a tough time ranking in the top half of the Pac-12 yearly. They've ranked closer to 11 on average in Leach's eight recruiting classes in the Pac-12, but have only had two losing seasons since 2012.

Leach's most recent success story is Jaguar's QB Gardner Minshew. The former ECU quarterback was on the verge of going to sit on the bench at Alabama to learn top-notch coaching from Nick Saban when Mike Leach said come do the same at Wazzu WHILE playing and leading the nation in passing, so he did that instead.

- That personality

If you don't know Mike Leach for the Air Raid, you know him because of his personality. And that's just something you can't put a price on. He'd bring instant name recognition to Arkansas and that's great, even if he's known for being a straight-shooting goofball.

Case against Leach


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