Leach makes his case that he's perfect for Gophers vacancy

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 2, 2010 - 7:20 AM

But given how his career at Texas Tech ended -- over concerns about how he treated a player with a concussion -- don't expect him to get a phone call.


Mike Leach went from National Coach of the Year to out of a job at Texas Tech in the span of less than a year.

Photo: David J. Phillip, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach has accepted Minnesota's vacant head coaching job. Now, he just needs someone to offer it.

Well, maybe it's not quite that simple. But the controversial coach, out of work the past 11 months after being fired over his treatment of a player with a concussion, made it clear Wednesday in a telephone interview that he believes he could turn around the Gophers' legacy of football mediocrity. And he would welcome the chance.

"It's like buying real estate -- you want a situation where it's undervalued so you can turn it into something," said the 49-year-old Leach, who also has expressed his desire this week to become the new coach at Miami (Fla.). "That's a program that's underutilized, that has a lot of advantages but is just lying dormant. ... I would enjoy the challenge."

And a certain segment of fans would enjoy watching it. As the names Brady Hoke, Troy Calhoun, Al Golden and a dozen others are vetted and debated around Minnesota, one name constantly is promoted on radio shows and fan sites, despite unsubtle hints on campus that he's not a candidate: Leach.

"Minnesota's fan base would explode if Mike Leach got the job," said Zach Johnson, publisher and operator of the Gopher Illustrated website. "He's the one guy that everyone comes back to. Dan Mullen [of Mississippi State] or Jim Harbaugh [of Stanford] might be more popular hires, but talking realistic candidates, he's by far the most popular."

With everyone but university administrators, anyway. Athletic director Joel Maturi, who hoped to make a splash with his next hire, immediately ruled out the candidate who would be a human cannonball. Maturi has not contacted him, Leach said, despite the fact that he went 84-43 and never had a losing season in his decade in Lubbock. And university President Robert Bruininks mentioned Leach by name in October when he said some candidates "have some things in their background that would make them a risk, like a Mike Leach. ... I don't think we need a checkered background."

Leach said his background includes things like a 79 percent graduation rate at Texas Tech, and 10 consecutive bowl trips for the Red Raiders.

"Those are things that are important to universities, aren't they?" Leach said. "We had an exciting brand of football that wins. We went to bowl games and won. We graduate our players -- [ranked] sixth in the nation. And when was the last time you heard about one of my players being in trouble?"

Actually, it's Leach who got into trouble, initially by allegedly sequestering receiver Adam James, son of ESPN analyst Craig James, in a darkened shed during practice while he was suffering from a concussion. The case caused the university to suspend and then fire Leach, who responded by filing suit against the university for wrongful termination and ESPN for defamation.

Leach, who now has a daily show on Sirius satellite radio, believes the lawsuits are scaring off universities, though he added: "That's short-sighted. I'm in the middle of litigation that will obviously pass in a couple of months, and I'll be vindicated. That won't affect the job I can do for several years. If I wasn't trying to clear my name, I wouldn't be the right guy to hire."

It may be more than just the suit, however. Leach has a strong personality, and reports have circulated that the coach offended the Gophers delegation at events leading up to the 2006 Insight Bowl, coming across as arrogant. Leach denied doing anything objectionable -- "except pulling off that comeback and beating them," 44-41 after trailing by 31 points, the biggest rally in bowl history.

Leach said Maturi "seemed like a nice guy. I enjoyed his company. But if they're basing [the hire] on how you're dressed or something, rather than winning football games, they're doomed to repeating history."

It's a history Leach said he knows how to change.

"The most important positions are offensive linemen and defensive linemen. You can walk to the grocery store up there [in Minnesota] and find guys who could be good ones," he said. "And nobody in the Big Ten utilizes the skill positions like we do. The fans would rally around it, would get excited about the program. That's what I bring to the table."

That, and one other thing: "He scored 70 points on Nebraska [in 2004]," Johnson said. "That would make him pretty popular."


  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Toronto - D. Hutchison 12:05 PM
NY Yankees - M. Tanaka
Washington - S. Strasburg 12:10 PM
Miami - N. Eovaldi
NY Mets - J. deGrom 12:35 PM
Atlanta - E. Santana
Boston - J. Kelly 12:35 PM
Baltimore - M. Gonzalez
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 12:35 PM
Pittsburgh - V. Worley
Chicago WSox - J. Danks 12:40 PM
Tampa Bay - N. Karns
Cleveland - C. Kluber 1:10 PM
Minnesota - A. Swarzak
Detroit - R. Porcello 1:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Guthrie
Seattle - H. Iwakuma 1:10 PM
Houston - C. McHugh
Los Angeles - J. Wright 1:20 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Turner
Texas - N. Tepesch 2:35 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Philadelphia - A. Burnett 3:05 PM
Oakland - S. Kazmir
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong 3:10 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Arizona - W. Miley 3:10 PM
Colorado - C. Bergman
Cincinnati - A. Simon 7:05 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
San Diego 12:00 PM
Dallas 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 12:00 PM
Houston 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Oakland 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 3:05 PM
Denver 3:25 PM
Kansas City 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Columbus 12:30 PM
Buffalo 4:00 PM
St. Louis 5:30 PM
Calgary 7:00 PM
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 2:00 PM
Toronto FC
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 12:00 PM
Ottawa 3:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question