College Football: Will Mike Leach be the New Coach At Louisville?
Mike Leach to Louisville?
And so rains down the chorus of sound from the knowledgeable and informed fans of college football.
But stranger things have happened.
At this point the decision appears to be whether to bring former quarterback Jeff Brohm home or to go after a well-established coach with outstanding credentials.
Rumors were flying two weeks ago concerning the certainty of Texas Tech coach Mike Leach coming to the city known for athletes of the four-legged variety.
That was before failed coach Steve Kragthorpe of the Cardinals was released to land softly on an over four million dollar exit package.
Louisville AD Tom Jurich has been acknowledged as a fine business person who knows how to operate a sports program to insure maximum return on investment.
But it was Jurich that set the table for the Cardinal disaster by requiring incoming coach Kragthorpe to retain a number of assistants from Bobby Petrino's staff. Rarely is this move anything but a recipe for trouble.
Coach Kragthorpe was asked to leave after going 15-21 in his three years at the helm. The death knell was the over 20 percent drop in home attendance in 2009 from Petrino's final season of 2006.
No less an honorable man than Coach Ken Hatfield explained after being forced out at Clemson in 1993 despite going 32-13 in four seasons, "If home attendance drops 10 percent, you better pack your bags."
Steve Kragthorpe is a good person, he left with his dignity intact, and the millions did not hurt one bit either.
Jurich was responsible for easing out legendary Cardinal basketball coach Denny Crum and bringing in the flamboyant Rick Pitino.
Likewise, he had to feel burned when former football coaches John L. Smith and Bobby Petrino exited before he was prepared to let them go.
So what will it be Tom? Another flamboyant genius coach or a simple call to an alumnus to "come home to Mama?"
Mike Leach, Superstar
Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is a bona fide genius. No, not just coaching genius, he has a genius IQ.
Often accused in good fun of being the "unknown brother" to singer Vince Gill, Leach actually hails from the state of Wyoming and is no relation to the American pop musician.
His spiritual background is LDS, which led him to college at Brigham Young. While there, Leach was not an athlete but instead an outstanding student with an interest in facts and numbers.
Leach was fascinated by the geometric formations employed by the high-performance offense of Coach Lavell Edwards and offensive coordinator Norm Chow.
After leaving Provo, he obtained a Master's Degree in Sports Coaching and Science and also a Juris Doctor degree from the beautiful and prestigious Pepperdine Law School in California.
Leach enjoys playing the part of America's coaching rogue, and obviously delights in disproving well-accepted adages of the game.
The Mormon cowboy genius who is also an attorney. Unusual doesn't begin to describe Mike Leach, who is also known as an avid collector of fine art.
But, to the point, why would he leave Lubbock for Louisville?
Three reasons stand out when considering answers to the question at hand:
One, he was the offensive coordinator at Kentucky in 1997 and '98. He knows and likes the area.
Two, he has become the winningest coach in Red Raider history and has built Texas Tech into a national power, rising to a No. 2 national ranking during the 2008 season. He has maximized the potential of his resources.
Three, if Brian Kelly of Cincinnati does leave for another position (Notre Dame?) the Big East Conference will be ripe for the taking by Mike Leach.
Battling recent BCS champions Texas and Oklahoma, along with the up and coming Nebraska program, makes it difficult to achieve a conference title much less a national championship.
Few coaches anywhere wish to pass up the opportunity to have such an open road to a BCS Bowl, something which has eluded Leach in Lubbock, and the opportunity to become the dominant program in the Big East has to be enticing.
The Cards are spending $72 million in expansion efforts which will require a full stadium marveling at an exciting product and dynamic coach.
Leach has no buyout clause in his last published contract at Texas Tech. He is entitled to a one million dollar bonus if he is on the job as of January 1, 2010.
There is nothing in there about where he has to be on January 2.
Remember, you are dealing with a genius attorney.
Jeff Brohm, Getting The Right Bloodline On The Cheap
Jeff Brohm is a natural fit for the head coaching position at Louisville.
A former quarterback for the Cardinals under Coach Howard Schnellenberger, Jeff spent several seasons as the offensive coordinator and assistant coach at his alma mater.
Because of some well-documentated problems during the Steve Kragthorpe era, Brohm chose to leave after the '08 season and reunite with his college coach at Florida Atlantic.
For "Big Daddy Gruff" Howard to bring back Brohm speaks volumes about his ability.
It was Schnellenberger, a school-boy legend in the Louisville area rivaling Paul Hornung, who went on to the University of Kentucky to play for Bear Bryant.
It was Bryant who brought Schnellenberger to Alabama where he recruited and tutored Joe Namath. Later, Howard was a sensational offensive coach in professional football. He developed Roman Gabriel of the Rams and Bob Griese of the Dolphins into legends.
That is the bloodline Jeff Brohm would bring to the Louisville coaching position. He has the experience of learning from a master, and there have been no questions concerning his ability to run an offense from the sideline.
As an alum and well-known commodity around the Louisville area, he has a number of attractive qualities.
And just think how easy it will be to meet his salary requirements while "paying off" Steve Kragthorpe.
Jeff Brohm just could be the right man for the right job at the right time.
The Unexpected Candidate
There is always room for mystery at this level of responsibility.
Who, when, and where can be the most difficult issues to address as an administration and the hardest trinity of questions for a writer to obtain answers.
Sometimes a new coach will come from the staff itself and other times he will be courted openly.
There is the final approach–The Unknown Candidate who appears from nowhere to snatch a position with little warning.
This candidate usually works in a program of similar size and has demonstrated success on a demanding level of competition.
Often, fans and press alike will have no inkling the individual is even seeking to leave their current position. Sometimes, there are things going on behind the scenes even those close to the program are not aware.
There are two such candidates who fit this profile.
One is the rumored replacement, Phil Fulmer, who won a national championship at Tennessee but was forced out.
The fire of competition once again seems to be boiling in Fulmer as he sits in a studio analyzing games.
The second unknown candidate could be East Carolina headman Skip Holtz.
The son of the famous magician and football coach with whom he shares a last name, Skip has turned the Pirate program into a consistent contender for the Conference USA crown.
With his record, background, and dynamic personality, young Holtz could be considered one of the most attractive coaches of his generation.
An opportunity as a BCS Conference coach would allow him the position to challenge for a national championship.