I think it started out with a random comment I read over at Vanderbilt Sports Line .
After they posted about the firing of Mike Leach, one reader responded with an impassioned "HIRE THAT MAN!"
For some reason that thought has stuck with me, and now I am totally convinced that Vanderbilt should replace Bobby Johnson with Mike Leach.
I know your first reaction is "you're crazy," but give me a chance to persuade you.
Here are four quick reasons why Vanderbilt should hire Mike Leach.
1) Leach will uphold the academic standards of the university
Let Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post explain:
"(Leach is) a serious, demanding educator whose team has a graduation rate of 79 percent, eighth best in the country and first in the Big 12 Conference. He trails only Notre Dame (94 percent), Stanford (93), Boston College (92), Duke (92), Northwestern (92), Vanderbilt (91) and Wake Forest (83) in turning out grads, while he also has made nine bowl appearances in nine years." (full article )
One of the big things that Vanderbilt brings to the SEC is its high academic standards.
The league has to love the fact that the university bumps up the averages of other schools. Leach understands the importance of education.
Sometimes graduation rate is based on luck and the attitude of students, but at least we know that Leach should be able to push the kids to be better student-athletes.
2) The chance to turn Vanderbilt into a winning program
I think this goes without saying.
Leach was an offensive guru at Kentucky and at Oklahoma.
At Texas Tech Leach replaced Spike Dykes, who coached the Red Raiders from 1987-1999.
Dykes had a solid program going, but only won more than seven games in four of his 13 full seasons.
Leach took Texas Tech to the next level, winning seven or more games in all of his 10 seasons in Lubbock. That includes five wins in 10 consecutive bowl appearances.
My hypotheses is that Bobby Johnson is the Spike Dykes of Vanderbilt.
Johnson has built a nice base in his eight seasons in Nashville, but has only a 29-66 record to show for it.
You cannot continue to settle for two or four-win seasons.
With Leach's track record, he should have the ability to help Vanderbilt take the next step. No, Vanderbilt may never consistently beat Florida and Tennessee (like Leach couldn't consistently beat Oklahoma and Texas), but I feel like he could breath life into the program.
3) Excite the fan base
I was in high school when Hal Mumme took over the Kentucky program.
We had some family outing the day of his coaching debut against Louisville. So when we finally heard the score of the game, we were completely in shock.
Led by future NFL great Tim Couch, the Wildcats beat the Cardinals by a final score of 68-34.
Leach gave UK a shot every week, and the fans loved it.
I remember my grandfather giving up his season tickets the year before Bill Curry left. He was kicking himself for a number of years.
The installation of that high-powered offense did a lot to rejuvenate the excitement of the fan base.
The same could happen at Vanderbilt.
Ask yourself this question: If you heard that Vandy hired Mike Leach, would you purchase season tickets for next year?
If you like the team at all, you would have to say yes.
Even if you hate Leach and what he did to get fired from Tech, from a pure X's and O's standpoint, you'd be excited.