College Football 2011: 10 Programs That Could Still Use Mike Leach
For a while it appeared that Mike Leach's next stop on the college coaching carousel would be at Maryland.
But the former Texas Tech coach is still jobless after the Terrapins decided to go with Connecticut's Randy Edsall instead.
So, now Leach still finds himself jobless and in search for his next school to call home.
Well, even though he hasn't had any luck so far, there are several schools who could benefit from his services.
Here are 10 college football programs who could really use Mike Leach.
10. UAB Blazers (Head Coach)
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The UAB Blazers had the nation's No. 7 rushing attack in 2010, but that didn't translate to many "W's."
They finished at just 4-8 to seal their fourth straight losing season under Neil Callaway, who has gone just 15-33 at the school.
Part of UAB's problem was the team's inability to pass the ball (83rd in passing yards) or score (59th in points scored).
UAB finished 2010 with two losses in which the Blazers scored just seven points, and they lost three of their final four games.
The Blazers need to develop a more prolific passing attack to score with teams like SMU, Southern Miss and East Carolina in Conference USA.
And Mike Leach had some success at leading Texas Tech's Air Raid, I believe.
9. Illinois Fighting Illini (Offensive Coordinator)
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In 2010, Illinois did have some solid offensive performances (38 points against Baylor and 65 points against Michigan in triple overtime), but those came in games against bad defenses and the Fighting Illini won primarily because of their running game.
But Mikel Leshoure is gone, and Illinois' offense could take a step back in 2011 even after an anemic season last year.
The Fighting Illini ranked 81st in the nation in scoring and 87th in passing yards, while going just 7-6 despite playing only two ranked teams all season.
In the last six seasons under Ron Zook, Illinois has gone just 28-45 with four seasons under .500 and just one bowl win.
If the Fighting Illini want to compete in the Big Ten, they're going to have to put more points on the board.
And that's where Mike Leach enters the picture, as an offensive coordinator/head coach in waiting.
8. Georgia Bulldogs (Head Coach)
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For some reason, there has been widespread speculation that Mark Richt could be on his way out of Georgia sooner rather than later.
I don't get it—he's 96-34 there with seven bowl wins—but nonetheless, it's possible Richt could get the boot from Athens at some point.
If that's the case, you have to think that the Bulldogs will be looking to make a high-profile hire.
And with Aaron Murray in place as the starting quarterback, Georgia has a heck of a quarterback to build a potent passing attack around.
So what are the actual chances of seeing Mike Leach at Georgia? Slim to none.
But the possibility is certainly intriguing.
7. Iowa State Cyclones (Offensive Coordinator)
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Looking back at Iowa State's 2010 season, there were some definite highs (hanging with Nebraska and beating Texas and Texas Tech), but it can't be considered anything but a failure.
After the Cyclones finished 7-6 in 2009, they dropped to 5-7 in 2010 and were just 3-5 in Big 12 play.
Arguably the team's biggest problem was its below average offense, which ranked 94th in passing offense (184.7 yards-per-game) and 103rd in scoring offense (20.5 points-per-game).
Iowa State was shut out twice on the season and finished it with three straight conference losses.
When playing against the Big 12's high octane offenses in 2011, they have to put up more than 20.5 points per game.
And Mike Leach would bring some much needed scoring prowess to a team that desperately needs it.
6. UCLA Bruins (Head Coach)
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Rick Neuheisel may be on his last legs at UCLA, as the former Washington and Colorado coach hasn't done much of anything at his latest coaching stop.
Under Neuheisel for three seasons, the Bruins are just 15-22, with two 4-8 seasons and an eighth-place or worse finish in the Pac-10 each year.
That didn't get much better in 2010 either.
UCLA won just two conference games while ranking 52nd in the nation in passing yards (222.8 per game), 97th in rushing yards (114.6 per game) and 94th in scoring (22 points-per-game).
The Bruins were held to seven points twice and shutout once (at home).
If Neuheisel can't get his act together soon, then UCLA could be looking to make a big splash in the coaching search.
Though never linked to UCLA, Mike Leach would seemingly be a good candidate for a school desperate for some offensive firepower.
5. Purdue Boilermakers (Offensive Coordinator)
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During the 2010 season, Purdue probably couldn't even spell offense.
The Boilermakers ranked 49th in rushing yards, 112th in passing yards (150.8 per game) and 105th in scoring (19.7 points-per-game).
They finished at just 4-8 (2-6 in Big Ten play), were held to 20 points or fewer in seven-of-12 games and finished the season with six straight losses.
Though the defense—ranked 74th in points allowed—was part of the problem, it was the offense that really limited what the Boilermakers could do.
Purdue was held to just 51 total points in five games against Notre Dame, Ohio State, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Regardless of the type of players in place there, one would have to think Mike Leach could provide some instant help there, right?
4. New Mexico Lobos (Head Coach)
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In two seasons as head coach at New Mexico, Mike Locksley is 2-22 with two 1-11 seasons...2-22!
Lobos fans were calling for his head after the team's second straight abysmal season, but sure enough, Locksley is scheduled to be back for a third go-round.
That shouldn't be the case, though.
New Mexico couldn't get anything going on the offensive side in 2010, ranking 63rd in passing yards, 110th in rushing yards and 113th in scoring (16.3 points-per-game).
The Lobos—who only scored 20 points or more twice all season—need to bring in someone who can improve that horrific offense.
For Mike Leach, New Mexico isn't a sexy job, but it could be a stepping stone for him to move to a bigger school if he works his magic and turns around a program that is currently one of the worst in the country.
3. Wake Forest (Offensive Coordinator)
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For a school not known as a football powerhouse, Jim Grobe has done a pretty decent job at Wake Forest, going 62-60 in 10 seasons there.
But after a stretch from 2006-08 where the Demon Deacons won a very impressive 28 games (including two bowl victories), they've fallen back to the bottom of the ACC with just eight wins the last two seasons (5-7 in 2009 and 3-9 in 2010).
This past season was especially bad, as Wake Forest was downright terrible on offense.
The Demon Deacons ranked 54th in the nation in rushing yards, 91st in points scored and 114th in passing yards.
If Wake Forest wants to climb back toward the top of the conference, a change is needed to upgrade one of the nation's worst offenses.
Given that Grobe is under contract until 2016, Mike Leach could be a welcome addition as the team's offensive coordinator.
2. Washington State Cougars (Head Coach)
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In a conference with teams like USC, Oregon and Stanford, Washington State is another bad season away from becoming completely irrelevant in the Pac-10.
Under three seasons with Paul Wulff as head coach (2008-10), the Cougars have gone 5-32 with no more than two wins in any season.
Washington State scored just 19.6 points-per-game in 2010 and gave up nearly 200 more points (430) than they scored (235).
Not to mention the Cougars only beat Montana State 23-22.
That football program needs offensive help like a dog needs water on a hot summer day, and Mike Leach could certainly upgrade a team that would jump for joy just to achieve mediocrity.
1. Oklahoma State Cowboys (Offensive Coordinator)
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Former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen is now in West Virginia as the head coach in waiting for the Mountaineers football program, and the Cowboys still haven't found his replacement.
So why not Mike Leach?
In Holgorsen's final season at Oklahoma State (2010), the Cowboys ranked third in the nation in passing offense (345.8 yards per-game), fourth in total offense (520.2 yards-per-game) and third in points scored (44.9 per game).
Few offensive coordinators, if any, will be able to replicate what Holgorsen did there.
But Leach brings a strikingly similar offense to the table, one that relies on a gunslinger at quarterback (Brandon Weeden, anyone?) and playmakers in the receiving corps (Justin Blackmon strike a bell?).
And having coached at Texas Tech, Leach will also be familiar with his Big 12 foes.