Ole Miss fans want him. The recently fired Houston Nutt is floating his name as his successor. And Mike Leach himself has spoken openly about the job.
For some reason, when the name Mike Leach comes up, it sends a thrill up the pant legs of college football fans. He is considered a football genius, so Ole Miss fans are the latest fanbase to hope that Leach and his offense will come to Oxford on his white horse to save the program.
However, Ole Miss should not hire Leach. His overall record as a head coach has some deep flaws. His offense oriented style of football will not win the SEC West for the Rebels. It is rumored Leach is interested in the Arizona and Tulane jobs, and if so, Ole Miss should let Leach continue to pursue those job openings.
Why is Leach not a good fit for Ole Miss?
It Has Been Tried Before in the SEC
Mike Leach's unique Air Raid Offense (which is a mixture of the Run and Shoot and West Coast) has been tried in the SEC when he was Hal Mumme's offensive coordinator at Kentucky from 1997-1998.
In those four years, Kentucky's offense was dynamite, no question. QB Tim Couch set SEC and NCAA passing records and ended up a NFL No. 1 draft pick in 1999. Mumme and Leach also got Kentucky to their first New Year's Day bowl in 47 years.
However, Kentucky, after four years with Mumme, only managed a 20-26 overall record and 10-22 SEC conference record. The Wildcats were 5-6, 7-5, 6-6 and 2-9 in those Mumme years. And they managed to lose both bowl games Kentucky was invited to (one to Penn State and the other to Syracuse).
After leaving Kentucky and a short stint with Southeastern La, Mumme tried his Air Raid offense with New Mexico State and was fired after finishing 11-38 in a four-year period.
Leach's mentor is now coaching Division III football at McMurry University.
If Kentucky is a rule of thumb, Ole Miss under Leach will have a spark of offense but will remain a mediocre SEC program averaging six or seven wins at best. David Cutcliffe averaged seven wins a year at Ole Miss and was hated for it.
Seems if Ole Miss wants to just top out at seven wins, they don't need to go through the expense of hiring Leach, but just extend an olive branch to David Cutcliffe to come back.
Leach's Record at Texas Tech Has Some Major Flaws
Indeed Leach's overall record at Texas Tech is 84-43. He is the winningest coach in Texas Tech history and took the Red Raiders to a bowl game every year he was the head coach.
Yet against the top tier of the Big 12, Leach did not perform too well. His record against Texas is 2-8 and against Oklahoma 3-7. He even has a losing record against Missouri, the latest SEC addition from the Big 12. Nor did Leach win a single Big 12 Championship.
In essence, Leach was dependable against Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas and even Texas A&M, but when the rubber hit the road, his Air Raid offense rarely could get off the ground when facing the stout defenses of Texas and Oklahoma.
Case in point, his breakout year in 2008 when the Red Raiders finished 11-2, their only regular season loss was to Oklahoma, 65-21.
If he had trouble with Texas and Oklahoma, what makes Ole Miss fans think he will fare any better against LSU and Alabama?
Running the Ball and Defense Is What Counts in the SEC
One only has to look at the radical transformation of Steve Spurrier to understand what is important in the SEC. Mr. Fun 'N Gun who used to run a pass-happy, high octane offense while at Florida, now depends on a balanced running/passing game and a nationally ranked defense to make South Carolina competitive.
This balanced approach got the Gamecocks to their first-ever SEC Championship game in Atlanta last year.
If Spurrier could run the old Fun 'N Gun, he most certainly would right now. You can actually see the pain on his face on the sideline as the Gamecocks run a conservative offense.
But more importantly, what does Alabama and LSU do? Usually people tend to want to emulate successful people or organizations and do what they do. It would seem Ole Miss would want to watch a game film of Alabama and say, "let's do what they do," not take a chance on Leach's Air Raid Offense. Alabama's offensive coordinator, Jim McElwain, makes much more sense than Leach does.
Leach's Personal Baggage
Mike Leach filed a lawsuit against ESPN last year, claiming they defamed him over the Adam James incident which lead to his dismissal from Texas Tech.
Does Ole Miss really want to get on the bad side of ESPN? They show several Ole Miss games a season, and getting a media blackout from ESPN would not be the best idea, especially when the Rebels will be in a rebuilding mode and will want as much exposure as possible.
Thus when one considers the pros and cons, hiring Mike Leach is not the answer for Ole Miss. His offense will get the Rebels maybe six or seven wins at best, as was shown when it was tried at Kentucky.
His record at Texas Tech never produced conference championships nor consistent wins over Texas and Oklahoma. If he came to Ole Miss, his style of offense would be out of step with what the top tier schools in the SEC are doing, and lastly, hiring him could cause media backlash from ESPN.
That is quite a few important cons to consider just so Ole Miss can score a lot of points against weaker opposition and watch a QB pass the ball 80 percent of the time.