So this morning I log onto one of my favorite college football sites, The Rivalry, Esq. to do some reading. After a few bowl recaps (hopefully the performances by Ohio State and Penn State will shut- as well as Wisconsin last week- will shut some people up about how good the Big Ten is. As much as I hate Iowa, a win over Georgia Tech only improves the conference's image), I saw this post: Gophers Need to Hire Mike Leach.
Intrigued, I read the short post from a commenter, and like him I was skeptical at first. But by the time I got to the end of it, I now have the following question: Give me one good reason why the Gophers SHOULDN'T hire Leach? Really, go ahead, I'd love to hear one.
People are going to argue two things: one is that you don't hire Leach because it's bad publicity. The second is you don't fire Tim Brewster now because it shows instability in the program.
Second thing first: If you watched the Insight Bowl, or any Gopher games in November, you should know instability should be the least of our worries. THE problem right now is that despite all of these acclaimed recruiting classes, Tim Brewster's teams cannot win in November and they cannot win bowl games. Period. They had 15 freaking practices to figure out what went wrong with the offense, and what did they find? They couldn't fix it. Same old stagnant, predictable and ineffective offense. This leads to only three conclusions: 1) Brewster's recruiting classes are vastly overrated, 2) Brewster and his staff can't coach, or 3) all of the above. Any way you look at it, that does not look good for Brewster. And yet after watching this team for 2009, and for his full three seasons here, those are the only three conclusions you're left with.
If you're expecting things to change in 2010 you're either expecting miracles or you know something the rest of us don't. The athletic director has so little confidence in his coach, he said point blank that Brewster could take the Kansas job and he wouldn't stop him. The fan base (that being the few of us left crazy enough to cheer for this team) has so little faith in Brewster, that the vast majority of respondents to polls in the daily newspapers in this town wanted him to take the Kansas job and don't believe he deserves an extension. This coming from the people who follow this team closely.
So again, please try and sell my why it would look "unstable" to can Brewster now, but won't in November or December of next year when we struggle to another six win season. Please, I'm listening.
While you're thinking of that one, I'll respond to the first thing people would say about hiring Mike Leach, that it would be bad publicity: People, at this point for the Gopher football program, ANY publicity is good publicity. There is no hype and no hope surrounding this team right now. None. Zero. Zilch. Go ahead and peruse the dailies and see how far into the archives you have to go to find a story about Gopher football. Head over to our favorite Gopher site The Daily Gopher and see how fired up those guys are about the team (hint- they're not). Heck, look how long it took us to get something up about the loss- or about ANYTHING- and we're supposed to be a Gopher football site!!
Unfortunately the bowl game loss only reinforced what we already knew: the offense is terrible, 15 additional practices added nothing and improved nothing, and considering we return pretty much the same offense we did this year (well, except for our best player and the conference's most important offensive player) we're left to expect nothing less than the shoddy results we were given this year. We already know Brewster is going to huff and puff about improvements and how much he loves his kids and his offense and his coaches and he'll huff and puff about quarterback competition and offensive competition and his players will probably look pretty good in the spring game.
But all of this was true last year, and what happened? 6-7 happened. One of the worst offenses in Division 1-A football happened. Brewster recruited better than any coach has here in a long, long time yet he got out-coached and his team was outplayed in just about ever game this season. He has not won a game in November or December and has not won a single trophy game. No matter what Tim Brewster says between now and the first game of 2010- and as we know, he'll say a LOT- he's going to get tuned out by the media and most sports fans and even most Gopher football fans in this town. And he should, because that's what we've come to expect in his three seasons here. We hope for the best and expect the worst because that's what Tim Brewster has brought us. We will expect that until he proves otherwise, and there's nine really long months until he gets a chance to fix this program, and most of us believe whether Brewster had nine, or nine hundred, months he couldn't get us to a New Year's Day bowl or Big Ten title.
Hiring Mike Leach would change that in a big, big hurry. Would it bring negative publicity? Yes, it most definitely would, at least for a short time. No matter what you read or hear, we don't know exactly what happened down in Lubbock. Did Mike Leach do something wrong? Yes, I think he did, but what exactly happened we don't know, and may never know.
Here is what we DO know however:
- In an interview with ESPN's Reece Davis, Texas Tech University chancellor Kent Hance said that Mike Leach got fired for insubordination, NOT for whatever happened with Adam James.
- Mike Leach was suspended, and then fired, before a full investigation was ever conducted or finished.
- Adam James' dad Craig, the former SMU star and current college football analyst, called and harassed Leach and his son's position coaches all the time about why his son wasn't playing more. He was the worst of "hockey dad's". Other coaches on the staff have not denied this. James has a lot of money and a lot of influence.
- Mike Leach was a hot coaching commodity last season when his Red Raiders almost ran the table, and to keep him, the school signed him to a massive contract extension.
In a subsequent interview with Davis and ESPN, Leach goes onto defend himself on every charge. While this is Leach's side of the story, and you can't believe everything the man says until it's proven or confirmed by others, it paints a pretty clear picture of a coach and administration at odds with each other since the contract extension last year. Considering the man was suspended and fired before the investigation was ever conducted or finished, it seems obvious the school had an axe to grind, and was looking for the first sign of trouble to give him the boot.
And they got one. I'm not defending what Leach allegedly did by locking James in a storage garage because of migraines. No matter how much a kid's dad bothers you, or how much you question the kid's work ethic (again, TT coaches have denied neither claim. From all accounts, James comes across as a spoiled brat who felt entitled to start because his dad was Craig James, and when he was told he had to work for it like everyone else, he whined and cried to daddy), you can't lock him in an equipment "shed" (which has been confirmed is the size of a garage, not a shed). IF that's the entire story and it's entirely one-sided with Leach being the bad guy and James and his family a saint, then you have problems. But considering Texas Tech ran Leach out on a rail before any official investigation was made to find out, and all we're left with is James and the University vs. Leach, that says to me the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
So yes, Leach would be a controversial hire, but make no mistake- the man can coach. And the man can coach offense. We have the weapons at wideout and enough good quarterbacks coming back that I believe Leach could turn this offense around tomorrow if given the chance. And like Tubby Smith when he was let go by Kentucky, Leach would jump at the chance to coach a BCS conference school and rebuild his name. Would he treat this as a stepping stone job and try to bolt for greener pastures like he did at Texas Tech? I would assume so, but that would be true of ANY coach here. Until this program has sustained success like Wisconsin or Iowa, it's always going to be considered a stepping stone job.
For me, Leach has done enough to clear his name in the court of public opinion, and since we're probably never going to know exactly what happened, that's about all you can ask for. You deal with the negative publicity and then sit back and watch the man do what he does- coach offense and win games. He's certainly proven much more in his time at TT than Brewster has here.
Hiring Mike Leach gets you back in the sports consciousness of the Twin Cities, gets you a much better coach than we could ever have dreamed of getting, and gets us pointed towards the New Year's Day bowls and conference titles Brewster promises but doesn't deliver.
Unless you believe in miracles, we're going to be looking for a new coach at this time next year, so why not go get a much better coach than will be available to us, and should be available to us? The time might not seem right, but the time is now. Hire Mike Leach.