The speculation of who will be the next coach of the Arizona Wildcat football program has already begun. Being realistic, former coaches like Urban Meyer and Jim Tressel are not coming to the desert, nor is any current coach who is already earning in excess of $3 million. Boise State’s Chris Peterson knows athletic director, Greg Byrne, but that is a long shot because Peterson has a better chance of making a BCS game if he stays put then taking over the Wildcats. Former West Virginia and Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is an interesting choice, but his troubles with the NCAA makes him an unlikely candidate. Then there is former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach.
While this move might be considered a little unorthodox, Leach’s resume speaks for itself. Before he took over the reigns of the Red Raiders program the football team was on academic probation. Under his guidance he turned the program around, both on and off the field. At his time in Lubbock, he guided his teams to an 84-43 record in 10 seasons, including an 11-2 record in 2008 when they won the Big 12 South Division. All ten of his teams competed in bowl games. It’s important to note that his team in 2009 made a bowl game, but Leach was fired after the regular season and did not coach that game. Academically, he had one of the highest graduation rates of all public institutions. And, maybe more importantly, in a time when teams are under the microscope of the NCAA, Leach never had any issues with violations. He ran a clean program, which graduated his players and won football games. What more could an athletic director want?
Leach, who to this point has not been contacted about the vacancy, talked with the Victor and Matt Podcast on 110SportsPodcast.com about the Arizona job, “I think Arizona would be a good job. As far as interest, I don’t know what their goals and interests are or what they are looking for specially. It’s a job that I think anyone would be interested. It’s in a great conference and it’s in a tremendous location. Even though it’s not necessarily a great recruiting base, it’s right in between two of the greatest recruiting bases in America, which are Texas and California. There are definitely a lot of positives. It comes down to what are they looking for and what are they interested in. I doubt anything will happen right now because Arizona has to tend to the rest of its season.”
Leach’s lawsuits with his former employer and ESPN should have no bearing on whether he should get the job or not. He would be an ideal candidate for many reasons, starting with he knows how to win at a school without the endless amount of supplies that some schools have like Oregon and Oklahoma state. He’s a proven winner that is available now and the university won’t have to break the bank to get him.
Byrne and the university have not announced any candidates to replace Stoops, but Leach should be on the list. Florida Atlantic has already said publicly that Leach is its top priority. New Mexico also fired its coach during the season and could be another suitor for the “mad scientist.” The longer Leach stays on the market the possibility of better jobs than Arizona open up which may intrigue Leach more. Then Arizona is back to square one without a proven coach. The Wildcats need to pull the trigger on Leach so he can save next year’s recruiting class and do what he loves to do: coach football.
– For the full interview with Mike Leach listen to Episode 125 on 110SportsPodcast.com.
Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.
Email Victor: victor(at)110SportsPodcast(dot)com
110SportsPodcast.com features a weekly sports podcast and daily blogging. Episodes include interviews, entertainment, comedy, insight and analysis.