Mike Leach made a name for himself in the mid 2000’s as head coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders. He turned the perennially .500 program into a Big 12 power, took no prisoners, and gave zero fucks in the process. Since 2011, he’s been doing pretty much the same at Washington State.
The Cougars had won nine games total in the four years prior to Leach’s arrival. After 8 and 9 win seasons the past two years, they’re off to a 5-0 start for the first time since 2001 including a win over top 5 USC this past Friday night.
In a 15 year head coaching career, Leach has transformed two programs, revolutionized offensive football, largely ignored defense, and somehow, has yet to write a single email. He’s rewritten school, conference, and NCAA record books and also written New York Times best sellers on 18th Century Pirates and Native American Warfare Tactics. Leach has scorched the Earth with press conferences roasting anyone and everyone including himself, opponents, opposing fans, his players, players’ girlfriends, officials, the media, millennials, meteorologists, and the Kardashians to name a few.
Here are some of the best quips, quotes, opinions, and moments from the Most Interesting Man in College Football:
He owns a replica viking battleaxe that he keeps in his bedroom in case of intruders:
“I do have a Viking axe by the bed if I need to whack someone. … My wife bought me a Viking axe – the axe side curls down so you can grab the adversary around the neck and you can use it to climb walls, as a grappling hook.”
Leach has a law degree from Pepperdine and a Master’s in Sports Science. He has educated himself on a wide range of subjects outside the classroom, extensively researching and becoming an expert on all of the following:
Calico Jack, Black Beard, pirates in general, whales, grizzly bears, sharks, chimpanzees, Australia, Daniel Boone, Geronimo, all things related to the Apaches, Woodstock, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Vikings, George Washington, wind, the Civil War, Napoleon, and magic tricks.
His philosophy on defense:
“Well we’re aiming for zero, but I imagine we’ll end up somewhere north of that.”
Criticisms of his own team’s play:
“If five of our guys went into an alley and fought two of theirs we would get massacred.”
“Cal was playing harder than we were so we sort of had a ‘get in touch with your feelings kind of conversation’ where everybody got kind fuzzy-gooey feelings for each other. And our intensity increased.”
“We have the atmosphere of a Jaycee softball game. That’s what we are, a Jaycee softball team. It’s not whether you win or lose, the team that wins is the one that has the most fun. Crap like that. All the stuff that’s contaminated America where they give every kid a trophy and they don’t keep score anymore.”
Being an Eagle Scout:
“We’d split up and have pine cone wars. A pine cone war breaks out you don’t really have any choice but to engage in it. There’s no neutral countries in pine cone wars.”
“You’re gonna be dead in 100 years anyway so live dangerously. If you run into bad stuff, don’t let that hamper your day. Don’t be a coward, stay out in it and enjoy your day… Who knows, maybe hail? I kind of look forward to hail. My favorite weather pattern happens to be when it rains mud.”
When asked whether or not he’d give full injury details on one of his players:
“No. I don’t know if you saw Harry Potter but in the basement of this building, it’s guarded by serpents and wild dogs and things like that. And you can go try to find the secret to that, but chances of survival… always a risk. Heck it took until movie five before he got it done himself and he had magic powers.”
Thoughts on Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets:
“How come they get to pretend they’re soldiers? The thing is, they actually aren’t in the military. I ought to have Mike’s Pirate school. The freshman, all they get is a bandanna. When you’re a senior, you get a sword and skull and crossbones.”
Americans judging England’s obsession with the Royal Family:
“We waste a lot of time with that then we worry about the Kardashians. How can it be that we laugh about England’s obsession with the royal family? At least the royal family has college degrees and military service.”
Running up the score on opponents, specifically on beating Nebraska 70-10:
“It’s interesting that football is the only sport where you’re supposed to quit playing when you get a lead. In golf, you keep trying to score well when you’re ahead. In basketball they keep shooting, in hockey they keep shooting, in boxing you don’t quit punching. But in football, somehow magically, you’re supposed to quit playing when you’re ahead. Well I don’t subscribe to that. I don’t do it like that. And you know, the truth of the matter is, Nebraska never has either.”
And last but not least, he’s a big fan of popsicles and doesn’t let something like an interview stop or distract him from enjoying them:
Never change, coach.