This Country Needs More Mike Leach’s


As a partisan alum I have always enjoyed Texas Tech football.  However, given the inherent challenges of location, funding and stature consistent gridiron success has been elusive.  That all began to change when an eccentric young coach named Mike Leach was tapped to succeed the iconic Spike Dykes in 2000. Over the next 10 years the Red Raiders would achieve thee 8-win seasons, four 9-win seasons and one 11-win season.  Leach ran a clean program and his players had the third highest graduation rate in the Big 12. Then, in an inexplicable debacle too painful to retell Texas Tech fired their most successful coach of all time.


There is no question that Mike Leach revolutionized college football offenses with his Air Raid passing attack.  Even NFL offensive-coordinators began quietly ordering his game films.  However, Leach’s innovative offensive scheme was only one aspect of his genius.  He rejected all popular wisdom that couldn’t survive rigorous analysis.  He seldom punted on 4th down because he knew mathematical probability was on the side of an unpredictable offense. This practice has become much more common because of Leach’s pioneering. He was also an amazing strategist and tactician who designed game plans that frustrated his opponents.  Lastly, he taught his players that tireless preparation and flawless execution would allow them to defeat more talented teams which they often did.


Coach Leach challenged establishment consensus and refused to allow others to dictate the way he would play the game.  He also refused to allow anyone to force him to make statements he didn’t believe.  In 2009 Leach refused to apologize for allegedly abusing a player who he didn’t believe had been mistreated at all.  This led to his dismissal at the end of the season. He was also unwilling to allow anyone to muzzle his right to free speech. Prior to the 2020 election Mike publicly supported President Donald Trump for re-election.  He was questioned at a press conference as to whether it was appropriate for him to do so. He responded by calmly stating that he defended the right of others to support the candidate of their choice and to demonstrate peacefully if they so choose.  However, he continued, he certainly was going to publicly support his candidate and that if this was no longer allowed then “I live in a different country than I was told I lived in.” Speaking one’s mind and refusing to recite coerced proclamations are uniquely American attitudes that distinguish citizens from subjects.


Mike Leach departed this life last week and the loss has rippled through the sports world and the broader culture.  Unique intellects like him are rare and their lives are worth examining.  Afterall, we want a country that engenders more free-thinking innovators and fewer robotic script-readers.  However, many of our leaders prefer the comfort of consensus to the rigor of debate.  They censure anyone who challenges their conventions. If Americans submit to woke orthodoxy and sheepishly tolerate restrictions upon their first amendment liberties, they should be prepared to accept mediocrity, conformity and ultimately serfdom. The current societal acceptance of approved speech, forbidden thoughts and mandated declarations attempt to stack the deck against men and women like Mr. Leach. But more independent thinkers and courageous truth-tellers are needed today more than ever.



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