Edit: Leach shot down the rumors.
I don't doubt the possibility that Mike Leach did speak to North Carolina State about its vacant head coaching job. I don't really trust anything -- at least on the surface -- during coaching carousel season, but I also don't doubt that coaches speak to administrations quite a bit. This happens everywhere, and some of the names that get floated end up being surprising. Then again, there are plenty of smoke screens, courtesy interviews as favors and rumors that turn out to be a whole lot of nothing when all is said and done.
The coaching carousel is like a crowded bar on a Friday night. Not a dive bar, but more like a club. Coaches and administrators hang out on opposite sides of the room, mingling, winking, oogling and eyeing each other. Nobody is really dancing right away, because someone has to break the seal, but everyone is kind of feeling each other out. There's flirtatious looks and "who me?" responses, but that's about it.
We're still in the early stages: Schools are just now getting divorces, save for a few who got the job done early. After the breakup, athletic directors tend to cast a wide net. They'll reach out through third parties and see who may be interested in dancing. Eventually the dancing will happen, but not before time is spent figuring out who looks the prettiest and is likely to reciprocate.
So North Carolina State probably reached out to Mike Leach. This is both surprising and not. That Leach's name is out in the wild isn't a shock -- he always seems to attract attention and always has -- but North Carolina State is an odd fit. In Pullman, Leach has security, both in the form of money and the conference he plays in. North Carolina State, well ... hey go ACC. Nobody knows what's going on there, and realignment is still churning away.
And then there's what seems to be the most important thing to Leach: Support from the administration and higher-ups. Leach has been effusive in his praise of Bill Moos and Elson Floyd. Both the president of the university and athletic director have had his back. They let him do his work and have been incredibly supportive of him. And just a few weeks ago, Moos took care of a big thing for Leach: The football operations building proposal was passed by the regents and construction will begin next week.
Moos has delivered on his promises to Leach, of which the football ops building was a big part of. He stood up for Leach as Marquess Wilson alleged abuse, and both Moos and Floyd quickly moved to investigate the allegations seemingly knowing that no wrong was done. Moos has said plenty of times that Leach is the right coach, doing things the right way.
Leach works for an athletic director at Washington State who knows how to achieve success, especially in football. He makes a great pairing with Moos, and the two seem to get along well. Moos has been more than accommodating and is giving Leach everything he needs to be successful. He came here because of a relationship he built with Moos, and I'm not sure he'd get that kind of relationship at N.C. State.
In a weird twist, N.C. State AD Debbie Yow left Maryland just before the Terps started flirting with Leach a few years back. Nothing came of it, as we know, but depending on who you ask things were close. The coaching carousel is a weird beast.
I just can't see this happening, not now and not at NC State. He just plowed through a difficult rebuilding year. The mystery is gone -- Leach was attractive while he was out of the game following his tenure at Texas Tech, but it's a bit different now that his cards are on the table. Mystery is intriguing and it's easy to pull the trigger, doing so with a sitting head coach ... not so much.
Additionally, Leach would have to start over again, working to rebuild another program. The hard part at Washington State is probably out of the way. He's implementing a culture change that includes a lot of turnover. It's been a trying season for Leach, and I'm not sure he would want to immediately jump into another situation that includes a transition. He still has work to do in Pullman, but that first step is always the most difficult.
Still, you're going to hear Leach's name. And you'll probably here it in relation to just about every vacancy. He's a popular guy, and athletic directors seem to take to him. But now, while programs are still mingling and flirting, is not the time to panic.