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HCA: Looking at the Mike Leach coaching tree

Mike Leach’s Air Raid changed the game, with the help of some of the coaches that looked to him as mentors.

NCAA Football: Portland State at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

New Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley is just the latest head coach to rise to the top of his profession after spending time in his career under Mike Leach. From Sonny Dykes to Dana Holgorsen to Art Briles, the Mike Leach coaching tree reads like a who’s who of coaches in college football.

Leach took over as the head man at Texas Tech in 2000, where he brought the groundbreaking Air Raid offense that he had built with Hal Mumme. But the offense wasn’t the only thing that separated Leach from others in his same position.

Oklahoman writer Berry Tramel took a look back at the early days of the Mike Leach tenure at Tech. And, while the article many focuses on how Leach shaped the new Sooner head coach, it’s well worth a read for nuggets like this one:

Leach would signal his quarterbacks the play, to mimic game conditions. One time, quarterback Kliff Kingsbury got the signal and informed his coach that the Red Raiders didn't have a play for that sign.

John Harris, the Tech radio analyst then and now, still marvels at Leach's response. “Just make it up.”

In the early days, Leach was making a lot of stuff up as he developed his own sense of what it meant to be a head coach. But whatever Leach was doing, worked. His teams set records on the offensive side and his coaching staff was learning the ropes right along with him and the mix of chaos and intellect.

“It was the perfect storm of a genius head coach and some assistant coaches who weren’t far behind,” John Harris told Tramel for the article.

For a look behind the scenes of Leach’s mad genius offense, and the other minds he built around him, check out the full article here.


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