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HCA: Mike Leach has strong opinions about the air raid working in the NFL

Leach thinks his offensive would work just fine in the NFL... And don’t you dare even talk about how none of his quarterbacks take snaps under center.

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

Mike Leach has officially hit peak offseason mode.

The Washington State head coach joined the ‘Cliff and Puck’ with Cliff Avril and Jason Puckett on 950 KJR-AM Seattle on Tuesday. And, in classic Mike Leach fashion, he joined the show during his lunch break at Harpoon Harry’s diner in Key West (where he was finishing up a meal of “ham, poached eggs, whole wheat toast and grits” in case you’re curious.)

The interview touched on the usual topics including his take on the impact Gardner Minshew had on his team, potential gradate transfer quarterbacks (“I’m not sure yet”) and a quick preview of his potential class at WSU. But some of the most interesting pieces focused on Mike Leach talking about how his offense would relate to the NFL.

Last week, former Texas Tech head coach, and former Leach quarterback Kliff Kingsbury was named the head coach with the Arizona Cardinals. Kingsbury ran the air raid in Lubbock and will likely take parts of that scheme to Glendale on Sundays next fall. A lot of people doubt the air raid can make the transition to the NFL and compete with the talent on the field. Leach wasn’t a big fan of that take and took specific umbrage with one point he’s heard before.

You can listen to the full interview here, but here are some highlights from the talk, starting with how his air raid concept would transition to the pros:

I think [Kingsbury] will adjust it around the players he has and their ability... You can run the whole thing. Any notion that ‘anything you can run in college, you can’t run in the NFL.’ That’s just NFL arrogance and lunacy... I don’t see it so much out of coaches, I see it more out of media and scouts. They act like the NFL is so special and it’s something you can’t do in the NFL. ‘Well in the NFL the corners are guys like Deon Sanders and Revis’ and stuff like that. Well, Okay, then my receiver is Jerry Rice. It’s all relative.

And then the best... I think the stupidity of the NFL hits a new low every time I hear this. ‘I’ve never seen the quarterback take a snap from under center.’ Oh really? You haven’t seen him take a snap under center.... You’re at the highest level. Somehow you’ve squirmed and crawled, probably very similar to Gollum from Lord of the Rings, and found yourself in the NFL and somehow you have the total inability to teach a guy to take a snap. Aren’t they proud to have you? Every 7th grade coach in the country can teach a guy to take a snap... Well, obviously it’s because he can’t. He’s got an inability to stick his hand under somebody’s ass and pluck a ball away once it’s placed at the top...

(There was a whole lot more of Mike Leach mocking these hypothetical snap-doubters... But my hands got tired of typing.)

On how much of the air raid he sees in the pro game:

There’s a lot. Pretty much every time I turn the game on. I can go back to 1989 and turn on film and my offense still looks like my offense. None of these other guys can do that.

On Kliff Kingsbury’s transition to the NFL as the new head coach with the Cardinals:

I think offensively he’s running the same system that he did as a player in college. He did a good job running it as a player and he’s done a good job running it as a coach. There’s air raid concepts all over the NFL, it permeates the NFL. There’s more air raid teams in the NFL than not, despite what the NFL may or may not want to admit... I think offensively it will work out pretty well. All though I guess he hired an offensive coordinator and I’m not sure about that. I think I might be my own offensive coordinator.

Leach was also asked if he would ever consider interviewing for a head coaching job in the NFL, himself:

I’ve never ruled it out. The NFL is very dependent on who the owner is and who the GM is. I’d listen to it. It’s a league I haven’t been in... The closes I came was years ago. I was just appointed offensive coordinator at Oklahoma and they asked me to coach receivers with the Bengals and I stayed at Oklahoma because I had the opportunity to call plays at Oklahoma.

It’s a good interview and, once again, you can listen to the full conversation here. But, be warned, Leach is talking on a phone in the middle of busy diner in Key West and — at times — things are a little hard to hear. There is plenty of chatter in the background, plates clanking together and at one point a strange voice can be heard calling the name “Ian” as clear as day.

In other words: It’s exactly what you would expect a Mike Leach offseason interview to be like.


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