On Tuesday, former Washington State head coach Mike Leach was the center of the college football world. The legendary football coach and personality died at the age of 61. The innovator of the air raid offense may be gone, but his impact on the world of college football will live on for years to come. Not just in his memorable quotes and innovative offense, but in his extensive coaching tree. Countless coaches have been touched by Leach and his air raid scheme and, on Tuesday, that sequoia-sized tree got a little bit bigger.
North Texas has named Washington State offensive coordinator Eric Morris as their new head coach. Morris, who played under Leach at Texas Tech and coached as an assistant under Leach with WSU in 2012, spent one season as the offensive coordinator for the Cougars. Morris replaces another coach from the Leach tree in Seth Littrell, who played under Leach as an OC at Oklahoma and coached under Leach at Texas Tech. The move is obviously a big step forward for Morris who takes over a Mean Green team set to join the American Athletic Conference next year.
“I am incredibly honored to be the head football coach at North Texas,” Morris said in the university’s news release. “I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity given to me by Jared Mosley and President Smatresk to lead UNT Football into a new era in The American. As a native Texan, I understand the pride and standard of Mean Green football and I am humbled to be able to lead this storied program.”
Before arriving in Pullman, Morris was the head coach at the University of the Incarnate Word, leading UIW to a 24-18 record, a pair of FCS playoff appearances and countless broken records on the offensive side of the ball. Prior to the 2022 season, Morris made the jump back to the FBS level to become to offensive coordinator at Washington State. Along with him, Morris brought his modified air raid offense, dubbed the Coug Raid, and the perfect quarterback to run it. Cameron Ward followed Morris from UIW to WSU making the same jump from the FCS to the FBS.
In his only season with the Cougs, Morris led an offense that averaged more than 375 yards and nearly 28 points per game. WSU also ranked first in the Pac 12 and 10th nationally in redzone efficiency, scoring on more than 91 percent of their trips into the redzone. Under Morris’ continued coaching, Ward passed for 23 touchdowns and completed 298 passes, both ranking in the top six across the Pac-12.
“Among a deep and talented pool of candidates Eric distinguished himself with his great energy and strong track record as a championship head coach and a proven developer of talent,” said newly appointed UNT athletic director Jared Mosley. “As a Texas native, he has deep relationships across the state, and he understands the importance of connecting with campus and the local community.”
The move is just another hit to a Washington State team that is already looking to fill plenty of gaps heading into Saturday’s bowl game. Earlier this month, the team lost their defensive coordinator when Brian Ward took the same position with Arizona State, lost their star linebacker when Daiyan Henley decided to opt out of the bowl game to focus on the draft, and could be without more than a dozen more players who have all entered their names into the transfer portal. We’ll have to wait and see who WSU will have available, both on the field and on the sideline, when the LA Bowl kicks off on Saturday afternoon.
In the meantime, Morris is taking advantage of his opportunity and leading the Mean Green into their new era. At the same time, the Leach disciple is helping to make sure that the Pirate’s coaching tree flourishes for years to come.
North Texas names Washington State OC Eric Morris as new coach
North Texas has hired Washington State offensive coordinator Eric Morris as the team's new head coach, the school announced Tuesday.
Eric Morris Hired as 20th Head Football Coach - University of North Texas Athletics
Eric Morris has been hired as the 20th head coach in North Texas history, Vice President and Director of Athletics Jared Mosley announced Tuesday.
Eric Morris, Washington State's offensive coordinator and a Mike Leach pupil, accepts head coaching position at North Texas | The Spokesman-Review
Eric Morris, Washington State’s offensive coordinator and a Mike Leach disciple who played for the late coach at Texas Tech, accepted a position to become the head coach at North Texas on Tuesday morning.
Remembering Mike Leach
Feldman: Mike Leach’s original, influential life and the roller coaster on which it sent me - The Athletic ($)
Writing Leach's autobiography changed my career and my life, and his one-of-a-kind impact on all levels of football is built to last.
Apple Cup win, College GameDay visit highlight Mike Leach's tenure at Washington State | The Spokesman-Review
Three seasons removed from his most recent as Washington State’s head football coach, Mike Leach’s eight-year stretch in Pullman stands as the program’s most successful since the days of Babe Hollingbery.
Commentary: Mike Leach was as complicated as all of us | The Spokesman-Review
To reflect on Mike Leach’s life, and the many lives he strived to live (author, lawyer, football coach, philosopher) is to hold up a mirror. To the media he could be incredibly dismissive, showing up 45 minutes late to interviews and trivializing livelihoods. Other times he gave unparalleled access to himself and uncommon depth in his answers. We all do stuff like that. His best and worst impulses were just so public.
Mike Leach Was So Much More Than a Soundbite - The Ringer
Leach was beloved in college football because of his quirky personality, but his lasting legacy is how his Air Raid offense changed the sport forever
Remembering Mike Leach with Yogi Roth, Bruce Feldman and Ashley Adamson | Pac-12
Following the news of Mike Leach's passing, Ashley Adamson, Yogi Roth and Bruce Feldman shared their thoughts and memories of the former Washington State Cougars head football coach.