When a coach leaves one program for another, the split is generally abrupt and decisive, with the coach barely giving a passing look back to the place from which he came. Add to that the fact that Mike Leach is not a man often given to outward displays of soft and fuzzy emotions, and ... well ... I don’t know how many fans were expecting a sentimental message from Leach after his arrival in Starkville as the new coach of the Mississippi St. Bulldogs.
But that’s exactly what the former Washington State Cougars coach gave us, late Thursday night.
And if you think that sounds like the sort of thing written by an agent and not Leach, and thus you’re inclined to doubt its sincerity, I’d offer two thoughts.
First, this type of message isn’t typical — you’ll recall that Tony Bennett, upon leaving for Virginia, offered very little in the way of effusive gratitude for the six years in Pullman that launched his coaching career — so I don’t actually care if he wrote it or not. The sentiment is what matters to me.
Second, Leach followed up the post with a couple of others. Looks like coach was doing some reminiscing at roughly 12:30 a.m. CT:
Anthony Gordon on Instagram: “The only coach who gave me a chance coming out of the City College of San Francisco. Forever grateful for the opportunity & enjoyed every…” https://t.co/PRQ34jDxh6— Mike Leach (@Coach_Leach) January 10, 2020
And then, he offered this up while speaking with his new team, calling WSU “a place that I loved, with people that I loved.” I presume there was no reason for him to think this was going to end up broadcast:
I don’t know about you, but this all hits me in all the right places. The last eight years certainly were a mutually beneficial arrangement, and it’s really great to be able to think that they meant as much to him as they did to us. It’s not very often that everyone gets to smile when these things end, but that appears to be the case here.