Summarized by Michael Nielsen
LDS Coach's Journey to NCAA's Division I
LUBBOCK, TEXAS -- When Mike Leach was a student at BYU, he didn't
think he'd coach football. He studied hard at BYU, then worked his
way through law school at Pepperdine. Now Leach finds himself
mentioned as a possible replacement for famed BYU coach LaVell
Edwards when Edwards eventually retires. Leach is head coach at Texas
Tech, and on his journey to that post he has gone from the NAIA ranks
to a semi-pro team in Finland. After years of hard work, however,
Leach has gone from assisting at small colleges to leading a Division
I team against powerhouses like Nebraska.
It all began when Leach completed law school, and decided that he
wasn't ready for a life in court. Thinking that he would just
postpone his legal career one year, he took a job as an assistant at
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
"I immersed myself in it," he says, "and kind of went where it led me."
That journey now is in Texas, a state where football is king. The
challenge of playing powerhouses such as Nebraska appeals to Leach.
The Texas Tech administration have high expectations of the team, and
want a conference championship at least once in the coming five years.
High hopes for the team aren't simply a pipe dream. Leach developed a
high-powered passing offense modeled largely on BYU's. While at
Illinois Wesleyan, the passing game led to 26 national passing
records in three seasons. Later, as the offensive coach at Kentucky,
he taught quarterback Tim Couch, the first pick of the 1998 NFL draft.
Now, just two seasons later, Leach reflects on the direction his
career has taken him. His first coaching job paid only $3000 for the
season. At Texas Tech, his five-year contract brings him $550,000
each year. But Leach is far from complacent.
He says, "Some of that stuff is invaluable, in terms of dealing with
the whole program. I've coached and been the equipment manager. I've
been the sports information director. I've been the film guy. All of
those little jobs that other people do at Division I, I've done, you
know, and it's really helpful. I know what they're going through, and
I know what their struggles are." He's convinced that this will make
him a better coach. And Texas Tech seems to agree.
Career PathTook Turn For Leach
Salt Lake Tribune 7Aug00 S2
By Michael C. Lewis: Salt Lake Tribune