Leach has had an amount of success everywhere he has been, but it’s been years since he was in the region. Do you think it matters that it’s been so long since he’s been in the South? Can Arkansas be an Air Raid school?
Luke: If you look at Mike Leach’s history, the world is his region and nowhere is his home. He’s been everywhere from Iowa to Kentucky to Oklahoma to Washington. He looks like he can be competitive wherever, but he’s not going to recruit the biggest and brightest recruits. He’s going to find people to run his system. The air raid will run in Arkansas, but I don’t know if it won’t sputter now and again.
Saul: Mike Leach has no home. He is a football transient, wandering the country giving quotable press conference after quotable press conference. Is he gonna get you the best recruits? No. Is he gonna get the best out of the recruits he does get? Most of the time! Will it be fun? You bet. The air raid can run here, but I don’t know if it could be the well oiled machine it’s sold as all the time.
Tucker: I don’t think that anyone off the street could come in and run an air raid offense at Arkansas, but Leach has proven that he can get it going everywhere he’s been. As for the fact that he hasn’t been down South in a while, I’m not sure that I think regions of origin matter. If you’ve got a system that works, it works. My fear is that Arkansas doesn’t produce the talent to craft an air raid offense. You need great quarterbacks to be produced, and I’m not sure Arkansas as a state does that consistently enough.
What would you like about this hire?
Luke: He’s won in the vast wastelands of West Texas and the Palouse, so you don’t have to squint to see him win in Fayetteville. The air raid does give him something distinct in the SEC, something that other teams really have to adjust to playing.
Saul: The man wins in WEIRD places. The Air Raid™ is decidedly not run in the SEC and would be an adjustment for defences throughout the conference. He’s a name. His press conferences could be fun and I think he’s an instant cure to the apathy here if not out of curiosity alone.
Tucker: Nothing. I’ll be completely transparent, and just say it: I really don’t like Mike Leach. That definitely skews my perception of this hire, but I just don’t see what other people see. I’ll dive into that later. As for this question, he’s had success in hard to win places, and runs a non-traditional SEC offense. I guess those are things to like.
What would give you reservations about this hire?
Luke: What is his ceiling in the SEC West? Getting weird is good for a couple upsets a year, but would he ever get double-digit wins here? I don’t have high hopes. He’s also worn out his welcome in places, despite getting Texas Tech and Washington State to rarely-seen peaks. With the grind of this conference, that timeline crunches and he may not see success before it happens.
Saul:The Air Raid™ is NOT hard to solve. If the rest of the conference get wise to it (which they probably will) I can see us being constantly stuck at 8-4/7-5. Could be good for a fun upset or close game, but like Luke said, what’s the ceiling? He also has a bad habit of losing locker rooms and losing them aggressively.
Tucker: As I said before, I just don’t think Arkansas produces the talent that lets you build an Air Raid offense. On top of that, I think Leach is a tool. He says funny things in press conferences, and teaches weird classes, but he has consistently thrown his players under the bus everywhere he’s been. Something about a dude getting paid millions a year throwing his unpaid laborers to the wolves doesn’t sit right with me. I think the Air Raid had its moment, but it’s over now. Nobody in the national picture runs that offense, and unless your state is producing 5000 yard passers consistently (and Arkansas doesn’t), I don’t think there’s much evidence that it should make a comeback. He’s also old, and while it’s probably unrealistic to expect the next coach to be here for a while, that could mean that he’s only here for a couple of years before retiring.
Would you personally be happy with this hire?
Luke: I don’t think I would. I’d rather pursue an up-and-comer, even if there’s a bigger margin of error. As entertaining as Leach is, I’ve enjoyed watching him from a distance. That enjoyment feels like it would be inversely proportional to my chances of running into him at Walmart.
Saul: I’m a little higher on Leach than some of my colleagues, but ultimately I don’t think this is the right job or fit for him. There are better candidates out there. But, would I PERSONALLY be happy. Yeah. You can Old Takes Exposed me if he gets hired and we continue to suck and he retires after 2 seasons.
Tucker: Like Luke said, I’d much rather take a shot on an up-and-comer even though there’s the risk of it not working out. For all of Leach’s baggage, I just couldn’t get excited about him. I’d fall in line, because I love the Hogs, but if this is truly the best we could do, I’d be disappointed. I understand that this isn’t exactly a popular opinion held by the Hog faithful though.