Coach Leach Goes Deep, Very Deep

This article nails exactly why football in general bores me: too methodical, plodding, and mired in tradition. Mike Leach threw out all the rules, and seems to be successful, but is a pariah to other coaches. Screw that. I am pleased that my alma mater (UT) beat Texas Tech anyway, but also am glad to hear of Texas Tech's success this year. Maybe football will get more interesting in the future, if other coaches don't get Leach lynched.

Coach Leach Goes Deep, Very Deep:

By changing the geometry of the game, and pushing the limits of space and time on the gridiron, Mike Leach of Texas Tech is taking football to some far-out places.

...The first play Leach called against Texas A.&M. was the first play on Cody Hodges's wrist. That wrist held a mere 23 ordinary plays, 9 red-zone plays (for situations inside an opponent's 20-yard line), 6 goal-line plays, 2 2-point-conversion plays and 5 trick plays. “There's two ways to make it more complex for the defense,” Leach says. “One is to have a whole bunch of different plays, but that's no good because then the offense experiences as much complexity as the defense. Another is a small number of plays and run it out of lots of different formations.” Leach prefers new formations. “That way, you don't have to teach a guy a new thing to do,” he says. “You just have to teach him new places to stand.” Texas Tech's offense has no playbook; Cody Hodges's wrist and Mike Leach's back pocket hold the only formal written records of what is widely regarded as one of the most intricate offenses ever to take a football field. The plays change too often, in response to the defense and the talents of the players on hand, to bother recording them.....
Leach is unusual in giving his quarterback the authority to change every play, wherever the line of scrimmage. “He can see more than I'll ever see,” Leach says. “If I call a stupid play, his job is to get me out of it. If he doesn't get me out of it, I might holler at him. But if you let him react to what he sees, there's a ton of touchdowns to be had.”

The chances of that happening can't be great, though. Leach remains on the outside; like all innovators in sports, he finds himself in an uncertain social position. He has committed a faux pas: he has suggested by his methods that there is more going on out there on the (unlevel) field of play than his competitors realize, which reflects badly on them. He steals some glory from the guy who is born with advantages and uses them to become a champion. Gary O'Hagan, Leach's agent, says that he hears a great deal more from other coaches about Mike Leach than about any of his other clients. “He makes them nervous,” O'Hagan says. “They don't like coaching against him; they'd rather coach against another version of themselves. It's not that they don't like him. But privately they haven't accepted him. You know how you can tell? Because when you're talking to them Monday morning, and you say, Did you see the play Leach ran on third and 26, they dismiss it immediately. Dismissive is the word. They dismiss him out of hand. And you know why? Because he's not doing things because that's the way they've always been done. It's like he's been given this chessboard, and all the pieces but none of the rules, and he's trying to figure out where all the chess pieces should go. From scratch!”

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This page contains a single entry by swanksalot published on December 4, 2005 3:38 PM.

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