In the wake of former head coach Joe Moorhead being relieved of his duties, Mississippi State University Director of Athletics John Cohen told the MSU fanbase the only word on a new coach they could trust would be the one from his mouth.
“I ask that you take everything that you hear with a grain of salt unless you hear it from me,” Cohen said.
Cohen was quick to point out rumors and names would undoubtedly go around as MSU began its national search for a new head football coach.
On Jan. 9, Cohen was, indeed, the first Mississippi State official to hint at the arrival of former Washington State University head football coach Mike Leach by tweeting out a short video clip featuring images and the theme song of "The Pirates of the Caribbean," referencing the coach’s fascination with pirates.
In turn, college football fans nationwide have long been fascinated with the eccentric genius that is Mike Leach. Known for his goofy press conference antics and off-topic comments which are loaded with wisdom, Leach has become a bit of a college football legend throughout his lengthy and successful career.
His introductory press conference captivated MSU fans as he discussed his past experiences inside of MSU’s visitor locker room, his former class titled “Leadership Lessons in Insurgent Warfare and Football Tactics” and his fresh new suit. He became distracted by movement from Jak, MSU’s live bulldog mascot, addressing the strength of the creature in a moment that made the room erupt in laughter.
“They call them bulldogs for a reason,” Leach said. “They’re built for combat.”
Regardless of the outcome, the hiring of Leach will certainly go down as one of the boldest moments in MSU football history. On the field, Leach has had an impact on football itself, pioneering his "Air Raid" offense, a style of play that has spread throughout football throughout all levels of play.
Leach’s Air Raid offenses have traditionally been extremely heavy on passing and extremely explosive. Washington State led the nation in passing offense in 2019 and finished seventh in total offense which is typically representative of Leach’s offenses over the years.
Leach has previously stated that the Air Raid offense is based on Sun Tzu’s “Art of War.”
“The thought, very simply, is that the more people the defense has to keep track of over a bigger area, the better our chances are," Leach said.
However, many will question whether or not the system can be run well within the SEC—a conference historically known for defensive dominance. The system is also vastly different than the offense traditionally run by Mississippi State teams, but coach Leach seems to be unconcerned about the difficulty of the transition.
“We’ve always been able to install it fast,” Leach said. “I don’t think it will be perfect in a week, but we ought to be looking pretty sharp within two weeks.”
While Leach’s coaching philosophy has produced plenty of electric offenses, many will be anxious to see if he can repeat his success at Mississippi State University. If he can, the Bulldog fans can certainly expect plenty more bowl games and perhaps even a few steps further.
With an offensive overhaul already in the works, an entirely new coaching staff and a new love of pirates, fans will have to wait until the fall to see which direction Leach takes the program.