Experience: 1989-1991: Offensive coordinator at Iowa Wesleyan
1992-1996: Offensive coordinator at Valdosta State
1997-1998: Offensive coordinator at Kentucky
1999: Offensive coordinator at Oklahoma
2000-2009: Head coach at Texas Tech (84-43 record)
Current Position: Announcer for CBS College Sports Network
Philosophy: Widely regarded as one of the top offensive masterminds in all of collegiate sports, Leach is the architect of the "Air Raid Offense" that became popular at Oklahoma and ultimately Texas Tech. The Red Raider passing attack ranked in the top five in all of Leach's seasons at Texas Tech, and finished number one in the country six times in nine years. During his tenure, he broke more than 150 NCAA, Big 12, and Texas Tech offensive records and won Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2008.
Defensively, Leach's defense posted six shutouts and failed to allow touchdowns in another five games in his time as head coach. With one of the top offenses in the country, defense was certainly not the first priority for Leach in his tenure. His 4-3 defensive scheme was known for producing disruptive defensive fronts, but overall his Red Raider defenses proved unable to stop teams on a consistent basis.
Reasons he should be hired:
1. Continuity offensively: The offensive system brought to Arizona in 2007 by Sonny Dykes was designed by Mike Leach, an offense Leach brought to the top of the ranks in the NCAA. There is no doubt that by bringing in Leach, he would be able to take the current players on the Arizona roster, already suited for the "Air Raid Offense", and mold them into one of his high-flying, high-scoring offenses of his Texas Tech days.
2. Experience against top tier programs: Much like Arizona is forced to compete year in and year out against perennial powers Oregon, Stanford, and USC, Leach has experience going up against the top teams from the Big 12, such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. He's defeated each of those schools in his tenure at TTU, and elevated Texas Tech from a middle-of-the-road team competition wise to a team that won a share of the Big 12 South crown in 2008. Leach won't be intimidated by the Pac-12 powers in place and will almost certainly return Arizona to a level where it can be competitive with those teams.
3. Connection with students: Simply put, the students of Arizona would love to have Leach as their coach. At Texas Tech, Leach regularly scheduled "Pirate Dress Up" games for the student sections to show his fascination with pirates and pirate culture, and also ordered several hundred pizzas before home games and delivered them to the die hard students waiting to get in the game. For a student section that is often disinterested and disengaged in Arizona football, Mike Leach would infuse plenty of energy and enthusiasm into a group of students that certainly need it.
4. Transition with coaching staff: Both offensive line coach Robert Anae and outside receivers coach Dave Nichol have experience coaching under Leach, and it's likely they could be retained if he's hired. The opportunity to continue working with Anae would certainly help a young offensive line group that has struggled mightily this year and the staff keeps one of its best recruiters in Nichol. It's not a certainty either would stay or go, or that other coaches wouldn't be asked to stay, but it is likely Leach would look to maintain at least one coach from a group he has plenty of past experience with.
5. Recruiting: By bringing Leach into the fold, it is likely UA would be able to maintain all of its offensive commitments in the class of 2012. The hiring would also further expose Arizona to recruiting in-roads in Texas and the rest of the South, where Leach already has connections and a reputation in the region.
Reasons he should not be hired:
1. Skeletons (and a player) in the closet: Leach's firing from Texas Tech was widely publicized over the incident involving his alleged treatment of an injured player. While many in Lubbock feel that he was fired unnecessarily, the national perception of Leach is not as kind, and he's widely viewed as a coach that will bring some baggage to whichever program he lands at next.
2. Personality: It is no secret that Greg Byrne is going to be heavily reliant upon boosters and high profile donors to complete his famed North End Zone Project. At Texas Tech, Leach developed a reputation as someone that was reluctant to put in the face time and foster the relationships that will be necessary to secure the funds necessary to assist Byrne in the completion of his project. Much like Mike Stoops before him, Leach is not widely considered a man with a lot of charm and charisma, which may put him at a disadvantage.
3. Ego: In his time at Texas Tech, Leach admitted to having problems with authority and often times clashed publically with the administration and athletic department of the school. Greg Byrne is clearly looking to bring in a coach that will share his vision for the future of Arizona football, and he may not want to risk his long-term goals for the program by putting them in the hands of Leach.
4. Salary: The owner of a .661 winning percentage in one of the nation's top conferences and a reputation as one of the brightest minds in college football, Leach is sure to ask for a hefty salary, one which Arizona may be unwilling or unable to pay. This may lead to the elimination of Leach as a candidate from the early stages of the process.
5. Long term tenure at Arizona: It could be argued that Leach would use Arizona as a stepping stone to a return to the Big 12 or a more high profile coaching job. If Mike Leach is hired and turns the Arizona football program around, he could be in line for a major pay raise that UA could not afford, thus putting Greg Byrne in this scenario once again a few years down the line.