"Yeah, I think anybody would be," Leach said. "But, you know, they went in a different direction. We were in the middle of the national picture at the time, so I was pretty preoccupied coaching my own team."
Leach's 2008 Texas Tech team opened 9-0 and made a serious run at the national championship before finishing regular-season play 11-1. He and Cincinnati's Brian Kelly were among the names mentioned most prominently in connection with the Tennessee position after Fulmer was ousted. The job ultimately went to Lane Kiffin, who bolted after 13 months.
Despite an 84-43 record in 10 seasons at Tech, Leach was fired in 2009 due to a highly publicized incident in which he allegedly ordered one of his players to remain in a darkened storage shed for several hours. The deposed coach spent 2010 as an expert analyst for CBS and enjoyed the experience but admittedly is eager to get back into coaching.
"I will sometime for the right situation," he said. "I'm enjoying what I'm doing now. I've got more volume, more variety. My world's this wide (holding hands four feet apart) and I've got a lot of variety.
"In coaching it's this wide (holding hands eight inches apart) but the payoff's huge. You work with players, you work with coaches. Everybody's working for the same thing, and the payoff's gigantic. That's really thrilling, and I'm looking forward to getting back. But, by the same token, I'm not just going to jump back because what I'm doing now is pretty rewarding."
Although he was rumored to be in the running for several coaching vacancies following the 2010 season, Leach says most of the talk was just speculation.
"I think the only one I was really in on was Maryland," he said. "That didn't come through, so I'll just wait and see next year."
Leach got an up-close look at Tennessee while serving as offensive coordinator under Hal Mumme at Kentucky in 1997-98. His offense hung 31 points on the Vols in a 59-31 loss at Lexington in '97 and put up 21 in a 59-21 loss at Knoxville in '98. He recalls the latter vividly.
"I heard 'em sing Rocky Top (after each Vol touchdown) way more times than I would've liked," he quipped. "I got to where I darn-near memorized the words. It wasn't a terribly good experience...."