Leach Deserves New Contract

Following a victory over in-state rival Texas A&M, Texas Tech Athletic Director Gerald Meyers has announced that he is working on a new contract for Head Coach Mike Leach. While most fans now support the idea, this certainly wasn't the case last year.

What has changed in the past year? Mostly it has been an impressive early season display by the Red Raiders. The team currently sits at 4-1, and they could very well head to Austin in November with a record of 9-1. The offense has started to receive national attention, with Heisman Candidate B.J. Symons leading the way, while the defense has been making some big strides during the season. These are just the symptoms of the job that Coach Leach has been doing ever since he arrived in the Hub City.

Leach came into a Texas Tech program that was known for its run game and it's defense. The Red Raiders focused on those areas on the field and on the recruiting trail. Former Head coach Spike Dykes had a way of igniting a crowd. Mike Leach was viewed with skepticism by many Texas Tech supporters. The fear was that his inexperience, combined with his gimmicky offense, would lead the program down the wrong path. The biggest challenge for Leach was the players that were recruited by the previous staff. While there were several good athletes, most of them had been recruited to run the football. There were also the lingering effects of recruiting penalties that had been incurred by the previous staff. This certainly made for a tough season, as the Red Raiders finished with a 7-6 (3-5 Big 12) season. This didn't gain Coach Leach many supporters, but most were willing to give him a little more time.

In 2001, things didn't look much better, but things were slowly beginning to build. Kliff Kingsbury became a player who people around the conference began to notice. The offense was beginning to put up yards, but it wasn't putting up points against good defenses. To make matters worse, the defense was also struggling. While some individual players had good seasons, the defense as a whole had a hard time stopping most offenses. The final record was 7-5 (4-4 Big 12). While the record was a small improvement, some important foundations had been laid.

Prior to the 2002 season contracts became an issue. While some people supported the idea of a contract extension, others were skeptical of a coach who was having very similar records when compared to his predecessor. Nothing was done, and the Red Raiders entered the 2002 season with a Heisman Trophy Candidate in Kliff Kingsbury. The Heisman Hype ended almost as soon as it started when the Red Raiders lost to the eventual National Champions, Ohio State. Things began to change for the Red Raiders though. Soon they were scoring at will against most opponents. Defenses were trying everything, but an improved offensive line and running game, gave the Red Raiders too many weapons. The offense carried the team to a 9-5 (5-3 Big 12) record, and a tangerine bowl victory.

While some people were still skeptical of how the Red Raiders would perform with a new quarterback before the season, most supporters are now firmly behind Mike Leach. The only question now is how much money he will earn as a Red Raider. It is imperative for the administration to ensure that Coach Leach is not just a Red Raider for the next few years, but that he is a Red Raider for as long as he continues to coach. At this point the numbers are irrelevant. While his salary will surely reach seven figures, his continued success will make this a winning situation for everyone involved. Mike Leach has committed to Texas Tech University and Red Raider football, now it is time for The University to make the same commitment to him.


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