Running up the score garners the most attention when passing teams keep throwing the ball late in the game. The legitimate reasoning for this is that an incomplete pass stops the clock. But many believe that a passing team should not throw the ball because that is what their offense does well. Why does this not work the same for running teams? They get leniency because they are running out that clock, but at the same time, they are using the strength of their offense instead of handicapping themselves. Nevertheless, Leach is a favorite target of the running up the score critics.
The most famous and publicized example of Leach allegedly running up the score was against SMU in 2004. Late in the game, Coach Leach was throwing the football near the goal line. SMU saw this as an attempt to make the score look worse than the 27-13 final, while Red Raiders simply saw it as an effort to practice the red zone offense at the end of a game. Honestly, both sides have legitimate arguments from their perspectives. However, only Coach Leach knows what his true intentions were. Still, the media made a big fuss about it, and it was the hot topic for the week.
Since then, it has been difficult for Leach to shake the reputation. With 2005's easy non-conference schedule, speculation came from that Leach was just trying to inflate statistics by running up the score against lesser opponents. However, what didn't get printed everywhere or talked about much was what happened during the game against Sam Houston State last year. Damn near our entire roster played in that game. Fifteen, yes 15, Texas Tech players caught a pass. Our starting quarterback only played for one drive in the second half, as our second and third-team quarterbacks finished out the game. The late drives in the game consisted almost entirely of running our second and third-team tailbacks up the middle. And all of this was after one of the Sam Houston State players took a blatant cheap shot on Danny Amendola, hitting him way before the ball got there on a punt return.
This didn't make the headlines, though, as much of the nation just saw the 80-21 final score and assumed that Leach beat up on a lesser opponent. This wasn't the case, as our backups simply kept scoring while we ran our offense. Then, we even stopped running our offense, and still scored a touchdown on a 19 yard run by Eric Morris. This has continued with our season opener this season against SMU. The Red Raiders did quite a bit of rushing, and threw short passes for most of the game. On our last drive, it became painfully obvious that Leach was trying not to score. As a result, some people looked at the score and said that we should have won by more. In some people's eyes, maybe we just can't win.
Maybe the bigger issue is scheduling weak teams. Sure, we were guilty of it last year. A&M and Oklahoma State are this year's biggest Big 12 culprits. The allure for the small schools is the big money and attention than comes from playing noteworthy opponents. And if the unthinkable happens and they pull an upset, they will instantly be catapulted to fame, like in Montana State's victory over Colorado. However, I grow weary of the smaller schools complaining if they get blown out. They know what they are getting into when they step on the field with a far superior opponent.
I believe running up the score to be somewhat of a convoluted idea. Sure, teams who are absolutely dominating a game should not leave all of their starters in and start trying to humiliate an opponent. However, it doesn't make much sense to chastise a team for simply running their offense against an overmatched team.
- Trent Wycoff
(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at email@example.com)