Where does D fit in Leachland?

THOSE WHO SUBSCRIBE to the defense-wins-championships philosophy use WSU coach Mike Leach as an example. He never won a Big 12 title in 10 years at Texas Tech, despite an offense as prolific as any in the country. But I'd say the bulging talent pools at Texas and Oklahoma were bigger factors than a lack of D. Leach cares about defense. He just happens to care a lot more about offense.

Mike Leach cares enough about defense that a mid-season tirade in 2007 caused Texas Tech defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich to resign. For another reason, you might remember the game that led to Setencich's demise – a 49-45 loss to Oklahoma State where Cowboys coach Mike Gundy famously afterward launched into his "I'm 40. I'm a man!" rant. Somewhat lost in Gundy's fireworks was Leach going off on a Red Raiders' defense that OSU torched for 610 yards.

"We got hit in the mouth and acted like somebody took our lunch money, and all we wanted to do was have pouty expressions on our face until somebody daubed our little tears and made us feel better," Leach told reporters after that game.

But mostly, Leach's Texas Tech teams played enough defense to give its high scoring offense a chance to win games.

IT WASN'T THAT way at the outset. In Leach's first year, the 2000 season at Texas Tech, the Red Raiders gave up seven or fewer points in five games. Tech posted three shutouts, best among Division I schools. The Red Raiders were sixth in the country in pass defense, and among the top 25 in total defense.

Then the Air Raid offense took over and overshadowed Texas Tech's defense, and for good reason. It had modest results, usually ranking among the country's mid-pack in the meaningful defensive categories.

Statistically, the best defensive team under Leach was Tech's 2005 unit, which gave up an average of 19 points a game, finishing the season with a 13-10 loss over Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. Then there was 2003, when Texas Tech gave up nearly 36 points a game, yet somehow managed to win eight games.

THREE DEFENSIVE COORDINATORS worked for Leach at Texas Tech, Greg McMackin (2000-02), Setencich (2003-07) and Ruffin McNeal (2007-09). McNeal, on Leach's staff for all 10 years, had an interesting stint. He was elevated to interim defensive coordinator when Setencich resigned, and interim head coach when Leach was fired late in the 2009 season.

McNeal ran a 4-3 defense at Texas Tech, and had some success, particularly during the spectacular 2008 season, when the Red Raiders were among the Big 12's top five in pass, scoring and total defense.

Defense under Leach was often referred to as "Swarm Defense," and often excelled at putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

During Leach's tenure, Texas Tech had eight defensive players become NFL draft picks. Among the most notable were defensive backs Darcel McBath, a second-round 2009 pick by Denver, Kevin Curtis, a 2002 fourth-rounder to San Francisco, and defensive end Brandon Williams, a 2009 fourth-round selection by Dallas.

As a comparison, Leach had 12 Tech players on offense go in the NFL draft.

As another comparison, during Leach's 10-year stretch, Washington State had 17 players become NFL draft picks, including 10 on defense.

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