Mike Leach hiring pattern familiar

WHILE NOTHING HAS been officially confirmed by the school, Mike Leach's known assistant coach hires numbers six. And something about the group seems familiar…

That would be comparative inexperience at the Pac-12/BCS level. Two of Leach's hires, Eric Morris and Mike Smith, have not held an on-field assistant coaching job period at the college level. For Clay McGuire and Dennis Simmons, their last stop was at East Carolina. Jim Mastro, comes to WSU from UCLA but before that one year in Westwood, he spent the previous 11 years at Nevada, a WAC and then MWC school outside the BCS.

Now, wait a minute.

Wasn't Paul Wulff roundly concluded in media articles and columns, and over a period of at least two years, to have made a fatal mistake in initially bringing on board coaches with a lack of Pac-12/BCS experience? When you compare Leach's group, admittedly incomplete, with Wulff's first staff that included Chris Ball and Mike Levenseller, it's pretty close in the BCS experience department.

So what makes Mike Leach's staff any different?

WELL, FOR STARTERS, Leach has already done this, and succeeded, before. At Texas Tech in 2000, Leach's newly hired staff was decidedly short on star power. One was a high school coach. Another's coaching claims to fame were stops at Wingate, Mississippi College and Valdosta State.

Since that time, those two hires, Art Briles and Dana Holgorsen, seem to have done okay for themselves.

OTHER TECH STAFF HIRES came from Emporia State and Western New Mexico. And while some in Leach's first staff had some higher level experience sprinkled in here and there, they were hardly household names with their last on-field coaching jobs at Navy, UNLV, Wyoming and Fresno State.

Yet this staff also kicked off Leach's 10 straight winning seasons at Texas Tech.

THAT BRINGS up a point about Leach himself. In the 20 years at Texas Tech before Leach came along, Tech reached 9 wins in only two seasons. They had 8 losing seasons during that time span. Enter Leach, who in his ten years at Tech ripped off five seasons in which they won 9 or more games.

As the mountain of recent CF.C stories on Leach illustrate, he has found college football success in unorthodox ways, and that includes assistant coaching hires short on BCS experience. Leach is a short-on-experience anomaly himself. You have to search far and wide for a successful head coach, like Leach, who never played college football.

In putting a staff together, it generally boils down to trust -- head coaches hire someone because they work well together and he trusts them. It also doesn't hurt if they're well familiar with the head guy's system and philosophy, and that's certainly the case here with all having either played or coached under Leach.

"Xs and Os are Xs and Os," one coach recently told CF.C. "The biggest thing many fans don't realize, there are some intricacies here and there but the game doesn't change a whole lot from one level to another. You could be the most brilliant coach in the world but if you can't teach it, it doesn't mean spit. And really, the lower the level, the more you have to know about football -- and the better coach and teacher you often have to be because you don't have as genetically gifted athletes as you have at the higher levels. And that's what it comes down to -- you're either a good coach and teacher or you're not, the level just doesn't mean as much."

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