OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Other than the legal wrangling that followed his departure from Texas Tech, Mike Leach enjoyed the two years he was without a coaching job.
Leach said Wednesday that the time away gave him an opportunity to do things he wouldn’t have done otherwise. Now he’s glad to be back.
The rejuvenated Leach recently finished his first spring practice at Washington State, a program that has lost 40 of 49 games the past four years. He is hoping to have the same success he had at Tech, where he led the Red Raiders to bowl games each of his 10 years there.
His bitterness about the way his run at Tech ended was apparent during a news conference before his appearance as featured speaker at the Omaha Sports Banquet on Wednesday night. He said he figured it was a matter of time before he got another job.
“I was in my coaching prime. I was having fun doing what I was doing,” Leach said. “But two years got taken away from me. We won 29 games in the last three years there at Tech, so two years got taken away from me through the actions of others, and I did plan to get back in.”
Leach still has unfinished business in the Lone Star State.
He was fired amid allegations he mistreated a player who had a concussion. Leach has denied wrongdoing. The player, Adam James, is the son of former ESPN college football analyst Craig James.
Leach said Craig James coaxed Tech administrators into firing him. Leach sued ESPN Inc. and a Dallas public relations firm for libel and slander.
No trial date has been set. Leach tried to make his case and uphold his reputation in his best-selling book, “Swing Your Sword,” which he co-authored after his firing.
“I think the facts are pretty borne out, but never the less I expect to have a victory in court, yeah,” he said.
Leach lost a wrongful termination lawsuit against Texas Tech, a decision that was upheld on appeal by the Texas Supreme Court.
Leach moved to Key West, Fla., after leaving Lubbock, Texas. He was an analyst on CBS College Sports Network, did a national satellite radio show and made speaking appearances. He also consulted for a couple football teams in England and France in addition to writing “Swing Your Sword” and another book, “Sports for Dorks.”
“I was busier than I thought I would be, but it was all different, all fulfilling and all fun,” Leach said.
Now it’s back to coaching for Leach, who inherits a young Washington State squad that finished last in the Pac-12’s North Division last season and won a total of four conference games in four years under Paul Wulff.
“We had a real productive spring, got a lot of work done,” Leach said. “Like everybody, we’re looking for depth. We have a lot of work to do before the season starts in order to be real good.”
Leach is installing his pass-oriented spread offense and is curious to see how it stacks up in the Pac-12.
He said he isn’t concerned with having to prove himself again after being away from coaching for two years.
Folks in Nebraska certainly haven’t forgotten Leach, who was 4-2 in Big 12 games against the Cornhuskers. In particular, they remember the 70-10 loss his 2004 Texas Tech team hung on former coach Bill Callahan’s first Nebraska team. It was the most lopsided defeat in program history.
Leach said he always felt honored to take teams into Lincoln to play at Memorial Stadium, a place he considers one of the bastions of college football.
“If you beat Nebraska in a game of marbles,” Leach said, “that’s a big deal.”
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Also Check Out: