When former Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley suddenly left his Sooners for USC on Sunday, the college football world was thrown into a frenzy.
There have been plenty of names of potential new head coaching candidates thrown around, but nothing has been confirmed or denied yet. Every coach with a decently successful record-- from college assistants to NFL head coaches-- has been speculated about. However, one name has come up in the conversation that most Mississippi State fans do not want to hear: Mike Leach.
Is the Air Raid genius wanted in Oklahoma? Former Sooners coach Barry Switzer believes that Leach would be the perfect coach for the team.
It’s a huge moment (for the program),” Switzer told ESPN 102.3 in Sioux Falls earlier this week. “We’ve got to hire a head coach that recruits quarterbacks and receivers. We got to have an experienced head coach, like Lincoln was, that recruited quarterbacks. Quarterbacks knew of his capabilities, seem to support what he’s accomplished.
“There’s about 3 or 4 guys out there like that. I can start naming them. There’s not many of them. Lane Kiffin does that at Ole Miss. He’s been around a lot different places, you got some baggage, but he’s a hell of a coach. You got one guy that coached them all, Mike Leach. Mike Leach, Mississippi State, he coached Lincoln Riley. He taught Lincoln Riley the system and all, and he’s won everywhere he’s been.”
Switzer is one of the most credible people when it comes to Oklahoma football. He coached the team from 1973-1988 and led them to a 157-29-4 record with three national championships won. Switzer also had a brief stint as an NFL coach for the Dallas Cowboys, where he won Super Bowl XXX during the 1995 season.
But these don't seem like good enough reasons to pull Leach away from the team he has worked to create at Mississippi State. He first joined the program in 2020 and finished the season with a 4-7 record. This year, his Bulldogs went 7-5 and are awaiting a bowl berth to close out the season. The team has the third-best passing offense in the nation in Leach's second year despite being quite young. There is a good chance that Leach can lead the Bulldogs to a higher ranking and possibly a spot in the playoffs or a New Year's Six bowl game in the coming years.
Not only does Leach have a lot to work with at State, but he has already had so many coaching jobs across the nation that the odds of him picking up and leaving after only two years are slim. Why would Leach want to go anywhere else? He has worked himself up to an SEC head coaching position and is adored by his fans in Starkville. Aside from a higher paycheck and the chance to have better recruits, there is not much that Oklahoma offers that Mississippi State can't.
Switzer can hope all he wants, but his longing for Leach seems like wishful thinking. Leach has shown no signs of wanting to leave his Bulldogs, and there is already hope that next season will be one of the best in Mississippi State history.
More realistic candidates for the position include Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin and Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel.