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Former Red Raiders Coach Mike Leach Hall of Fame Bound? There's a Problem

The legendary college coach doesn't meet the written qualifications to be inducted, but should an exception be made?
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Former Texas Tech Red Raiders coach Mike Leach has been regarded as one of the most notable and respected coaches in program history. He still boasts the most wins ever as a football coach in Lubbock and was equally regarded at his stops at Washington State and Mississippi State.

Since his sudden passing on Dec. 12, colleagues and fans have been pushing for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Normally, that wouldn't be an issue, as everyone agrees he's deserving.

There's one problem. He doesn't qualify.

The College Football Hall of Fame has a written set of standards for coaches to be inducted, and Leach's career does not meet all those requirements.

What are they?

1. At least 10 years of head coaching experience

2. A career victory total of at least 100 games

3. A winning percentage of at least 60 percent

It's No. 3 above that is the hiccup, as Leach's career winning percentage is just 59.6 percent. 

National Football Foundation chair Archie Manning doesn't think four-hundredths of a percentage point should keep Leach out, but it's not in his control.

“I think Mike will be in the Hall of Fame, but it’ll be up to the Honor’s Committee,” Manning says.

Leach is considered an innovator of the game, not just a successful head coach, and Steve Hatchell, president, and CEO of the NFF, which operates the Hall of Fame, said Leach's case is unique.

“Where the difference comes in here is that Mike was a young man and he passed away,” Hatchell says. “The fact that he passed away brings a different perspective on this. Everybody would say he’d continue to coach and continue to win. I’m positive the NFF will do the right thing.”

Manning and Hatchell both think the situation should call for an exception.

“It’s different with Mike,” Hatchell says. “There was something special about him. There isn't an organization that thinks more of Mike than ours. To say we thought the world of Mike Leach is putting it mildly. We have great respect for him. This goes way beyond the coach. He was a smart and shrewd guy with great insight on a lot of things.”

Manning added: “I don’t think minor percentage points should be a problem. The only question should be when he’s inducted and not if he’s inducted," Manning says.

The 2023 class has already been selected and will be announced in January, and Hall of Fame requirements dictate a coach can't be inducted until three years after his retirement. But since Leach died as an active coach, he could be treated differently.

The class of 2024 will be selected in the fall, and it's expected that all three programs that Leach coached will nominate him.

Some have discussed creative ways to increase Leach's winning percentage to make him eligible. 

Leach's team at the time of his death, Mississippi State, plays Illinois in the Reliaquest Bowl on Jan. 2. Officials have discussed allowing a win, if it occurs for the Bulldogs, to count for both Leach and interim coach Zach Arnett.

But there's another option from a Red Raiders' perspective. 

Tech fired Leach just one day prior to a Red Raiders' victory over Michigan State back in 2009. That victory doesn't count toward Leach's coaching record. But if it did...

Michael Charles Leach might not satisfy all of the expressed criteria to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, but he certainly fits the most important one. 

He deserves it.

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