College Football Hall of Fame makes decision on Mike Leach

There has been some debate around whether the late Mike Leach would qualify for the College Football Hall of Fame, and now the group has made it official.
Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach looks on from the sideline during a college football game in the SEC.
Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach looks on from the sideline during a college football game in the SEC. / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Leach remains one of the most admired and influential head coaches in modern college football history, and given his innovative work in the sport, it would seem the late former coach would be an easy pick to make the College Football Hall of Fame.

But the president of the National Football Foundation says Leach will not be eligible for the HOF.

"If you don't qualify under one of the criteria, it's tough," NFF president Steve Hatchell told The Mercury News. "We've heard every reason why we should look beyond why someone is not in the Hall of Fame. But at some point you have to say, 'These are the rules.'"

Leach, who died suddenly late in 2022, is credited with helping popularize the Air Raid offense, an aggressive, pass-oriented strategy that has strongly influenced the game of football at both the college and NFL levels in the 21st century.

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But the rule that seems to exclude Leach from the Hall of Fame is as follows: A candidate for the honor "must have been a head coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage."

Leach checks out on two of those three demands: he coached for more than a decade and more than 100 games.

But his career record in that time was 158 wins against 107 losses — a .596 winning percentage, just .004 percent away from the mark he needs to be eligible for the Hall of Fame.

And the Hall won't budge on its rules.

"Mike was great to the National Football Foundation and the Hall of Fame," Hatchell added. "... But once you get wiggly on the criteria, what do you say doesn't matter?"

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James Parks

JAMES PARKS

James Parks is the founder and publisher of College Football HQ. He previously covered football for 247Sports and CBS Interactive. College Football HQ joined the Sports Illustrated Fannation Network in 2022.