Hope, the experiment

If you want to have some fun, take a little time to visit Washington State message boards and blogs this morning (yes, Virginia, they do exist).  The “pinch me, I’m dreaming” quality to the fan base’s reaction to the news that Mike Leach is the new head coach will bring a smile to your jaded face.  Those folks are coming from a completely different place than the Ohio State people are and it just strikes me that theirs is the more innocent joy.

But that’s not the interesting thing to follow this offseason.  Here’s the thing to watch, instead.  There are many other programs, several with higher profiles than Wazzou, looking for new head coaches now.  As the slots get filled, measure the fans’ enthusiasm for the new hires against that for Leach.  And then watch to see if the fans’ money gets put where their mouths are in the same way, too.  (WSU’s AD has already ponied up with $4 million for coaching salaries; you know he’ll be pushing supporters to do their fair share.)

I bring this up only to show again what cowards many athletic directors are.  Maryland could have had Leach a year ago, but chickened out and brought in Randy Edsall.  After a two-win season and a massive drop off in fan support, that move’s not looking too good now.  I expect it’s going to look a lot worse in the next two or three years.

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57 Comments

Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness, Mike Leach. Yar!

57 responses to “Hope, the experiment

  1. Leach is truly original and a no-doubt-about it WINNER.

    WSU and their fanbase (including that dude who waved the Cougar flag on College Game Day locations for sixteen years) should be amped.

    • Brandon

      I like Mike Leach, and I wish him well at Washington State. I was completely on his side with the whole Adam James saga, however at the risk of offending some of those who think he is the greatest coach evah I would not want him at UGA and I am not sure he would do particularly well in the SEC because we have school’s that play defense. I think his high flying attack managed all of 3 points on Mike Shula’s Alabama team in the Cotton Bowl that year.

      • adam

        He was pretty successful running Kentucky’s offense. Got some big upsets while he was there. Turns out some of those really good SEC defenses (like LSU’s one year) still couldn’t stop him.

        • Brandon

          Are you talking about the 1998 LSU team that was 4-7 or the 1997 LSU team that beat Kentucky by 35 points? He runs a gimmicky offense, and has an interesting personality. If you are someone like Washington State he is a great hire, he will make you win some games and be a cool side show but I wouldn’t want him at Georgia, there is a limit on what he can do.

          • No One Knows You're a Dawg

            Leach reminds me of Jerry Glanville, although I do like Leach more than Glanville.

          • adam

            1998 was a long time ago haha.

            But I knew that Kentucky scored quite a bit with the Mumme/Leach combination. I think that Leach could be successful at a big school in the SEC if he had a good staff. Mainly a good recruiting coordinator and a good defensive staff. He can score on anybody, IMO.

      • Georgia is such a political spot, with alumni relations, massive media obligations, etc, he just wouldn’t work. But Ole Miss failed big time in not going full speed ahead in the Pirate’s direction. If they end up going Kirby Smart, it’s a lose lose scenario. If he comes out as poorly as several other Saban products have looked (Bobby Williams at Mich St, Derek Dooley at both La Tech and UT, the early results of Muschamp in Florida) haven’t been good. So if he proves to be far from ready for a head job and fails, they are obviously in a bad spot. But best case scenario and he’s a big time recruiter with great success, then he just leaves for a bigger gig in 5 years like the only other good coach they’ve had since desegregation (Tuberville), and they are back trying to find a good coach.

        Leach was a good coach, who could win without needing blue chippers, and wouldn’t be likely to bolt at the first bigger gig. Smart is unproven, and will use them as a stepping stone at best. Horrible, horrible decision from them.

        • The Lone Stranger

          I think the Admiral Akbars ought to go after Hugh Freeze, the first year HC at Arkansas St. He is staring hard at 10-2 and had previously coached at Ole Miss as an interim HC. That or certainly Larry Fedora, the 4-year coach at So.Miss., who has improved them each season and can mess up Houston on Saturday. Likely, though, Ole Miss will think they should expect more thereby drawing out the search and having to settle for some older retread.

          • Dog in Fla

            “some older retread.”

            I think Neuheisel will be perfect for the Rebels. Rick will be available right after UCLA gives up 77 to the Ducks in a couple of days.

    • Go Dawgs!

      Forgot about the WSU flags on Game Day campaign… I can honestly say that I don’t expect College Game Day to show up in Pullman now!

  2. I don’t think Edsall was a terrible hire for Maryland.

    If you asked the pro-CMR UGA fanbase about any viable coaching candidates four months ago, you would have been looking into a great black void as far as they were concerned.

    I’m not advocating that. I’m just saying that at any point in time the coaches are out there. As you point out, put up the money and go get them. It is the AD that will make or break the team for the next 3-4 years with his hiring decision.

    I wonder if Jeremy Foley is still considered a genius at UF. I think we hired their brain power.

    • You’re the only person I know who’s okay with the Edsall hire. What made it not terrible in your opinion?

      • It was one season. Give the guy a chance. He put UConn football on the map. Went to four straight bowl games. Give him a couple of years to recruit and with the resources at Maryland he should find success.

        It’s not like they went out and hired a Dooley. (Don’t tell his Mom I said that.)

        • “I’m not perfect. There were things I could have done better. I know that,” Edsall said late Tuesday night, during a phone conversation while on a recruiting trip.

          Edsall had a worse season than SOD.

          • CDD has had one winning season as a head coach. One. CRE just came off of four straight winning seasons at UConn.

            They were both 1-7 in their conferences. Worse than SOD? Ask the Vol fans how the like CDD in his second year at the helm.

            • gastr1

              The problem with Edsall is not restricted to his won-loss record. Maryland is a program with historically little fan support– a 35,000-seat stadium they cannot sell out. It’s great that Edsall built UConn into something, but Leach did that too (in a more analogous setting to Maryland as well). And UConn is never going to be a huge draw anyway–not like what Maryland wants–because of the sports culture of the northeast, so it is not as though he built them into what Maryland would like to have.

              Texas Tech under Leach, however…Maryland would like to have that. They were stupid, stupid to hire a ho-hum guy like Edsall when what they need is a firecracker like Leach.

              • The football fanbase in Texas is on a different level than Maryland.

                I’m not arguing they should have hired Leach. I think they should have, but nobody would touch him last year.

                • gastr1

                  I think you’re overestimating Texas Tech. You know where in Texas that is, right? Ever been to that area? Regarding the football fanbase at Maryland, you potentially have a ton of interest right there in several major cities. On paper it would appear much easier to build interest at Maryland because Lubboch is never going to be any closer to civilization and TTU is always going to be the fifth-, sixth-, or seventh-most important university in the state, depending on how many of the top “most important” slots you give Texas.

                  • The ATH

                    +1, Texas Tech is the Georgia Southern of Texas.

                    • AusDawg85

                      The Aggies are now dead to Texas. UT is going to channel their resources into making TT their big instate rival. And in case you have not heard, there’s oil in Texas. A lot around Lubbock and it’s growing.

                      Still a vast, horrible wasteland, but that program will be #4/5 consistently in the Big (insert Roman numeral for latest headcount here).

              • FisheriesDawg

                Fwiw, Byrd Stadium seats around 54,000. Still not large by any means (and the one game I went to there was filled with 1/3 Virginia Tech fans) but at least it is competitive with the rest of their basketball school league.

              • The Lone Stranger

                In fairness, it is a 55 K stadium, but sure enough they were only within 8,000 of that vs. FSU and that was last year. I am hoping the Turtles can pull out of this funk if only because, well, how can you pull against water turtles.

                • The Lone Stranger

                  Looks llike I ought to follow the line of thought a little farther down the page! Couple of stadium afficionados on here.

              • Terps1983

                Gastr1, Byrd Stadium seats about 55,000, not 35,000 and when the Terps were winning, we did indeed fill it up. At this point, it’s not about Leach anymore in College Park, MD. It’s about getting rid of the worst coach Maryland has had in over 40 years. Edsall to Maryland is Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans: a disaster that will cost the Maryland athletic department millions of dollars and will take years to recover from.

            • Last time I looked, two wins is less than five.

              • Honest question, how bad was the talent level when Edsall arrived? I can’t imagine it’s an easy place to recruit to, and how much talent did the Fridge leave him?

              • Mayor of Dawgtown

                Edsall was a bad hire that made no sense. If they wanted to get rid of the Fridge they should have not done it after a 9-4 season which had a whole bunch of good players coming back for the next year, including arguably the best QB in the ACC. If you have to make a change because you are trying to upgrade your coach at least hire someone who really is an upgrade, which Edsall wasn’t. Edsall killed the MD team this year–just killed it.

                • Mayor of Dawgtown

                  P.S. If somebody needs to be fired at Maryland it is the dumbassed AD. Why fire the mistake (Edsall) after one season and keep the guy who made the mistake. Get rid of the AD now so when you do fire Edsall you will have someone competent in place to make the new hire.

        • stoopnagle

          I think you are failing to see the whole picture (at least from the outside).

          Edsall got a team that Fridge won with. Now, with WIlliams’ and Fridgen’s buyouts, plus overpaying for basically what you already had in Fridgen, they’re looking at tremendous fiscal problems in their athletic department.

          Had they hired Leach do you think their fanbase (meager as it may be) would have responded like Wazzu’s apparently has? My guess is that they would have energized their diehards and creating the positive publicity buzz in and around DC to inject energy/enthusiasm required for them to fundraise in a difficult environment. Edsall sure as shit didn’t do that and it’s only gotten worse at a place with very little margin for error (like, they CAN’T fire Edsall and they’re looking to cut non-revenue sports).

          I think Leach can coach and win; but let’s not overstate the case at Tech. Sonny Dykes was fairly successful given the environment in which Tech finds itself. Tubberville’s failure there to date is pretty awful, but the Ags are mediocre and Baylor has surged. It’s often a zero sum game.

    • Tronan

      I live in Maryland. The locals (the few who care about college football, anyway) rue the Edsall hire. Whether or not he deserves another chance, the natives here are restless. The WaPo article succinctly and brutally sums up why. The on-field results have been terrible and he’s alienated just about everyone he possibly could.

  3. Doug

    Randy Edsall may go down as the worst coaching decision since Ole Miss traded in David Cutcliffe for Ed Orgeron. The Terps’ decision would’ve been questionable even if Mike Leach had never been in the picture — they lowered the boom on a loyal alum who’d just won nine games and an ACC Coach of the Year plaque so they could hire a guy with a well-known indifference to offense whose most notable achievement was crawling to the top of a godawful Big East so they could be sacrificial lambs in a BCS game.

    Add in the Leach factor, though, and it goes from “questionable” to “insane.” Your main reason for canning Friedgen was dwindling fan interest, and your strategy for re-igniting it involves picking Randy Edsall over the Dread Captain? Ho-kay, Maryland. Enjoy the ride.

    • You do realize Friedgen went 2-10 the year before, right?

      • Biggus Rickus

        He took them to a bowl most years and won 8-10 games in half of those seasons. What is Maryland expecting? They’re Maryland.

        • Normaltown Mike

          I have fond memories of the Fridge at Maryland as he provided one of my favorite Peach Bowl visits (I used to get free tix every other year somehow): watching the Fridge beat the Punkin back in 03 or 04. I especially liked seeing Kelly Washington pouting on the bench as he was injured or feigning injury by that point.

          • Cojones

            I have not-so-fond memories of Friedgen at Tech. He was the power behind O’Leary.

            Friedgen has rare courage in the college football world. I remember little things like letting one of his players speak out about the favoritism shown a certain jailed running back and others at Ohio St. Nothing came of it until last year with the rest of the iceberg landing on their(tOSU) little pea-sized heads, but Friedgen had the courage to let shoes fall in a no-no world. I considered that he had what it takes to be a profile in courage.

      • Doug

        I don’t understand how Friedgen going 2-10 is grounds for firing but Edsall earning the same record is no cause for alarm.

        Look, I know Edsall is no idiot, but look at the situation Maryland has found themselves in: Partly as a result of having to pay Ralph Friedgen $2 million not to coach, they’re eliminating eight sports, and the problem that was their primary reason for dumping Friedgen (declining attendance) is only getting worse. What is there on Edsall’s resume that would make anyone think, “Yeah, he’s totally worth all that”?

      • Go Dawgs!

        You do realize they’re Maryland, right? He won the ACC Championship there. Had huge seasons (no pun intended). Sure, 2-10 is unacceptable most anywhere, but he followed it up with a rebound. What in the hell do they really think they’re entitled to up there? I know it’s just the ACC, but you’ve still got Virginia Tech, Miami, Florida State, Tech, and Clemson in that league. One ACC Championship in ten years sounds about right to me. Maryland has fallen into the Fire Fulmer trap. Now they’re reaping the benefits.

        • UGAfoo

          I wasn’t defending the firing of Friedgen, just pointing out where the frustration with him probably started with the fans.

          My original statement was that I didn’t think Edsall was a bad hire. I’m not saying the should have fired Friedgen or that they should not have hired Leach. My point is that once they had made the decision to fire Friedgen, then choosing Edsall was not a horrible decision. He has had success in the past building up a program.

          Once the AD had set the gears in motion, firing Friedgen and hiring Edsall, it is done for the next 3-4 years. UM fans should get behind the guy and hope he turns it around. Maybe Edsall was just setting his bar really low this year so he can show improvement next year. They also have those _fancy_ uniforms.

          • Cojones

            I’m afraid , sir, that your sound reasoning falls on deaf ears in an atmosphere that can only log and understand “W”s and “L”s. However, some people do know where you are coming from.

            You do know that you are messing up the Cojones Award field, don’t you? So many to choose from this year. You are aware that Fing Scooters will sponsor the award this year, aren’t you? All 100k dealerships in China want to attend which is creating a problem for the award site. I’m in talks with Neyland Stadium since they aren’t using it any more. They are holding out for using an orange ceramic dog as a greeter, but I told them that would only make the dealers hungry. So many Fings, so little time.

          • Terps1983

            Frustration with Friedgen did not start with the fans. It started with the new AD and the University president, who had expectations of more revenue from football in order to support the inflated list of non-revenue producing teams fielded by the University (now reduced by 8). Never mind that this decision was made based on financial performance following a 2-9 season that occurred during a recession. Mike Leach, a friend of Kevin Plank (UnderArmor founder, former Terp football player and member of the University of Maryland board of trustees), was the guy that new AD Kevin Anderson thought could fill the seats and bring in donations. Problem was, he was suing both ESPN and his former employer, Texas Tech. So, Leach became unhirable and Anderson and Loh panicked. We end up with Edsall and no good alternatives. Fire him and pay his $2 mil per year salary or some negotiated buy-out or keep him and lose approximately $2.5 mil per year in lost ticket revenues and alumni donations. Fire him now and I’ll double my annual donation.

  4. Coach Hewitt...

    Maryland is prolly kicking themselves for letting James Franklin go… :-(

  5. Russ

    Great to see the Pirate in coaching again. I think WSU is a nice fit for him. The people there will put up with his eccentricities, and he’ll win and put them (back) on the map. I agree with Brandon that I never wanted him at UGA, and not sure he’d do much better in the SEC than he did in the B12. Still, I can’t wait until Wazzu’s in some second-tier ESPN bowl with Craig “The Jackass” James broadcasting.

    And, can someone remind me why we are discussing Maryland football?

  6. Irishdawg

    Edsall OK’d Maryland’s new uniform abominations this year. THAT is enough to rule that hire a bad decision.

    (Seriously, those things make my head hurt)