There seems to be some momentum for Mike Leach to make it into the college football hall of fame, despite not meeting one of the official benchmarks for entry.
Four-hundredths of a percentage point should not keep Mike Leach out of the College Football Hall of Fame, says National Football Foundation chair Archie Manning.
“I think Mike will be in the Hall of Fame, but it’ll be up to the Honor’s Committee,” Manning says.
Leach, the former Mississippi State, Washington State and Texas Tech coach who died on Dec. 12, does not meet the standard for a coach to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Induction requirements for coaches include (1) 10 years of head coaching experience, (2) 100 victories and (3) a winning percentage of 60 percent. Leach’s tenure ended with a winning mark of 59.6%.
However, Leach’s case is a unique situation, says Steve Hatchell, the president and CEO of the NFF, which operates the Hall of Fame. Leach’s impact on the game went beyond the field as he is heralded as one of the most important innovators of offensive football, revolutionizing the sport with the Air Raid offense.
Leach passed at the age of 61 and had planned to continue coaching despite battling severe pneumonia-like conditions this past season. He died of heart failure.
“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.”
It doesn’t sound like anyone will stand in the committee’s way.
The 2024 class will be selected next fall through an elaborate nominating and voting process. Hatchell expects all three schools at which Leach coached to nominate the coach for the Hall.
That’s nice of Texas Tech, considering.
There are other ways Leach could get closer to 60%. For example, Texas Tech fired Leach a day before the Red Raiders beat Michigan State after the 2009 season. The victory did not count toward Leach’s record.