Ask any college football fanatic what Mike Leach’s coaching superpowers are and you’ll get a ton of answers.
He was a pioneer in attack. Godfather of air raids. A brilliant, outspoken footballer who wasn’t afraid to be himself.
Joel Klatt, College Football Analyst for FOX Sports, played against Reach as a player and covered Reach extensively as a broadcaster. But according to Cratt, the only superpower he remembers most, the superpower he brought to the sport of college football, and all the highly successful coaches who worked under him, It was how he inspired an innovative yet simplistic philosophy.
“If you talk to some of the coaches who coached under Mike Leach, you’ll hear wild stories about how they came up with their game plans and how Mike wanted to do everything outside the norm. I will,” Kratt said. “A lot of times coaches do things to stand out from the crowd and not want to be criticized. It’s not Mike Leach.”
Joel Kratt discusses Mike Leach’s impact on college football
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Klatt joined his podcast on Tuesday to share some of his most treasured moments and encounters with Leach. I fell ill at my home in Starksville.
[Related: Mike Leach, pioneering football coach, dies at 61]
He left behind his wife Sharon and four children, and the entire college football community who loved and appreciated him as much as he loved and appreciated the game of football.
“This is a terrible day for the world of college football, and obviously for his family,” Kratt said of Leach’s death. I don’t want to try it because I can’t.
“What I do is talk about his legacy in college football because I think it’s going to be big.
Kratt shared stories of his many interactions with Leach, including the time he attended a production meeting while ordering coffee from a Starbucks drive-thru line, and the first time he interviewed the legendary coach during his time at Texas Tech.
There was also a time when Leach admitted to Clatt not to call a run play for offense, and the only time his team ran the ball was when the quarterback checked out a pass play at the line of scrimmage.
[Related: Mike Leach: College football world shares memories, pays tribute to coach]
But it was one story in particular that Reach fully embraced the attitude he routinely carried himself, returning to that superpower phrase. why not?
The story was told to Klatt by USC head coach Lincoln Riley, who was an assistant under Leach at Texas Tech from 2003-2009.
It was one day in late October 2008, and Leach was preparing for the Texas Tech team’s next game against World No. 1 Texas. Leach was upset by the way his offense was running go-routes, so he made it clear that his team would only actually run go-routes that day, regardless of coverage.
Some of Leach’s assistant coaches began to wonder how far wide receivers were running. One of his assistants to Leach at the time approached him and said the team could not continue with this.
Leach looked at his assistant and simply said, “Why?” He went on to explain that at some point in the season, an offense must throw a go-routine against an unfavorable fielding range, and be successful when that happens.
Fast forward to the final seconds of Texas Tech’s matchup against the Longhorns. With just 8 seconds left in the game and facing second and 10th from the 28-yard line and trailing 39-33, senior quarterback Graham Harrell fell back and made a deep pass to All-American wide receiver Michael Crabtree. threw He caught the ball on the right flank, broke the tackle, ran into the end his zone and scored the winning touchdown. The play will go down as his one of the most iconic winning scores in college football history.
The route that Crabtree ran during that play… the goal route.
“Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree knew what to do for the day when it was really just running the goal route, so it didn’t matter what kind of coverage Texas had.” Klatt said, “It was all thanks to Mike Leach and his drive and tenacity, to say, ‘Why not?'”
The reach was noisy. he was eccentric. But most importantly, he was real.
“Mike was sorry for himself,” said Klatt, who paused and calmed himself down for a moment before bidding farewell. It was refreshing to see someone in my position.
“Good night Mike. We will all miss you.”
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Each week, FOX Sports College Football Analyst Joel Klatt dives into his top 10 teams, answers questions, and discusses college football’s biggest stories on the podcast. Download “The Joel Krat Show”.
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