Despite Mike Leach’s insistence that he has not spoken to University of Maryland officials about the soon to be vacant head football coaching job, Leach has emerged as the leading candidate for the position. Now that the university has announced they will buy out current coach Ralph Friedgen contract it is likely that more details will surface regarding Maryland pursuit of the former Texas Tech coach. The question that is in the forefront of Terp fans brains is whether or not Leach would be a fit at Maryland or would his hire be too risky of a maneuver. What risk is there in hiring a coach that had success in one of the nations premier football conferences, you might ask? Leach does carry with him some baggage surrounding his ouster from Texas Tech. He also is likely to command a hefty salary and he is a bit of a wild card as a personality. But in my opinion the potential reward outweighs the risk in hiring Mike Leach.
Leach was fired by Texas Tech in 2009 after an incident in which he was accused of mistreating a player suffering from a concussion. It has come to light that there was a history of discord between Leach, the player and the player’s parents and perhaps the events surrounding Leach’s treatment of the player were not entirely truthful. Either way Leach does carry that baggage around and the question remains whether or not that will affect his ability to recruit top talent to Maryland. The Terps already struggle enough to keep top talent from their home state. While Leach does represent a recruiting upgrade over Friedgen, it is hard to answer how much the incidents surroudning his dismissal from Texas Tech will be used against him on the recruiting trail. What is certain is that Leach has recruited well agains the likes of Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Missouri. His track record on the trail plus his innovative offensive mind make him likely to succeed at bringing better talent to College Park.
Another obstacle facing Maryland hiring Leach will be compensation. Leach is likely to command a high price tag, but more than that he will want to be able to assemble a talented group of assistant coaches. Maryland has long been known for underpaying assistant coaches in the revenue sports. this will have to change under Leach. The good news is that Maryland AD Kevin Anderson is a committed fund raiser and he would likely have a significant donor on his side in UnderArmor founder, and Maryland grad, Kevin Plank. Plank is reportedly close with Leach from his days at Texas Tech and it is likely that Plank would not only approve of Leach’s hiring, but would also play a big role in giving the new coach the opportunity to be successful from a financial perspective.
The final objection that some will raise in regards to Leach is that he could be considered a loose cannon. Leach is a highly intelligent, and some would say arrogant, individual. he is not afraid to speak his mind and is even willing to go after officials in press conferences from time to time. To me the benefits of having a innovative offensive mind running things at Maryland far outweigh the negatives of a few comments from out of left field. Leach has the potential to bring the type of wide open football that Maryland fans are dying for and his track record suggests he can get Maryland to and keep them at the top of the ACC. Leach is a name enough coach to calm the worries of current players and recruits, as well as up the talent level at Maryland.
Kevin Anderson has stated that he wants to see Maryland football go from “good to great.” Hiring Mike Leach would be a huge step in that direction. Leach’s hiring would help Maryland build on the momentum of a solid 8-4 season. His name alone will attract recruits and his relationship with plank and UA is huge in the recruiting game as well. Most of the Maryland fan base wants to see Leach take over for Friedgen, if it happens Maryland football will get back on the track that Ralph had them on after his first three years.