Mike Leach begins his fourth season at Washington State University after being named the Cougars’ head football coach, Nov. 30, 2011.
In 2014 Leach’s offense led the nation in passing at 477.7 yards per game, the second-highest total in FBS history, trailing only Houston’s 511.3 in 1989. WSU set or tied 42 school, conference or NCAA records during the season, including quarterback Connor Halliday who threw for an NCAA single-game record 734 yards against California. WSU also placed five student-athletes on Pac-12 All-Academic teams and five on All-Pac-12 teams during the season.
In 2013, Leach’s second season at the helm of the Cougars, he guided Washington State to the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, the first bowl game for the Cougars in a decade. Last season the Cougars ranked fourth in the nation in passing offense, setting a school-record at 368.00 yards per game, eclipsing the previous mark of 343.3 ypg in 1997. The Cougar offense threw for more than 400 yards five times, including a 2013 NCAA FBS–best 557 yards at Oregon. Quarterback Connor Halliday set WSU single-season records for passing yards (4,587), attempts (714) and completions (449), the first WSU quarterback to surpass the 4,000-yard mark. The Cougars also placed eight student-athletes on Pac-12 All-Academic teams during the season.
In his first season in Pullman, Leach’s high-powered offense led the Pac-12 Conference in passing, averaging 330.42 yards per game. That figure ranked ninth nationally and marked the second-highest average in school history. Seven times the Cougars threw for more than 350 yards, including the season-ending, 31-28, overtime win against Washington. In a season that produced a 3-9 overall record, the Cougars saw a bit of a youth movement as 17 freshmen played and only four seniors started regularly. Academically, nine Cougars received Pac-12 All-Academic honors while the 2012 fall semester football GPA of 2.66 marked the first time the football team had been over a 2.60 GPA for fall semester.
Leach brought a proven record of winning to Pullman. In 10 seasons as a head coach, all at Texas Tech (2000-09) his program earned 10 bowl bids. In addition, the Susanville, Calif., native who was raised in Cody, Wyo., recorded a school-record 84 victories during his tenure.
During his tenure, his offense led the nation in passing six times and three times accumulated the most total yards. In 2009, The Red Raiders were second in passing offense and fourth in total offense with both marks tops among BCS conference schools.
In 2008, Texas Tech set a program record with 11 regular-season wins while tying the overall victory record. The Red Raiders were ranked as high as second in the nation and four student-athletes earned All-America First Team status. Leach also received three national coach of the year awards, the Woody Hayes Award, the Howie Long/FieldTurf Coach of the Year and George Munger Award. Quarterback Graham Harrell and wide receiver Michael Crabtree finished fourth and fifth, respectively in the Heisman Trophy voting.
During Leach's time in Lubbock, Texas, the Red Raiders increased their yards per game by more than 150 and averaged nearly 20 points more per outing. In the passing game, Texas Tech threw for about 300 yards more per game in the decade Leach was at the helm.
Defensively, Texas Tech held opponents without an offensive touchdown a dozen times under Leach, including seven shutouts. Three of the whitewashes came in 2000 when the Red Raiders tied for the national lead.
Texas Tech special teams also improved under Leach as placekicker Alex Trlica (2004-07) set NCAA records for career extra points and extra points without a miss (233). His 377 points ranked in the NCAA career top 10 among kickers.
While Leach was the head coach, 17 Red Raiders were drafted by NFL teams. During his last-two seasons at Texas Tech, the Red Raiders earned 28 Big 12 All-Academic honors.
Prior to Texas Tech Leach spent one season as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma (1999), as the Sooners set six Big 12 Conference and 17 school records. He spent two seasons in a similar capacity at Kentucky (1997-98), the only two seasons in school history in which it passed for more than 4,000 yards while setting six NCAA and 41 Southeastern Conference records.
From 1992-96 he served as offensive coordinator at Valdosta State, where his offense broke several national, conference and school records, capping his final season by being named the 1996 Division II Offensive Coordinator of the Year by the American Football Quarterly magazine.
Leach was the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Iowa Wesleyan (1989-91) and his quarterbacks broke 26 NAIA records during those three seasons. In 1989, he was the head coach for Pori, Finland in the European League. The linebackers coach at College of the Desert (1988), Leach's coaching career began at Cal Poly (1987) where he mentored the offensive line.
After graduating with honors from BYU in 1983, Leach earned a master's degree from the U.S. Sports Academy and his law degree from Pepperdine, where he graduated in the top one-third of his class.
The oldest of six siblings, Leach and his wife, Sharon, are the parents of four children; Janeen, Kim, Cody and Kiersten.