|Alma Mater:||BYU, 1983|
Mike Leach, the 2015 Pac-12 Co-Coach of the Year, begins his fifth season leading the Washington State Cougar football program after being named the Cougars’ head football coach, Nov. 30, 2011. Leach has guided the Cougars to two bowl appearances in his first four years, a first for a WSU head coach.
In 2015 the Cougars ended the season with a 9-4 record, 6-3 in the Pac-12 Conference, capped by a 20-14 Sun Bowl victory over Miami. After starting the season 2-2, the Cougars went 7-2 over the final nine games, posting last-minute victories at Oregon and No. 18 UCLA, and rallying from a fourth-quarter deficit in a 38-24 victory against Arizona State. For the second-straight season WSU led the nation in passing at 389.5 ypg, while also finishing second in the nation in red zone offense, converting 94.5 percent of their opportunities inside the 20-yard line. WSU concluded the regular season by having 11 student-athletes named to All-Pac-12 teams and five to Pac-12 All-Academic teams. Senior offensive lineman Joe Dahl earned Second-Team All-America honors while defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa garnered First-Team Freshman All-American honors by USA Today.
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 picked up more national recognition as safety Deone Bucannon became WSU’s first All-America first-team selection since 2005 and was later selected as the No. 27 overall pick in NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals, the first Cougar taken in the first round since 2003. 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. 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.
Leading the most prolific passing offense in the country, Leach received three national coach of the year awards in 2008 - the Woody Hayes Award, Howie Long/Fieldturf Coach of the Year, and George Munger Award. His offense spreads the field with his exciting brand of football and guided Texas Tech to six NCAA passing titles and three total offense titles during his 10 seasons in Lubbock. Leach’s offense produced school records in nearly every passing category in 2000, his first season with the Red Raiders, but surpassed those numbers in each of his next nine seasons.
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.
Leach led Texas Tech to one of the most memorable seasons in school history in 2008 as the team set a program record with 11 regular-season wins en route to an 11-2 record. The win total tied the mark, set previously by the 1953 and 1973 Red Raider squads. Numerous accolades poured in from across the country as an unprecedented four players earned first-team All-America status, in addition to Leach’s three coach of the year honors. Quarterback Graham Harrell, offensive tackle Rylan Reed and offensive guard Brandon Carter each garnered first-team honors, while wide receiver Michael Crabtree was honored as a unanimous All-American for the second-straight season.
On the field in 2008, the Red Raiders led the nation in passing for the sixth time in Leach’s ten seasons and ranked among the top five in total offense. Harrell finished his storied career second on the NCAA career passing yardage list with 15,793 yards. Harrell also broke the career NCAA passing touchdowns mark with 134.
The Texas Tech program has established itself as one of the nation’s leading producers of productive quarterbacks since the 2000 season. Harrell threw for 4,555 yards in his debut as the starter in 2006 and became the sixth player and third Red Raider in NCAA history to throw for 5,000 yards in a season with his 5,705-yard effort in 2007 and 5,111 yards last season. He also is the third quarterback under Leach to win nine games in a season and the first Red Raider in history to win 11 in a regular season. Former quarterback Kliff Kingsbury in 2002 and Cody Hodges in 2005 each posted nine-win seasons during their careers, while 2003 and 2004 signal callers B.J. Symons and Sonny Cumbie each won eight games in their respective seasons as the starter.
The running game flourished under Leach as well. Former Red Raider Taurean Henderson holds the NCAA career record for receptions by a running back. The Red Raiders’ 28 total rushing scores in 2008 were the most for a Tech team since the 1993 team scored 30. Despite Tech’s offense revolving around the pass, Leach did a tremendous job of incorporating the running back position into the mix. Henderson finished his career with 303 receptions, which ranks first in NCAA history among running backs and fourth overall.
Leach has coached several players who have gone on to the NFL. While at Tech, 18 players have been drafted and 21 others have signed free agent contracts. In the spring of 2009, four players were selected among the first four rounds of the NFL Draft, marking the most successful draft for Texas Tech in the Leach era.
Safety Darcel McBath was selected by the Denver Broncos in the second round, while offensive lineman Louis Vasquez was taken in the third by San Diego. Defensive end Brandon Williams went to the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth.
The program made strides academically as well under Leach. During his 10 years, Tech was recognized as one of the nation’s top institutions for consistently being above a 70 percent graduation rate, according to the American Football Coaches Association.
Prior to coming on board at Texas Tech, Leach, in just one season at Oklahoma, directed a Sooner offense that went from one of the worst in the Big 12 Conference to one of the best. Leach guided an Oklahoma offense that went from 11th in the Big 12 in 1998 to first in 1999 and 101st in the nation to 11th. In just one year, OU’s total offense numbers improved from 293.3 to 427.2 yards per game. Under Leach, the Oklahoma offense set six Big 12 Conference and 17 OU records.
Prior to joining Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma staff, Leach served as offensive coordinator for Hal Mumme at the University of Kentucky and Valdosta (Ga.) State University. Under Mumme and Leach, the Kentucky offense set six NCAA records, 41 Southeastern Conference records and 116 school records in 22 games.
Named 1996 Division II Offensive Coordinator of the Year by American Football Quarterly magazine, Leach helped Mumme lead Valdosta State to a 40-17-1 record. The 1993 Blazer offense smashed 66 school records, 22 conference records and seven national records. In 1994, Valdosta State advanced to the Division II playoffs with Leach’s offense shattering 80 school records, 35 conference records and seven more national marks.
Leach and Mumme first teamed up at Iowa Wesleyan College in 1989. From 1989 to 1991 Leach served as offensive coordinator and line coach for an offense that led the NAIA in passing yardage one season and finished second the other two. Iowa Wesleyan quarterbacks passed for more than 11,000 yards in Leach’s three seasons and broke 26 national records.
Leach also has made coaching stops in Pori, Finland, where he served as a head coach in the European Football League (1989), as well as one-year stints at College of the Desert (1988) and Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo (1987).
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 University, 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.