Let the fun and games begin in the SEC West.
With Mississippi State hiring Mike Leach on Thursday, the safest bet is the crowd for the Mississippi schools at SEC Media Days this summer in Atlanta will have significantly more in attendance than in the past.
Arkansas fans wanted Leach during the search process to replace Chad Morris. Athletics director Hunter Yurachek reportedly talked to him, but that was never going to work financially. Leach didn’t have a lot of interest in trying to fix the Razorbacks’ mess without a ton of money.
He either thought things in Starkville were better or the Bulldogs’ faithful put enough money on the table to where he couldn’t say no.
We won’t know the answer to that until we hear the numbers.
Maybe the biggest indicator of that is Leach becomes the first coach hired at State that is a sitting head coach since 1949.
Let that sink in for a minute.
For over 70 years the Bulldogs have only been able to manage hiring coaches that were coordinators somewhere or were in the unemployment line.
Hog fans that were carrying the torch for Leach to be in Fayetteville for years will be ready to jump off the cliff now.
The problem is exactly why Leach has been considered such a hot prospect by Arkansas fans kinda makes you want to shake your head anyway.
The only thing he consistently has been successful at is entertaining press conferences and an offense that can score a ton of points one week, then disappear the next week. That usually involves the big games, by the way.
His best team at Texas Tech was 11-1 … then promptly lost to Houston Nutt’s first Ole Miss team in the last Cotton Bowl played AT the stadium with that name.
At Washington State, his best team dropped an early game to USC, then lost to Washington the end the season and instead of the Rose Bowl took a postseason trip to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl.
He has won some games, but not particularly consistently and few big games.
As one State booster told me earlier, “it will be interesting to see how he fits in with the culture of Mississippi State.”
That will be interesting. He’ll also have to be able to recruit at a level he’s never been able to get near during his head coaching years.
Athletics director John Cohen fired Joe Moorhead last week after it became clear he had completely lost the team which was beset with problems on both sides of the ball and in the middle.
That’s what got Morris fired at Arkansas, too. Players and many of the fans weren’t buying into his trying to turn the Razorbacks into Clemson. He apparently didn’t have many original ideas and tried to duplicate what Dabo Swinney had done somewhere else.
Nobody really knew what Moorhead was trying to do in Starkville. It was a curious culture mis-match from the initial hiring and apparently never really got better.
Nobody really knows how this will change the balance in the league other than the always-simmering rivalry between the Bulldogs and Ole Miss may now reach the boiling stage pretty quickly and not settle down soon.
Meanwhile, Sam Pittman will probably just keep quietly working.