Remembering Mike Leach: Huard, Bumpus explain his legacy, impact
The football world is mourning the loss of Mike Leach, the former WSU and current Mississippi State head coach who died from heart complications Monday night at the age of 61.
Leach was a revolutionary figure, playing an integral role in bringing the Air Raid offense to popularity in college football, which then spread to other levels of the sport. His impact was especially felt by college football fans here in the Pacific Northwest after his successful eight-season tenure at Washington State, leading the Cougars to a 55-47 record and six bowl games, including five straight before he moved on to Mississippi State.
On Tuesday, all the shows on Seattle Sports 710 AM took moments to remember Leach. That included both Brock and Salk (6-10 a.m.) and Bump and Stacy (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), as each show features a host that had first-hand experiences with Leach. Brock Huard, a former NFL quarterback, is a longtime college football color commentator now with FOX who covered and talked to Leach numerous times. And Michael Bumpus is a Pac-12 Network college football analyst and former NFL wide receiver who played at WSU, and while his time with the Cougars was before Leach’s arrival in Pullman, he still crossed paths with the legendary coach.
Here’s what both Huard and Bumpus had to say about Leach.
Huard: Impact of Mike Leach top three this generation
Mike Leach is No. 3 for me because that Air Raid – (former Kentucky coach) Hal Mumme was using it, Mike Leach was (an offensive) coordinator under it at Kentucky and then on to Oklahoma, but Mike Leach took it and ran with it. Took it places from Lubbock to Pullman to Starkville and won games in ways that nobody imagined you could win at those outposts doing it the way that he did. It has proliferated into junior high and high school football, into the seven-on-seven realm. It has moved on up to the NFL level with one of the great quarterbacks in the game right now, Patrick Mahomes, who was well versed in that system, who used that mindset and that attack mode in that system to become an NFL Super Bowl winner and MVP. Mike Leach’s Air Raid, because of that concept and that style and that attack and the crossover into so many different levels, I put him as one of the three most impactful coaches in college football this century.
Michael Bumpus: Leach opened doors for players like me
Leach made room for guys like me. The 5-11, buck-ninety, quick, not extremely fast (wide receivers) because his system allowed us to flourish. It gave my skill set a place to be. When I was growing up, if you were not a 6-3, a 6-2 receiver running a 4.3 (second 40-yard dash), nobody wanted you. Everyone was looking for the next Terrell Owens, everyone was looking for the next Randy Moss. I’ll never forget, I saw Wes Welker play for the Patriots, I saw him play for (Leach at) Texas Tech, and I go, ‘I can be that player right there. There’s finally a place for me in the NFL.’ So now you look at the NFL, man – how many under-6-foot receivers you see out there just balling right now? (Leach) made space for everybody. The thing about football is there’s a position for every body type… He opened up the doors for the true slot receivers to work and understood that they have a skill set that will extend drives, that will give a quarterback a comfort zone knowing that he can find space in the zone, sit down and get north and south. He opened the game up and he made guys like me flourish in the league.
For more on Mike Leach, listen to the full segment from Tuesday’s edition of Brock and Salk talking about the pioneering coach and WSU athletic director Pat Chun’s interview on Bump and Stacy, both of which you can find in the players below.