Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ahoy, matey!

Last month, a big old fat hamburger on the cover. And, now this -- the most, let's say, most unusual coach in college football.

Oh, yes, blessed football is creeping ever closer, and Texas Monthly has slapped Texas Tech coach Mike Leach on the cover, with an eye patch as a salute to his obsession with everything pirates. The magazine suggests Leach might be the best football coach in college football.

Magazine covers are prone to exaggerate to make a point. The point probably is that Leach is doing more with less, or more in a difficult locale, than anyone else in college football. In Lubbock, his degree of difficulty is greater than many of his colleagues. He doesn't have the geographic advantage or rich tradition of those in Austin, Norman, Tuscaloosa, South Bend, Los Angeles, Baton Rouge or Gainesville.

But through his spread passing offense that has helped transform the game, the ability to find players to fit said system, and his often odd style in doing it, Leach has not just survived, but thrived the last nine seasons.

Tech has been to nine straight bowls, winning five of the last seven. The Red Raiders were 11-2 last year and as high as No. 2 nationally in November.

But the ante has been raised. A very public spat over his contract with the university that came down to an 11th hour decision resulted in a five-year, $12.7 million extension in February.

With that come higher expectations. For all he's accomplished, Tech has never been to a BCS bowl, never won a division or conference title outright. That's extremely difficult in the Big 12 South, but those extra dollars weren't going to guarantee future Alamo Bowl participation.

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