October 23, 2009

Leach's offense often imitated, but never duplicated

Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach's offense in Lubbock has been called everything from cutting edge to a gimmick.

There's one thing that's undeniable about it, however - it works.

It's also something that has actually been around longer than you think and has a track record of success that dates back beyond Leach's run at Texas Tech this decade.

The offense basically has its roots in the BYU offense that was developed in the 1970s and 1980s under LaVell Edwards. That offense in turn had its roots in the West coast philosophies of Sid Gillman and Bill Walsh which stretched the field vertically and horizontically, but especially horizontally with throws to the backs and tight ends.

Coach Hal Mumme basically adopted the BYU offense and took it to Iowa Wesleyan where he hired Leach to be his offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. The two went from Wesleyan to Vaoldosta State to Kentucky in 1997. At Lexington, Mumme recruited quarterback Tim Couch who was one of the top prospects in the country. With a lack of a quality running attack, the two decided to take advantage of Couch's talents and throw the ball all over the place. Using multiple wide receiver sets, Couch completed 72-percent of his passes for 36 touchdowns as a senior and went on to become the No. 1 pick in the 1999 NFL draft.

Florida defensive coordinator Bob Stoops found Kentucky's offense to be maddening to prepare for and stop. As a result, when Stoops was hired as head coach at Oklahoma, he brought Leach with him to be his offensive coordinator. Leach basically junked the two-back approach that Kentucky used and went with four wideouts as his base sets. Leach left after the 1999 season to become head coach at Texas Tech, but his offense stayed to help win a national title for the Sooners in 2000.

It's been used at Tech to set school and NCAA records and disciples have carried forms of it across the college and Texas high school landscape.

But no one runs it quite like Tech and that's because no one else has Leach.

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