must be ecstatic right now. On the eve of the debut of one of the largest TV deals in college sports history, Pac-12 football could very soon be the conference of the coaches.
Chip Kelly has perhaps the most exciting team in all of college football. Lane Kiffin has an eye for talent and has proven to find some of the best playmakers on his offense. Steve Sarkisian has proven to be a dynamic playcaller. Jeff Tedford and Mike Riley have probably seen their best days pass them by, but they've taken two perennial Pac-12 doormats and have shown they can put out complete teams on both sides of the football. Rich Rodriguez coming to Arizona adds yet another offense based on the run that can rock it up. Kevin Sumlin from the Houston Cougars is in the mix for both the Arizona State and UCLA jobs, which would bring a pass-oriented attack that has yet to be implemented at the major level.
And the rumors of Mike Leach in Pullman? That'd take the conference one level up.
Leach in Washington State sounds pretty incredible because of what a theoretically strong match it looks like on paper. It'd bring the dynamic Airraid into a system that has the talent at both quarterback and wide receiver to thrive, with a quick change-of-pace running back that can also get going. It would simplify the needs of the beleaguered WSU offense, which wouldn't have to worry about holding their blocks as much as in the quick-hitting attack and force defenses to play back and respect the pass.
At quarterback, Washington State has a senior talent in Jeff Tuel and an up-and-comer in Connor Halliday. Leach would be able to adapt his Airraid to these players in order to maximize their big play ability with offensive efficiency At wide receiver, Marquess Wilson returns as a top option, and could serve as the Crabtree for this offense. Jared Karstetter and Isaiah Barton depart though, so younger talents will have to fill in. But Leach has proven that he can make almost any receiver thrive in his system which is high on practice reps to acclimate to the offense.
Leach would also be in a place where his quirkiness would be embraced. Washington State has not had a larger-than-life character in quite some time, and Leach would provide an instant attraction that the many amenities of Pullman don't always present. Recruits are all aware of the mystique of the Pirate, and he'd certainly be able to recruit at a decent (if not amazing) level to get the types of players he believe will fit his system. He also has proven to graduate his players, which should also bode well for a conference that prides itself on its academic reputation.
Paul Wulff was fired because of past results, not because he presented a bleak future for the program. In many ways, it was Wulff's determination to stand with the Cougars during lean times that has the Cougars on the verge of breakthrough. Washington State has a lot to offer right now with a host of talent that's ready to be coached to the next level. Leach can definitely give the Cougars that, and perhaps bring them back to the heights the team enjoyed over a decade ago.
Of course, a lot of this is dependent on Leach wanting to come to Pullman. That is something none of us know about yet.