Bob Stoops chats Mike Leach hire

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In a Thursday interview with Colin Cowherd, legendary Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops took a reminiscent look back at the hiring of air raid guru Mike Leach in 1999.

It all began with facing one another in the SEC. When Stoops was Florida’s defensive coordinator and Leach was the offensive coordinator for Kentucky, a chess match of wits between the two commenced on the turf. After getting the job with Oklahoma, Stoops sought out the man that consistently gave his Gators’ defense problems.

“I’m the defensive coordinator at Florida and the team that gave me the most problems and drove me crazy was Kentucky,” Stoops described to Cowherd. “They had the most first downs in the league, they had the most points on and on and on…So, I called Hal Mumme, because I knew I couldn’t hire him, he wasn’t going to leave his head coaching position. I said, ‘Hey, can Mike Leach run the offense and do the things you do at Kentucky? He said, ‘Absolutely.’ I just wanted to know could he be that kind of leader? And Mike is.”

The decision clearly became a return of investment. The year Mike Leach was hired, OU acquired Josh Heupel (Heisman Trophy runner-up), Jason White (brought Sooners to two National Championships), and Nate Hybl (guided team to Big 12 Championship). Leach brought in innovative coaching techniques that transformed college football and the foundation he set, still resides with the team under Lincoln Riley and throughout Division I football. Leach went on to coach at Texas Tech, Washington State, before taking over at Mississippi State.

He coined the term “air raid” and popularized the spread, pass-heavy attack along with Hal Mumme. Leach became a pioneer and his imprint at the University of Oklahoma is prevalent today with the Crimson and Cream.