Oklahoma legend says Mike Leach would be his pick for OU head coach
Oklahoma is in the market for a new head coach. Lincoln Riley abruptly and shockingly left the Sooners on Sunday, not 24 hours after his team lost to Bedlam rival Oklahoma State and snapped a string of 6 straight Big 12 championships, for Southern California.
Oklahoma now finds itself in a position it hasn’t been in often as a program: in the midst of a full-blown coaching search. Riley is the first coach to walk away from OU for another coaching job since 1972 (Chuck Fairbanks to coach the New England Patriots) and he’s the first to do so for another college job since 1947. Bob Stoops, hired in 1999, handed the program off to Riley in 2015 when he announced his retirement.
Riley’s successor will be just the 11th Sooner coach since Bud Wilkinson took over the program in ’47.
Barry Switzer, the guy who took over for Fairbanks in 1973 and went 157-29-4 as the Sooner coach, has an idea for who it should be.
“It’s a huge moment (for the program),” Switzer told ESPN 102.3 in Sioux Falls on Monday. “We’ve got to hire a head coach that recruits quarterbacks and receivers. We got to have an experienced head coach, like Lincoln was, that recruited quarterbacks. Quarterbacks knew of his capabilities, seem to support what he’s accomplished.
“There’s about 3 or 4 guys out there like that. I can start naming them. There’s not many of them. Lane Kiffin does that at Ole Miss. He’s been around a lot different places, you got some baggage, but he’s a hell of a coach. You got one guy that coached them all, Mike Leach. Mike Leach, Mississippi State, he coached Lincoln Riley. He taught Lincoln Riley the system and all, and he’s won everywhere he’s been.”
Leach is currently in his second season as the head coach at Mississippi State. In 1999, he served as Stoops’ first offensive coordinator in Norman, but left after a year to take the Texas Tech head coaching job, where his Air Raid system became nationally recognized.
“Texas Tech, he had 10-win seasons,” Switzer said of Leach. “He wins 10 with Washington State. He just now got to … Mississippi State, who isn’t a powerhouse in the SEC, you know that. They’re a cellar team and all of a sudden, he’s got them in bowl contention. Well, they’re already in bowl play. He would be my guy. … I would go Mike Leach because you’ve got to have an offensive coach.
“You’ve got to have a head coach, you’ve got to have an offensive coach, you’ve got to have one that recruits the quarterbacks, the quarterbacks know that he coaches them, they work out the game plan together and he calls plays. That’s exactly what Lincoln Riley does and Lincoln Riley coached for Mike Leach for years.”