ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mike Leach will not be flying in to save the day and Lobo football.
He will not be bringing his unique brand of football, his solitary view of the game.
There will be no news conferences where he can tell us his thoughts on the socioeconomics of college athletics, or of his players’ “fat little old girlfriends.”
And it’s too bad.
Nothing against Bob Davie. I’m sure he’s a fine fellow. He ran solid schemes at Notre Dame, emphasizing the running game and aggressive defense.
But it’s too bad Leach is not coming.
It’s too bad because Leach sees merit in New Mexico.
“It’s a good job,” Leach said by phone Tuesday night. “Anybody would be excited about it.”
Including Mike Leach?
“I don’t want to go into that,” he said.
Certainly he’s heard the talk.
“No, not really,” he said. “There’s just some murmuring.”
But you do think it’s a good job. Why’s that?
“Well, unless Albuquerque has changed,” he said. “It’s a great place with great weather, great people. I’ve passed through a bunch. It’s a place you can do something with.”
But, it’s not Leach’s place.
It’s too bad, and not just for the obvious football reasons.
Leach is smart and curious, just the kind of guy who belongs on a college campus.
He can talk about Shakespeare (MacBeth is his favorite play of the Bard’s), but he prefers reading guys like Malcolm Gladwell, who writes books on subjects like human subconscious and the environment’s effect on super-achievers.
He talks to guys who are computer scientists and mathematicians. His good friend Ferhat Guven is an international real estate investment agent and a college football fan.
Out of Leach’s debates with Guven came an idea for a book: “Sports for Dorks: College Football.”
In it, there’s a chapter on the BCS written by a computer scientist who came up with a different model of ranking teams.
In another chapter, a statistician looks at the science of when to go for it on fourth down.
Another section is written by a former FBI agent who once did facial profiling of suspected terrorists. He writes about how the technique could be used in recruiting.
“He thinks,” Guven said by phone from his London home, “you can use a similar technique to see if they have what it takes to be a good student-athlete and be a value to a team. He says 20 percent of the top draft picks don’t make it in the NFL because of character-related issues.”
Leach said the mainstream media, as well as coaches, don’t have time to delve into these issues.
“I think college football is so dynamic,” Leach said, “there’s a lot going on. There’s no time to peel below the layers and analyze. Even as a coach, you’re always preparing for the next game; you get too close to the fire. The world of football believes things have always been done a certain way. (The book) was an opportunity to take a second look at things through the minds of others.”
Guven, a native of Lubbock and a Texas Tech graduate, is a huge football fan. Even in faraway London he watches Red Raider games on the Internet. He saw Tech’s dismantling of the Lobos earlier this year.
He has fond memories of New Mexico; his father used to have a house in Angel Fire.
“I remember Luc Longley playing in the Pit,” Guven said, “and how formidable it was.”
He wondered if that enthusiasm would ever translate to football.
Too bad his friend won’t be the guy to help the translation.
When asked what it would take to bring UNM from the ashes, Leach said: “Everybody pulling together, utilizing their talents.”
Leach will not bring his talents here.
Bob Davie is the guy. Solid, steady Bob Davie.
Leach would have been more fun.
— This article appeared on page D4 of the Albuquerque Journal