I've been a Texas Tech Red Raider fan since 1987, and since 2000, the football team has been coached by Mike Leach, the man the Raider fans affectionately dubbed "TSO" (The Strange One.) Now that football season is upon us, I was thinking about Coach Leach's personality type, and since I was reading "Please Understand Me II" I was reading the section about Rationals thinking, a lot of this sounds like TSO. But the more I thought about it, the more SP traits I kept seeing. But I dunno if I'm biased that way. I kept waffling back and forth between ISTP and INTP. But I ultimately decided on ISTP. But I figured I'd see what the forum thinks, based on an article and some videos featuring Mike, so you can let me know if you think I'm off base or on target. I've come to love this guy, despite being initially rubbed the wrong way by his (very) different style from the previous coach, Spike Dykes.
Wolf Pack Football: Texas Tech head coach is known for winning ways, and card tricks
By Dan Hinxman • firstname.lastname@example.org • September 5, 2008
He is "the smartest human being I've ever been around," Nevada running backs coach Jim Mastro said.
And he is the mastermind of a college football spread offense that has been, statistically, the most difficult to stop since 2003.
So when Mike Leach gets a recruit into his office, the topic du jour has to be football, right? And not just football, but every little detail and nuance about the sport.
"The first time I met him, I came down here, he was doing magic tricks," said quarterback Graham Harrell, whose 12th-ranked Red Raiders take on Nevada at Mackay Stadium on Saturday. "He wanted to talk about everything but football or what he does on the field. He wants to talk about everything else -- his pirate interests or Indian interests, things he studies. He's unlike any coach in the country, I'd say."
Defensive end Jake Ratliff had a similar experience.
"When he was recruiting me here, he brought me into his office and said, 'This is the last test to see if you can be a Red Raider,' and he did a card trick," Ratliff said, chuckling at the memory. "I can't even remember what it was anymore, but it was a good one."
Added safety Darcel McBath: "He's one of those guys who, when he says something, he says it in a different way. He thinks outside the box, and it's a really smart box. ... Last year, after the Texas game (a 59-43 loss), he started talking about how the chicken was involved but the pig was committed. It was some kind of ham and egg analogy."
They all tell their stories as if they're talking about the strange guy who sits on the park bench and feeds pigeons. So why sign with Tech?
"He keeps it fun for the team," Harrell said. "He keeps the mood light. Meetings are fun. That's one of the reasons why we've had success. We have fun every day."
"They had great facilities. It was a program on the rise," Ratliff said. "I knew it was a good fit for me."
Leach, who was born in Susanville and raised in Cody, Wyo., is part Lou Holtz -- a coach who never played at the college level -- and part Bill Walsh -- an offensive genius. His persona, teamed with his odd and winding journey to Division I head coach, is the stuff of a Roald Dahl novel come to life.
He is football's version of the man behind the curtain. Among his eccentricities are his infatuation with Geronimo and Daniel Boone, pirates (he sometimes flies a skull-and-crossbones flag during practice and keeps a flintlock pistol on his desk) and rugby. He's drawn fines for berating officials, and he's received shin splints from rollerblading while on a Southern California recruiting trip.
But what might be the most wondrous thing about him is that he's built a winning program -- the Red Raiders have gone to a bowl game in each of his eight seasons -- at a place that had long been a bastion of football mediocrity.
"It's amazing what he's done," Mastro said. "Amazing. He's an amazing human being. He's unique in his own way, in a good way. He does things his way. If he wants to show up at 10 o'clock in the morning, he's going to show up at 10 o'clock. It's his way. But his way works, so you don't mess with it.
"But he is absolutely amazing with what he does and how smart he is."
Mastro remembers vividly the day he met Leach. Mastro was a running back at Cal Poly in 1987 when Leach walked into the coach's office.
"I'm in there with my running backs coaches, he walked in -- he was as skinny as a pole -- and he said, 'I want to know if I can coach some football,'" Mastro said. "We were like, 'Who is this guy?' Our offensive line coach -- he was an old, crusty man -- goes, 'Come on in.' In those places you take all the help you can get. So he came in, sat down and told us his story.
"He said he just finished law school (at Pepperdine) and passed the bar but that it was boring and he wanted to coach football."
It didn't take long for Leach, who was married and had an infant daughter, to make an impression on the coaches.
"It was amazing how fast he picked everything up," said Mastro, who still keeps in touch with Leach. "Mike had been there about two or three weeks at the time, and our offensive line coach made the comment, 'He's going to be a head coach some day.' And we were like, 'Are you kidding me? He just got here.' But he was just so intelligent, above and beyond what you or me could comprehend."
Two years later Leach was a head coach for a Finnish team in the European League. He made stops at seven locations before landing the Texas Tech job in 2000. It was the two jobs prior to Texas Tech that really got him noticed.
Leach, 47, was the offensive coordinator at Kentucky in 1997 and 1998, when Tim Couch was there. Couch was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft in 1999. He then was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma in 1999 where he helped the Sooners become the 11th-best offense in the nation one year after they ranked 101st. One year later he was the head man at Texas Tech, where his spread offense is re-writing the record books.
"I think -- I know -- he lives his life by challenges," Mastro said. "I think when he was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma he was told, 'Texas Tech, you can't win there. You can't be consistent there.' But, sure enough, he did it. And I honestly believe the NFL is going to come calling one of these days. And his mind, he'll go and do it there, too.
"'You can't run that offense in the NFL,' and he'll say, 'Yes, I can.' He'll go, and I guarantee you he'll win. He's that smart. You give him great players, smart players, it could be absolutely scary."
YouTube - The Madman of West Texas
YouTube - Mike Leach Loves Lubbock
YouTube - Interview with Mike Leach and a pirate can beat a soldier
YouTube - Mike Leach Does the Weather