Correction: An eMike Leach arlier model of this text incorrectly said that Key West, Fla., is Mike Leach Mike Leach the southernmost point in the United States. Mike Leach It is the southernmost point inside the contiguous forty eight states. This model has been corrected.
Of the Maryland job, Mike Leach says: “I ought to’ve furnished loads of factors that they wished — filling the stadium, promoting tickets, graduating players, retaining them out of trouble and winning a variety of football video games. No query about that. But they needed to go together with the fellow they wanted.” (Ron Modra/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)
There are palm timber in Mike Leach purgatory. He walks via them without paying tons attention. Here, every is simply another pixel on a postcard disguised as paradise. Mike Leach stops at a wood shack for a Cuban coffee. “What turned into I speakme about?” he asks.
Doesn’t rely. He hops topics like lily pads. The Cuban caffeine simplest makes topics worse. The want for a college playoff device. Unemployment. Hunting pigs. Sarah Palin. Eating fast food in Japan. The University of Maryland.
“Excuse me,” says a girl with a French accessory. Leach is identified regularly down here, which isn’t too sudden. Before he Mike Leach become ousted as Texas Tech’s head soccer train, his Red Raiders groups won eighty four video games in 10 seasons, seemed in a bowl sport each 12 months and featured considered one of college soccer’s maximum thrilling offenses. His big name become on the upward push. He become profiled on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” had a cameo on NBC’s “Friday Night Lights.” Leach became going locations.
“I’m sorry, wherein is Ernest Hemingway’s residence?” the lady asks.
“You pass — Mike Leach it’s approximately 10 blocks down. If you notice the lighthouse, it’s proper throughout the street from the lighthouse,” he says. “Ten blocks. Brick wall around it.”
Well, now not absolutely everyone recognizes him. This is purgatory in spite of everything. This is the region an progressive football train escapes to among jobs. Leach left Texas Tech under a cloud of controversy. He had been a cowboy in West Texas, precise amongst football coaches for his quirkiness, his education fashion and his success.
Until the accusation. A player said the educate locked him in a dark closet. Leach turned into run out of Lubbock, branded like a steer. A guy who prided himself on being an educator all of sudden got here to represent all that became wrong with the contemporary-day teach.
Now, whilst the courts Mike Leach type out the info, he’s untouchable. School presidents are scared to rent a man who’s concurrently combating giants — suing now not only his preceding business enterprise however additionally the state’s largest sports community.
The University of Maryland attempted. School administrators danced briefly with Leach in December and have been at the verge of hiring him to replace Ralph Friedgen, but they were given cold ft.
“I don’t have any control over it,” Leach says of his training potentialities. “I simply worry approximately what I can manage.”
So Leach, 50, is in Key West, the southernmost spot in the contiguous United States. Waiting. Trying to keep busy. On days when the water’s heat, he swims inside the ocean. He goes to his son’s baseball video games. He fishes offshore every few weeks. And on weekends, he flies throughout. Sometimes for amusing, from time to time for soccer, every so often to community. Sometimes to remind others he’s still a football educate. Other times to remind himself.
‘Kind of an apparent desire’
You can rollerblade in purgatory, too. You’ve were given to get round come what may, proper? When Leach turned into in Lubbock, the college paid for his family’s automobiles, which he misplaced while the school fired him in December 2009.
They weren’t positive what to do or where to move, however the Mike Leach Leaches knew they needed to capture their breath. They’d Mike Leach sold a holiday home in Key West five months in advance and decided it became time for a vacation.
“It turned into like: ‘What are we going to do? Go returned to Lubbock?’ ” said Sharon Leach, his spouse of 29 years. “Do we stay? Once we were given down here, it was type of an Mike Leach obvious preference.”
They packed for eight days and haven’t left. Leach in short again to West Texas, shipped 8 containers to Key West and positioned the relaxation in their Lubbock lives into garage.
“You experience such as you’re usually on vacation due to the fact you’re dwelling in a vacation paradise,” Sharon says. “You just need to understand that sincerely that is a place where you’re nonetheless residing your lifestyles, the children are in faculty, there’s still a Mike Leach recurring.”
For Leach, it’s best. The island is handiest 4 miles lengthy and two miles huge, however it’s full of characters. From Jimmy Buffett to Captain Tony to Sloppy Joe,he’s engulfed himself in Key West lore.
“Mike has an energetic mind and Key West is right at maintaining it occupied,” says Hal Mumme, a veteran instruct who gave Leach his first football task. “It has so among the matters he likes: rollerblade, Mike Leach fishing, the seashore, and all the pirate lore you may need.”
His huge variety of hobbies and unconventional fashion earned Leach the eccentric tag long ago. “He’s simply an outdoor-the-field type of individual,” says his buddy Kyle Whittingham, the pinnacle teach on the University of Utah. Leach is likewise one of the few soccer coaches who in no way without a doubt played the sport. He earned a law degree from Pepperdine University and determined extraordinarily overdue he’d prefer to teach.
“He’d be unusual in any sphere of lifestyles,” says creator Michael Lewis, who profiled Leach five years ago and has remained buddies. “If he become a lawyer, he’d be an unusual attorney. But as a football coach, he’s a completely uncommon football teach.”
Sharon didn’t recognize how dwelling in Key West complete-time could in shape Leach. Living here is extraordinary than travelling. She is thrilled to have her husband around, however she involved about how he’d fill that hole.
“He’s now not a man who relaxes,” she says. “When we’d take a holiday and visit the seashore, you’d never locate him laying at the seashore.”
By now, Leach is acquainted with every corner of purgatory. Not just the again roads. He is aware of which resort lobbies to cut through. Which restaurant patios have a water cooler. Which stores will let you pop in, use the facilities and go out with out drawing a glare.
“You were given to form of recognize the deal,” he says.
He’s walked Mike Leach nearly every inch of the island. On Duval Street, in which the soundtrack has simply songs — revelry and debauchery — Leach weaves through the travelers and factors out landmarks. “Need a little ink? Go here,” he says. “Need a piercing? This is your spot.”
Leach seems to be enjoying himself. He knows this period of his life is uncommon for a university train. Most coaches don’t get a smash. Most don’t want one.
But this is Leach’s reality. While university coaches throughout the u . s . have been immersed in spring practices, Leach’s weekends read like a bucket list. He spent per week at the film set of “Battleship” with director Peter Berg in Los Angeles. He hunted wild pigs from a helicopter above south Texas. He spoke at MIT’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston and also to attorneys in Arkansas.
He visits France to seek advice from for an Mike Leach American soccer crew known as the Flash de La Courneuve. And inside the United States, he went to the Senior Bowl and the NFL scouting integrate, and helped degree a brand new college all-big name game in Phoenix. He does a day by day Sirius radio show, broadcast from Key West, and supplied analysis for television announces of university games. He released a Twitter account and his autobiography need to hit cabinets this summer season.
So, is he content? Sad? Angry? Empty?
“He doesn’t display it an awful lot. Maybe it’s the environment in Key West. I don’t understand,” says Jerry Hughes, the Mike Leach longtime educate at Key West High. “But I know when he’s alone, watching a game or some thing, there’s no doubt that the notion’s going via his head: ‘I got to get back obtainable.’ ”
“He’s such a nice man to be round,” Hughes keeps. “That’s why I hate seeing what’s came about to him. I do believe it’s tearing him internal out. He wants to instruct. That’s his love.”
‘Don’t have large regrets’
Leach had was hoping he’d simplest need to take a seat out 12 months. Instead, he’s about to miss a 2nd. At Texas Tech, he became 84-43 in 10 seasons. He received five bowl video games. He graduated more student-athletes than any other educate at a public university. As a long way as credentials move, he changed into eminently extra qualified than others who’ve recently been employed.
Of the 22 men who took head education jobs considering final season ended, thirteen had in no way been on the helm of a division I crew. Of the remaining nine with enjoy on the pinnacle stage of college education, most effective 4 had posted profession prevailing statistics.
“Mike is a creative man, very sensible,” says Philadelphia Eagles Coach Andy Mike Leach Reid. “You upload that during along with his ardour for the passing recreation, for offensive football, you come up with a pretty suitable football train.”