Mike Leach remembered at Valdosta State

Valdosta State Offensive Coordinator Mike Leach looks on at Head Coach Hal Mumme on the...
Valdosta State Offensive Coordinator Mike Leach looks on at Head Coach Hal Mumme on the sidelines of Bazemore-Hyder Stadium during a Blazer football game.(WCTV)
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 7:08 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Herb Reinhard became Valdosta State Athletic Director in 1992.  His first order of business? bringing Iowa Wesleyan’s Hal Mumme and his staff to South Georgia. It was then he met Mumme’s “mad scientist” Offensive Coordinator Mike Leach and found out quickly the young coach from Wyoming saw the world differently.

“It was like nothing you’ve ever experienced in your life,” Remarked Reinhard of his time with Leach outside of football. “He would just go on and on and on about frankly issues nobody else ever thought of, but boy he had thought of them a lot...the driest, wittiest sense of humor I’ve ever met. An incredible pleasure to be around.”

With his unique outlook on life, it only made sense that even then leach would have a unique outlook on football. Masterminding the air raid offense that would charge the Blazers to their first ever DII playoff appearance in 1994 and first Gulf South title in 1996.  Creating an identity for the program that stands 30 years later.

“They created the blueprint that while we’ve tweaked it it’s been emulated year after year and year and frankly staff after staff after staff.

Despite his new and innovative approach to offense, Leach found a way to make his lessons approachable for generations of student athletes, including at the very beginning for a then fresh faced, Gary Goff, now a Head Coach himself at McNeese State and just recently at VSU, his alma mater.

“You want to sit here and think that he’s so complicated in telling his quarterbacks how to do this and that but he really wasn’t,” said Goff, who played receiver for Leach from 1993-96. “The beauty behind it and him was he’s just sitting there in the quarterback room saying why’d you throw it over there? There’s more opposite colored jerseys there you should have thrown it over here.”

“The Pirate” would of course go on to captain his own ship, winning at places others simply wouldn’t give a second glance like Texas Tech, Washington State and most recently Mississippi State. Along the way becoming one of the most beloved faces in college football. But over three decades later, Leach still fond and proud of dropping anchor in Titletown.

“[In] several interviews [he talked about] how much he enjoyed Valdosta State,” said Reinhard.  “But also how much he enjoyed Valdosta and the folks in this community.”

Sports Reporter Dominic Miranda also contributed to this story