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Legendary college football coach Mike Leach doesn’t quite meet the standards to be inducted to the Hall of Fame. But it’s REALLY close.
Prior to his untimely death on Dec. 12, Leach was a legend both on and off the field. Most recently the head coach at Mississippi State, Leach boasted an all-time record of 158-107 with 9 bowl appearances and multiple coach of the year accolades. He was also a media favorite — known for his hilarious rants and unique take on, well, everything.
Current College Football Hall of Fame induction requirements for a coach are as follows: (1) 10 years of head coaching experience, (2) 100 victories and (3) a 60 percent winning percentage. Leach’s winning percentage sits at 59.6.
National Football Foundation chair Archie Manning says four-tenths of a percentage point shouldn’t keep Leach out of the Hall.
“I think Mike will be in the Hall of Fame, but it’ll be up to the Honor’s Committee,” Manning said.
Mike Leach Is A Unique Case
Mike Hatchell, president and CEO of the NFF (which operates the Hall of Fame), noted that Leach’s impact on the game goes far beyond the football teams he coached. Leach is widely heralded as an innovator who revolutionized the sport with the Air Raid offense.
“Where the difference comes in here is that Mike was a young man and he passed away,” Hatchell said. “The fact that he passed away brings a different perspective on this. Everybody would say he’d continue to coach and continue to win.”
In an effort to protect the sanctity of the Hall of Fame, the organization has been particularly strict in its requirements for induction. Since Leach’s death, though, there has been an outcry from fans, media and coaches to bend the rules just this once.
“It’s different with Mike,” he said. “There was something special about him. There isn’t an organization that thinks more of Mike than ours. To say we thought the world of Mike Leach is putting it mildly. We have great respect for him.”
The 2024 Class Will Be Selected Next Fall
The selection process is a long one, but Hatchell expects all three schools where Leach coached to nominate him for the Hall. Nominees are sent to nine district screening committees spread across the country. They narrow the group to 75.
Those 75 are placed on the national ballot and voted on by all NFF members and the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).Those results are then compiled and provided to the Honor’s Court, which determines the final class. The goal each year is to select 12 players and two coaches.
“Mike Leach was unique and valuable to the sport,” said Gary O’Hagan, Leach’s former agent and longtime friend. “It’s not that Mike needs any special treatment. Those in the Hall of Fame want Mike to be in the club with them.”
It’s a no-brainer. Do the right thing, NFF.