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The Seven Seas of Starkville: What does the Mike Leach hire mean for the program?

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The biggest move of the offseason was announced on Thursday afternoon. How does this change Mississippi State going forward?

NCAA Football: Cheez-It Bowl-Air Force vs Washington State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the season, most of the fans clamored for the firing of Joe Moorhead. After several disappointing chain of events, their wishes finally came true. While many fans cheered, it was one of the low points in the history of Mississippi State football. It meant forking out seven million dollars of buyout money, looking for a head coach while every other team in the FBS had one, and, of course, starting over.

The coaching search started out with rejection from Billy Napier and our top target, Joe Judge, getting hired by the Giants, yet we still ended up with the best hire in college football this season. It isn’t often that one Power Five school snatches a head coach from another, especially not one as successful as Mike Leach. It is even less often that Mississippi State is the school doing the snatchin’. It is a new era in the history of this program, and it starts with more than just the new head coach.

John Cohen, at least from the outside looking in, needed a splash hire. There wasn’t any room for an “iffy” head coach. The program had a broken fanbase, riddled with rage after being told to kick rocks by the former head coach. There was a fight that led to the starting quarterback missing the bowl game. This program was even put on probation by the NCAA after the “TutorGate” scandal. There was a lot that could have gone wrong with this hire. Fans began to take out their frustration on John Cohen, and some started to begin to demand his firing. Then, the tweet happened:

Immediately, Mississippi State became national news. It was another major change for the program as a whole. Football fans and conspiracy theorist alike now have their eyes glued to the TV and Mississippi State’s social media pages. His press conferences are certain to go viral, at the least, four of five times a season. Season ticket sales are likely to sky-rocket, and 11 o’clock games are things of the past. As they say, business is booming.

More than national attention, it gave the fans the much needed moves that they have desired. For years, fans have wanted to go after a top-tier coach, in several different sports. Getting Ben Howland was a step, at least at the time. In baseball went after Chris Lemonis, who has been a great hire, but wasn’t the top level coach fans were looking for. Then, when you least expected it, here comes Mike Leach. It showed that John Cohen would willfully take a risk, and that the athletic department would support that. President Mark Keenum, most definitely, trust John Cohen. Most importantly, Mississippi State showed they can compete financially with 90% of the schools in the country. For years, money has been the biggest knock on this school as a whole. Now, with brand new facilities popping up nearly every year and the addition to a 4-year, 20 million dollar contract for Mike Leach, all of the doubt seems to disappear. It is a great sign as to what the university has done to reward it’s donors and investors, and shows the trust they have in Mike Leach and John Cohen.

That is just what the hire does and shows off the field.

On the field, Leach makes the program unique. Much like Army and Air Force running the option, Mike Leach is known for his unique offense. In eight years at Washington State, Leach’s offense averaged 4,945 yards in passing offense a season. The Air Raid offense has become much more common around the college ranks and the NFL, but no one has it perfected more than Leach. His offense is certain to rewrite every passing record in Mississippi State history:

This hire seems to be the biggest coaching hire in program history, but it is yet to be seen if it will translate to wins on the field. With 139 victories in 18 seasons, it would be hard to imagine this hire resulting in anything less than wins on the field. It is also of note that Leach has only failed to reach a bowl game twice in 18 seasons as a head coach, both coming at Washington State. The future is bright at Mississippi State and it all starts with the hiring of Mike Leach.

While you dream of media day and the start of football season, just remember that the schedule sets up well for Leach. The season opens with New Mexico coming to Starkville and is followed by a trip to Raleigh, NC to take on the Wolfpack. Then you get three straight home games against Arkansas, Tulane, and Texas A&M. You look at a schedule and a season that could start, potentially, 5-0. It is an exciting time to be a Bulldog, and I cannot wait to watch this unfold.