Mike Leach continues to transform the face of Red Raider football with an all-out aerial assault and swarming defensive attack that has propelled the program into the national spotlight in the last four seasons.
Leading one of the most prolific passing offenses in the country, Leach, who also serves as Tech's quarterbacks coach, spreads the field with his exciting brand of football and has established himself as one of the top offensive coaches in the country. Leach's offense produced school records in nearly every passing category in 2000, but surpassed those numbers in each of the last four seasons. His five teams have combined for over 150 team and individual records at Tech.
Last season, the Red Raiders won the NCAA Passing Title for the third year in a row and led the nation in completions and attempts. Tech also won its second-straight NCAA Total Offense Title. Additionally, Tech capped off its season with a 45-31 win over fourth-ranked California in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. The Red Raiders finished the season ranked 17th and 18th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches and Associated Press polls, respectively. Tech also won at least eight games for the third-straight season for the first time in school history.
Senior quarterback Sonny Cumbie, in his first year as a starter under Leach in 2004, closed the season with a personal-best 520-yard performance the Bears in the bowl game and finished his final season ranked sixth on the NCAA single-season passing yardage chart with 4,742 yards. Cumbie led the nation in every passing category, the same as his predecessors.
In 2003, Heisman Trophy candidate and quarterback B.J. Symons capped off his senior season with an NCAA Passing Championship and an NCAA single-season record 5,833 passing yards. A year earlier, current New Orleans Saints quarterback Kliff Kingsbury finished his senior campaign ranked in total offense (2nd), completions (1st), attempts (1st) and passing touchdowns (1st). The record-setting quarterback also set 17 NCAA records during his career and tied three other marks.
The Red Raiders have improved their total offensive numbers from 324.8 yards per game to 491.7 yards per game since Leach's arrival. The last five seasons rank as the top five all-time at Tech in total offense, while scoring went from 23 points per game in 1999 to 36.2 points last season. The most significant increase has been in the passing game, where the Red Raiders averaged 399.7 yards per game in 2004 compared to 175.4 yards in 1999.
The running game has flourished as well under Leach. Running back Taurean Henderson rushed for 16 scores in 2004 to rank among the top scoring backs in the country. His touchdown total was the most for a Red Raider since Byron Morris rushed for 22 in 1993. The Red Raiders' 23 total rushing scores was the most for a Tech team since the 1996 campaign yielded 27.
Additionally, recruiting has been one of the top beneficiaries since Leach's arrival in December 1999. The Red Raiders' 2005 recruiting class was once again ranked among the top 25. From his first class in the spring of 2000 to this year's list of newcomers, each class continues to get better. Not only is Texas Tech recruiting the Texas area, but Leach also is extending the reach of the program across the country.
The level of recruiting Leach and his staff have attained has reflected in the success of the team. One of the most recognizable areas is the offensive line. The unit has continually improved each season and boasts more size and strength than the past. The number of sacks on Tech quarterbacks has continued to decline each season. Tech saw a decrease from 46 sacks allowing in 2002 to 25 last season.
The Red Raiders are not solely known for their play on the scoring side of the ball. The Texas Tech defense also has flourished during Leach's four seasons. The Red Raiders tied for the national lead with three shutouts in 2000 and followed with another in 2001 and 2002. Combined with the five shutouts are three other games where the opposition was held without an offensive touchdown.
The play of the special teams has improved with each season as well. Placekicker Alex Trlica finished his inaugural season with a mark of 55-of-55 on extra points, marking only the fifth time in school history for a perfect season. Sophomore punter Alex Reyes ranked among the Big 12's top punters during his sophomore season in 2004. Tech's kickoff, punting and return teams also have seen a dramatic improvement in the last five seasons.
While leading the Red Raiders to 39 wins in his first five seasons, Leach is the only coach in school history to lead his first five teams to bowl games. The 39 wins are the most in a Tech head coach's first five seasons.
Texas Tech once again produced record numbers during the 2004 campaign and led the nation and Big 12 Conference in several categories. The Red Raiders led the country in passing offense and total offense for the second-straight season. Tech also led in completions and pass attempts for the fourth year in a row.
Although Leach's presence has been felt throughout the team, it also has been beneficial for the players individually.
Symons was the second Tech quarterback to receive The Touchdown Club of Columbus' Sammy Baugh Trophy (Kingsbury in 2002) and was named the Chevrolet Offensive Player of the Year. Symons capped off his senior season with an invitation to the 2004 NFL Combine. The Heisman Trophy candidate was the fourth in a line of Leach-coached quarterbacks to be mentioned as a candidate for the award - Tim Couch at Kentucky, Josh Heupel at Oklahoma and Kingsbury.
Kingsbury, a 2002 All-Big 12 first-team quarterback and sixth-round draft pick of the Patriots, led the Big 12 Conference in several passing categories over his final three seasons and was a Heisman Trophy candidate in 2002. He also was named the Verizon Academic All-American of the Year for football and was awarded an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in a ceremony in New York City.
Running back Taurean Henderson and punt return specialist Wes Welker each set NCAA marks during the 2002 campaign. Henderson retrieved a freshman record 98 receptions, while Welker returned an NCAA record 57 punts. Welker continued his NCAA record-setting run last season, establishing standards in career punt return yards and career punt returns for touchdowns. Additionally, wide receiver Jarrett Hicks set a school record with 13 touchdown receptions last season.
Defensively, linebacker Lawrence Flugence and defensive end Aaron Hunt also gained attention during their careers. Both were named to All-America teams in 2002 and were listed as candidates for various national awards. Hunt was drafted in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, while Flugence signed a free agent contract with the Carolina Panthers. In 2003, strong safety Ryan Aycock was one of the top defensive players in the country, reeling in six interceptions and 101 tackles.
Leach has coached several players who have gone on to the NFL, including Kingsbury, Couch, Heupel and Symons. While at Tech, four players have been drafted and six others have signed free agent contracts and are currently on NFL rosters. All-American free safety Kevin Curtis was selected in the fourth round in the 2002 draft by the San Francisco 49ers and is currently with the Oakland Raiders, while Symons was selected in the 2004 draft by the Houston Texans.
The team continues to make strides academically as well under Leach. For the last eight years Tech has placed more players on the Academic All Big 12 team than any other institution except Nebraska. In 2003 five players were working on postgraduate degrees. Of the 17 seniors on the roster, three graduated before the season started, nine graduated in December 2003, and the other five are scheduled to graduate in May 2004. For the last four years Tech has been recognized as one of the nation's top institutions for consistently being above a 70 percent gradation rate, according to the American Football Coaches Association.
Prior to coming on board at Texas Tech, Leach, in just one season at Oklahoma, directed a Sooner offense that went from one of the worst in the Big 12 Conference to one of the best. Under Leach's tutelage, Heupel was named 1999 Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year. For his efforts, Leach was nominated for the 1999 Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in the country.
Leach guided an Oklahoma offense that went from 11th in the Big 12 in 1998 to first in 1999 and 101st in the nation to 11th. In just one year, OU's total offense numbers improved from 293.3 to 427.2 yards per game.
The rise in passing and scoring offense categories is just as impressive. Oklahoma went from last to first in the Big 12 in passing offense in one year, from 107th in the country to ninth. Under Leach, the Sooners improved from 109.9 yards passing per game to 321.7 yards per game.
In 1998, Oklahoma was last in the Big 12 and 101st in the country in scoring offense at 16.7 points per game. In 1999, the Sooners improved to second in the league and eighth in the country in scoring at 36.8 points per game, an increase of just over 20 points per game.
Under Leach, the Oklahoma offense set six Big 12 Conference and 17 OU records. The Sooners were one of only two schools in the nation to have six players with 20 or more receptions in 1999.
Prior to joining Bob Stoops' Oklahoma staff, Leach served as offensive coordinator for Hal Mumme at the University of Kentucky and Valdosta (Ga.) State University.
For two years at Kentucky under Mumme, Leach coached the Kentucky "Air Raid" offense that was one of the most explosive in Southeastern Conference history. Under Mumme and Leach, the Kentucky offense set six NCAA records, 41 Southeastern Conference records and 116 school records in 22 games.
Kentucky's offense produced more than 500 yards of total offense in seven separate games, including a school-record 801 against Louisville.
Leach's Kentucky offense featured the talented Couch, who passed for 4,275 yards and 34 touchdowns as a senior.
Named 1996 Division II Offensive Coordinator of the Year by American Football Quarterly magazine, Leach helped Mumme lead Valdosta State to a 40-17-1 record. The 1993 Blazer offense smashed 66 school records, 22 conference records and seven national records. In 1994, Valdosta State advanced to the Division II playoffs with Leach's offense shattering 80 school records, 35 conference records and seven more national marks.
Leach and Mumme first teamed up at Iowa Wesleyan College in 1989. From 1989 to 1991 he served as offensive coordinator and line coach for an offense that led the NAIA in passing yardage one season and finished second the other two. Iowa Wesleyan passed for more than 11,000 yards in Leach's three seasons and broke 26 national records.
Leach has also made coaching stops in Pori, Finland, where he served as head coach in the European Football League (1989), as well as one-year assistant stints at College of the Desert (1988) and Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo (1987).
After graduating with honors from Brigham Young in 1983, Leach earned a Master's Degree from the United States Sports Academy and his law degree from Pepperdine University, where he graduated in the top one-third of his class.
The oldest of six siblings, Leach and his wife, Sharon, are the parents of four children; Janeen (19), Kim (14), Cody (8) and Kiersten (5). Janeen is currently a freshman at BYU.
Born: March 9, 1961 in Susanville, Calif.
Hometown: Cody, Wyoming
Children: Daughters, Janeen, Kim and Kiersten; Son, Cody
High School: Cody High School
College: Brigham Young University, 1983 (American Studies)
Graduate: Juris Doctor, Pepperdine University School of Law, 1986
Master's of Sports Science/Coaching, U.S. Sports Academy, 1988
Hired at Tech: December 9, 1999
2000-04 Texas Tech, Head Coach/OC
1999-00 Oklahoma, Assistant/OC
1997-98 Kentucky, Assistant/OC
1992-96 Valdosta State, Assistant/OC, OL (94-96) / OC, WR, QB (92-93)
1989-91 Iowa Wesleyan, Assistant OC/OL/Equipment Coordinator
1989 Pori, Finland (European Football League), Head Coach
1988 College of the Desert, Assistant/LB
1987 Cal Poly-SLO, Assistant/OL