baltimoresun.com

« Guess Baltimore is just tougher than Philly | Main | Will Anderson's first decision determine his fate? »

Gus Malzahn vs. Mike Leach

malzahnleachblog.jpg

Photos (Associated Press): Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, left, appears stern, thoughtful and entirely too close to the camera. Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, right, appears much the same.

Unless we’re not reading the Maryland search committee right, it appears as if former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach and Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn are the front runners for Ralph Friedgen’s old job in College Park. Crazier things have happened where a surprise candidate emerges, but I don’t think Jim Harbaugh will suddenly have an urge to move close to his brother.   

So let’s assess the strengths and weaknesses of Leach and Malzahn to see who might be a better fit for the Terps.

Head coaching experience: This is obvious, since Leach has been a successful Division I head coach (84-43 and 10 straight bowl games) for a decade and Malzahn’s only head coaching experience has been on the high school level in his native Arkansas. But the edge isn’t as wide as you might expect, since those who’ve been around Leach in Lubbock say that he spent nearly every waking hour on offense and didn’t really pay much attention to defense or even special teams. EDGE: LEACH

Offensive system: I think Danny O’Brien could be successful in either the spread run by Leach or  Malzahn’s hybrid hurry-up,  so it comes down to those around O’Brien. It would be easier for Maryland’s young and improving (though far from established) offensive line, not to mention tailbacks Davin Meggett and D.J. Adams, to play in a more traditional offense such as the one Auburn used. With the departure of wide out Torrey Smith, the Terps might not have their own Michael Crabtree waiting for Leach’s arrival. They don’t have a Cam Newton, but who does? EDGE: MALZAHN

Putting a staff together: Since neither Leach nor Malzahn have ties to Maryland or the ACC, both would be starting from scratch. The one edge Leach might have is that he shares the same agent with Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown and could have a better chance of convincing Brown to stay. Many of Leach’s former assistants are at East Carolina, and seem to really enjoy working for Ruffin McNeill. Malzahn hasn’t been around long enough to establish many relationships, but there will definitely be some who want to latch on to this rising star. EDGE: EVEN  


Exciting the fan base:  From the moment that first-year athletic director Kevin Anderson said that it was a “business decision” not to retain Friedgen, it meant that his successor would have to fill seats immediately at Byrd Stadium. Given that Leach’s Air Raid offense led to Texas Tech’s stadium being expanded twice during his tenure, Leach’s arrival would bring an immediate bump in season ticket sales and possibly in some buying up those empty suites. Malzahn might have to prove himself a little before that happened. EDGE: LEACH  

Relating to the fan base: Coaching in College Park is not like coaching in Lubbock or Auburn, surrounded by the Ravens on one side and the Redskins on the other. But Leach probably met plenty of Dallas Cowboys’ fans whose second (or third) favorite team was the Red Raiders, while Malzahn only experienced not being the biggest game in town when he was in Tulsa and surrounded by Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Also, considering the two lawsuits Leach filed after being fired, and the fact that he has his law degree from Pepperdine, he could certainly fit in with all the lawyers in the Baltimore-Washington area.  EDGE: LEACH

Getting to a BCS game: Friedgen took the Terps to the Orange Bowl his first year – albeit using  Ron Vanderlinden’s players – so I think both Maryland candidates are capable of doing the same with Friedgen’s players next season. But because of the competition Maryland has to beat out in its division just to get a shot at an ACC championship – namely Florida State – Maryland can’t simply be a one-dimensional team next season that thinks it can outscore anybody it faces. EDGE: MALZAHN

Recruiting: Leach was not known as an overly enthusiastic recruiter at Texas Tech, and really believed that he could win with marginal talent. The biggest recruiting coup for Malzahn as a D-I assistant was when he was first hired by Arkansas and brought five players, including highly-recruited quarterback Mitch Mustain, with him to Fayetteville. Both ended up leaving after a year. Those who know Malzahn said that he is good with high school coaches and in homes, while Leach by reputation doesn’t want to be bothered. EDGE: MALZAHN

Off-the-field performance: Texas Tech had nearly an 80 percent graduation rate during Leach’s decade in Lubbock, among the highest in the Big 12. The schools where Malzahn has worked are more toward the mid 60s percentage-wise – or worse – and are perennially ranked in the bottom half or near the bottom of their respective leagues. Friedgen has built a good foundation in that regard, and Leach’s numbers are certainly impressive. EDGE: LEACH

Being a team player: The word you here most often about Leach’s reputation in Lubbock is incorrigible; he didn’t take to any kind of authority. Anderson is certainly not going to tolerate that, ad that reputation (not to mention the lawsuits) could be what’s holding up an offer. Everyone who knows Malzahn talks about his character, his strong religious faith and the fact that he usually can be found watching film or drawing up plays. EDGE: MALZAHN

Baggage: The circumstances surrounding Leach’s exit in Lubbock got more attention than it deserved, in large part because it involved the son of ESPN analyst Craig James. (Adam James claimed he was put in a dark shed at practice by Leach because he had a concussion.) Even ESPN ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer said that ESPN’s coverage of the incident was biased. Many former players have come to Leach’s defense. While Auburn has been cleared by the SEC for the recruiting scandal surrounding Newton, all the facts have yet to come to light. Malzahn’s name has never come up. EDGE: MALZAHN

Who would stay longer:  Friedgen made the comment after the Military Bowl that he doesn't believe the administration is committed to having an elite football program, and I’m not sure he’s completely wrong. Leach stayed in Lubbock for 10 years, in part because he couldn’t never get past the interview at a couple of other schools after being considered the favorite. Malzahn has been at three schools in five years, though his exit from Arkansas after one year wasn’t his fault. I certainly could see either bolting to the SEC or Big 12 if jobs opened up. EDGE: LEACH  

It’s too close to call, but last I checked, I wasn’t making this decision. Unless Anderson and the search committee have a surprise in store – is Connecticut’s Randy Edsall lurking behind the curtain? – it’s time to make the hire and move forward. 

Comments

Maryland is only throwing out the name "Malzahn" because they want to hurry Leach and get him to accept less $ to come here.

What the heck has Malzahn done without Scam Newton?

What is MD waiting for? Hire Leach if they want fannies in the seats.

Not bad ... but i have a different view regarding offense. MD has a bevy of quality receivers next year, e.b., coxson, dorsey, boykens, logan, etc.. Plus ML has proven he can have a great offense without 5 star players. Malzahn has proven he can have a great offense with Cam Newton. Both would be successful, but I would give Leach the edge for at least the first two years.

The more I hear about Leach the more he reminds me of Gary, minus the U of MD connection. They both seem to be principled guys who want to do it their way.

Does the Sun really pay you for this? Virginia Tech is in the COASTAL division and Maryland is in the ATLANTIC division.

Virginia Tech is the Coastal Division - Maryland in the Atlantic, so they don't have to beat VT to get to the ACC Championship game - they would have to beat them in the championship game. So edge to Malzahn in that category may need to be changed.

I am not that upset that they canned Fridge but if they canned him and hire Malzahn, I will be upset. There is no track record of success (5 yrs doesn't cut it).

I think the athletic dept is committed to having a elite football team, but the university isn't. Athletics doesnt receive the same help that other elite programs get (admissions, facilities, etc) from the school. Thats fine but you cant expect the program to flourish until it does. The university and president have to make that decision.

Are the folk in Maryland so hungry for football that they are willing to put up with "old smiley face"...nothing should be desired that bad. I'm glad he's left TTU and hope he sold his home in lubbock and is no longer a Texas residident...the man has absolutely no sense of humor, no smile. I often wonder if anything in the world means anything to Leach other than football and winning. I'm totally glad TTU got rid of him.

Don -- Why do you think the administration might not be committed to having an elite football program? Isn't that supposed to be Anderson's rationale in canning Ralph--going from a good program to a great one?

If they aren't committed to that goal, then the firing of Coach Friedgen doesn't make too much sense, aside from the perception by the AD that an exciting new head coach is needed to generate ticket sales.

So, successful football program can be defined not only by the BCS ranking, but revenue generated.

If the administration isn't committed to building an elite program, then something's wrong. Sure, UM is historically a basketball school, but look at what Ohio State's done: A football school has developed into a major force in men's hoops.

So it can happen. Now it's up to Anderson to make it happen.

Lets be honest here maryland talks as if leach would make them a natonal caliper type of program no high ranking recuit is going to come to maryland just to play for leach, its the facilites that will bring in better players and character counts so to me it leaves only one choice take malzahn

Forget all this. Anderson will jump exactly where Kevin Plank tells him to.

Why are you over looking Rich Rodriguez?
He's a big name and already has a strong recruiting base in this area. While at WVU he out recruited Terps on a regular basis.
I wouldn't be surprised if he emerges once he's let go at Michigan Jan 2nd.

Mike Leach doesnt need "blue chip" recruits 2 b successful but when i say blue chip i mean kids that have been babied into being hyped up. Leach is masterful at finding needles in haystacks all over and once they get to his program he develops them & gets them to reach their highest potential & ability. A few names u may recognize: Wes Welker, Michael Crabtree, Danny Amendola all three of these guys were not highly recruited by anybody but yet they played great n Leach`s system & now they play on sundays due in large part to what they learned under Leach. If hired Leach will set fired to not only the ACC but the nation. He is truly a coaching genius. Go Coach Leach!!!

Lets get this straight... One of Maryland's biggest problems under Fridge was an inability to keep the top high school players in state, much less land top recruits nationally... and this was with the supposive uber-recruiter James Franklin handling things.

So the plan now is to hire a coach who does not care about recruiting? Who has zero connections or experience with High School coaches or recruiters in the area?

Does anyone need a reminder what happened to Michigan when Rich Rod got their and tossed their pro style offense out the door? Everyone who is on the Leach bandwagon needs too... because the same thing is going to happen to Maryland if he is hired and brings that gimmicky offense of his...

I am not saying it will not bring some form of success down the road... but its gonna take 3 or 4 years to get there, and I dont think this AD, or the fans are going to be all to happy with 3 or 4 years of losing.

Also, correct me if I am wrong, but didn't Maryland run a pass happy offense with no defense in the 90's? How did that work out? That's what Leach brings to the table.

Two VERY, VERY poor choices! Shame on Anderson (again!) if he did not have a better 'Plan B" in place when he fired Ralph. Neither choice will be here in 3 years. Anderson better hit a home run with this hire
and neither choice is close to a home run.
Anderson needs to remember that he like others will be judged by how they treat others AND by the first impression they make. So far, he has not faired well and now has 2 strikes against him

Please stop mentioning the name Rich Rodriguez. That guy is a scumbag and would be the absolute worst hire MD could make. There is zero chance they hire that weasel.

WHY even consider someone who's NOT a head coach - possibly another debacle as when we hired a H.S. coach to run with the 'big dogs' in ACC basketball. Surely with 300 (+/-) Div I programs there's a Head coach who's doing a great job but would love to move up to a school Md's size??

The closest Maryland ever got to being an "elite football program" was under Jerry Claiborne in the 1970s and Bobby Ross in the 1980s, although in reality they were NOT elite programs under either coach. As a graduate of Maryland I can say that in my opinion the roadblocks to Maryland ever achieving elite status in football are nearly insurmountable: a campus which is located within a couple of miles of the nation's capital and therefore is not really perceived as a "state university" in the typical sense; a student population which draws heavily from the northeast corridor, and area where college football ranks far down the list of sports priorities; and the undeniable fact that Maryland is first and foremost a basketball school.

I like Leach as the head coach, Malzahn as the offensive coordinator and Don Brown to stay on as the defensive coordinator. Come on Kevin Plank start writing checks and make that happen. If Maryland gets more national TV time wearing your gear it's going to pay for it's self!

RRL...two very poor choices? Are you kidding me? Please name someone better (and realistic), I can't wait for your answer.

Im a die-hard terp thats why I cant help not responding to this editorial. I would take Malzahn in a heartbeat hes' young has energy and he's had recent success. Ive spent time in Texas you almost half to be an idiot to not be able to win in Texas. Theres so much talent in that state you cant help but win. Malzahn has done it in Arkansas and the sec, give the new guy a shot. To much baggage with Leach we need a coach who understands that the players deserve the attention not the coach.

poor choices RRL??? you couldn't find 2 better guys that would add excitement to Md football. Both bring exciting styles of football and could energize the fan base. That is what Md is looking for. Saban, Kelly and other top 10 coaches arent coming here. The only other name that would be good is Edsall. He would be very good but maybe not as interesting as the other 2.

Wow, everybody talks so confidently when it isn't their a## on the line. Personally, while I liked Friedgen, I didn't expect Maryland to ever get back to a BCS bowl with him as the head coach. If the seats aren't being sold, it not only means less money but, less confidence from the fans in the team.
If Leach really did accomplish selling seats at TT, he must have done something that the fans were really excited about. It may not end up the best choice for a Monday Morning QB once he has been here and results are in but, I sure wouldn't complain about a Leach hiring right now!

I'm writing tonight to speak up for Mike Leach. I watched him In Lubbock for 10 years, and It was the best 10 years of football that Texas Tech ever saw ! Mike Leach, takes a lot of knocks because of the law suits he has filed. The man Is defending himself as would anybody that has been accused,convicted and sentenced, without a trial ! Mike Leach Is different, but he Isn't the monster that the press has made him out to be!!! The facts are out there, If anybody cares to look...I have read the depositions and It takes some time to get through them...but I promise, that you will see a different picture than the one that has spread all over the country since his firing !!! Texas Is a football state, and politics are a very large part of It! Mike Leach was not fired because he locked Adam James In a shed with a concussion...no matter what the press and his former bosses say ! The proof Is Public Record ...read It, then decide for yourselves !!! Texas Tech Is a State Institution, and by suing them, Mike Leach Is In effect suing the State Of Texas ! There Is a rule that you can't sue the State, and this Is where the hang up comes In ! Mike Leach has already been cleared by one Judge to allow his law suit against Texas Tech, Texas Tech Appealed the ruling, and the judges Involved In that one have not ruled yet! The suit against ESPN and Spaeth have yet to be heard. ESPN has not responded, but Spaeth has claimed that Leach has no grounds for a law suit. At the same time Spaeth's Insurance company Is trying to bail out of being liable In the Leach suit ? I would assume that they think Mike Leach will win and that they do not want to be left holding the bag for the payout!The man has been railroaded ! It's the dirtiest thing I have seen to come out of Texas Tech,and It's wrong! I dislike the statement about reports coming out of Lubbock ....talk to the fans, talk to the students...talk to the Alumini, and you will get a different story out of Lubbock! By firing Mike Leach, Texas Tech has lost money, In ticket sales...the facts from Texas Tech will not reflect this, because they can't look bad In public for their actions against Leach! Ticket City Bowl Is tomorrow...check the attendence! Texas tyech had 10,000 tickets to sell, and as reported locally today, they have only sold a fraction of them! Not so In the Mike Leach era.....he packed the stands...people were getting fired up for games on Monday, and It mattered not who they played !!!! Mike Leach football Is exciting, and he will draw fans, once he gets established, which may take a year or so! You may hate him before you Fall In Love....but Fall you will :) !!! A lot has been said that Leach had no Defense at Tech...In the beginning he didn't. Reason being, that he built the Offense first...and his plan was to out score anybody...which he pretty much did...then came the Defense along about his 5th year, and that's when Texas Tech started to really make a name for Itself! Last but far from least, Mike Leach has a fan base all over the country, Lubbock Included !! Some of us have already talked about attending Maryland football If Leach Is hired. You can't buy that kind of support...you have to earn It...Mike Leach has !!! Give the man a job and In 2 years, you will see the magic he can work !!! Mike Leach will probably never be In Lubbock again, but since his firing he has been back several times, and he can walk Into any restaurant In town, and his fans will be there !!! Don't believe the reports...come to Lubbock and do your own.....I think you will be surprised :)

It's Leach people. There's no chance Anderson is waiting until after Auburn's game for Malzahn. It has been Leach all along. any other names have just been a smokescreen.

What an amusing comment by "Steerpower." What he really meant to say was his beloved Longhorns were tired of losing to Mike Leach in Lubbock. What is certain about
"Steerpower's" darlings, is that their coach, whose name is Mack Brown, turned in the worst coaching performance this season in the history of athletics. For Maryland fans: If you hire Mike Leach you win games and have fun doing it. You will learn that the worst play in football is the punt. Good luck.

Don,
After i read the following in the first paragraph ..:
"Leach has been a successful Division I head coach (84-43 and 10 straight bowl games) for a decade and Malzahnā€™s only head coaching experience has been on the high school level in his native Arkansas."

... I ignored the rest of the article.

Hire Mike Leach and you will quickly start seeing "Ws". I am a Texas Tech alum and was in school when he was hired. No one in Lubbock knew much about Mike Leach, but we soon all fell in love with him and his high octane offense. Quit BSing and hire Leach, you will not regret it.

No mention of Mike Tice. He has proven that he can sell tickets!
In all seriousness,he is a MD Grad,played 14 years in the NFL,has proven that he can relate to players and has been a tight ends coach,offensive line coach and head coach.
His record of 32-33 as head coach of the Vikings is very close to Pete Carroll's record of 33-31 at the Jets and Patriots.

Let me tell you I know Leach's offense and it is alot different that Malzn's
That is why East Carolina tried to run it
but was unable. There is something in Mike Leaches brains that makes that thing go. you can run all the routes and call all his plays but coach Leach sees things most coached dont/

You might want to get more facts on Malzahn. I'm no Houston Nutt fan, but sleazeball Malzahn was forced on Nutt and his staff, and his holier than thou act is a facade. He had boosters attempting a coup d'etat for Malzahn on the HC job...out of high school, where he coached the sons of many wealthy people. Anyone in Arkansas knows that Malzahn began whining to his friends the minute he got on staff, and kept doing it. What would they do? Post the trash on message boards. Attack innocent people for "marital affairs." Even attack Houston Nutt's mother...at church. What did Malzahn do? He sat back and let it happen without saying anything. Then he ran off crying when Nutt wasn't fired after 2006.

The really sad thing...Malzahn's internet minions kept attacking our program after Malzahn was already gone, and even began attacking (and some still are) Bobby Petrino. Malzahn knows all this, and he makes it happen.

Gus Malzahn is a slimeball.

Hire Leach!!!!! Matzahn is a fraud!!! Auburn would be 6-6 without Scam Newton!!!! Leach won with walk ons in many cases. Matzahn PAID attention to his players all right. He and the Auburn staff PAID for their QB!!!!! Leach cares about academics as well as athletics. I am a Texan Mr. Ben and there is a lot more to winning in life and athletics than talent!!! I will take an average player with a big heart and desire any day. And that is what coach Leach believes as evidenced by Wes Welker, Danny Amendola, Sonny Cumbie, and Codie Hodges.

Leach should be the front runner by far. Hire Gus and if he's successful, he'll bolt within the first 3-4 years...

Rich Rod.? Have to be kidding...

I'll buy season tickets if Leach gets the job - can't say that I would if Gus is hired, at least early on. By the time I'd plunk it down, he'd already be planning his exit strategy...

Leach has a very strong relationship with Under Armour (whilst at TTU) and Md. is under contract with UA so the money is there to pay Leach. Could also see a trend with Leach and UA... Md. could do what Oregon is doing with Uniforms to drum up support and interest (That's marketing 101).
Intangible:
Md. is a short Flight for Leach back home to Key West, a Pirates dream, and doesn't Md. have Pirate history also? It's a deadlock for Leach to Maryland. Look for announcement by Mid-first week of January.

OK you got Edsall
Like the car 3 yards and a cloud of dust.
That should get the local recruits excited

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

ADVERTISEMENT

Most Recent Comments
The Burning Question
ADVERTISEMENT

Buy Sports Tickets from the Baltimore Sun Store

Baltimore Sun blog updates

 Subscribe to this feed
Charm City Current
Stay connected