Hello Reddit,

Thank you all for having me here today for this AMA.

I am the Head Football Coach for Washington State University (GO COUGS!). In addition to my day job, I also am very passionate about history, and have just finished my second book Geronimo: Leadership Strategies of an American Warrior that I co-authored with Buddy Levy of the History Channel's: History Decoded.

The book details the life and leadership philosophies of one of the greatest leaders in Native American History.

This interest in history has shaped my personal philosophies on coaching, educating, and leading to such an extent that many people like to reference me as a pirate because of a lecture I gave my players regarding the fearless dedication to teamwork that was prevalent in the pirate social culture at the time. I've learned much from Geronimo as well, and will continue to be studying up on others in history as I feel there is always something to take from their life experiences and adapt to the modern day.

I'm really looking forward to answering your questions. I'll be doing a special AMA in a few weeks just for the college football fans on r/CFB to talk football, but since there are so many great people here with a variety of interests we can talk about anything and everything and don't have to limit ourselves to just football.

Now I'm not as tech savvy as a lot of you so I'll do my best to promptly answer as many questions as I can. Fire away.

Proof with that alien thing you guys like

Okay everyone I unfortunately have to go. Seriously I think they are going to take the computer because we are moving into a new football ops building this week! I'm sorry if I didn't get to your question, but I'll be back in the future to do this again. Thank you all so much! - Mike Leach

Comments: 331 • Responses: 33  • Date: 

cj173585 karma

Mike, how long do you see yourself staying in Pullman?? Go Cougs!

MikeLeachAMA165 karma

As long as this great University will have me!

hythloday170 karma

The team is down by 15 with four minutes left when it punches in the ball on the outside zone read that hasn't worked all day but finally beats the WILL who's starting to dog it late in the game. Geronimo is the head coach. Does he go for 2 now, or kick the PAT and wait for the second opportunity?

MikeLeachAMA170 karma

Geronimo's speed and tenacity in adverse conditions is going to allow him and his band of Chiricahua Apaches to score swiftly with that much time left. Illustrated in my book, "Geronimo: Leadership Strategies of an American Warrior," they prepared for situations like this and were raised to respond to them starting as children. They would never flinch in a situation like this. Going for 1 or 2 would be based on their evaluation of the opponent, the terrain, and the resources they had to work with.

danimal201148 karma

Coach, there has always been a lot of talk about how hard it is to recruit to the Palouse, but you and your staff have been killing it so far this spring. What do you sell these young men on to come to Pullman?

MikeLeachAMA128 karma

It is very simple: we are a true college town in a true college setting. This is something that we nearly have a monopoly on in the Pac 12.

We have just built the best Football Operations Building in the Pac 12 and we have quick, direct flights to many of the locations we recruit to. We are in a gorgeous setting with no freeways, in a place where a student-athlete can focus on his degree and football. This is led by our President, Elson S. Floyd who is celebrating his 7th anniversary as our College President, and our Athletic Director, Bill Moos who played here. Both of which talk to our recruits when they visit campus.

gollfprodude47 karma

Coach Leach, I just want to thank you for coming to Pullman. I have never had a positive feeling about our football team and you really seemed to have brought us (the WSU fans) something to look forward to. Hope we can come back from that rough bowl loss last year and have a good season.

So here are my questions: What is your favorite sport to watch other than football? What teams/athletes do you root for?

MikeLeachAMA69 karma

Rugby is my favorite sport to watch. I root for New Zealand and Wales.

danimal201142 karma

Coach, thanks for giving me the opportunity to travel to a WSU bowl game in Albuquerque this past year. While ultimately disappointing, it was an amazing experience.

Based on this spring, do you see us going bowling again this year?

MikeLeachAMA113 karma

I see us going bowling every year.

jwil19141 karma

For starters I am a big fan and CJK5H

I know you are big history buff, if you had to fill your coaching staff with historical figures who would you choose? For the sake of discussion you can't pick a sports figure.

MikeLeachAMA88 karma

Head Coach: George Washington Offensive Coordinator: Geronimo Offensive Assistant: Tarzan Defensive Coordinator: Winston Churchill Defensive Assistant: Daniel Boone

hythloday131 karma

Do you agree with Chip Kelly that the single biggest technological change in coaching over the past 20 years is instantaneous transfer of HD all-22 videos replacing dodgy film swaps by assistants at the airport?

MikeLeachAMA39 karma

I think that it is a big one because it has created a lot of involvement from fans and media being involved in the game several layers deeper. Basically, there is a lot more access to specific game footage than there has ever been and I think that is part of what has caused the game to explode in the fashion that it has.

MarryMeJulieTaylor30 karma

How honored were you to meet the greatest coach of all time, Coach Eric Taylor?

MikeLeachAMA28 karma

Very honored. It was a lot of fun and he helped me find my way back to Lubbock, TX on the show. I also had the opportunity to meet director, Peter Berg, a true Renaissance man!

OctoberOwl28 karma

Hello Mike, and thanks for doing this AMA! Go Cougs! Here's a pic I took of you after the 'Cougs beat UW in Pullman at Apple Cup 2012. This one you're hoisting it with your players.

Anyways, what are you looking forward to from your team this season and which player(s) do we the fans need to keep an eye out for?

MikeLeachAMA29 karma

Great picture! I think we need to steadily improve and that's what makes it exciting. New players will surface that we don't even anticipate. Two of the most dynamic positions with the most new faces will be the secondary and the offensive line.

pfelon22 karma

Coach, I have a multiple questions, but I'm hoping if I space them out and keep them short, they'll produce great results (much like your offense).

  • Of all the great QBs you've worked with, which one stands out to you as the most impressive as far as grasping and executing the Air Raid?

  • How close are you with Coach Kingsbury now that he's over at Texas Tech? Any ill will because he's now working for a school that ended up treating you so unfairly?

  • Other than your own book, which historical book(s) would you most recommend to readers?

  • Any idea what BJ Symons is up to these days? His 52 TD season was remarkable.

Thanks in advance. Good luck this year. Swing your sword!

EDIT: bullet points

MikeLeachAMA44 karma

The best QB is always the one you are currently coaching!

Kliff and I are close friends and are in contact regularly. I wish him the best. Most of the coaches on that staff played for me as well. Although it is true that Tech has not paid me my salary for 2009 which is the last season I worked.

I think that you need to select the subject first. A lot of subjects have a lot of great books on them. The Bible is clearly the greatest historical book. I get asked about Pirate books a lot. A great Pirate book is "Under the Black Flag" as far as summing up a lot of material in a concise manner and I am very biased towards "Geronimo: Leadership Strategies of an American Warrior."

B.J. is a financial planner in Houston. We stay in close contact and he has come to some of our games. Contact B.J. with all financial needs!

Kknowsbest22 karma


MikeLeachAMA52 karma

Maybe John Cusack. I think we have some similar looks and mannerisms.

IUsCar19 karma

One play. To win the game. Down 4 points, 4th and goal from the 10. What do you call and why?

MikeLeachAMA34 karma

A pass that will stretch the field vertically and horizontally that will put receivers in the front, middle, and back of the end zone.

FloridaGreenkeeper16 karma

What's your favorite feature of the new Football Ops building?

MikeLeachAMA27 karma

Probably the weight room because that's where it all starts. The windows overlook the stadium and the practice field. Also, the magnitude of the locker room is impressive. The building also houses the cafeteria where we have two of our our chefs and a nutritionist.

808sand15 karma

What went through your mind when Crabtree got into the ends one against Texas as time expired?

Is that your favorite moment that you have been a part of on the football field, or is it something else?

MikeLeachAMA20 karma

That was a very good moment...probably the most dramatic one in Texas Tech history. In football, there are a lot of great moments and you are always looking forward to the next one.

sois11 karma

What does the eye rubbing/crying audible gesture about? I saw TTU QBs doing this and I think Wazzu QBs do it to. I think the coaches use this signal.

MikeLeachAMA42 karma

That is the signal for, sadly, our opponents are in trouble on this next play!

Istanbulbasaur11 karma

Hi coach Leach! First off thanks for doing this and for helping turn things around at my alma mater! Go Cougs!

My question: What characteristic of Geronimo's do you most look up to and how has he influenced your coaching?

edit: a word

MikeLeachAMA12 karma

I have read about and studied Geronimo for a long time since I was a child. In writing the book with Buddy Levy, and articulating a lot of these things, I discovered that I have been sharing a lot of these philosophies and stories with my teams for years. Among many others, Geronimo's life story illustrates that a lot of impossible things are possible, everybody can work harder than they think they can, everybody is tougher than they think they are, but it is starts with the proper preparation, attitude, and philosophy. One of the most exciting parts of writing the book was the opportunity to discover a lot of interesting specifics on what made the Apaches what they were.

rbad871710 karma

Hey Coach Where in Pullman can I get the book? Is the bookie going to have it? I hope I don't have to drive up grand to walmart...

MikeLeachAMA16 karma

The Bookie currently has it, so does Crimson and Gray, and you can get it on amazon.com!

It is also in all Barnes and Noble's and most airport book stores.

JustForFringe9 karma

Would you say being a couch for a state football team (go cougars) or writing a book is a greater accomplishment?

MikeLeachAMA15 karma

There is a lot of variety to life. Both are team efforts and I am proud that I have the opportunity to be a part of both of them. I do believe that coaching has opened the doors for me to write books.

kvnandrsn9 karma

First off, as a Coug, thanks for all you're doing with our program. Firmly believe we're headed in the right direction.

What was the experience of writing a biography like and do you have any others planned, maybe Teddy Roosevelt?

MikeLeachAMA8 karma

It was exciting because everybody through their life has a journey and there are a lot of lessons to be taken from it such as things to do and things to avoid. Seeing it through the eyes of another person in a different setting often helps you to reset your own priorities and goals. Nothing is currently planned for the future but I am excited for the next challenge.

ronschott8 karma

Hi coach, given that your last book was based around Geronimo, what do you think he would be putting his passion and strategy behind in today's world if he were alive?

Also, where's the best place to get a nice steak in Pullman/Moscow?

MikeLeachAMA23 karma

Geronimo's major focus would be on Washington State Football in Pullman, WA! The best place for a great steak in Pullman is Black Cypress.

Acousticboy128 karma

Hey coach, I have mad respect for your coaching styles. Do you think you're going to change it up a bit due to Halliday's performance last season? Oh, and GO COUGS!

MikeLeachAMA20 karma

I feel like we had a great Spring. We are going to continue to do the same things we have done and consistently get better. I think we have improved on the Offensive Line and Halliday has steadily improved as well. Go Cougs!

GO_riboflavin7 karma

How big of an influence is LaVell Edwards? What did you learn from him?

MikeLeachAMA15 karma

LaVell Edwards is a huge influence. Two of the most important things that LaVell brings to the table would be: (1) the offensive philosophy that they had at BYU for years and (2) his ability to balance the external distractions and to keep his team focused. He had the ability to not over-react to problems and make them bigger, but to quietly sort them out. He was a great balancer.

cj17356 karma

Coach, who wins in a battle, Godzilla or King Kong??

MikeLeachAMA36 karma

King Kong because he is much sharper looking and doesn't have to rely on that bogus ray that shoots out of his mouth.

ratsprah5 karma

Coffee or tea?

MikeLeachAMA16 karma

Green tea, China green tips. Tropical green tea is good also

808sand5 karma

What is your favorite tv show or book?

MikeLeachAMA7 karma

Overall: Gunsmoke. Currently, I like Fargo, Black List, Americans, Vikings, and Californication.

californi11115 karma

Can you comment on Sonny Dykes? Is he a good coach? Do you hate him or love him? Are you guys good buddies?

MikeLeachAMA7 karma

Sonny and I get along well. Sonny was my GA for two years and was an assistant coach for me for 7 years. I wish him the best except when they play the Cougs!

upinatdem5 karma

I have a simple question, what is your favorite time period of history?

MikeLeachAMA22 karma

It's like Paul Harvey said. He always had a big appreciation for nostalgia and events of the past. However, he was always quick to point out that tomorrow is better than yesterday.

Footballcoach974 karma

Reading 2nd level defenders on run plays has seen a huge increase. Is this a new wrinkle? Or has this been done before.

MikeLeachAMA11 karma

I think there is a bigger emphasis on it now than before. If you are not careful, it can become a distraction. It's a positive move if you keep it simple.

thebiglibrarian4 karma

Hey Coach, what would you say is your favorite book (other than your own) and why?

Thanks and good luck next season!

MikeLeachAMA9 karma

Difficult to say because there is a wide variety of books. I am currently reading a book about Bill Walsh written by Steve Jamison. Another good book I read recently is "Skinny Dip" by Carl Haissen.

sois4 karma

Cooler country: Spain or Austria?

MikeLeachAMA15 karma

Austria is awesome. I have been to the Barcelona area of Spain (Caledonia) but not to Madrid which I hear is quite different. I think that the countries are different enough that they both deserve a look. The coast helps Spain, the mountains help Austria.

Halaku4 karma

Mr. Leach, would you rather tackle one hundred duck-sized horses, or a single horse-sized duck?

MikeLeachAMA28 karma

It would clearly be easier to tackle the horse-sized duck!

pfelon3 karma

Will you be touring or signing copies of the book? My guess would be no because you're so busy with coaching, but I figured I'd ask.

MikeLeachAMA10 karma

Just got off of a signing tour but you never know! Buy the book, read it, and come get it signed!

NotMittRomney2 karma

Hey coach, huge fan here.

Does coaching at WSU, near an ocean, help soothe your pirate soul? And who's your favorite pirate?

MikeLeachAMA17 karma

The most exciting pirate is Edward Teach (Blackbeard). Probably the most productive one, and someone I would be fascinated to study more closely, would be Bartholomew Roberts.