by John Marcase
Dec 18, 2022
Leach was "always a great interview"
In 2015, Alexandria Senior High football coach Thomas Bachman arrived to do his weekly radio show with host Doug Gann.
During one of the segments, the then first-year ASH coach heard a familiar voice -- Mike Leach. “Doug got him to call in to the radio show,” said Bachman. “They surprised me.” Gann, the proprietor of this website, 446sports.com, and economic development director for the City of Pineville, said he was surprised Leach, then coaching at Washington State, not only agreed to the phone interview, but that he actually remembered Bachman.“He remembered him and even shared a pretty good story about a feisty Thomas Bachman,” said Gann. “I reached out to them and I was surprised it actually happened. If the time (zone) wasn’t as drastic, he would’ve been live on the show.”That Leach could remember Bachman isn’t surprising, considering the numerous stories that have been shared this past week in the wake of Leach’s shocking death Tuesday after he suffered a serious health issue at his home in Starkville, Miss., Sunday.The tributes to Leach have been unending. The tributes are remarkable.“I just think of all the people who got their start with Coach Leach who are brilliant,” said Bachman. “The older I got, the more respect I had for him.”Leach had just completed his third season at Mississippi State, his third head coaching job.His first head coaching job came in 2000 at Texas Tech University, which is where he came across a talented wide receiver out of Shreveport’s Evangel Christian School in Bachman.Bachman graduated early in December 2001. That January, he enrolled at Texas Tech and joined the football program as a wide receiver.When Bachman took the field for his first spring practice in Lubbock, Texas, he shared the field with seven future college or NFL head coaches:-- Fifth-year quarterback Kliff Kingsburgy (Arizona Cardinals, Texas Tech), -- Former fifth-string QB turned student assistant Lincoln Riley (Southern Cal, Oklahoma)-- Outside receivers coach Sonny Dykes (TCU, SMU, Cal, La. Tech)-- Inside receivers coach Dana Holgorsen (Houston, West Virginia) -- Running backs coach Art Briles (Baylor, Houston)-- Graduate assistant Dave Aranda (Baylor)-- Third-string quarterback Sonny Cumbie (La. Tech) “Coach Leach’s coaching tree is really incredible,” said Bachman. “His influence on college football is just tremendous.”Leach’s coaching tree also includes West Virginia’s Neal Brown, Tennessee’s Josh Heupel, Nevada’s Ken Wilson and former North Texas coach Seth Littrell.And, it includes Bachman, who led ASH within an overtime, two-point conversion of the 2020 Class 5A state championship. “How we presented and practiced in Lubbock, Texas, in 2002 is how we present today,” said Bachman. “It’s still the same as under Coach Leach.”Leach, along with his mentor, Hal Mumme, developed and perfected what would become the “Air Raid” offense in the late 1980s and 1990s. That offense has permeated nearly every facet of the sport since, with the exception of any Les Miles coached team, and the Naval Academy.National college football writer Pat Forde paid tribute to Leach by noting he may be the most influential figure in college football history, certainly within the past 40 years. Leach and Mumme turned Kentucky into a winner. Leach guided Bob Stoops’ offense at Oklahoma in Stoops’ first season with the Sooners. OU’s program hasn’t been the same since. Then, it was off to Texas Tech, where Bachman saw why Leach famously didn’t need an offensive playbook two feet thick. All Leach needed was 19 core plays.“Execution was more important than scheme,” said Bachman. “When I would watch Mississippi State, I would see the same concepts he taught all those many years ago. He was brilliant.”Those 19 plays had unlimited options for the quarterback, receivers and running backs. Why did it work?“It was repeated repetition of everything,” said Bachman.Bachman left Texas Tech after 2½ seasons, transferring to Louisiana College and finishing his college career under Dennis Dunn, his former high school coach.Leach would leave Texas Tech after being fired over his alleged mistreatment of Adam James. He sat out a couple of seasons before coaching Washington State for eight seasons and then Miss. State for three seasons. Despite coaching three programs with limited resources in three of the Power 5 conferences, Leach’s teams won nearly 60 percent of the time. In 19 of 21 seasons, his teams played in a bowl game. His influence on football will continue, as long as his former assistants and players continue to lead their own programs.“The thing I’ll always remember is he was honest and gave great effort,” said Bachman. “He was consistent -- it was about a personal approach, practice and preparation. You knew what you were getting into every single day.”