- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 1, 2008

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — With a little more than 24 hours remaining before his Red Raiders face Virginia in the Gator Bowl, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach’s mind was far from football. Dressed in an incongruous outfit of wrinkled khaki pants, a black Under Armour T-shirt and a blue blazer, Leach recalled his favorite childhood Halloween costumes to a group of reporters that had gathered around him the back corner of an empty hotel ballroom.

“I had some really cool costumes — I was a vampire one time, with a cape that my mom made out of a dyed sheet,” Leach said. “I had another one, kind of a Grim Reaper kind of thing, it really looked good — whole sheet and the robe and all that, but it wasn’t as fun for trick or treating because my face got all sweaty under the mask.

Once again, Leach was blown off topic like a wandering West Texas wind. The subject of ghoulish garb grew from a previous discussion of pirates, one of Leach’s many unconventional fields of interest.

Leach proceeded to tell the group how as he matured, he became more of a “bottom line” trick-or-treater, donning simpler, less traditional outfits to increase his confectionary haul.

Just like his strategy on Halloween, Leach’s modus operandi as a head coach has always defied convention.

During his eight winning seasons at Tech, Leach has lured blue-chip recruits with card tricks, motivated his players with pre-game speeches about storming the Jolly Roger and forged a friendship with Donald Trump. His throw-at-all-costs offense has re-written the record book and produced some entertaining games.

Perhaps that should be expected from Leach, one of only three Division I coaches who did not play college football (he played rugby at BYU) and the only one to hold a law degree (he graduated in the top third of his class at Pepperdine). His success earned him consideration for the vacant UCLA job earlier in the month, but Leach seemed disinterested when asked about someday seeking greener pastures.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Leach said. “I’m perfectly happy right where I am.”

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