The episode, uh, news conference, in which Mike Leach, in true Leachian fashion, goes on a 10-minute rant explaining why college football needs an expanded playoff system.
In light of UW coach Chris Petersen’s feud with ESPN over the late kickoff times UW and the Pac-12 teams have been getting, Washington State’s Mike Leach was asked for his opinion on the subject.
In classic Leach fashion, this conversation about the pros and cons of late kickoff times during his Monday news conference led into a 10-minute soliloquy by the Cougars’ head coach about how college football needs to expand its playoff system.
But more on that later. First, this subject about late kickoff times that has led to Petersen’s ongoing feud with ESPN.
Leach says he doesn’t have a problem with late kickoffs.
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This is not surprising. Leach, after all, is a known night owl who’s legendary for the weird work hours he keeps. So he’s fine with 7:30 p.m. kickoffs, and disputes the notion that there’s an East Coast media bias that adversely affects West Coast teams hoping to get into the College Football Playoff or get their players national exposure when it comes to the biggest awards.
“I’ve been to the East Coast. The bars there don’t close till 4 a.m. because they’re planning to stay up late,” Leach said Monday. “I honestly don’t care. I’ll play at what time they want.”
He does, however, concede some kickoff times are more preferable to others.
“These games at 10 a.m. are ridiculous,” Leach said. “Anyone who wants to play at 10 a.m. is out of their mind. And anyone who wants to play after 8 (p.m.) is out of their mind. … Here, we play a lot of 7:30 p.m. games. Which is fine. I don’t care. But the best time to have a game is between 2 and 4 p.m.”
Leach was then posed a question about whether later TV kickoff times result in less exposure for his team because many voters for, say, the Heisman Trophy, are in the Eastern time zone.
“If someone is gonna be a Heisman voter, they have a little bit of responsibility to do their homework. Otherwise, they shouldn’t be allowed to vote,” Leach said. “If they do, in fact, fancy themselves a football enthusiast …. It’s probably their obligation to make it their business to see these games.”
Leach isn’t sold on the notion that there’s an intentional East Coast bias. He thinks it’s more a matter of where media centers are concentrated in America. He also singles out the Los Angeles-based Pac-12 schools as teams that get more coverage.
“I think it’s related to media base, you got a lot of viewers and reporters and newspapers out there on the East Coast. People around them, their beat writers, the (players and teams) they’re most familiar with are gonna get the most attention,” Leach said. “The Los Angeles teams always get more attention than any other teams in the conference regardless of how they play. … If you’re in a big media base, you’re gonna get more coverage.”
OK, here comes Leach’s big, spontaneous “expand the college football playoff, darn it” rant.
Evan Closky of KREM has the video of his diatribe here:
However, I’ll also summarize Leach’s views and then let you read the transcript of this portion of his news conference for yourself because it’s simply too good for me to sit here and cherry pick quotes out of it.
Main takeaways from Leach’s Monday “Expand the Playoff” rant:
- It’s ridiculous that FBS football is the only level of the game from high school to the pros that can’t figure out a way to have a true, legitimate playoff.
- Leach’s idea of a true, legitimate playoff would be a 64-team bracket, but he thinks it should be at least a 16-team field, and makes the case that this could be easily accomplished.
- He says it’s silly that college football cedes the month of December to the NFL when they could easily be playing playoff games that would be the talk of the country.
- He doesn’t buy the narrative that too many games would result in poor ratings.
- He also doesn’t buy the argument that the bowl committees would never go for an expanded playoff. To Leach, there are ways to get the bowls involved in the playoff that would be a win-win situation for all involved.
Now, here’s the transcript of Mike Leach’s 10-minute long, sarcasm-loaded grand plan outlining why and how FBS college football should just get with the program and expand the playoff system to at least 16 teams.
Be sure to at least read till his Huckleberry Finn reference.
Then read until Sharon, Leach’s wife, makes a cameo, because she, like many others, gets very engrossed in ESPN’s Thursday night college football games.
Transcript of Mike Leach’s 1,470-word pitch for College Football Playoff expansion
Edited, with parentheses added for clarity.
MIKE LEACH (unprompted):
But I think they’d solve nearly all these (perceived East Coast bias) questions if they have an expanded playoff system, which I started talking about when I was an assistant at Kentucky. If you had (an expanded playoff), I think 64 teams but I think the minimum 16. If you have 16 teams we can settle a lot of these issues. Doesn’t matter what the East Coast or Los Angeles or what anybody in between thinks. Oh geez, No. 16 beat No. 4? Well screw No. 4, No. 16 got them.
And then 32 (teams) – you could easily do 32. And then the most stunning thing – and I give this lecture three times every year, then college football, they scratch their head and give a befuddled, mixed up look and get a really screwy expression on their face like, “How can that possibly be? How can we do that? How is it possible you can actually have a playoff format in college football?” Well gee, I don’t know. We can go down to the local city park and someone in youth football could tell you how to do something like that. Well that’s too low of a scale. Let’s move it up a little bit. OK, how about high school football in a major state? Let’s say Texas, Florida or California. Let’s see how they do it. They win a certain number of games, there’s some minimum qualifications, and then, boom now they’re in a playoff. But they don’t just have four teams in a playoff, hell no, because they want people to have fun and enjoy this thing so they have 16 or 32 or 64 or something like that.
OK, then they play each other and everybody’s on the edge of their seat waiting to see if this team is gonna beat that team, and that team is gonna beat the other team. So then in the end, there’s occasionally a debate “if this team hadn’t lost to that team in this round, perhaps this team could have won the whole thing.” And OK, perhaps that’s true, but the thing that is indisputable is that at the end of the gauntlet, this team came out No. 1. And there’s no debate whatsoever on who’s state champion.
Then you can go to Division III and let’s see how they do it. Oh, they do it the exact same way. Now the suspense is really starting to get thick. Because, you know, Division II might do it differently. No in fact they don’t. They do it exactly – EXACTLY, boys and girls – like Division III does.
And now they’ve changed the initials. Because in this era of political correctness, they love to change the initials and make it proper to say one thing instead of another. I forget what the initials are. Then they go to I-AA – how do they do it in I-AA? Because that’s getting really close to us and we’re real sophisticated because we’re major I-A. How do they do it in I-AA? You know what, they have a playoff format, and they figure it out!
(Here’s the Huck Finn reference…. in 3, 2, 1 …. )
And then, OK, OK, OK but they’re all below us. What about above us? The N-F-L? And that just makes you feel good to roll those initials off your tongue. It’s like Huckleberry Finn said, “some days I just have to swear to get a good taste in my mouth.” So N-F-L. Now that makes my mouth feel good. Because that’s the best and they’re at the top.
Let’s see here, how do they figure out their champion? Well, they in fact organize a playoff system. And how many teams are in there? Well a hell of a lot more than four. And then they sort it all out, they have one battle after the next and at the end they sort out a champion, it’s called the Super Bowl. There’s not interest diminished because people are captivated by the playoff. And the biggest sporting event every year in the history of the world is The. Super. Bowl.
OK any questions?
Reporter: How many regular season games would teams play with a 16-team playoff?
OK, so in major college, in big high school states, usually a champion plays 16. So I think your target point is 16. Shoot for 16. And then, that’s what Divions II ends up to. Division III maybe it’s 15. I-AA usually its 16, major high school its 16. The NFL is more than that. I think our target is 16. You shoot for 16 (in a playoff)
And the other thing I think college foolishly does, is they just give the NFL December. And I mean, there’s no sense in that. You could be having playoff games there in December and everybody could potentially live happily ever after.
And then the other thing is you could even sort the schedule in such a way where half of America has an off week one week, and the other half has an off week the next week and you’d never have to play somebody after the off week.
If you wanted to go 64, which I think would be brilliant, (play) 10 regular season games. But everybody is guaranteed 12 for their budget. Play your 10 regular season games, and then get to 64. And then halfway in between the 10 regular season games, say between Week 5 or 6, half the country is off, half the country is playing. Then the other half is off, and half the country is playing. You have a built-in break.
So then as you get toward the end of the season, some teams know they’re not gonna make the 64. So you have a week off to select the 64. So on that week off, a couple teams that know they’re not gonna make 64, for one of their 12 games they schedule it so it’s like somebody, say, on the West Coast plays somebody way on the East Coast so we could sort out all this East Coast bias stuff we’re talking about. Maybe that team could get to the bottom of it and we would all be rich by what they discovered.
Then, after they get done doing that and you’ve sorted the 64 and several (non-playoff field) teams have done one of their additional games. The first of the 64 go home and (play) somebody local, within your region. You do something nearby. Depending how the season goes – maybe Oregon vs. Utah State. The team with the worse record has to come to your place first and you play a home-and-home.
After that, you get the bowls involved. But you’re at the bowls for a shorter period of time. But the bowls know how to put on big games. Then the bowls, the number works out almost perfectly for the additional playoff games. Then you get the bowls involved and there’s other locations. I do think there should be some more northern (bowl) locations as we sort this out.
So then, about halfway through that playoff system you have another break, and then teams that haven’t finished their 12 games could play during that period of time.
(Here’s the Sharon Leach cameo. Coming right up….)
And I get a kick out of it — it’s just comical — they say, “nobody would watch those games” Oh baloney. I mean, my wife would watch them. I go home after a hard day’s work and there’s something on, on a Thursday. You want to know where the sandwich stuff is and where the grocery stuff is, well you can’t because she’s watching a game, I mean there’s a game on, on Thursday, somebody in the MAC is playing on Thursday. And oh my gosh, are they gonna score or are they gonna stop them? I don’t know, but I know this – I’m not gonna be able to sort out where the groceries are anytime soon on that because I don’t go in the kitchen that much,so I’m just pulling cupboard doors open.
Heck yeah they’d watch. And they’d watch a lot and you could make the matchups real interesting and everything else.
So you get back to the playoff. You could get it all done by January 1 or sooner, depending on how you did it. You could even just map out the weeks so it works out pretty easy. The other thing is, heck yeah people would watch. And if something is riding on the game, people would select teams like they do in basketball, and dark horses and teams they want. They’d have little sheets with office pools and everything else. And they’d either laugh and taunt their friends or the other way around as their team did well. Yeah, it’d be fantastic.
And there’s no disputing they’d make a lot more money, it’s just who gets the money, and I think that’s the biggest rub on the whole thing.
Does college football need an NFL-style commissioner? If so, Leach should be on the list of people they call about the job.