Here at Terps Watch, we’re big fans of counterfactuals. That’s why we reflected on what Maryland football’s season would’ve been like if Tyrrell Pigrome had stayed healthy. We concluded that Maryland probably would’ve gone 7-5 and made it to the Pinstripe Bowl, where Iowa is set to face Boston College later this month.
Heading to Yankee Stadium would’ve been pretty sweet, especially after Rutgers jerked Maryland around earlier this year. But it’d be even better to go to the Holiday Bowl, which will feature two 9-3 teams this year — Michigan State, and Washington State. And the Terps might’ve been in the Cougars’ place right now, if it weren’t for one interview.
Let’s take a step back. In 2010, Maryland football decided to head in a different direction after 10 years of Ralph Friedgen. Among the candidates to lead the program was Mike Leach, who had compiled an impressive resume at Texas Tech. During his 10 seasons with the Red Raiders, Leach never finished with a losing record; even though he was fired in 2009, Kevin Anderson and co. understandably wanted him to come to College Park.
But as AL.com’s John Talty wrote on Wednesday, Leach fell out of favor with Maryland after he actually interviewed for the head coach position. The school’s search committee — made up of donors and various university employees — didn’t take kindly to Leach’s style during their interview, Talty wrote.
“I’ve interviewed a lot of people for jobs in my career,” a member of the search committee told Talty, “and that was one of the more bizarre interviews. You’d ask him a question, and he would just start talking and keep talking. … You are sitting there thinking, ‘When is he going to get to the answer?’ And then he says, ‘Oh wait, I’m rambling. What was the question again?'”
Here’s the thing about Mike Leach: The man likes to ramble. You might have seen this viral clip from last month, in which — for no apparent reason — he takes more than two minutes to lament the insanity that accompanies weddings:
It’s rivalry week. #WSU is one win away from the @pac12 title game.
But a reporter getting married in 9 days asked @Coach_Leach for wedding advice tonight, and Leach’s answer was incredible. I’m dying. ???????????? pic.twitter.com/alhOiWd9Tv
— Aaron Levine (@AaronQ13Fox) November 22, 2017
And that’s just who he is! Leach has flaming takes on everything from candy corn to Bigfoot. Sure, maybe he’s a tad unhinged, but that comes with the package — and the package is a pretty great one as a whole.
Leach ended up joining Washington State before the 2012 season. While the team had some hiccups during the early part of his tenure, it’s come on strong in recent years, thanks to Leach’s Air Raid offense. The Cougars finished 9-4 in 2015 and 8-5 in 2016, and the AP poll has them ranked No. 21 heading into their matchup with Michigan State.
Meanwhile, the Terps have struggled as of late — following four-plus years and a 22-34 record from Randy Edsall, the team brought in DJ Durkin, who’s gone 10-15 in two seasons at the helm. Maryland could’ve had Leach (or Gus Malzahn, the current coach of 10-3 Auburn, who Talty wrote didn’t want to interview with the Terps unless they gave him a job offer). Instead, it’s been one losing signal-caller after another.
We’re not saying Leach’s botched interview was the reason the Terps went 4-8 this season and the Cougars went 9-3. We can never know for sure what would’ve happened if Leach had come to College Park (or if Pigrome had stayed healthy). Still, it would’ve been nice to see him get a shot with Maryland. Maybe the Terps would be taking the Spartans’ place in the Holiday Bowl, or maybe we would’ve just had some more entertaining sound bites along the way.