Having played high school football in Cody, Wyo., Leach enrolled at BYU in 1979, majoring in American studies with no plans of becoming a coach. While he chafed about the school's standards prohibiting long hair, Leach enjoyed his experience in Provo. He tells stories about playing rugby, attending football games and living in Helaman Halls and the King Henry Apartments.
Years later, after graduating from Pepperdine Law School, he decided to coach. Leach and his boss, Hal Mumme, regularly visited BYU to study the offensive playbook while working at Iowa Wesleyan and Valdosta State.
Mumme had become enamored with BYU's offense and hired Leach, who coached a Finnish semipro team in a succession of entry-level jobs, "because he had BYU on his résumé," Mumme said. The two worked together for 10 seasons, including a successful stint at Kentucky, before Leach moved to Oklahoma as offensive coordinator and then became Texas Tech's coach in 2000. He was fired amid controversy after posting an 84-43 record with 10 bowl appearances in 10 seasons and breaking all kinds of records.
Leach's history of offensive production is "just phenomenal," said Mumme, who now coaches at Division II McMurry University in Texas. "I'm sure he'll do the same at Washington State."
Leach never has coached against BYU, but that will happen soon. His debut as WSU's coach is Aug. 30 in Provo.