He graduated from Cody High School before studying at BYU, where he closely followed the exploits of the BYU Cougars. The Cougars, guided by head coach Lavell Edwards and offensive coordinator Norm Chow, played a pass-oriented offense. Leach graduated in 1983 with a B.S. in American Studies.
In 1986, Leach earned a law degree from Pepperdine. Leach is also one of the most prominent graduates of the US Sports Academy, from which he earned a Master's of Sports Science/Coaching in 1988. Leach is married with four children. He was raised a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Leach is atypical among NCAA Division One head football coaches, as he did not play football at the college level. He is one of only four such coaches, with Mark Mangino at Kansas, Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech, and Charlie Weis at Notre Dame.
Leach is known for building some very potent offenses, directing very prolific passing-oriented teams that have broken school and NCAA records at Valdosta State, Kentucky, Oklahoma, where he was offensive coordinator under Hal Mummie and Bob Stoops, respectively, and Texas Tech, where he became head coach in 2000. Leach's spread offense relies heavily on passing and he has seen several of his quarterbacks post NCAA records. At Kentucky he tutored prospect Tim Couch into a No.1 NFL Draft Pick. At Oklahoma, Josh Heupel became an NFL draft pick following a year under Leach's tutelage.
At the end of the 2007 season, Leach was 65–37 with the Red Raiders, including 6–2 against the Texas A&M Aggies and 1–7 against the Texas Longhorns. With a 5–3 record, he is the all-time winningest coach in postseason play in Tech football history. Leach is one of only sixteen active college football coaches who have never had a losing season. Of those, he is among nine who have been a head coach for at least five season.
In August 2006, Leach signed a five-year contract with Texas Tech that will pay him at least $10 million if he stays in place through 2010. Leach's guaranteed compensation will be $1.6 million in 2006, $1.65 million in 2007, $1.75 million in 2008, $1.85 million in 2009 and $2.15 million in 2010.
Leach is putting together his best season overall in 2008. The win two weeks ago over the previously #1 ranked Texas Longhorns have propelled the Red Raiders two #2 in the country behind Alabama.
In 2007 the Big 12 fined Leach $10,000, the largest fine in Big 12 history. Leach also received a reprimand and was warned that further violations could result in suspension. In a Big 12 coaches' conference call that day, Leach added that he does not regret making any of the comments. Leach announced that he would appeal the fine. Tech alumni and fans began raising money to aid Leach in paying the penalty in the event that it was upheld. Optionally, the proceeds raised could be used charitably. So, just before Christmas 2007, Leach requested that the nearly $5,000 raised to that point be spent on 400 hams to be given free to families in Lubbock.
Following the 2008 Gator Bowl, in which Virgina scored twice on penalties against Tech for intentional grounding in the end zone, Leach joked, "I felt like we had a back there on the one safety, but I don't comment on officiating. I just give out hams is what I do."
The last time Washington had a job opening Leach sent his resume in and applied for the job but was never interviewed or considered by Todd Turner who was the athletic director at Washington at that time. Leach counts Lavell Edwards and Don James among the coaches who are his personal idols.
Leach won't be at Tech next year. He is going to use this season as a sprigboard to get out of Lubbock. He is rumored to be a top candidate for the Tennessee job if Phil Fulmer is fired. Leach would prefer to live West of the Rockies and he still covets the Washington job according to insiders. He feels Washington is one of the two programs in the West that can annually compete for a national championship.
Mike's Quirky Side
When Texas Tech coach Mike Leach was given a possible pirate name for himself, "High-pitched Bart," he responded with his usual swashbuckling-type comments.
"I have a low-pitched voice though," Leach said. "One time when a person mistook me for Vince Gill, this is after it had happened a couple of times, finally she says, 'Your voice sounds different.' I said, 'Yeah, it's more high-pitched when I sing.'"
Mike Leach and Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill, it is said, would spend hours in his bathrobe, dictating letters and speeches to his staff.
Mike Leach, who these days is reading a book of anecdotes about Churchill between planning sessions to overthrow Texas, Oklahoma, the Big 12 South and the greater football universe beyond, receives guests while wearing a sweat shirt, shorts and flip-flops.
Now, does this sartorial comparison make sense? Perhaps, in the same way that Leach makes sense when he answers a question about Texas coach Mack Brown in a fashion that praises Brown’s penchant for organization or his latent potential as an interior designer, based on your interpretation.
On being a Pirate
"How come they get to pretend they are soldiers?" he asked. "The thing is, they aren't actually in the military. I ought to have Mike's Pirate School. The freshmen, all they get is the bandanna. When you're a senior, you get the sword and skull and crossbones. For homework, we'll work pirate maneuvers and stuff like that."
Do you think Mike Leach would be a good fit at Washington?
One thing is for sure is if he was offered the Washington job he would take it and I don't think he would have any problem turning this program around pronto. If you can win big in Lubbock you can win big in Seattle.
I am not saying he is my top choice...yet...but the more I read about this guy the more I like him.
You think the Seafair Pirates wouldn't mind hanging out with this guy! Could you imagine the head football coach at the University of Washington donning his pirate garb for a trip down Fourth Avenue in Seattle during the Torchlight Parade?