STARKVILLE — Mike Leach, famous for his viral rants almost as much as his Air Raid attack, is consistent in his opinions.
Candy corn? Trash.
College Football Playoff? Expand it to 64.
Kickers? Put your goals in the field.
So when the Mississippi State football coach was asked Monday to share marriage advice, Leach gave the usual advice to third quarterback Chance Lovertich, who proposed to his fiancé after MSU’s win against Memphis.
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“Sounds like I’m too late,” Leach began. “…First tip, leave. Just eliminate all the family input, the aggravation, the constant changing of course that comes with planning weddings, and the stress and pressure that almost drives people to divorce before they even start.
“The second would be if you’re not going to get away, let’s definitely make it by the week. You can spend your honeymoon a little during the week.
Lovertich perfectly set the scene for his coach’s return to the Pac-12, though that’s probably not what he had in mind when he asked the life-changing question.
Contrary to his views, the inconsistency has damaged Leach’s reputation as a coach. His huge upsets, like MSU’s win at Texas A&M last season, are often countered by big blunders, like MSU’s loss at Memphis two weeks ago.
The 2017 season, when Leach went viral for his marriage advice, is a fitting example. The Washington State Cougars went 9-4 and were ranked in the AP poll each week.
Washington State knocked off a top-five USC team as part of a 6-0 start, but lost by 34 two weeks later to five-win Cal. Leach also lost the Apple Cup to a solid Washington team that season – one of his seven losses in eight attempts against the opposition.
He can’t worry about trying to get his first Egg Bowl win just yet, but he could take a step Saturday to avoid any unnecessary losses in a brutal 2022 schedule.
Already beat Memphis is resounding fashion. Now it must back it up with a trip to Arizona, where FanDuel Sportsbook has Mississippi State as an 11½-point favorite.
“They are much improved,” Leach said. “The fourth is the key position for them. They have some skill that can hurt you. They are big offensively and defensively. They’ve had some key signings that I think are helping them. It’s a little bit unpredictable what they’re going to do because their defensive staff hasn’t been together before.”
The biggest transfer addition for the Wildcats is Jayden de Laura.
The former Washington quarterback committed to play for Leach in 2019, three months before he left for MSU. Leach complemented de Laura’s accuracy, efficiency in getting rid of the ball, feet and competitiveness.
It’s more of a challenge than expected when the Wildcats finished 1-11 last season, but the spread is where it is for a reason. Mississippi State is an SEC school looking to take a step forward from their seven-win season. Arizona is a Pac-12 team hoping to make it to a bowl.
Fresh off a contract extension with one of the most experienced squads in the country at his disposal, there will be no excuses. He cannot marry a reputation for inconsistency.
Stefan Krajisnik is the Mississippi beat writer for the Clarion Ledger. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @skrajisnik3.
This article originally appeared in the Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Why Mississippi State football, Mike Leach can’t afford to lose at Arizona