Mississippi State Athletic Director John Cohen might have felt a little pressure from the Bulldogs faithful last week, but in the end Cohen delivered just as he did on the baseball field as a Bulldog player. In baseball terms, Cohen hit a grand slam. I have followed Mike Leach’s career since his days as head coach of Texas Tech. I have never met him, but I am a fan. Just two years ago, I stayed up past midnight every Saturday night watching Leach’s team, the Washington State Cougars, and his Mississippi quarterback, Gardner Minshew, light up the scoreboard.

Leach’s offense has been described as basketball on grass. He teamed with former Kentucky head coach Hal Mumme over two decades ago to help bring this type of offensive football to Division 1 football, and the sport has never been the same. Unlike your old school run-based offense, this offense relies on throwing the ball from the shotgun formation, spreading the field and spreading the wealth to all the skill players. It gains its edge on mismatches. The spread offense forces opposing defensive units to cover more space, and it gives smaller teams a fighting chance against more physical teams.

The concept came from LaVell Edwards and the offense of the BYU Cougars from the 1970s. Leach led his “Air Raid” offense at Texas Tech to 10 bowl games in ten years. When you do not have the talent and depth of an Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Georgia or Florida, you have to find something to give yourself a fighting chance, and over the years this offense has given his teams a fighting chance. 

Leach’s teams usually throw 70 percent of the time so the “Air Raid” and the head Pirate himself have docked in Starkville. Stay tuned. It should be fun for the MSU faithful and the state of Mississippi.

Basketball teams coming up short

The three Division One men’s teams are having a hard time in conference play. Southern Miss is 0-4 in their conference play while Ole Miss is 0-2 and MSU is 0-3 in SEC play. Ole Miss and MSU are both 9-6 overall while Southern Miss is 4-13. Ole Miss will play at home on Saturday night hosting LSU after traveling to Florida on Tuesday. Southern Miss has home games against North Texas on Thursday and Rice on Saturday while MSU begins a three-game home stand that began on Tuesday against Missouri.

Jackson State took care of Alcorn this past weekend. The Tigers are now 5-11 overall while the Braves are now 5-9 entering the week. Mississippi College’s record stands at 6-8, Belhaven’s at 6-7 and Delta State’s at 7-8 while William Carey is off to another typical Crusader season at 13-5 overall.

The Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs won their 14th straight road game and stand at 15-2 overall and 3-0 in SEC play. They will host LSU this Thursday. Ole Miss is 0-4 in league play and 7-10 overall while Southern Miss is off to a 10-4 mark and 2-1 in C-USA play.

Odds & Ends

*Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this past Sunday. Johnson started his coaching career at Picayune High School in 1966 as a defensive line coach.

*Former Mississippi State football player Joe Judge was named the head coach of the New York Giants.

*Former Ole Miss football star Dexter McCluster joins former Rebels quarterback Eagle Day in the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame.

*The City of Vicksburg will host a downtown parade for the Alcorn Braves football team Sunday. The Braves won their second straight SWAC championships and 17th in school history.

Dale has been writing sports in Mississippi since 1973.

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