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Ruffin McNeill reflects on Mike Leach

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December 13, 2022 4:30 pm

Ruffin McNeill reflects on Mike Leach

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold

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December 13, 2022 4:30 pm

NC State assistant football coach Ruffin McNeill, who coached under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, discussed the passing of Leach, how unique of a personality Leach was, and how his offensive coaching philosophy impacted modern day offenses as we know it.


This is the Adam Gold Show. The U.S. Department of Justice has produced evidence showing that there were bribes of the FIFA voters. That's obviously against the rules, so they got it with corruption. And there were other issues in terms that they couldn't host it during the summer like they originally said they would, because it was going to be 120 degrees.

There were plenty of reasons not to have this World Cup in Qatar, but I always felt like it was going to happen. And here we are and it's happening. This is the Adam Gold Show. It's the Adam Gold Show.

I am Adam Gold. Dennis Cox is sitting in for Victoria today. That was Grant Wall in the open of the program. He passed away on Saturday, actually Friday night, he passed away in Qatar covering the World Cup.

And I guess that's the theme of the week, huh? We lost Paul Silas also over the weekend, former Hornets, former Cleveland Cavaliers and other coaches. He's coached for a while in the NBA, former NBA player. So we lost Paul Silas as well. And whether it was late last night or early this morning, we lost Mike Leach, the most recently head coach of Mississippi State.

They're getting ready for a bowl game. And they just won the Egg Bowl three weeks ago. So it's almost three weeks, three weeks ago now.

So they won the they won the Egg Bowl. So it's and that happened quickly. I mean, it they were they were preparing and all of a sudden he was in the hospital and then it turned it went from he wasn't feeling well to. You know, pray for Mike Leach almost, you know, within it seemed like five hours and came out of nowhere. Yeah. So but they said it was due to a heart condition.

Sixty one years old. Mike Leach passed away. So we'll have some of that today.

But there's a lot of other things to discuss. We got hurricanes hockey tonight against a very difficult, very good offensive opponent in the Detroit Red Wings. Also an opponent that just for not I wouldn't say for some reason they've had talent. And they've also had size gives Carolina a hard time. The Red Wings have given the Hurricanes a hard time.

Adam Ernie. That guy has five career goals in 14 games against the Hurricanes. He's just a big depth forward and has given Carolina some trouble. He's only got four goals this year. He's got five in his career and 14 games against Carolina.

So he's not really a big scorer, but against the Hurricanes, he's done some big scoring. So we got a lot of things to do today. Let's start.

All right, let's get right to it. Mike Leach passed away, 861, 158 wins, three time conference coach of the year, twice in the Pac-12 with Washington State, once in the Big 12 with Texas Tech. He's won the coach one. There's so many National Coach of the Year awards, but he won a National Coach of the Year award in 2018 with the Cougars. The thing about Leach is that he was a Texas Tech, then Washington State, then Mississippi State. He essentially took three mid-tier Power Five conference schools. I mean, nobody's going to call Texas Tech a power within their league. And nobody would say that about Washington State and nobody would say that about Mississippi State. There have been times where Washington State was excellent. Right in the Ryan Leaf era or in the Drew Bledsoe era, there those they were competing for or at times winning a conference championship. And Texas Tech at times, they want to think he won 11 games there twice at Texas Tech. So there were times where they had excellent teams, but for the most part, they were mid, I'll just say, mid table teams in those leagues. I think Cliff Kingsbury was his quarterback at Texas Tech.

Yes. So the coaching tree is Cliff Kingsbury, Lincoln Riley, Sonny Dykes, Dana Holgerson. And the common theme all of with all of them is prolific offensive minds, sometimes a little goofy, which is the best way to describe Mike Leach. The air raid offense is certainly an offense that will be fun to watch and will get you to a certain point, probably. But it's hard to get over the line with that offense because it is so dependent without tweaking it. And I think Lincoln Riley has tweaked it plenty.

But without tweaking it, it's hard to get over the line and become an absolute champion if you're just doing that. It just it. And that's really what has eluded Mike Leach, even though he has had some spectacular, spectacular seasons. But here's the thing about Leach. And we'll hear from Ryan McGee here in a second about Mike Leach. In a sport which has increasingly become absent coaches with personality, Mike Leach was almost a goofball. He exuded different. He was willing to engage in the silly and had opinions on everything.

And you'll hear that throughout the show today. Here's Ryan McGee from ESPN on what college football will miss. What I love about college football is the uniqueness of it. And no one to me was a better example of that than Mike Leach. It's the characters and it's the people.

And ultimately, in college football, you're rooting for laundry, right? Because you only get these guys for a few years and then they move on to the league or they move on just out of football. But the constants are the coaches. And no offense to most of the other guys, it gets a little cookie cutter.

Right. You're dealing with kind of the same guy that learned from this guy who learned from that guy. And everybody in that Mike Leach, how mummy air raid tree, they're all kind of goofy.

You know, they all kind of do things their own way. And so to me, Mike Leach was kind of the ultimate example. You didn't have to agree with him. He certainly was not without his controversies. He certainly was not without his detractors. But no one didn't enjoy talking to him or debating with him. Everyone enjoyed talking football with him.

Yeah. And again, you can engage him in almost any conversation. And he was like a lot of coaches would like if you asked Nick Saban about candy corn, Nick Saban would, you know.

No, you have he has no time for your your silliness. None. Mike Leach has time for your silliness. And maybe it's because because first of all, I think a guy like Leach is super smart. Right.

He is super smart about football. And a lot of those eccentric people also think about a lot of other things that might be silly, like candy corn. Right.

But they have opinions and just goofy ideas on the rest of the world. And I think that's what kind of made Mike Leach in some ways lovable. We'll talk more about that.

Ruffin McNeil is actually going to join us in just a few minutes. Real quick about the offense. Todd McShea from ESPN on what made the offense different. If you talk to any of those quarterbacks about the system, he found a way to make a new offense and something that was so high powered, so simple on the quarterback. You know, it wasn't like 15 words of verbiage in every play call. It wasn't these like complicated full field reads, even though they had some of those things. But just for the quarterback, it was like, if this is here, go there.

If this is not there, go here. It was really simple, and that allowed them to go fast and allowed them to kind of shock defenses with the tempo and pace and how spread out they were. And it was you prepare for all these offenses, but then, you know, you kind of circle.

All right, we got air raid this week and we we've got to kind of change everything we're thinking and doing to prepare for that. Meet the one for all card, perfect for Aunt Edith, your dog walker, and even what's his name with over 100 great brands and no fees. It's the one gift for all available in stores and at gift cards dot com is a great is a fun offense, fun offense to watch play at the college level. And they've tried it at the NFL. It hasn't quite worked in some ways at the NFL, but, you know, the the June Jones version of it, the run and shoot. So there's there has been there have been offenses like that in the NFL. I think the Arizona Cardinals started out trying to run that. They don't really run that same offense anymore because the NFL will destroy it because the NFL has guys who can cover. And once they have guys who could cover, they just blitz your pants off and then they kill your quarterback. Sometimes your quarterback hurts himself. And that's what happened to the Arizona Cardinals last night. This is not about the offense, just one of those freak things, non contact injury as the Cardinals lost Kyler Murray early in what I think the headline I saw is surely a tear of the ACL.

And that meant everything, at least to Cliff Kingsbury, his head coach. Yeah, it's tough. There's no doubt you see teams go through it every week, but usually just start on third play the game, you know, kind of deal non contact. It's just just tough to watch and see.

And you got to be able to rebound and continue to play the game, though. They they did. I thought Colt McCoy played pretty well.

I really did. I think Colt McCoy played very well. I think he was let down a little bit by wide receivers, couldn't hold on to the ball. If Hollywood Brown catches that ball, I think that was the fourth down play right before the end of the half. If he catches that pass, I think they might kick a field goal. Maybe they score a touchdown, but they turn it over. The Patriots kick a field goal. It goes from I think went from what could have been 16-7 if the Cardinals cash in at least three points, it becomes 13-10. Patriots get the ball to start the half and the Patriots were significantly better in the second half. Might not have mattered at all because the Patriots are significantly better coached than the Cardinals are. No offense to you, Cliff Kingsbury, but it hadn't gone well. And we know what Bill Belichick's about.

They're not great, but in their lane against teams of their ilk, they're probably going to beat you because they don't make the same mistakes that you make. So the fourth down conversion that wasn't. And then in the second half, the DeAndre Hopkins fumble that was returned for a touchdown. That's your ball game right there. Real quick, Dennis, you didn't watch any of the game, right? No, I have better things to do.

I don't blame you. I'm not sure that Matt Jones is not going to get punched in the face by either a teammate or a coach before the season is out. He kind of seems like a jerk. Tom Brady can get away with this, even though that's jerk behavior when Brady yells at people.

If my gosh, could you imagine if Aaron Rodgers did that? All the think pieces? All the think pieces? No. No, but here's the thing with some of those guys, hey, that's being a leader. Right. No, with Tom Brady, it is being a leader. That's what it is. It's all about leadership and standards and demanding. Matt Jones, you're going to get yourself punched in the face. Maybe by Matt Patricia. Wave off your coach.

What have you done? Anyway. Yeah, you're a second year kid. Mack was, I thought, mostly in the first half, but much better in the second half.

I think he was much better in the second half. Say that again, Dennis? Oh, look at that. It just showed up. Mack Jones, yes, he has been frustrated with the offense.

No. I think the biggest thing for me is not letting it affect my play and bringing the best out of my guys. Today, I thought we all did a good job with trying to play the next play, play the next series. Matty P did a great job. He's trying to call the game so that we can win.

Sometimes it might be this thing that people don't know about, like the quick passes for whatever reason. That's our game plan. We knew that's what we had to do to win. He called a great game and stayed calm. Matty P is a very calm person, very stoic. We're just going to continue to grow together and do what we can to win games.

I'm going to try not to get punched in the face. That's Mack Jones. Real quick about this. Now the playoff race is really jumbled up in the AFC. You've got the Patriots who are in the 7th seed, the Chargers in the 8th.

There is no 8th seed, so they're out of the playoffs. The Jets are 9th, all teams 7th and 6th. Patriots beat the Jets twice, so the Patriots had that advantage over New York. If the Jets, if they're going to get that spot, are going to have to pass New England, and actually right now they lose the tiebreaker with the Chargers as well. I said this a couple of weeks ago, I don't think there will be a team from East Rutherford in the playoffs in the NFL. As good as both teams looked, say, four weeks ago, I don't think we will have a team from East Rutherford, New Jersey playing in the playoffs, I don't.

But that doesn't mean that both teams haven't made super strides this year. The Jets are going to have to figure out a way to go probably 3-1 over their last four just to have a chance. And I think the Chargers are probably going to go at least 2-2, maybe 3-1 as well.

So it is very tight there. I actually put up a poll that will answer at 1 o'clock. Of these four teams, who is most likely to make the playoffs in the NFL? The Jets, the Giants, the Lions, or the Panthers? Which of those four most likely to make the playoffs?

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See store for details. Ruffin McNeil is a special assistant to Dave Doran at NC State and coached with Mike Leach at Texas Tech, and he joins us on the Adam Gold Show. Sir, I wish there were happier circumstances, but thank you very much for your time, and I know everybody's preparing for a bowl game, so I don't want to kind of dominate your afternoon, but your thoughts on the passing of what Mike Leach meant. It's my pleasure, Adam. I was not a problem whatsoever, man.

I was looking forward to talking to you. Man, it was tough news. I mean, I knew like everyone else on Sunday, something tough had happened, and he was hospitalized, and then to hear the news this morning, it was tough.

Mike was like everyone has talked about probably or tweeted about or written about, but for me, I was with him 10 years, so long as I've been with any stock in my whole 43 years of coaching. So I was around a bunch, and it was tough news. I sent prayers and blessings out to Sharon and the kids, and I knew those kids when they were just little jabbers around the office, but I'm just praying for them right now. But the football world lost a lot of, lost a big, big influence today, in my opinion, and I know it may be biased, as a matter of fact, it probably is biased because I worked for him, Adam, but I think he's influenced, along with Hal Mummy, but he influenced the college game with the passing and the focus on the quarterback and receiver combinations, and also his very memorable interviews, his honesty, as you know, that's your experience. That's your profession, but he'd be missed, man, I miss him.

I found out that Dave caught me, Dave's on the road, and he's the first one to call me and check on me, like everything else, y'all know the story of Dave. First person I heard from about it was Dave and Coach Doran. So there he is again, how much he means to me, but I'm happy to be on with you, and any questions you've got on Mike, just let me know, but he'll be missed dearly by me and a lot of other friends and coaches in the business. All right, so you brought up the personality, and that's as good a place as any to start about Mike Leach, because for the most part, and I exclude you from this part because I think you exude personality as well, obviously different than Coach Leach, but in a sport that has become pretty, from a coaching perspective as they relate to the media, pretty bland and pretty guarded, because you don't want to say anything that's going to annoy an opponent, you don't want to give anything away. Mike was unafraid to say what he thought, and he had an opinion on everything from planning a wedding to candy corn, and was he that way just around the football office?

There's no doubt. First thing I think that means is when you mention him, think about brilliance and genius. Really really smart person, number one. Really steadfast in his beliefs, Adam, I think you appreciate that, I know you'd appreciate that. Steadfast in his belief and philosophy, and what he believed in. So those abilities to talk and speak on the variety of subjects during the interview process from Christmas candy corn to who's the toughest mascot out there in the Pac-12 at that time, and be detailed and talk to it like he's actually thought about it, exactly how to compare the toughest mascot to also being steadfast in the design of a particular route, are one of the first persons I have been around that taught you you're never out of the game, you always come back from a game.

He believed in the philosophy that he had so well that he knew how to fix it or correct it if a problem happened with it. And that genius or brilliance and that personality that you talk about, it came out in the staff meetings in our staff trips that we took every year, 10 years to Key West, that was the only place we would travel as a staff. And he was adamant about us going to Key West, and for 10 years I visited Key West with Mike and our staff, but that's the personality that you mentioned that's not quite there now among our co-workers and co-hearts and the generality, because it was genuine, it was not an act. But also one of the things that people didn't know about, one of the best family men I've ever worked for who cared about your family and cared about his family.

He's a great dad, a great husband, and a great family man, too, as well. So my follow-up to that is, was he a big Hemingway guy? Why was Key West the place? He's probably told me, I'm sure, one of the 10 times that we visited, but I think Hemingway would be, one, the water, the peace and quiet. I think the free-mindedness of it all, a free will, a free-mindedness of all the people that were visiting Key West every time we were there, of, you know, life is good. It's a place, man.

There's a Spanish quote that I learned living in Lubbock so long was, La vita escorta, el tempos verte, life is short, time is luck. And I think that may have been the, one of the key parts of going there, you know, you can relax, you don't have to be head coach Mike Leach, you can be Mike to him. He's always Mike to us, but I thought that was a big part of it, too.

Ruffin McNeal is joining us here on the Adam Gold Show, 10 years he worked with Mike Leach at Texas Tech. He was, as a defensive guy, how did he look at defense, because he was such an offensive guy, sometimes the defensive guy and the offensive guy, in terms of coaching, don't always get along because sometimes he puts you in difficult spots. So how did he view defense? Absolutely, one of the best, if you're a defensive coach to work with, one, he didn't bother you at all. He should have had one dilemma in the game and 10 DBs, whatever I chose to run as a coordinator. But you know, the fact that he would go for it on fourth and whatever, right, he believed in the passing game being a part, almost like the option game, Adam, if you take a step back for a minute, the passing game that he had is really reminiscent of the option football game because he believed in everyone touching a football, like an option team does now. So to be a defensive coordinator for him, yeah, it got tough at times. But you knew you were going to have an offensive unit that was going to put 30 plus to 40 plus points on the board for you. And all he wanted you to do was make sure you didn't let him have long drives. He wanted the ball back quickly.

So that was the only thing that he would say, well, what if it blitzed all of them? I said, coach, I am. I got to cover someone. But but he was great to work for the defensive coach because he just let you do your thing.

But you know, the different coach, you know, you're going to be with the offense that was going to put up on a tough night, 30 right on a great night could be a 50. Robert McNeil, I appreciate your time, sir. Sorry for your loss.

I know this this this cuts very close to you. So I'm glad you were able to carve out some moments for us. Best of luck to you and our thoughts and prayers with you and the Leach family. I appreciate it. Well, I appreciate you and thanks for having me on and thanks for all you do for for not just us, but all the boards and and then representing us so much and speaking to speak, let us speak out our message as well. So I appreciate you.

Thanks for having me on. You got it. We'll do it again soon, sir. Appreciate it. Yes, sir, brother. Thank you. You got it.

Thank you, Dave Doran at NC State. This is the Adam Gold Show. The JCPenney mystery sale is back for the holidays through Thursday ushering huge holiday savings with our in-store coupon giveaway. You can get an extra 30, 40 or even 50 percent off while they last. Simply find an associate for a coupon, then peel to reveal your deal. Hurry it now to discover the savings you've been wishing for. We got your holiday JCPenney coupon valid on select styles to 1215 exclusion supply giveaway in store only. Must be 18 years or older. See store for details.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-18 12:59:32 / 2022-12-18 13:09:30 / 10

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