The Red Raider
When I read his pieces, I turn everything off to let the master entertain, and I didn't want to go halfway with this one.
So, I waited for a good time slot to block out because this piece, "Coach Leach Goes Deep...Very Deep" that appeared in last week's (December 4, 2005) issue of the New York Times Magazine is worth every second.
What I love about Lewis is that he uses sports to define people who are finding inefficiencies in systems in order to gain a competitive advantage. In this case, he traveled to Lubbock, Texas to find Texas Tech head football coach, Mike Leach, who is utilizing inefficiencies of space and speed on the football field in order to achieve wins.
I saw Texas Tech play against Nebraska this past year. I have to admit that I couldn't stand them...To me, they were just another "Run and Shoot" team that was high-scoring and high-flying, but would crumple under serious banging from national powerhouses. Kind of like the Loyola Marymount of college football or another replica of the type of football that the University of Hawaii's June Jones displayed when he was with the Atlanta Falcons.
Yet, it looks like Lewis has found another Billy Beane for the gridiron...More importantly, he's discovered one of my favorite things to watch in sport...A new "Underdog".
If you're not a NYTimes subscriber, you're out-of-luck with your find. However, I did place this in my del.icio.us account last week, but you may have to cough up the $3.95. Here's the link from the New York Times.
Here's a tidbit of why I love this article...This arrived after depicting how the Red Raiders dismantled Texas A&M by the humiliating amount of 56-17.
Leach remains on the outside; like all innovators in sports, he finds himself in an uncertain social position. He has committed a faux pas; he has suggested by his methods that there is more going on out there on the (unlevel) field of play than his competitors realize, which reflects badly on them.
He steals some glory from the guy who is born with advantages and uses them to become a champion.
Gary O'Hagan, Leach's agent, says that he hears a great deal more from other coaches about Mike Leach than about any of his other clients.
"He makes them nervous." O'Hagan says.
"They don't like coaching against him; they'd rather coach against another version of themselves. It's not that they don't like him. But privately they haven't accepted him. You know how you can tell?
Because when you're talking to them Monday morning, and you say, Did you see the play Leach ran on third and 26, they dismiss it immediately.
Dismissive is the word. They dismiss him out of hand. And you know why?
Because he's not doing things the way they've always been done. It's like he's been given this chessboard, and all the pieces butnone of the rules, and he's trying to figure out where all the chess pieces should go. From scratch!"
I'm watching more of Mike Leach and Texas Tech...The NFL has to be calling this guy soon...Hello Al Davis?...
And again, thank you Michael Lewis for opening my eyes to take a better look at things. Because more importantly...
I learned again that you have to look deeper than you're first impression of what's going on in a system.