December 2, 2011

Roundtable: rating the returns of Meyer, Leach

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in college football.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Last week, the discussion was about Arizona hiring Rich Rodriguez. Well, what about the hirings of Urban Meyer at Ohio State and Mike Leach at Washington State - good or bad?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
I think both of those hires are grand slams. Any program would be interested in a coach that has won two national championships and three BCS bowls in seven years, like Meyer did. And Ohio State learned first-hand in 2006 how good a Meyer-coached team can be. The only question is his health, but he says he feels good. And he already has a quarterback on board - Braxton Miller - who should be a great fit for his system. Leach's personality and offense will bring attention to Pullman, and that offense will lure good players there - especially quarterback and receivers. If nothing else, Wazzu will be fun to watch. Sure, Pullman is remote and it's supposed to be hard to get players there, but Lubbock is somewhat isolated, too (though admittedly not as much as Pullman). I don't think it will be long before Leach has the Cougars in a bowl game.

David Fox's answer:
Both should have success, but I'm more skeptical of Meyer at Ohio State. Meyer's a great coach and will win a ton of games, but will he relapse into the same health issues he says ended his tenure at Florida? Meyer says he'll refrain from doing other people's jobs in the athletic department, including compliance. Sorry, that shouldn't be acceptable for a program that had so many compliance issues it needed to suspend players after an NCAA investigation cost Jim Tressel his job and Terrelle Pryor the remainder of his college career. Meyer will be judged against Jim Tressel's standards and his own resume. Both will be incredibly difficult to match in a Big Ten that's tougher than it was in Tressel's latter years. Meanwhile, Leach is a home-run hire for Washington State, a better hire than the Cougars have any right to make. He'll put up great offensive numbers and raise the profile of the program, but he'll top out about where he topped out at Texas Tech - and that's better than anyone has done at Washington State since Mike Price.

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Mike Huguenin's answer:
I like both hires, though there is one caveat about Meyer: He will succeed assuming he doesn't burn out again. He has a ready-made quarterback for his spread offense in Braxton Miller, and those who wonder if the spread can work in the Big Ten need only to look at Purdue under Joe Tiller and Michigan under Rich Rodriguez. Their offenses were fine; it's their defenses that struggled (or stunk). Meyer's defenses at Florida in the two seasons in which he won a national title actually were better (in the case of the 2006 team, much better) than his offenses. He is a recruiting machine who will overcome NCAA sanctions. Washington State is one of the few Big Six schools that could hire Leach with his court case still pending, but AD Bill Moos deserves credit for getting Leach. He should make Washington State football relevant again nationally in short order. Leach grew up in Wyoming and coached in west Texas, so remote outposts, like Pullman, Wash., don't bother him. The makeup of his defensive staff is going to be important, as mediocre defenses generally were his downfall at Texas Tech. To expect Leach and the Cougars to win Pac-12 North titles is unrealistic. But bowl appearances and an upset each season should be expected.

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Steve Megargee's answer:
I think they're both home-run hires. I initially didn't think Paul Wulff should have been fired, but the move was worthwhile if it meant having Leach come aboard. He could have Washington State back in bowl contention as early as next season. This seems like the perfect fit for Leach. He already succeeded once at a major-college program outside of the media limelight. Washington State's a similar situation. He won't have to deal with a swarm of media that might frown on his eccentricities or his occasionally controversial comments. The addition of Leach at Washington State and Rich Rodriguez at Arizona should make the Pac-12 much more interesting. And the hire of Meyer is a no-brainer. His record speaks for itself. The only concern with Meyer is how long he might stay at Ohio State, since he already experienced health problems and burnout at Florida. While I'd be surprised if Meyer's stint at Ohio State lasts longer than a decade, he should lead the Buckeyes to plenty of BCS appearances as long as he's there.

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