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Opinion: Mike Leach's most embraced characteristic could also be his downfall

Leach upset many people last week after he tweeted a picture that contained an image of a noose.

STARKVILLE, Miss — Mike Leach has been in the new job for nearly 3 months, and it looks like he already went too far. 

I don't feel comfortable showing his tweet or the picture he posted that caused the uproar, but I can tell you it was a "joke" involving a noose. That understandably struck some serious chords on Twitter, especially in the South, where Leach now resides. 

Leach ended up deleting the tweet, and then apologized.

That apology was tweeted on April 2. He has not tweeted since. If you follow Leach on Twitter, you know that that is an eternity for him.

Mississippi State released a statement Tuesday, saying in part, “No matter the context, for many Americans the image of a noose is never appropriate and that’s particularly true in the South and Mississippi. Mississippi State University was disappointed in the use of such an image in a tweet by Coach Mike Leach.”

The university also said that it plans on having Leach participate in listening sessions with students, alumni and community groups to give him more cultural awareness of Mississippi. It also plans on having him take a guided trip through the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. He can’t do that now because of the coronavirus pandemic, but, that’s neither here nor there. 

Perhaps the most significant action that has come out of this whole scenario hasn’t come from the school. It came from a player entering the transfer portal due to Leach’s tweet.

If you are a Washington State University fan who has followed the program outside of Leach’s funny quips, this whole situation probably doesn’t surprise you. 

This isn’t the first time Leach has stuck his foot in his mouth on Twitter. He did so a few summers ago when he tweeted a doctored video of President Obama. The school said after the tweet some donors altered their donations because of it, and that the school potentially lost $1.6 million.

And it’s not just on Twitter where Leach can misstep his bounds. 

Let me tell you, being in a losing press conference with Mike Leach is quite an experience. He would routinely go after his team in those settings, and in his final press conference, went after a journalist here in Spokane.

To put it simply: Leach does not care what other people think. People love him for it, but it also can be his downfall. This lack of caring can cause him to not think about how his actions affect others. 

It's also one of the reasons why Leach was at WSU for so long. His penchant for going extremely off-script in some situations and not think about ramifications kept high level athletic directors away.

As this situation unfolded, I recalled a quote from Mississippi State's Athletic Director during Mike Leach's introductory press conference: 

"We did not hire Mike Leach because he’s charismatic, but he is. We didn’t hire Mike Leach because he’s got a great sense of humor, but he does. We didn’t hire Mike Leach because he’s exceptionally bright, but he is. We did not hire Mike Leach because of his dynamic personality, but he’s got one. We did not solely hire Mike Leach because he’s a visionary or a pioneer in the modern game of college football but indeed, he is. We hired Mike Leach because he’s a disciplinarian."

It’s ironic that the first major act of discipline during Mike Leach’s tenure at Mississippi State is against him.

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