Bryan Woolston/Associated Press
One week into the 2020 season, it looked like Mike Leach’s first season at Mississippi State would shock the nation. Two straight losses later, the coach appears ready to cut bait with some players.
“We’re going to have to check some of our group and figure out who really wants to play here, because any malcontents, we’re going to have to purge a couple of those,” Leach told reporters after Saturday’s 24-2 loss to Kentucky.
The Bulldogs threw six interceptions in the loss, setting up Kentucky with consistently excellent field position, and got their only score of the game on a safety. The team has 10 turnovers in the last two weeks.
Mississippi State has made a bowl game the last 10 seasons, so Leach is not taking over some woebegone program.
Dan Mullen kept the team competitive for nine seasons from 2009-2017, and Joe Moorhead went 14-12 after replacing Mullen. While the talent cupboard isn’t stocked after Moorhead’s two seasons with the program, Leach has a habit of shifting tone and deflecting blame.
Leach called out his own players as “fat, dumb, happy and entitled” at Washington State last season. The Cougars entered last season expected to compete for a Pac-12 championship after a successful 2018 but instead finished 6-7 as one of the nation’s biggest disappointments.
At some point, it may be on Leach to acknowledge that maybe it’s not always the players who are at fault—especially when shifting entire time zones and taking over a whole new roster.