Mike Leach is known as one of the most entertaining college football coaches in the country and he kept the audience focused on his comments during his introductory news conference as Mississippi State’s new head coach. Here are some of his comments:

About MSU’s Bulldog mascot:

“They call them Bulldogs for a reason, and they’re built for combat. Young kids, a lot of times, start out afraid of them, maybe for good reason. I know I’m scared of this one, so I’m glad I represent him. You don’t want to get bit by him, I’ll tell you that. That’s the dog version of a leather jacket. He’s like the Fonzie of bulldogs, so you don’t mess with him.”
On his impression of the MSU team so far:

“I knew an old school coach from Florida State and he used to say, ‘We’re looking for runners and hitters.’ Just looking, there are definitely some runners and hitters on this team. I’ve always been told I have reasonably big hands, but I shake hands with some of these guys and I feel like I’m 10. We’ve got some big hands and long levers, that’s football for arms. I’m excited about the chance to coach.”

On his philosophy on discipline:

“If you want guys to go to class, you have to make sure that not going to class becomes really inconvenient. Whether it’s having somebody do more or taking something away that they want, you just have to make it more convenient to do the thing that’s right. In the long run everybody wants the same thing, and I think that needs to be illustrated to them that everyone wants the same thing as far as being the best that they can possibly be. Down deep they want it. Following that path can be hard, but you have to make it inconvenient to stray from the path.”

On his first 24 hours in Starkville:

“Yeah, what do you think of this suit? (He got it at George Sherman in Starkville) Don’t get real used to that part of it. I think it’s outstanding. It’s what a great college town is. It’s all Bulldogs 24 hours a day, whether it’s football, academics or another sport. Universities always have a dimension where there’s a lot of things. You’ve got the Grant Library here, museums, exhibits, great lecturers and people who know something.”

On former MSU baseball coach Ron Polk:

“I first started coaching baseball at age 15. So, when I got to college my first year, the textbook was Baseball Playbook by Ron Polk. It looked like a great big term paper with the brass things through the deal. I still have that book. I made sure to get the updated version. I’ll tell you all what I learned out of that book for football over the years. Even though it was baseball, he had all of his players going through the drills or doing something. So, at football practices, we try to have constant motion with everyone going somewhere. Don’t be surprised if you come by our practice field and you see five quarterbacks each throwing the ball to five receivers. We want as much action and as much work as we can possibly get in a short period of time.”

On building a good offense:

“The biggest thing as an offensive coach is, as we used to refer to it, build a better mousetrap. ‘How can we build the mousetrap better?’ we used to say. We would say stuff like, ‘Well, if we run a post on that play, that’ll help the mousetrap.’ We spend most of our time talking about how we’re going to practice, and how we are going to duplicate those things. We also talk quite a bit about how we’re going to find ways to attack space.”

What he likes about Mississippi State:

“I’ve always admired Mississippi State and their traditions. I don’t know how to describe it, there’s a unique independence that exists with Mississippi State that doesn’t exist other places. They are very direct, very down to earth and independent in the way they do their stuff. Everyone is not running around in their linen suits even when it’s their casual time. There’s a gritty toughness here too that I think exists and allows achievement and people to get things done.”

On his relationship with new Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin:

“I’ve known Lane for a long time; I’ve actually known him from when he was a GA for Pete Carroll. I’ve always liked Lane, and I know you’re not supposed to like anything from Ole Miss, but I’ve always liked him, kind of an entertaining guy.”

Photo Gallery from the Press Conference announcing Mike Leach as the new Head Coach of Football at Mississippi State. All Photos/Jim Lytle-Jim Lytle Photography