According to the Chinese calendar, 2023 is the year of the Water Rabbit.

The sign of the Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity. So that’s good.

For me, though, I have decided that 2023, will also be the year of the Pirate.

My amazing daughter gave me two books for Christmas, both written by Mike Leach.

I have started, Swing your Sword: Leading the Charge in Football and in Life.

The title to the book is taken from a speech he gave the Texas Tech players, most of whom did not understand the speech or thought it was funny. I mean, their coach was swinging a sword talking about pirates!

Leach was unconventional but knew what he wanted: to keep learning; to keep improving.

A two-time national coach of the year and three-time Power 5 conference coach of the year, Leach is credited with masterminding the “Air Raid” offense that set many NCAA records.

Leach never played college football; yet, his college football coaching career took he and his family to several places including Washington State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Valdosta State, Iowa Wesleyan, Pori, Finland (yes, Pori, Finland), and Cal Poly.

How did someone who had never played college football make the leap to his passion?

At that exact perfect moment, he had a cheerleader on his side.

As Leach was finishing his law degree at Pepperdine, he asked his wife a direct question: “Do you want me to come home miserable and making a lot of money or come home happy and not early and not earning as much money?”

She chose happiness.

The rest is college football history.

No, he never took the bar. Instead, he left California for Alabama’s U.S. Sports Academy.

His first job paid $3,000 – and he got it partially because he had been to law school (which the head coach thought was unusual for someone applying for a coaching position).

Over the next three decades he would rise to be considered among the top of his profession.

Never at a loss for words, he became a fixture on the college sports wrap-up shows.

My favorite?

When asked about low expectations for Texas Tech in the 2006 season, Leach responded: “Well, outside of Lubbock, expectations aren’t very high. But it’s okay, we play in Lubbock a lot this season.”


His coaching career unexpectedly ended at Mississippi State University December 12, 2022.

In their final game of the season, State replaced the university logo on one side of the helmet with a pirate flag as a reminder to everyone of the man who told us to Swing Your Sword!

During 2023, join me, find your inner pirate. Then, you’ll know what to do next.


“Life’s pretty good, and why wouldn’t it be? I’m a pirate, after all!”
Johnny Depp

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