Every December, we celebrate the best sound bites in college football and a collection of quotes, tweets and memories that exemplify the arc of the season.
Except for the ones by Mike Leach. They always seemed to be about anything but football. Leach, who died last week at 61, was the most quotable coach in the country and will be remembered as the most unpredictable, yet most anticipated, interview in the history of the sport.
So, like Leach, we won’t waste any time getting to the good stuff. Presenting the 2022 Mike Leach Memorial Quotes of the Year.
SEC Network’s Alyssa Lang got some personal advice from The Pirate on her upcoming wedding. “We’ll keep a close eye on it,” he said. “But whatever you and Trevor decide, I would keep it on the down-low, which you failed to do that.” Listen to the rest of his advice here.
No football coach has stronger opinions on weddings than Mike Leach
After we talked about the win, I got some advice straight from the source..
Coach Leach, big elopement guy 😂
— Alyssa Lang (@AlyssaLang) October 2, 2022
After Leach’s death, colleagues and archrivals alike reacted emotionally to the loss. New Mississippi State coach Zach Arnett, Leach’s defensive coordinator who has been named as his replacement, wanted to play the bowl game in Leach’s honor.
“I’m grateful to be part of his final win, hug him and watch him walk off like the winner that he is.”
— Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin, whose Rebels lost to Leach and Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, Leach’s final game, on his sadness over his friend Leach’s death.
“Coach Arnett has made it clear that we’re going to finish what we started and honor Coach Leach. It’s only fitting that we play this game and honor Coach Leach in a stadium that has a pirate ship.”
— Mississippi State interim athletic director Bracky Brett, saying the Bulldogs would play the bowl game despite Leach’s death.
Not to be overshadowed, this Nick Saban reference is brought to you to remind everyone that Leach changed football forever.
Nick Saban discusses how much college football has changed when it comes to offense, which he said is for the good.
“Tennessee got in what looked like an I-formation last week on the goal-line and our players actually did not know what to do”
— Trey Wallace (@TreyWallace_) October 21, 2022
Meanwhile, Spurrier’s still got it
“I almost feel sorry for Tennessee. They’re not going to win the division, they’re not going to win the SEC, they’re not going to get in that Final Four. They’re just going to have a little bit better than average year now. Someone told me, ‘Tennessee is probably headed for the Citrus Bowl now.’ I guess that’s kind of a mean thing to say.”
— Noted Vols antagonist Steve Spurrier, who famously said “you can’t spell ‘Citrus’ without U-T” 25 years ago this year to the Charleston Post & Courier after South Carolina’s 63-38 upset of No. 5 Tennessee.
Boy, this seems like forever ago
Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban dominated headlines in the spring after a comment Saban made followed by a news conference where a fiery Fisher went ballistic.
“We were second in recruiting last year, A&M was first. A&M bought every player on their team. Made a deal for name, image and likeness. We didn’t buy one player. But I don’t know if we will be able to sustain that in the future because more and more people are doing it.”
— Saban, on May 18, speaking to a group of business leaders in Birmingham about how college football recruiting had changed.
“Some people think they’re God. Go dig into how God did his deal. You may find out … a lot of things you don’t want to know. We build him up to be the czar of football. Go dig into his past, or anybody’s that’s ever coached with him. You can find out anything you want to find out, what he does and how he does it. It’s despicable.”
— Fisher ripped Saban, calling him a narcissist, saying “we’re done” and that Saban had called him but he didn’t answer the phone.
“Maybe I can get better from some of these things … I don’t feel any differently. I really don’t because I don’t take things personally. You know, some people take things personally — when they win and when they lose. I mean, when you play pickup basketball, some people take things personally and some people don’t.”
— Saban, on Aug. 25 on how he viewed the spat.
The day a message board poster became a legend
“This $30 million thing is a joke. This idea there’s some fund out there and it was written on BroBible by a guy named Sliced Bread and now all of a sudden the country believes it?”
— Fisher, addressing a rumor that started on message boards and was later aggregated across websites saying the Aggies had a substantial NIL fund to sign their top-rated recruiting class.
Kiffin knows how to keep it going
“We got outbid. Kind of a common theme with that program.”
— Kiffin, on losing defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin to Texas A&M.
After Kiffin and the Rebels beat the Aggies on Oct. 29, piling up 390 yards rushing “against a bunch of five-stars,” as Kiffin kept repeating, he was quick with the jokes when asked if he had a Halloween costume in mind that weekend. Fisher had alluded to Kiffin when talking about “clown acts” in the SEC after Kiffin asked if the Aggies incurred a luxury tax for how much they paid for their signing class.
“Maybe Jimbo has a Joker outfit for me.”
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) October 30, 2022
The Horned Frogs are cooking
“Not really. If I can’t do that, I need to go work for Ricky Chicken at Chicken Express.”
— TCU coach Sonny Dykes, referencing the nickname of Ricky Stuart, owner of a Texas fast food chain, when asked if the fans’ hostility bothered him in his return to play against former school SMU, the Horned Frogs’ Iron Skillet rivals.
Old rivalries die hard, Vol. 1
“They ran for 194 yards against Texas A&M, the number whatever team in the country. They ran for 68 against us. They averaged 1.6 yards per carry — they gave us $1.5 million, but they got 1.6 yards per carry … You know, it just … I don’t know where that came from.”
— Middle Tennessee State coach Rick Stockstill, a Florida State grad, in a radio interview with 104.5 The Zone in Nashville after the Blue Raiders beat Miami 45-31.
Giving ’em the bird
“A chicken is a chicken but a fighting gamecock is something different. This is dumbing down the Gamecocks. Whenever a new coach goes to a school that’s been struggling, you always hear a statement similar to, ‘You’ve got to change the culture.’ I don’t know what ‘culture’ in our day and age means, but if it means making a gamecock look like a chicken, or not hurting him because it might make the chicken feel good, it’s not preserving what we’ve built. This is dumbing down our culture.”
— Ron Albertelli, former owner of South Carolina mascot Big Spur, who is upset that the new mascot handlers, Beth and Van Clark, do not trim the comb, the little red thing on the top of roosters’ heads.
Prime grade beef
“He ain’t SWAC. I’m SWAC, he ain’t SWAC. He’s in the conference, doing a great job, can’t knock that, got a great team, his son should be up for the Heisman Trophy, I love Shedeur, great player, I love what he’s doing for the conference. … But you’re not going to come here and disrespect me and my team and my school and then want a bro hug. Shake my hand and get the hell off.”
— Alabama State coach Eddie Robinson Jr., after refusing a postgame hug with former Jackson State coach Deion Sanders, taking issue with Sanders saying that they were picked as Alabama State’s homecoming opponent because of the crowds and attention that follow Sanders.
“I was a darn good salesman leading up to the week. Did we sell the game out? Did we sell the game out, yes or no? Had they ever been sold out here? So I thought I did my job. I thought I should be applauded, really.”
— Sanders, in response to Robinson’s comments.
Cutting to the chase
“I’m a dumbass, Jerry.”
Pat Narduzzi’s response to being asked by @JDiPaola_Trib about trying to pass with 21 seconds left at the end of the second quarter.
— Chris Peak (@PantherLair) September 12, 2022
Not cutting to the chase
“I’m not going to comment on whether it’s a felony or not, or whether it should’ve been charged as a felony or not, but I think if you do your homework you’re going to realize you can’t compare this to the low-hanging fruit that’s out there. I’d encourage you not to pander to the Twittersphere and really, the haters that like to drink their haterade and eat their hater tots.”
— Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh on Dec. 4 on his decision to play Mazi Smith all season despite an arrest in October on felony concealed weapons charges. Smith pleaded guilty on a misdemeanor charge Dec. 8 and his sentencing will be announced Jan. 12.
They’d still say it’s worth it
“When you first see all the cigars you’re like, what is all that? They got dropped, but then they got shredded. So we had all this tobacco laying everywhere. But between shoes and cigar tubes … we couldn’t get over the amount of clothes. OK, what’d you do, walk out of here nekkid?”
— Tennessee director of sports surface management Darren Seybold, on the trash left behind from fans storming the field after the Vols beat Alabama
Like Dua Lipa said: ‘Don’t show up, don’t come out’
“I tell people all the time, the audacity for other people to even step on the field is disrespectful to me. … People ask me what motivates me, and I say, ‘The audacity for the fans to show up and for the team to come step on the field and play with us.'”
— Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr., who might just drink haterade and eat hater tots.
Old rivalries die hard, Vol. 2
“I was a little scared of Boz. Boz scared me a little bit. Boz was on a different type of artificial nutrition than I was. Period.”
— Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, on his memories of his first Bedlam rivalry game in 1986 and playing against Oklahoma legend Brian Bosworth, who had written Gundy’s name on his shoes.
Gundy also had plenty to say at Big 12 media days in the spring, particularly on realignment.
“Well, we all know, conference realignment, it’s kind of almost the old Karen Carpenter ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ concept. I think it’s just getting started, in my opinion … I like the Carpenters. I heard that song the other day, and the first thing I thought about was conference realignment. I think that she cut that record on the first take. That was a one-take deal.”
— The Oklahoma State coach on a 1970 pop hit and Carpenter’s studio skills.
“It’s interesting. We go to conference meetings, and OU and Texas are in there. They’re still in the conference. But I’m guessing when they leave, they’re scratching down things that can help them when they’re in the SEC. So it is an unusual situation. I think there’s a business side of it that nowadays people say, ‘It is what it is.’ Which, 10 years ago, they might not even let them in meetings. The new commissioner, I mean, honestly, if I was him, I wouldn’t let OU and Texas in any meetings.”
— Gundy on Texas and Oklahoma still being in the Big 12 until (allegedly) 2025 despite plans to move to the SEC, and the advice he has for new Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark
Brian Kelly, man of the world
“Understand now, I have a Boston, Midwestern and Louisiana accent now. So it’s three dialects into one. It’s no longer family — I’ve got all kinds of stuff to throw at you.”
— LSU coach Brian Kelly, at SEC media days, after being mocked for the elongated way he said “fam-uh-lee” in a makeshift Southern accent when he first spoke to LSU fans last December at a basketball game.
That’s good? Or bad?
“There’s two options in life in any situation. You can surrender, and if you surrender, then I think the results are pretty much guaranteed. Or you can dig in, you can continue to fight and you can try to improve and do things better. I will always choose option A. … I wouldn’t be able to go home and look my children in the eye if I wasn’t an option B person. I think I said option A. I started with option surrender, right? That’s not me. Let me be crystal clear about that. That’s number one.”
— Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, on Oct. 12, as Iowa’s offense ranked 131st of 131 teams nationally in total offense.
Cade McNamara, who announced he was transferring from Michigan to Iowa earlier this month, might find some takers.
Cade McNamara is ready to change the narrative of Iowa’s offense ✍️ pic.twitter.com/h4BY8IVS7G
— 247Sports (@247Sports) December 13, 2022
Michigan’s tunnel vision
“I didn’t get a sandwich thrown at me, but R.J. [Moten] came up to me and said I just got hit with a PB&J in the face. So I guess they were.”
— Michigan offensive lineman Trevor Keegan, who said teammates said food was thrown at them after the Penn State game.
Some B1G twists and turns
“You go to USC and UCLA games, and quite honestly, it’s just kind of boring. Without all the people. They kind of just are there on vacation. You go to the other schools out of state and their fans are kind of like fanatics.”
— Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, on Dec. 29, 2021 (technically, it’s within the last year, since this happened after our list last year).
Then USC and UCLA stunned the college football world in July by announcing they were splitting from the Pac-12.
“We wanted to operate in a position of strength, and that was the Big Ten.”
— UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond, to ESPN on why his school made the move.
“You’re going to wake up watching Big Ten football and go to bed watching Big Ten football. So that’s exciting for our players, exciting for our fans. Will there be a travel component to it? There is, but we’re going to Dublin in the opener, so it won’t be that big of a deal.”
— Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald
“I got asked, ‘How are you going to feel when you play your first conference game at SC?’ Just hope I’m f—ing still there.”
— Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst, at Big Ten media days July 27. Chryst was fired Oct. 2.
Saban’s dad jokes
“Before you ask, you oughta see the other guy. And you know I took one of the hardest hits of the entire game, and unlike some of our players who had to go to the medical tent … like I always say, they don’t make ’em like they used to.”
— Saban on a cut he suffered when he was hit in the face by a player’s shoulder pad during the Iron Bowl win over Auburn.
Drink it in, Sam
“I think the first couple series are going to be really important to kind of figure out what they’re bringing to the party. Some guys bring iced tea, and some guys bring liquor. You’ve just got to figure out what they’re bringing.
— Arkansas coach Sam Pittman, before the Razorbacks’ season opener against a Cincinnati offense with two quarterbacks still competing to replace four-year starter Desmond Ridder.
“I don’t have a whole lot of friends and I don’t get invited to a whole lot of parties. So I don’t know what I’ll do. I just know who I am. And I guess they’ll find out.”
— Then Bearcats coach Luke Fickell, in response to a question about Pittman’s comment.
After Arkansas’ 31-24 win over Cincinnati, Pittman decided “an ol’ cold beer” is what he was up for after all.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 4, 2022
The Dawgs’ dominance
“People ask the question, ‘How does it feel to be hunted?’ We will not be hunted at the University of Georgia. I can promise you that. The hunting we do will be from us going the other direction. We’re not going to sit back and be passive.”
— Georgia coach Kirby Smart, at SEC media days, on life after winning a national championship.
“I told our kids I don’t want one kid to walk out of our program without a championship ring, and that was about to happen. They said enough was enough, and they got them one tonight.”
— Smart, after Georgia’s 50-30 SEC championship game win over LSU gave him his first SEC title since 2017 and the first 13-0 record in school history.
The last word
“Mike [Leach] had a bigger impact on football, whether pro football, high school football or college football, than anybody in my generation. He just changed the way people approach the game. “
— TCU coach Sonny Dykes, a former Leach assistant at Kentucky and Texas Tech