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There are nine coaches on the 2025 College Football Hall of Fame ballot, including two of the sport’s biggest names of the last quarter century: Urban Meyer and Nick Saban.

Tommy Tuberville, who became famous at Auburn, is also there, as are Larry Coker from Miami and Ralph Friedgen from Maryland.

Not on the ballot released last week: Mike Leach.

The late Mike Leach, who brought Texas Tech to prominence, did the same for Washington State, changing the game like few coaches have in the last 50 years.

There is a good reason why Leach was not on the ballot for the 2025 election: coaches are not eligible for re-election until three years after their retirement, unless they are at least 70 years old.

Saban, 72, was eligible to play from the moment he resigned from Alabama earlier this year.

But Leach was only 61 years old when he died of heart disease in December 2022 after his third season at Mississippi State University.

According to Steve Hatchell, president of the National Football Foundation, which administers the Hall of Fame, there is no process to fast-track coaches for posthumous induction.

This means that Leach could not appear on the ballot until spring 2026 at the earliest – except for one tiny problem:

He does not meet the selection criteria.

Inductees into the Hall of Fame are required to have “served as a head football coach for at least 10 years and have a winning percentage of .600 in at least 100 games.”

Leach coached for 21 years and won 158 games.

But his career winning percentage is .596, and the Hall of Fame doesn’t round up.

Leach is just one win away.

The man whose Air Raid passing game has dominated high school and college football and is used throughout the NFL…

The man who won 11 races in Lubbock And Pullman …

Who was the mentor of current head coaches Josh Heupel (Tennessee), Dave Aranda (Baylor), Sonny Dykes (TCU), Lincoln Riley (USC) and a whole host of others …

Who experienced 16 successful seasons and only five losses at three schools (Texas Tech, WSU and MSU) and would never be confused with the top-class football players …

This guy is not eligible for the Hall of Fame because his career record is 158-107, not 159-106.

(At this point in the proceedings, Washington State fans are no doubt mentally running through the list of games the Cougars have lost due to blatant Pac-12 refereeing.)

“If you don’t meet any of the criteria, it’s tough,” Hatchell told the hotline on Monday.

“We’ve heard all the reasons why we shouldn’t get into the question of why someone isn’t in the Hall of Fame. But at some point you have to say, ‘These are the rules.'”

The problem with this approach, of course, is that location influences success.

It’s far harder to win 55 percent of your games per year at Texas Tech or Washington State than it is to win 65 percent of your games at Texas or Washington.

But simply because of the large number of potential new inductees – football is played at more than 700 colleges and universities – the Hall of Fame needs a certain base of players and coaches.

However, the Hall is not fundamentally against Leach. Quite the opposite.

“Mike has been great for the National Football Foundation and the Hall of Fame,” said Hatchell, whose NFF office is in Irving, Texas.

“If we needed advice on something, I called him. We love Mike and what he did for the sport. What he did for Texas Tech and Washington State was just phenomenal.”

“But if you look at the criteria more closely, what do you think is unimportant?”

There are coaches in the Hall of Fame with a winning percentage below .600 – Iowa legend Hayden Fry, for example – but the board changed the criteria after Hatchell took over in 2005.

“It was made clear to me that it is a Hall of Fame,” he said, “not a Hall of Participation.”

Leach cannot enter the hall via the designated route for trainers. But there are two other options:

– The timing of his death (as an active, not retired head coach) could lead to an exception in the rules.

Since the Hall does not round up winning percentages, Hatchell explained, Leach’s case would be “more like: Is it different that he died” while still coaching?

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