By LARRY VAUGHT
During Hal Mumme’s time at Kentucky, seldom were there many dull moments — especially when he had Mike Leach on his staff
Leach is now the head coach at Washington State and is still as quirky and creative as ever. That’s one thing that has not changed.
Mumme was on Michael Bennett’s radio show, “Just The Tip,” earlier this week and I got to be part of the show. Mumme got to talking about what is was like when Leach was with him at UK first as receivers coach and then offensive coordinator.
“Leach hasn’t changed much. Pretty much what see is what you get. Practice was always fun when he was around,” Mumme said.
Mumme remembered his first preseason camp at Kentucky when walk-on James Whelan hoped to earn playing time in the hurry-up offense that Mumme perfected.
Mumme said the first meeting with receivers, Leach was showing the players a play over and over on film. He just kept showing the play, stopping it halfway through and showing it again.
“Whalen loves telling the story, too. He told me,” Mumme said. “Whalen is trying to take notes because he wants to make the team. Then Leach freezes the film and ask how many (players) had seen (the movie) Pulp Fiction. A bunch raised their hands.”
That apparently was all Leach need to start asking questions like whether Samuel Jackson or John Travolta was the best character.
“Whalen was writing this all down thinking Leach was leading up to a code word for the play,” Mumme said. “Leach goes on for about 15 minutes about what the plot was. Finally he looks at his watch and said, ‘Well, let’s get out on the field. We have to go.’ Whalen said they never saw the entire play that whole time.”
Mumme laughed and said Leach knew the offense would rep the play so much in practice that they would all know what to do without ever having seen the play on film.
Whalen went on to become an All-American in 199 when he had 90 catches for 1,019 yards and 10 touchdowns. He led tight ends nationally in all three categories and set the NCAA record for most receptions in a season by a tight end while becoming just the second UK player ever to have a 1,000-yard receiving season.
He played briefly in the NFL and NFL Europe.