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Paul Finebaum Has Been 'Underwhelmed' By Prominent Coach

An extreme closeup of ESPN college football analyst Paul Finebaum from the Cotton Bowl in Texas in 2019.

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 31: TV/radio personality Paul Finebaum of the SEC Network speaks on air before the Goodyear Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

ESPN radio host Paul Finebaum has put Mike Leach on notice heading into his third year at Mississippi State.

After going 4-7 in his first season in Starkville--including a win in the Armed Forces Bowl--Leach followed that up with a 7-6 campaign in 2021. His Bulldogs also went 4-4 in SEC play and were blown out by Texas Tech in the Liberty Bowl.

On the latest episode of the Saturday Down South podcast, Finebaum said he's been largely unimpressed by what Leach has done at MSU thus far.

“I’ve been underwhelmed by Mike Leach at Mississippi State,” Finebaum said. “To me, he came in there with all the hype in the world and he’s lost the 2 biggest games he’s had to Lane Kiffin. That’s how you are defined in that state. It’s been very inconsistent and erratic at times."

Finebaum went on to credit Mississippi State fans for showing loyalty toward Leach, but reiterated that he feels the 2018 AFCA Coach of the Year peaked when he beat LSU in his debut.

“I know fans down there love Mike Leach, but he’s gonna have to show me more than he has,” Finebaum continued. “I appreciate the fanbase there. They like to get mad at people. But I’m still waiting for that moment. Mike Leach peaked on Day 1 as the head coach at Mississippi State when he beat LSU. We all went crazy … what’s he done since?”

To be fair to Leach, while he hasn't duplicated that LSU victory--the Tigers were coming off a national title and ranked sixth in the country in that 2020 opener--he did lead the Bulldogs to wins over three ranked foes (Auburn, Texas A&M and Kentucky) in 2021.

Additionally, Mississippi State was picked to finish last in the SEC West in the conference media poll last year and wound up finishing fourth, so it's not like Leach has been terrible. However, it would help him to have another successful season in 2022 in order to eliminate any chatter about his job security.

[ SDS ]