After a public and bitter separation from Texas Tech University, former Red Raiders football coach Mike Leach needed a place to live, clear his head and enroll his children in school.
As a frequent visitor to Key West, the coach decided to go ahead and make it official.
Leach, who is still in the process of resolving his Dec. 30 firing from Texas Tech, moved his family to the Southernmost City, a place he almost called home 14 years ago.
Since arriving in town to unusually cold weather about two weeks ago, Leach said most of his time has gone toward getting settled in.
"When I got here it was 47 degrees," said Leach, who applied to be the Key West High head football coach in 1996. "Really it's been a combination of answering the phone and putting things together and getting arranged down here."
His main focus has been on handling his lawsuit against Texas Tech -- he is accusing the school of libel, slander and breach of contract, among other things -- which took yet another turn Thursday when a Texas judge ordered all sides to try to work out a resolution and to complete mediation by Feb. 5. That ruling came a day after the same judge ruled that the suit could go forward.
"We'll let the attorneys handle that," Leach said of the situation.
In the meantime, he'll look to enjoy a break in Key West, where his children are enrolled in school and where he has several friends from his many vacations to the island. Among those friends is Key West High football coach Jerry Hughes, whose daughter helped the Leach family find a house in the Keys. Hughes said he is looking forward to catching up with Leach, a California native who went on to become offensive coordinator at Kentucky and Oklahoma and then head coach at Texas Tech after getting passed over by the Conchs.
"With his intelligence, especially as far as offense is concerned, I'd be foolish not to ask him to come by and sit down with us," said Hughes, who hosted the Red Raiders' coaching staff on one of their annual visits to the Keys last spring. "I'll try to sit down with him and pick his brain."
Leach said he is also looking forward to the meeting.
"It's always exciting to talk to him because he's a good football guy," he said of Hughes.
As far as other coaching jobs in the increasingly wild world of college football, Leach will likely have to wait until his suit with Texas Tech is settled. After that, he said he isn't sure what lies ahead.
"It's difficult to say," he said. "We're just going to wait and see what happens."
Assistant Sports Editor Willis Jacobson's Gettin' the 'W' column appears exclusively each Friday in The Citizen. He can be reached at 305-292-7777, Ext. 223, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.