Former UK head football coach Hal Mumme is now running his air-raid offense down in Texas as the offensive coordinator for the XFL’s Dallas Renegades. Mumme’s brand new team is still early in the installation phase — the team reported to its first camp last week — but he took time out of winter practices to explain how his popular system came to be.
As Mumme tells it, he and Mike Leach were “looking for an edge” at Iowa Wesleyan College during their three years at the NAIA school from 1989-91. Leach was Mumme’s first hire (Mumme pulled him away from a coaching gig in Finland) and they hit the road to talk to other coaches about a new brand of football.
It really came together during a trip to Orlando prior to the 1991 season when Mumme and Leach met with Don Matthews, who was the head coach of the Orlando Thunder, a World League of American Football operation that lasted only two years. Matthews would go on to win five Grey Cups and five Coach of the Year awards in the CFL, but not before his two-minute offense in Orlando caught the attention of Mumme and Leach.
“I looked at Mike and I said, ‘that’s our edge, that’s what we’re going to do,'” Mumme explains. “But we’re not going to do it as a two-minute offense, we’re going to do it all the time.”
Mumme coached one more season at Iowa Wesleyan, moved up to Valdosta State for a successful five-year run in Division II, then took the Kentucky job ahead of the 1997 season.
You know how the story goes from there.
Hear Mumme’s entire explanation of the Air Raid’s early beginnings: