Y'know, back when Kent Hance announced he'd added -- and was proud of it yet -- Alberto Gonzales to the Texas Tech faculty (this in spite of the law school faculty as a group having a serious cow over how much they didn't want w's former AG on the Tech payroll), I thought things had gone about as low as possible at Texas Tech University.
But I'd forgotten something crucial: AG wasn't going to have to satisfy Tech's athletic director with regard to his job performance. So, essentially, AG didn't have any reason to worry.
Let the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's JENNIFER FLOYD ENGEL explain the current fiasco:
There are certain inalienable rights all athletes have, above all to know their health is being protected. This is not to be abused.
I guess that is why I come down firmly on the side of Texas Tech screwed up royally by firing football coach Mike Leach on Wednesday. I do not believe Leach abused anybody, nor do I believe Red Raiders AD Gerald Myers actually believes Leach did.
He despised Leach. He had an opportunity. So he fired him.
You do not have to know the back story to know something stinks at Texas Tech with this whole imbroglio. One of the best coaches in Red Raiders history is fired over one allegation, by one player, that appears to have been greatly exaggerated by a university that once employed one Robert Montgomery Knight.
"Mike Leach is alleged to have isolated a player in a dark closet for not practicing with a concussion" was the original tweet from Joe Schad of ESPN when this story broke Monday.
Hmm, wonder how ESPN got this info?
Maybe from ESPN analyst Craig James, who, as we all now know, is the father of the player in question. Adam James had the mild concussion that idiocy and incompetence, politics and feuds have allowed to mushroom into a big, fat disaster in Lubbock.
Good job ruining your program, Gerald. Excellent work. Really.
And as my best Tech friend noted, this is now two Texas football programs brought down by the James family. So really, excellent work by them, too.
Like I said: I thought hiring Alberto Gonzales was the worst decision Texas Tech's administration could make.
Boy, was I wrong.
S-T sports writer Dwain Price may have the best quote of all:
"All I know is what Mike Leach has done for that school," said former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt. "When he came there they were drawing 35,000 fans, and they sell out now with about 20,000 more fans. They’ve gone to 10 consecutive bowl games with Leach, and he ran a clean program. I’m devastated because I think he [Leach] is not only a great football coach, I think he’s a heck of a good person."
The school apparently has a bred-in-the-bone allergy to deviating from its traditions of ... well.
Don't take my word for it. The Star Telegram has more:
So, where’s the smoking gun that results in firing a football coach who has won 84 games in 10 seasons at a school with a career winning percentage of .563 and no outright conference championships since its days as a member of the defunct Border Conference in the 1950s?
I don’t know. I do know that Leach has contributed more victories to Tech’s career ledger (510-393-32) than any of his 12 predecessors in Lubbock. I also know that his players graduate at a much higher rate than the national average. I also know this:
I have covered college football since 1987 and I have seen things happen in Lubbock under Leach that I never envisioned.
There was the magical scene at last year’s Texas game, where the Red Raiders defeated the top-ranked Longhorns 39-33 to remain undefeated and move to No. 2 in The Associated Press poll (No. 1 on my ballot). Even more impressive was the follow-up a week later: a 56-20 rout of No. 8 Oklahoma State when many upstart teams would have been tempted to relax and rest on their laurels.
I also know this: When Spike Dykes walked away under pressure after the 1999 season with a record of 82-67-1, I predicted — in print — that Tech would not be able to find a replacement who could match his success rate or his longevity. I even stupidly offered to eat those words if it ever happened.
With Leach’s current mark at 84-43, some kindly Tech fans with long memories have offered reminders about my foolishness. Let’s just say newsprint tastes best with a little salt and salsa. And I salute Mike Leach for showing me how wrong I could be.
Oh, you want links from other sources? Like ESPN, home of Craig James of Pony Express fame? Naah. And though I worked there longer than I did at Tech, I'm not linking the Avalanche-Journal on this, either. But I will recommend you to watch KCBD.com's recent "Consider This With Dan Jackson" pieces (from back-to-back nights) about Tech's treatment of its winningest coach, ever.
Here's some more S-T info on Leach:
and even Randy Galloway, chief of the S-T's "Hater" squad, doesn't think TTU did itself any favors here.
Climb on the first airplane to Lubbock, confront Leach behind closed doors, dog-cuss him if necessary, punch him out if necessary, and then tell the coach that Adam was leaving the school, and wanted an immediate football release (allowing him to play next season at another school).
If Leach refused the release, Craig’s name alone would have gotten him an audience with the athletic director or all the way to the top of the school’s board of regents. The football release would have happened, no doubt, and Leach had to know that.
By the James’ family issuing a direct complaint to the administration everything went national after the suspension. I’m not sure this was the intent of the family, but it suggests someone at the top, or Craig himself, or both, wanted the story to go ugly and go national. Particularly with a high-profile name doing the complaining against a football coach with Lubbock enemies.
Listening to Craig on an ESPN interview last night, he came across, at least to me, as wanting the solution to be the firing of Leach. If I’m wrong, then sorry, but I’m just saying.
Whatever, it’s already both the James family and Leach being forever tattooed in this ordeal, and a good football program at Tech is on the brink. Believe me, Craig James, with his ESPN job, doesn’t need this kind of messy attention any more than Mike Leach does.