I have been to Lubbock on more than one occasion. It is a nice place. Probably about the size of Conway. It is a college town surrounded by huge farms and ranches. The kind of operations we just don't have here in Arkansas for the most part. In the 2 or 3 times I have visited Lubbock I saw lots of folks in western wear. I saw men in suits and cowboy boots. I never once saw any adult dressed like Texas Tech coach Mike Leach when he posed for the above-referenced picture that graced the cover on the New York Times Magazine a couple of years ago.
And I think that is part of the reason Leach is in the fix he is in today. You don't see many guys in Lubbock in Hawaiian shirts and shorts. And you sure don't see them coaching football in the Big 12.
Let us backtrack a bit. Last week, Craig James, ESPN football analyst and former SMU and NFL star said that Leach had ordered his son Adam isolated in an electrical closet when he couldn't practice due to a mild concussion. Leach was immediately suspended from his coaching duties pending the outcome of an investigation. Leach sued, seeking a Temporary Restraining Order to allow him to coach in last night's Alamo Bowl. Texas Tech responded by terminating Leach's employment on the Courthouse steps.
In an interview with the New York Times, Leach denied mistreating any player. He claimed that Adam James was lazy and had a sense of entitlement fueled by his meddling father. He also said that he believed that Athletic Director Gerald Myers had it in for him and that they fired him when they did to avoid paying him an $800,000 bonus for getting the Raiders into the post-season. You can check out his interview on the jump: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/01/sports/ncaafootball/01leach.html?em .
Toward the bottom of the story you will see a link to a Dallas Morning News article that published numerous e-mails between boosters and Tech administrators indicating that the brass there were indeed not happy with Leach's incessant salary demands and interviews with other schools. Which leads credence to Leach's belief that his boss was out to get him.
Of course, somebody is lying here. All we know is that Adam James was removed from practice and placed somewhere out of the sun allegedly due to the concussion he had sustained earlier in the week. Whether Adam was confined in what he described as penal conditions is not yet known although the team physician signed an Affidavit in which he testified that putting the young man in isolation as Leach did was a deviation from the medical standard of care even if it didn't hurt him any: http://collegefootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/01/02/dr-michael-phy-affidavit/ .
Well, that's not all we know. We know that Craig James, along with Eric Dickerson, played for perhaps the dirtiest football program in the history of college football. Money was funnelled to SMU Mustangs from a network of boosters that included the Governor of Texas. For this reason, SMU received the death penalty from the NCAA, a blow from which it has only recently recovered. We also know that Leach won games and that he graduated players. Speaking of players, it would appear that most of them support their former coach and deny that he ever mistreated anybody as you can see here :http://www.lubbockonline.com/stories/123109/spo_541264606.shtml .
Here's something else we know. Texas Tech's Athletic Director Gerald Myers hired Bob Knight to coach the men's basketball team after he was canned at Indiana. Knight was fired after he grabbed a student. He was also caught on tape grasping a player by the throat during practice. It appears Myers suspended Leach indefinitely upon the allegation of a powerful booster that claimed his son had been mistreated. Which may or may not have been appropriate. What did he do to Knight when he got into an altercation in a grocery store with Texas Tech's Chancellor? He suspended him for all of five days. Granted, Knight apologized. Texas Tech says it had drafted an apology for Leach but that he refused to sign. Leach's lawyer says that never happened.
So maybe Leach is justified in feeling that Texas Tech is coming down way too hard on him. He has vowed to sue. It will all come out in the wash then. That much is assured.
Oh. We know one more thing as well. No matter who is lying, this whole transaction is a parable about everything that is wrong with big time college athletics.
We know that too.