Is Mike Leach playing with a full deck?
Saturday night’s Alamo Bowl certainly stole the limelight from all of the big-money bowls that have been promoted on television for the past couple of weeks thanks to the fiasco surrounding the firing of Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach earlier in the week.
Some of the events leading up to Leach’s dismissal seem kind of hard to swallow, but it’s becoming abundantly clear who may be telling the un-truths.
First of all we must admit that this Korner has admired Mike Leach as a head football coach since he came to Texas Tech some 10 years ago. We loved watching his pass-first offense in which his team used to try to outscore the opposition. But lately, the Raiders have come up with a pretty good defense and the wins just kept coming.
Texas Tech quarterbacks would almost automatically be among the national leaders in passing offense, regardless of who they were or where they came from. Mike Leach would teach each quarterback his offense and the one who ran it most effectively would emerge as Texas Tech’s starting quarterback.
The same thing was true with the blue chip wide receivers that poured out of Texas high schools. They wanted to showcase their wares in a pass-oriented program which meant they wanted to play at the next level for Texas Tech.
Everything was hunky-dory at Texas Tech until one of their players suffered a mild concussion a week before the Alamo Bowl.
Nothing much would have been said about the incident EXCEPT that the player was the son of former NFL player and current ESPN college football analyst Craig James.
When Adam James told his dad that Leach allegedly ordered him to remain in a utility closet two times while the team practiced and would kick him off the team if he dared come out, Craig James went into orbit.
And when the Texas Tech athletic department and board of regents got wind of the incident, Leach was immediately suspended from coaching the team in the Alamo Bowl for putting a player at risk for additional injury.
And when Leach filed an injunction to allow him to coach in the bowl game, the school called a hearing last Wednesday and terminated his contract—both for his actions toward a player and for “insubordination.”
Since then Leach has been squawking to whoever in the media would listen, complaining that Craig James was always around the school “meddling.” But with James being an ESPN college football announcer, part of his job is finding out pertinent information that would enhance his game-calling duties.
Last weekend Craig James issued a statement accusing Leach of making damaging and untrue statements about his actions, about his son and a business relationship that does not exist between him and Texas Tech University.
Leach believes his firing was because of the $800,000 bonus he was to receive for getting his team into the Alamo Bowl.
According to last weekend’s issue of The Wall Street Journal an article reports that three prominent current and former members Texas Tech’s board of regents said “the firing was largely the result of ill will leftover from heated contract negotiations early last year.”
The article stated that in April, 2008, Leach’s representatives from the sports agency IMG sent a proposal for a contract extension that would pay Leach $15.7 million over five years and make him one of the 10 highest-paid coaches in college football. At that point Leach had a 65-37 record and had taken the team to eight consecutive bowl games.
“According to a person familiar with Leach’s side of the negotiations,” the article continues, “athletic director Gerald Myers sent the agents a short note declining to negotiate.”
Ten months later, in January 2009, Texas Tech board members received e-mails from the sports agency about Leach’s contract, but did not sent a copy to Myers, who was angered by the move.
Board member Jerry Turner also was upset by the move and was quoted in the article as saying, “They were trying to get us to put pressure on the athletic director and force Tech to come up with the terms they wanted.”
Turner added that school officials were also frustrated by reports Leach was looking at coaching vacancies at other schools during the football season.
“One month later,” the article concludes, “following a meeting between Leach and the school’s chancellor, Kent Hance, the coach signed a contract for five years and $12.7 million—making him one of 24 college football coaches making at least $2 million a season.”
Saturday night Texas Tech was coached by interim coach Ruffin McNeill, who did something Mike Leach does not believe in doing– he changed quarterbacks in the middle of the game.
Starting quarterback Taylor Potts left the game with an injury to his non-throwing hand to get it X-rayed and inserted backup Steven Sheffield although Potts returned with negative results ready to continue playing.
Sheffield rallied the Red Raiders from a 31-27 deficit to down a pesky Michigan State team 41-31 to somewhat quiet the partisan crowd of Texas Tech fans who loudly booed Adam James near the Raiders’ bench dressed in street clothes and his No. 82 jersey and displayed “Fire Gerald Myers” signs.
As far as this Korner is concerned, we remember watching Texas Tech play about a month ago and couldn’t figure out why the announcers kept calling the Raiders quarterback Taylor Potts, but the name on the back of his uniform was “Nick”.
We found out later that Leach thought the name Potts didn’t sound “athletic enough” so he ordered the team managers to sew on the name Nick.
This Korner hopes Texas Tech hires Ruffin McNeill as the permanent head coach and wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Leach tries to take credit for the Texas Tech Alamo Bowl victory by implying that he did a terrific job of preparing his team for the game.
Of course if they had lost he would have been able to say the team can’t win without him.
KWICKIES…With just two bowl games and four wild card NFL playoffs on this week’s upcoming agenda we will Fearlessly Forecast upsets Wednesday (Jan. 6) with Troy beating Central Michigan 35-31 in the GMAC Bowl and the Texas Longhorns slipping past Alabama 24-21 in Thursday’s BCS National championship game. On Saturday let’s hope the New York Jets can win their 3:30 p.m. (NBC) game without the opponent laying down and waving a white flag, beating Cincinnati 21-17 while our Dallas Cowboys try to beat Philadelphia for the third time this season at 7 p.m. (NBC) and do it handily 27-17. Sunday at noon (CBS) look for the Baltimore Ravens outscore New England 38-35 while Green Bay upsets Arizona 31-28 in a 3:40 p.m. (FOX) game that proves our point that a team loses its momentum when it rests some of the impact players the final game of the regular season.
The New England Patriots elected to play most of their high-dollar stars Sunday at Reliant Stadium against our Houston Texans and that idea sort of backfired on Head Coach Bill Belichick. His team allowed the Texans to score three second-half touchdowns and beat his Patriots 34-27 and stay eligible for the NFL playoffs for at least three hours and then lost star wide receiver Wes Welker for the playoffs when he suffered a torn ACL and MCL in the game.
Port Arthur Memorial and Texas Longhorns’ former star running back Jamaal Charles set a Kansas City Chiefs’ franchise record Sunday by rushing for 259 yards to help eliminate the Denver Broncos from the NFL playoffs, 44-24. Charles, who scored a 56-yard touchdown, broke Larry Johnson’s single-game record of 211 yards set in 2005. Charles became the Chiefs’ featured running back when the team released Johnson earlier this season for conduct detrimental to the team.
A couple of NFL firings have already occurred at this writing including the expected canning of Jim Zorn by the Washington Redskins and the entire coaching staff at Buffalo. The Bills had fired Head Coach Dick Jauron earlier in the season.
JUST BETWEEN US…We harped on this subject last week about playoff-bound NFL teams “resting” some of their impact players to keep them from being hurt for the playoffs or whatever weak reason the team’s management uses. Not only are the fans who pay big bucks for tickets getting the green wienie, but what about the pro football fans who watch the games at home on their televisions?
Fortunately Southeast Texas NFL fans were lucky enough to watch the Houston Texans and the Dallas Cowboys win their final game of the season in hopes of making the playoffs. Dallas was in but the Texans needed to have several things happen, one of which is that the Cincinnati Bengals had to beat the Jets in New York Sunday night. The Bengals pulled most of their players and would have had a difficult time beating the Sabine Pass Sharks the way they played.
Network executives should be up in arms having to show fiascos like that game and pay the exorbitant fees the NFL demands to show their games on TV. The networks should get a nice fat rebate from the NFL if the league continues to allow teams to play their scrubs before a national TV audience the final couple weeks of the season. Or the networks should instead show re-runs of “The 3 Stooges” and get just as many laughs as these so-called football games are getting.