This Mike Leach story has taken the nation by storm. Not quite to the extent of Tiger Woods, but it's come close. But it'll probably blow over in a few days, and no one will have much of an opinion anymore, and they probably won't care. The guy's gone; why should they?
They should care because he doesn't have a job anymore, and he should. Everyone is falling on one of two sides: Leach should've been fired, Leach shouldn't have been fired. I'm going with the former.
I think we've all experienced, either directly or indirectly, the “coach's son.” Or at least the kid who had a parent that meddled with every aspect of the team, regardless of whether the coach actually appreciated any of the input.
Apparently, Craig James, college football analyst for ESPN and father of accuser Adam James, was frequently interjecting himself into Texas Tech's general procedures. He went to practices, talked to Leach about his son's playing time, and probably tried to leverage his ESPN position for more benefits for Adam. Craig was, for all intents and purposes, that irritating dad who constantly hounded the coaches about how his kid should be treated.
Keeping in mind Craig's national outlet, Leach would've been an absolute moron to treat Adam harshly. And Leach is, by all accounts, far from a moron. He graduated from BYU and then went to Pepperdine Law school where he graduated in three years. He perfected the ubiquitous spread offense, which allowed him to get the greatest results from the smallest amount of talent.
According to the New York Times Magazine, Leach chose one topic each week to study and downright consume. Such topics included whales, Daniel Boone, and of course, pirates. He was an academic at heart, a man who enjoyed using his brain, not necessarily his power.
Leach was also favorable towards unorthodox behavior. According to USA Today columnist Chrstine Brennan, when a player was experiencing difficulty in the classroom, Leach “decided to put a desk at midfield so the player could study during practice.” That's a far cry from the so-called “electrical closet” Adam James alleged he was locked in.
Adam had constantly been questioned about his work ethic, both from coaches and teammates. Brennan also reports “Others were quoted as saying Adam James was a bad influence on his teammates.”
CBS Sports obtained six emails from current and former players that disparage Adam, calling him "unusually lazy and entitled" and a “complete jerk.” But the difference between Adam and just another disgruntled, “lazy” player, goes back Craig James.
If Adam were just some kid whose dad didn't have a national platform (and with ESPN, it's more like a mountain) on which to stand and spout his accusations and concerns, that player's claims probably would have been ignored.
The irrelevant father could shout as from the mountain tops and no one would listen because, well, no one cares what some no-name guy says about a nationally-acclaimed coach who has endeared himself to the school's surrounding community and nation as a whole.
But Adam knew quite well that a mere whisper from his father has the potential to reach millions upon millions upon millions of ears. From Adam's perspective, what's the best way to get back at a coach, no matter how much he's liked, if you believe he treated you unfairly by not providing enough playing time? Have your father, who will probably believe every word you tell him, profess your “mistreatment” on the King of all sports networks.
The statements James made on that network directly contradict Leach's. Reportedly, Adam showed up to practice with sunglasses because of a concussion; Leach instructed he be relegated to a “dark” room and not allowed to sit or lean. Leach has no similar reports of inhumane behavior in his past.
Plus, Leach maintains Adam was allowed to sit, and a couple of coaches were instructed to check up on him to make sure he was okay.
The whole "concussion" business is a fairly new development, anyway. Professional organizations still aren't completely sure how to deal with them, so why should a college coach know the absolute proper procedures? Without in-depth knowledge of medical treatment for concussions, a dark room seems a reasonable place to reside if sunlight proves bothersome.
As an aside, has anyone seen the other video of the “dark room” to which Adam was relegated? It's pretty nice. Sure, it's dark, but there's enough room to park a couple large cars; there's a large fan in case he got warm; it even has a fridge.
Then there's that “electrical closet” accusation, which Leach outright denies. Adam claims he was stationed there for three hours, but has no proof other than video he made with his cell phone (which he easily could've made any time he pleased). No coaches or other players have any evidence that Leach placed him in said closet; only Adam's word, which at this point, doesn't seem very credible.
Now on to what I believe is the main motivating factor for Leach's dismissal: money. Last year, when Tech gave him the extension, they did so begrudgingly. But because the community and rest of the school supported Leach to such a large degree, the administration really didn't have a choice unless they wanted to be crucified for being cheap.
Leach was fired on Wednesday, less than 24 hours before he was owed an $800,000 bonus. That seems awfully coincidental, especially considering Tech's prior history with being reluctant to offer large sums of money.
But now they had a legitimate reason to fire Leach: ostensible mistreatment of a player. To Tech, it didn't matter if Leach actually engaged in the behavior of which he was accused; the only thing that mattered is a nationally-recognized college football analyst, and father of a player on the team, claimed Leach treated his son in an inhumane way. That's all Tech needed.
Even a whiff of mistreatment of a player, and Tech probably would've fired Leach immediately. My guess is they decided to fire Leach before even opening an investigation into the accuracy of the James claims. There's no way he was getting that $800 grand if Tech could help it.
So Leach is gone. Adam is still there.
And so's the money.