One would think that with all the controversy surrounding the program, Red Raider Nation would be happy with their gritty 41-31 victory over Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl. The game, which could also be called the "Plaintiff Bowl" given the various off-field legalities for both teams, had a ton of offense and numerous lead changes.
Tech fans, however, showed a complete lack of class with their treatment of Adam James, the injured receiver that is the focal point of the Leach firing situation. At the game, he was loudly booed and taunted by fans, including many with signs that can be categorized, at best, as in extremely poor taste.
Raider nation has also taken to posting a huge number of videos on public forums such as Facebook, showing themselves in closets and taunting Mr. James in various diatribes. This, no matter what you feel about Coach Leach, is just not right.
Let's review the facts:
- James was and still is, injured with a concussion.
- James was relegated to a shed at practice because of Coach Leach.
- The "shed therapy" is not recognized by any doctors and the Tech medical staff has been quite adamant that they did not approve of such.
- James did as he was told, but reported it to his parents.
- His parents, one of whom is Craig James the TV football sportscaster, reported this to the University administration.
- Leach was offered a chance to keep coaching the Bowl game if he signed an apology to the family; he refused.
- Leach was suspended from the Alamo Bowl by the administration.
- Leach went to court to get an injunction to continue coaching the Bowl but...
- The administration then fired him, making the injunction moot.
It is amusing to me the number of people who are willing to chastise James for not being "tough enough," being a "wussy," and other generalized insults to his manhood. Amusing because most of the accusers are arm chair athletes, vicariously living their dreams through kids like James.
Most of the protesters and bloggers would call in sick to work with a minor back ache, never mind compete with contusions, broken bones, sprains, and the other various "minor" injuries that anyone who has competed at a high level has to play through.
And concussions are nothing to be trifled with now a days. Not only can they cause permanent damage, but they can have a wide range of symptoms. A patient can appear OK one day and then have a dramatic relapse the next.
But let's examine the main critiques of Adam James from Raider nation.
1) Adam James was a crybaby, bad influence, and did not give his full effort Well, it's obvious at this juncture that James was not one of Coach Leach's favorites. But he did, in fact, have a concussion. So what was he supposed to do?
He came to practice, but was in street clothes because of his injury. Since Leach perceived him as a laggard, he was humiliated and sent to the infamous shed. Seems to me that the kid was in a no win situation.
2) The punishment didn't really hurt him
The team doctors and physicians have come out and explicitly said that they did not approve of the treatment of James. Plus, banishing him and public humiliation give the team a very strong message; play hurt, even with a concussion.
But once again, why boo James? He was sent to the shed and then went there. He's not the one whose idea of proper care and team leadership includes ridicule and banishment.
3) His big name dad stuck up for him
Yes he did, if he didn't, what kind of father would he be? If my kid had a concussion, and the coach responded to this by putting him in a shed at practice, you can bet your boots I'd be calling the administration, pronto. hat's what parents do.
As aforementioned, obviously James was not the coach's favorite. But the situations like work ethic, team spirit, and the like, need to be addressed when the athlete in question is medically approved to practice and play, NOT when he has a concussion.
And let's be honest here, coaches are not always right They are human and pick favorites and, yes, goats. I've played competitive athletics for a long time and can site many instances of a coach who, for whatever reason, just does not like or mesh with a player. Suddenly, the kid can't even breathe right. As with most things in life, I'm sure this personality conflict is not one sided.
While Leach may have perceived James as a slacker, no one has really heard James story. He may have perceived Leach as unfair and biased against him and the empirical evidence would seem to support him. It is rather telling that in addition to the medical staff back pedaling away from this about as quick as they could, James teammates have made an effort to emphasize their support of him in this ordeal.
Let's not forget one final thing; Coach Leach was offered a chance to continue and coach the Alamo Bowl if he had just signed an apology to James. No big publicity would have surrounded this and things could have gone on. But, in what amounts to a huge display of hubris and chutzpah, Leach the pirate said "No, I will not sign."
So, instead of being the larger human being, taking the leadership role as a coach should, and getting on with things for the better of the team, he pushed it to prove his power.
Coach Leach decided to draw a line in the sand for the Tech administration. They offered him a way to save face for all parties involved, with a minimum of fuss. He has found out that, even with a multi-million dollar contract, he is still an employee who must answer to his bosses and when you spurn them as he did, he faces the same result that the vast majority of us out here in the real world would; it's called unemployment.
I know many Tech fans are disappointed and angry that this has happened. Leach has taken the Red Raider program to heights never seen before in its long history. Taking pot shots at James, however, is unwarranted and shows a lack of both class and understanding. Even if he did grow up the privileged son of a former NFL player and current TV broadcaster, he is still, after all, just a 19-year-old kid.
He did what any kid be they raised in life styles of the "rich and famous" or from a much more modest background would have done; He told his parents when he was mistreated.
This is not Adam James' fault.