An Open Letter to the Texas Tech Admin., ESPN, Craig James, and TTU Fans

Justin MallowContributor IJanuary 3, 2010

HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 26: Head coach Mike Leach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders talks with his defense while playing against the University of Houston at Robertson Stadium on September 26, 2009 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Would there be sports reporting without ESPN? Really? I mean...Really? When a company weilds this type of power and influence, they tend to take chances. The chance they took with Craig James may just cost them more than they expected.

The Public Reality:
Craig James was allowed to broadcast 4-5 of the Texas Tech games this year, in which his son played. Which also means that he would have been around the team for at least 10-15 days with unfettered access to the coaches and team where he could lobby for playing time for his kid, instead of doing real work for ESPN. Whether or not that was the intention of Craig James, that is the reality to the public.

The business/personal relationship line was blurred when this happend and neither ESPN nor the Tech adminstration found out about it until too late. This is the root of the problem.  

ESPN has 5000 sporting events going on at any one time worldwide. There is no way to have enough folks monitoring every single potential ethical situation with every single employee at ESPN. But Craig James is a well known college football commentator and I doubt he sneezes without someone at ESPN knowing about it. That point alone leads me to believe the employee responsible for handing out game assignments at ESPN intentionally overlooked the glaring dilemma at the behest of Craig James.

I predict this oversight will cost  TTU, ESPN, Leach and the city of Lubbock much more than they could have ever imagined.

ESPN may end up the major losing party in a lawsuit for their failure to identify and control a potential damaging situation. I wouldn't be shocked to find out that there is now a stipulation in contracts prohibiting employees form being able to commentate on the teams that their children play for in the future. It may have existed previously. If it didn't, we really need to be asking why?

What Adam James may be as a person, player etc, doesn't matter. He and the rest of the James family, even extended family, are going to suffer for a while both publicly and privately, regardless of the amount of support they get from their teammates, TTU administration, and ESPN. 

I applaud the Texas Tech football team for sticking together after the game and handling the interviews professionally. They are right; win-lose-or draw, they are a family. 

Whatever they have to do to maintain that camaraderie in the locker room, I hope they do it. If having Adam James in that locker room leads to better results on the field in the next few years, then those guys need to publicly stick up for their player/brother and fight like hell, because it is going to be a hell of a long fight.

They need to prove to everyone that the net effect of having him there is better than the net effect of having Leach there. By winning, by increasing attendance, by increasing revenue, by increasing publicity, graduation rates etc. It's gong to take a team effort to replace a dynamic leader such as Leach and I'm really not sure if it can be done. But from the bottom of my heart, I think Batch said it right;TTU is bigger than all of this.

I hope that TTU does the right thing and pays Leach for the net affect of his time at this university and doesn't draw this out any longer than necessary. I hope that ESPN reevaluates their business decisions in the future and the impact of not having proper oversight. I hope Craig James steps down from ESPN and apologizes to the folks here at Tech in a very public way. Not for the consequences of his actions, but for the results of being an over zealous parent. Adolescence was extended a little too far and it cost TTU, the fans, the James family, Lubbock and ESPN greatly. 

I hope Gerald Myers steps down,even though I still have a receding soft spot for taking a chance on Mike Leach and Bob Knight. 

For Mike Leach, you, your team, and your coaching staff ,deserve a lot of credit for the last 10 years. I hope that you can make a successful return to college football, whether it be at Tech or somewhere else. I don't know where the funds are going to come from to pay your just lawsuit, but don't take all the money from Texas Tech.

For Adam and Craig James; I don't envy your perceived work ethic or your current situation now or in the future. I doubt your intention was to rid the school of such a popular figure, but it happened. If it was a series of events over a long period of time that lead to Mike Leach getting fired, then the University needs to release all that information asap. Coaches don't get fired for one incident (Except that Price fellow). If y'all aren't the only problems, then y'all don't deserve to shoulder all the blame.

This is a big sham, and a shame.