Mike Leach fails in legal battle over firing at Texas Tech

At Texas judge dismissed the former Red Raiders coach's defamation suit against Craig James, ESPN and Spaeth Communications. Leach can still appeal the decision, but considering the precedent set in his wrongful termination suit against the university, a reversal seems unlikely.

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Leach's case against James, ESPN dismissed

The former Texas Tech coach can still appeal.


Mike Leach's Lawsuits Against ESPN, Texas Tech Definitely Not Dropped, In Case You Wondered

Washington State coach Mike Leach is definitely not yet done suing Texas Tech, ESPN and Craig James.


Mike Leach Lawsuit Against Texas Tech Thrown Out By Court

In December of 2009, Texas Tech fired Mike Leach. A couple of weeks later, Leach filed a wrongful termination suit against the school. A year passed, likely full of lawyer-y type stuff, and now this: the 7th Court of Appeals has thrown out Leach's breach of contract claim

Essentially the court ruled on Friday that Texas Tech is "immune to Leach's attempts to receive monetary damages from the university." 

However, the ruling does still allow Leach to continue to try and prove that Texas Tech's reasons for firing him were false, but he is no longer able to seek "monetary relief."

"We have felt all along that we would win, and we did win," Tech attorney Dickey Grigg said in a statement e-mailed Friday morning. "As we've maintained all along, the facts and the law were clear, and the Court of Appeals agreed. The breach of contract claim was properly dismissed, as were all other monetary claims."

Leach can still appeal, though, and it's expected that his attorney will indeed take it to the Texas Supreme Court.


Mike Leach Targets ESPN With Newest Lawsuit Centered On Craig James' Son

Mike Leach is back in court, this time suing ESPN and Spaeth Communications for defamation. The coach is already suing Texas Tech and ESPN’s Craig James for wrongful termination.

Short recap: Craig James’ son, Adam, was allegedly shut in a closet while he had a concussion. Mike Leach was eventually fired, Craig James was bumped from Alamo Bowl duty, lawyers descended. Which brings us to this.

The suit filed in Texas district court claims the network’s coverage of Leach’s firing last year was “willful and negligent defamation” and that it failed to “retract false and damaging statements” it made from “misinformation” provided to ESPN by Craig James.

ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said the company has not seen the lawsuit and that it would be inappropriate to comment. …

[Broadcaster Mike] Patrick described Adam James to “an audience of millions,” saying, “There is Adam James, who is the young man who was actually punished for having a concussion,” the lawsuit claims. Patrick’s comments left the impression that “Leach punished a player for having a concussion.”

Whether the Alamo Bowl was watched by “an audience of millions” — or at least millions who were actually listening to anything Mike Patrick said — is questionable, but in any case, this raises the prospects of more depositions involving Craig James and Leach, which will if nothing else provide some entertainment in the offseason.

And why would Leach think Spaeth Communications had anything to do with the purported clip post online of Adam James in the tight space?

YouTube shows the name of video’s uploader as "Spaethcom8181."

Well, yeah, there is that.

In the meantime, Leach reportedly wants to coach at the college level again. The question is whether the litigious end to his time in Lubbock will clear his name for future employers — or send a message that they hire him at their own peril?


Mike Leach To Drop Stone Cold Jurisprudential Science In October

Less than sixty shopping days until Leachmas! For those of you not following along in your page-a-day Countdown To Mike Leach Calling Craig James Horrible Names In Court calendars, look alive. We're under two months now until the Dread Cap'n Leach faces Texas Tech's band of marauding bureaucrats before the jolly magistrate:

The Amarillo appeals court handling former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach's lawsuit against the university over his 2009 firing has set Oct. 7 for oral arguments.

The school in Lubbock is appealing a trial court judge's ruling that, by its conduct, the university waived its right to sovereign immunity in Leach's breach of conduct claim.

Oct. 7, by the way, falls the week after the Iowa State game, so it's fairly safe to say spirits will be high on the University's side. It's also a mere two days before the Red Raiders are scheduled to meet Baylor at the Cotton Bowl. Will the old Cap'n is planning on pressing his pirate academy student section into service for a few warmup cheers on the courthouse steps? Stay tuned.

Follow along with college football's latest trial of the century here and at SBN's Texas Tech community, Double-T Nation.


Craig James Allegedly Threatened To Sue Texas Tech If Investigation Of Leach Did Not Happen

Man, Craig James just looks better and better in the whole Mike Leach ordeal. He already developed enough of a reputation over his and his son’s actions that set the dominoes in motion, eventually leading to Leach’s firing. Wednesday night it was revealed for the first time that James threatened to sue the university if it didn’t investigate then-coach Mike Leach.

Texas Tech University System attorney Ronny Wall wrote in the Tuesday memo to the Texas attorney general that the threat came during a Dec. 20 exchange with James’ father, ESPN sports analyst Craig James. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal obtained a copy of the memo in response to an open records request.

The Tech memo says James’ father “indicated that litigation could ensue” if Tech didn’t investigate Leach “for the improper treatment” of his son.

“The threat did not appear to be an idle threat as the parent expressed genuine concern for the health and well-being of his injured child, as well as other student-athletes,” the memo continued.

Through his spokesperson, James denies the allegation. Not that it matters much at this point. All parties involved certainly can’t look much worse anyway.


Mike Leach Files Lawsuit Against Texas Tech, Claims Defamation

This was an inevitable end for the Texas Tech-Mike Leach kerfuffle, but still. Mike Leach officially announced that he will seek legal retribution against Texas Tech University. From the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal:

Attorneys for former Texas Tech head football coach Mike Leach filed documents Friday specifically claiming the university wrongfully terminated the coach without cause.

The document alleges the university breached its contract with Leach, defamed him and committed fraud by not honoring his employment contract.

This comes on the heels of motions that Leach’s legal team filed on Thursday, which petitioned the court for a speedy trial. This is going to be fun!


VIDEO: Coach Leach Breaks His Silence, Grants Extensive Interviews

After saying in his initial statement that he'd prefer to engage in a question-and-answer session to discuss his firing, Mike Leach has done just that. In his first interview since being fired from Texas Tech, Mike Leach spoke for almost 40 minutes to the New York Times. From Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans at the Times:

It has been widely reported that Leach locked Adam James in a closet or a shed after James sustained a concussion at a practice last month. Leach said he only ordered James to be taken “out of the light” and did not know specifically where he had been taken.

“I was busy coaching practice,” Leach said.

He added: “There have been several things that have been brought to my attention on the ticker that’s just false,” Leach said, referring to ESPN’s bottom line ticker. “He was never locked anywhere. At no point was he locked anywhere. At no point was there an electrical closet.”

Leach described a divisive and tense relationship with Craig James, whom he said he had to deal with more than every other parent on the team combined. He said that James frequently attended practices and called assistant coaches.

“I think he used his position at ESPN to try to coerce me into allowing Adam to play more,” said Leach, who said he expected to coach again.

And then, later last night, Mike Leach spoke to ESPN:


Alleged Video Of Adam James Locked In Electrical Closet

Alleged video of Adam James in the alleged electrical closet that he was allegedly locked in by former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach. Allegedly. And presented with appropriate amounts of skepticism.

The YouTube descrption reads as follows: "This video was taken by Adam James, a player on the Texas Tech Red Raider football team on Saturday, December 19th, after being confined by Coach Mike Leach in an electrical closet off the Press Room at Jones AT&T Stadium. James was suffering from a concussion received during an earlier scrimmage game. James was ordered to stand in the darkness until released several hours later. James momentarily turned on a light to record his surroundings with his cell phone."

So, is it real? ESPN's Joe Schad seems to think so, and Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples says that the "link was provided by James family to WFAA-TV."

(via RedRaiders.com)

UPDATE: WFAA-TV in Dallas/Fort Worth reports: "This video link was given to WFAA.com by representatives of the James familiy. We have found that it is Adam James in a electrical closet, but we do not know if it was during a practice."


Leach: 'Texas Tech's Decision To Deal In Lies, Fabricate Story Led To My Firing'

In response to losing his job at Texas Tech earlier today, former head coach Mike Leach issued a statement Wednesday night.

“I want everyone to know what a privilege and pleasure it has been to teach and coach more than 400 student-athletes at Texas Tech University over the past 10 years. When I arrived at Texas Tech, the football program was on NCAA probation and the graduation rate was far below the national average. However, in the past 10 years, Tech has been to 10 straight bowl games, has the third best record in the Big 12 Conference, and has the highest graduation rate for football players of any public institution in the country.

Over the past several months, there have been individuals in the Texas Tech administration, Board of Regents and booster groups who have dealt in lies, and continue to do so. These lies have led to my firing this morning. I steadfastly refuse to deal in any lies, and am disappointed that I have not been afforded the opportunity for the truth to be known. Texas Tech’s decision to deal in lies and fabricate a story which led to my firing, includes, but is not limited by, the animosity remaining from last year’s contract negotiations. I will not tolerate such retaliatory action; additionally, we will pursue all available legal remedies.

Leach goes on to say that while he prefers "to engage in question and answer sessions," he was advised to leave it at just a statement for the time being.

The full release can be read here.


Texas Tech Releases Passive-Aggressive Statement On Firing Of Mike Leach

Texas Tech has released an official statement explaining their termination of head coach Mike Leach in the bitchiest possible terms without actually coming right out and calling him names:

The coach's termination was precipitated by his treatment of a player after the player was diagnosed with a concussion. The player was put at risk for additional injury. After the university was apprised of the treatment, Coach Leach was contacted by the administration of the university in an attempt to resolve the problem. In a defiant act of insubordination, Coach Leach continually refused to cooperate in a meaningful way to help resolve the complaint. He also refused to obey a suspension order and instead sued Texas Tech University. Further, his contemporaneous statements make it clear that the coach's actions against the player were meant to demean, humiliate and punish the player rather than to serve the team's best interest. This action, along with his continuous acts of insubordination, resulted in irreconcilable differences that make it impossible for coach Leach to remain at Texas Tech.

Juicy! Read the whole smoking screed here.


The Brief: Mike Leach Fired At Texas Tech And What It Means

Wait, what just happened? Yeah, Texas Tech fired Mike Leach, the most successful coach in their history coming off an eight win season and one season removed from the best season in their history. They have as many bowl wins in Mike Leach’s decade as they have in the entire history of the program, and have never had a losing season under Leach. And, yeah: he’s fired, effective immediately according to the university.

On what planet does this make sense? It makes sense in a world where Leach, an oddball among oddballs, finally reaches the limit of tolerance both on his part and on the part of his bosses in the TTU administration. Leach’s contract negotiations were, to put it politely, contentious. His flirtations with other jobs were brazen. The university’s patience with his high-profile antics was running low even before a season where he suspended players from Twitter, referred to their “fat little girlfriends” after a loss to Texas A&M, and secluded/imprisoned/whatever happened with Adam James. The university will hint at “other things” that Leach did or didn’t do to provoke his firing, but ultimately it came down to Leach pulling a suicide by injunction earlier today and forcing Texas Tech to fire him.

Suicide by injunction? In effect, yes. Leach filed suit against his employers, which isn’t exactly like sending a Christmas card unless you’re fond of dipping yours in anthrax.The hearing that was supposed to happen Wednesday never occurred, something due likely to Tech bypassing the legal process by firing him, and thus nullifying the hearing.

So, why does Texas Tech say he was fired? For cause, something Smart Football’s Chris Brown says the university likely has in legal terms.

“I anticipate them to focus on this clause: "Coach shall assure the fair and responsible treatment of student-athletes in relation to their health, welfare and discipline." Did he not give Adam James fair treatment? That’s unclear. Adam James claimed to suffer from a concussion, and, contrary to Craig James’s assertions, there is nothing detrimental to a player’s health about being isolated in a dark equipment shed or media room. Yet it does sound something akin to punishing an injured player, and I expect the University to take the position that Leach was trying to deter injured players from coming forward or not participating. That might have some weight.”

Whether he treated James fairly or not, the incident was the tipping point for a relationship long headed for trouble. Steve Spurrier said that no coach should spend longer than ten years at any single job. The story of Leach adds evidence in favor of his theory.

How’s this being received by Tech fans? Not well.

When Leach firing was announced in Lubbock courtroom, someone yelled, “Well you’re going to have a bunch of empty seats in that stadium!”

They will, even if they get their likely leading candidate and former Leach assistant Art Briles to replace Leach. Briles is currently coaching at Baylor, but he’s coaching at Baylor, so yeah: he’s available.

Will he get paid the $800K he’s owed if he were the coach? Likely, since by contract he’s technically employed for ten business days past the date of termination.

Who are the likely replacements? Not Ruffin McNeil, the close friend of Leach and interim head coach for the bowl game. Art Briles of Baylor and June Jones of SMU are both likely candidates on the face of things as they’re both spread coaches already working in the state of Texas. Houston offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, a former Leach assistant, is also possible, though he came out and supported Leach publicly during the James scandal.

And what for Leach? Television, if anyone has a sense of humor and some daring in the sports programming department. Future coaching spots are inevitable, though no obvious openings beckon thanks to hiring season being all but over.

Shouldn’t adults have been able to work this out? Yes, but that’s if there were any adults involved in this.


With Leach Fired, Will Texas Tech Turn To Baylor Coach?

With Mike Leach out at Texas Tech, there are a hundred different questions to ask, but here are the most obvious: Who’s taking over at Texas Tech, and where will Leach land on the college football landscape? As to the first question, here’s an early frontrunner:

A person close to situation tells the Houston Chronicle that Baylor coach Art Briles is the leading candidate to replace Mike Leach at Tech.

Briles coached under Leach for four years at Texas Tech, starting in 1999, before taking the head coaching position at Houston, which eventually led him back to the Big 12, heading up a suddenly-rejuvenated Baylor program. Now, with Leach out at Texas Tech, it seems another cycle of change has been set in motion. And the coaching carousel continues…


Mike Leach Fired By Texas Tech; Confirmed By Attorney Ted Liggett

Texas Tech has fired head coach Mike Leach following this week’s controversy over his alleged mistreatment of wide receiver Adam James.

The firing has been confirmed by Leach's attorney, Ted Liggett, who was given a termination letter by Texas Tech before Wednesday's court hearing for an injunction against the university, which would allow Leach to coach the team's bowl game. The letter read that Leach was "terminated with cause effective immediately."

To discuss the Mike Leach firing with Texas Tech fans, or to just watch them unleash their anger on the internet, head to our Red Raiders blog, Double T Nation.


Firing Mike Leach Could Cost Texas Tech $1.6 Million

Amid the news that Mike Leach filed an injunction against Texas Tech and that a court date has been set for Wednesday morning are whispers that the school may just go ahead and fire him before this thing even reaches the court. According to Chris Brown, editor of Smart Football, if the university opts to fire him without cause, it'll cost 'em.

FYI if Tech fires Leach w/o cause they owe him $400k for every remaining contract year, deliverable as a lump sum. 4 yrs left, so $1.6m


Document: Mike Leach Files Court Injunction Against Texas Tech

Mike Leach has filed a motion for a temporary injunction against Texas Tech's suspension that, if approved, would allow him to coach in Texas Tech's January 2nd bowl game against Michigan State. SBNation.com has obtained a copy of the injunction request, which you can download in .PDF format here, or you can scroll down to read it in our Flash player.

Within the complaint, we find the letter from the University to coach Leach that first informed him of the suspension:


In response to that claim and the subsequent controversy, Leach's representation contends the following:

"Mike Leach has been accused by a 'player and his parents' of mistreating one of the players at Texas Tech. There has been absolutely no evidence presented that Mike Leach committed any act which harmed or caused any risk to his player or that he otherwise violated any university rules or standards. Craig James, an ESPN analyst and rumored potential political candidate, has apparently fueled this controvery to retaliate against Mike Leach for his displeasure with the extent of his son's role on Texas Tech University's football team."

Without any explanation about what Mike Leach did wrong, without even naming the individual(s) who have accused Mike Leach of wrongdoing, and with absolutely no process regarding the allegations, it is unjust and unconscionable for Defandant (Texas Tech) to suspend Mike Leach so as to prevent him from coaching his team just days before the Alamo Bowl. There is no legal grounds for the suspension, and no provision in Mike Leach's contract authorizing it.

And then in Leach's affidavit, the Texas Tech coach makes a personal statement to the court:

On December 28th, I was notified that I was suspended from all duties as Head Football Coach effective immediately. I was provided any reason except that 'Texas Tech recently received a complaint from a player and his parents regarding [my] treatment of him after his injury.' The letter did not indicate what I had allegedly done wrong, nor did it reference any rules or standards that I allegedly violated. It did not even identify the players or parents who accused me of mistreatment. There has been absolutely no evidence presented to me that I committed any act which violated any university rules or standards. I have never and would never intentionally harm a player. I am committed to the University of Texas Tech and the well being of my football players. I have been forced into this situation without being afforded any process. Not being able to coach immediately will cause irreperable harm because preparation for the game is ongoing and it will be over on January 2, 2009. Every minute of preparation is critical to be ready for the game.

We'd heard rumblings that Mike Leach intended to fight this suspension and these allegations, and indeed, his dissent is now a matter of public record. You can read the full document below.


PHOTO: Mike Leach's 'Shed' And Texas Tech Practice Field

While news out of Lubbock has slowed to a trickle since last night's allegations and this morning's retort from Leach's lawyer and a host of ex-players, the rest of us are left to wonder what, exactly, we're talking about here. Is it a story of an abusive coach, or a whiny player? While the photo below doesn't necessarily provide a definitive answer, it helps clarify where Leach sent Adam James.

Was it a shed, an equipment room, the press box, an electrical closet...some dark hole in the backwoods of Lubbock, Texas? According to our Texas Tech blog, Double T Nation, it was the white structure in the background of this Texas Tech practice, to be exact:


So, what do you think? I guess if you were forced to stay in there for three hours, it would be pretty frustrating. But all things considered, that seems rather tame compared with the dramatic tales of Leach sending James to the "darkest, tighest spot" he could find.


Several Former Texas Tech Players Defend Coach Leach

Over at SB Nation’s Texas Tech blog, Double T Nation, they’re all over this story, including an article they found this morning which reached out to former Texas Tech players for their perspective. From the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal:

Several former Red Raiders vehemently defended Leach on Monday after he was indefinitely suspended by the university for his alleged mistreatment of an injured player. Leach’s punishment came in response to a complaint made by sophomore receiver Adam James and his family, along with the results of an internal investigation that Tech administrators said is ongoing. […]

[Former player, Glenn] January said the shed in which James spent practice on Dec. 17 might have been the most appropriate place to deal with his concussion, because it kept him out of the sunlight. January said he and his teammates on the offensive line often retreated to the same shed during practices to rest and escape the heat.

"It’s not like it’s some dungeon," he said.

To which Double T Nation responded:

There’s a few things to take away from some of these former players: 1) Loper doesn’t come out and simply confirm what some of may think about Adam, but he certainly takes the stance Adam may not be the sort that is cut out to play college football; 2) the darkest place in all of humanity is starting to sound like a place out of the sun light and not a dungeon or some sort of threatening place, but a place where players would convene to get out of the sun.

So while yesterday’s account of the events left Leach looking like a cretin, it seems his players remember a different coach. Again from the Avalanche, another ex-Red Raider, currently in the NFL, says he never saw Coach Leach put any player in harm’s way:

"The whole time I was there, and as well as I know coach Leach, he would never do anything to publicly humiliate or endanger someone’s well-being, and he would never do anything unprofessional," Loper said. "… I never saw him show any kind of favoritism or any kind of hate toward any singular person."

Perhaps the public’s been rushing to judgment on this one? The description we heard sounded like the work of a callous, reckless bully. But then, there’s two sides to every story. To wit, Leach’s lawyer explains the coach’s side of things:

Ted Liggett, Leach’s attorney, said James “was placed in an equipment room as it was much cooler and darker” than the practice field “after a doctor had examined him and returned him to the field.”

Liggett said that on that day, a trainer was posted outside the room and that James was provided ice. Liggett said that James was secluded for one to two hours. Liggett said that on another occasion, James was placed in a “press room with air-conditioning and a stationary bike he could use.” Liggett also said Leach placed James in those environments because “Mike tries to keep the players that are unable to practice as close as he can.”

While the initial news yesterday made this sound like a sort of doomsday scenario for Leach, now it seems like perhaps Leach is being painted in an unfair light. The perceived brutality toward James—and insensitivity to concussions—now seems overblown. The player wasn’t locked in an electrical closet or some otherwise hellish chamber from our nightmares.

Would this be a big deal if Adam James wasn’t the son of a famous ESPN Broadcaster? Maybe not. None of this exonerates Leach at the moment, but as opposed to yesterday’s swift condemnations, suddenly there’s a shadow of doubt as to whether any of this merits attention.


Bloggers: Is Mike Leach An Abusive Coach Or Victim Of Overprotective Parents?

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach has been accused of directing a trainer to confine Adam James, son of ESPN analyst Craig James, to an equipment room for three hours and, days later, told a trainer to place James in an electrical closet. While the legal back-and-forth begins and each side digs in, Nebraska blog Corn Nation ponders whether this is a case of Leach being an abusive coach or if this is all part of the “wussification of America.”

I think the devil is in the details. Leach’s attorney confirms much of the details of the situation, but says the circumstances will exonerate Leach in the end. How dark was the room he was placed in, how confined was James, and what was the message Leach was trying to send? Leach has a history of unorthodox handling of players; in March, Leach sent wide receiver Edward Britton out to study hall at midfield on a 30 degree day snowy day.

No matter what actually happens, I think it’s unlikely that Mike Leach will ever coach at Texas Tech again. The relationship between Leach and Tech’s administration were strained last winter during contract negotiations. How do these two sides reconcile after all this? I just don’t see it; if that was going to happen, this would have been resolved before it all exploded nationally.

Meanwhile, Texas Tech blog Double T Nation doesn’t know where to begin on the issue but has a feeling that the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

I’m imagining something like the following. Adam suffers a mild concussion and is held out of practice. Adam returned to practice wearing sun glasses told Leach that he had to wear sunglasses under doctors orders and Leach probably felt that this was a bit much, perhaps Adam didn’t have the requisite respect for Leach that Leach thought he deserved. Leach then directs that Adam go into a closet and sit there and think about his actions. The James family hears about the incident and then demands that Leach apologize for his actions. Leach, being somewhat of a smart-ass, probably responded something to the effect that Leach he was helping the situation as Adam needed the darkness so as to not hurt his concussion. Leach then probably asked that someone make sure that Adam actually stayed in the closet during the team practice. I think it’s been reported that there was a “guard” present, but I seriously doubt there was an armed guard blocking Adam from leaving the confined space.


More Details Emerge: Source Says Leach Told Trainer To 'Put James In Darkest, Tightest Spot'

Now that we know that the identity of the player Mike leach allegedly harassed and mistreated is Adam James, son of Craig James, more and more details are beginning to emerge. Specifically, just what exactly James supposedly had to endure per Leach's orders. 

A source close to the family told ESPN's Joe Schad that James sustained a concussion on Dec. 16, was examined on Dec. 17 and told not to practice due to a concussion and an elevated heart rate. The source said Leach called a trainer and directed him to move James "to the darkest place, to clean out the equipment and to make sure that he could not sit or lean. He was confined for three hours."

According to the source, Leach told the trainer, two days later, to "put [James] in the darkest, tightest spot. It was in an electrical closet, again, with a guard posted outside."

Leach's attorney, Ted Liggett, is doing his best to get out ahead of this, and has already said that "James 'was placed in an equipment room as it was much cooler and darker' than the practice field 'after a doctor had examined him and returned him to the field.'"

Liggett said that on that day, a trainer was posted outside the room and that James was provided ice. Liggett said that James was secluded for one to two hours. Liggett said that on another occassion, James was placed in a "press room with air conditioning and a stationary bike he coud use."

Liggett also said Leach placed James in those environments was because "Mike tries to keep the players that are unable to practice as close as he can."

Liggett added that he will "soon begin" the steps necessary to overturn the school's suspension, allowing Leach to coach the Alamo Bowl.


Confirmed: Leach Accuser Is Son Of ESPN'S Craig James

Two of college football's weirdest personalities are on a legal collision course, as ESPN confirms the player accusing Mike Leach of abuse is Adam James, wide receiver for the Red Raiders and son of Craig James (yes, that Craig James):

A source close to the James family told Schad that Leach directed a trainer to confine him to an equipment room for three hours and, days later, told a trainer to place James in an electrical closet. An attorney for Leach said that while James was secluded twice, the circumstances were not as portrayed by the James family.

OK, so Leach locked an injured player in a room ... but not in a bad way? That clears everything right up, doesn't it?


Disaster Looming For Leach?

One of my favorite pieces of sports writing was Michael Lewis' 2005 profile of Mike Leach for the New York Times Magazine. It's a fascinating portrait of a fascinating figure. People like Mike Leach--complex, thoughtful, funny and weird--are who make sports fun. But most of all, more than any characteristics that made him a great subject for a 10,000 word magazine profile, you got the feeling that the man was, in some way, at least, a truly special mind. Against landscape littered with banal coaches and coaching styles, he seemed brilliant.

But maybe he's just another bully.

That little rant (seen in full here) seemed out of character, sure, but it was just good-humored enough to be considered okay. Maybe he'd just had a rough day, and that's why he sounded like every other a--hole coach that's ever mistaken a podium for a pulpit. With his inventive offense and charming pirate pep talks, he'd earned the benefit of the doubt.

But this? If the allegations are true, Mike Leach is about to suffer a serious hit to his reputation, and it'll most likely cost him his job. And if true, it probably should. At a time when the media's already on high alert about bullying college football coaches, he's gone and locked a player in a closet. Oh, and the reason? Apparently, it was because the player was reluctant to return prematurely after he'd suffered a concussion. Literally, the only thing that has the media on higher alert than coaching abuse is coaches pressuring players to downplay concussions.

And the player in question is reportedly the son of ESPN announcer Craig James? Is this like, an elabroate, Pete Carroll-type practical joke? The only way this could be more disastrous for Leach would be if he'd ordered the player into the closet because of a concussion AND issues with his sexuality. I mean, jeez. Maybe he was just trying to get fired? It makes no sense.

For now, it's still too early to condemn Leach or call for his job, but it certainly looks bad.

Stay tuned.


Leach Allegedly 'Isolated Player In A Dark Closet For Not Practicing With Concussion'

Mike Leach was suspended indefinitely by Texas Tech Monday afternoon after a "complaint from a player and his parents regarding ... Leach's treatment of the athlete after an injury." While the investigation is still ongoing, ESPN's Joe Schad is reporting that Leach mistreated a player who was suffering from a concussion.

Mike Leach is alleged to have isolated a player in a dark closet for not practicing with a concussion

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