"I thought Adam could develop into a contributor," Mike Leach writes of Adam James, the wide receiver who eventually led to his downfall at Texas Tech. In his new book, Swing Your Sword, Leach tells his side of the scandal that brought him down. Today, he released two excerpts, and as you'd expect, everyone's favorite Pirate enthusiast/football genius doesn't mince words.
First, over at Sports Illustrated, Leach talks about regrets. Namely, his greatest regret of all--that he didn't cut Adam James while he had the chance.
My biggest regret was not cutting Adam James. I kept hoping he'd develop a work ethic. He had two position coaches, first Dana Holgorsen, then Lincoln Riley. He didn't get along with either one.
And then, after the scandal hit, Leach remembers the investigation process:
According to Pincock's statement, he specifically told James not to go into the electrical closet by the media room. James admitted under oath that he ignored Pincock's instructions. He admitted that he let himself into that closet and that he shot a video -- a video that would start a firestorm of allegations -- because he thought it was funny.
Craig James told Tech chancellor Kent Hance that Adam had spent three hours in that electrical closet based on instructions from Pincock. That night, Craig called Larry Anders (chairman of the Tech board of regents) and complained that Adam had been forced to practice with a concussion and had been locked in an electrical closet. We'd already held out the starting quarterback for a month that season because he had a concussion -- the starting quarterback. Adam was forbidden to practice because he had a concussion. We wanted him away from the field.
According to both his and Anders's depositions, Craig demanded that I be fired. Hance called me and said that Craig had phoned Anders to complain about his son being forced to play before his concussion was healed, which was simply not true. I explained the situation to Hance, and also told him how often Craig called up the Tech coaches to lobby for more playing time for his son. I told him that Adam had been a constant discipline problem and that I planned on cutting him from the team. Hance told me not to cut Adam.
What's interesting--and impressive, really--is that Leach seems so detached about all this. He's merely presenting his side of the case, and leaving any outrage to the readers. And given all the restraint he shows toward the investigation, Leach's criticism of ESPN rings even louder.
On top of that, you had all these analysts, who were colleagues of Craig James, weighing in on ESPN. They had no knowledge of the facts. Obviously, they weren't even concerned about the facts. They just took everything that Craig James, through Spaeth Communications, was feeding them, and kept repeating it over and over, during every pre-game show, every halftime show, every post-game show, and during "SportsCenter." This went on for days.
...They weren't just showing one side of the story, they were perpetuating falsehoods.
There were statements out there from Adam James's two position coaches, Dana Holgorsen and Lincoln Riley. There was a statement from the strength coach, Bennie Wylie. There were statements from three of James's teammates -- players that had been successful in the program and had witnessed Adam's behavior, as well as mine. CBSSports.com and other media outlets chose to run those statements. ESPN, which also had them, chose not to. When one of my agents asked Joe Schad, the ESPN reporter, why they neglected to report those statements, he said he didn't see how they were relevant to the story. But when Craig James gave Schad Adam's cell number so he could hand the phone over to his roommate Chris Perry, a back-up lineman whom we'd suspended twice, his statement was considered relevant.
It was worse than hypocrisy. It was malicious.
Indeed, while Leach may be content to let the facts speak for themselves as far as the Texas Tech's scandal's concerned, he's not afraid to let loose on the ones who refused to acknowledge those same facts when all this happened in the first place. Which... Well, Good for him.
Leach is still the coolest football coach I've ever seen, and while his departure at Texas Tech was largely the by-product of petty politics from an insecure administration, even 18 months later, ESPN's role in framing the story is completely reprehensible. You can read more of Leach excerpts at Yahoo and Sports Illustrated, and you can buy his new book here.