Lubbock showdown: start of a trend?

By now, you’re probably aware that Mike Leach let the deadline for signing his new contract with Texas Tech expire.  The powers that be at TTU are teleconferencing on Friday to discuss the situation.  Dennis Dodd thinks they will choose to fire Leach.

(As an aside – Craig Littlepage, ignore what Dodd says about Virginia not being a good match for Leach.  If he’s available and you let Al Groh go after this season, please grab Leach as fast as you can.)

There’s little doubt that Leach is, ahem, a bit quirky.  That’s OK by me, but then again, I’m not the athletic director.  But it’s kind of weird to be gearing up to can a guy who’s on pace to become your all time winningest coach, someone who’s made your football program nationally relevant and who graduates his players at an impressive rate.  On the other hand, Tech has invested an increasing amount of money in the football program since Leach became the head coach, so in terms of giving him support, it’s not like Texas Tech’s management hasn’t stepped up to the plate.

It’s always fascinating to me to watch dysfunctional situations like this fester for no logical reason.  A rational observer would conclude that there would seem to be plenty of room for both sides to compromise on the contract terms.  Then again, note Kirkendall’s point about it not being unreasonable for Tech to insist on a big buyout of Leach’s contract if he leaves so that it will have some resources available to it to attract a worthy replacement.  That sounds great, but keep in mind that TTU is on a course to fire Leach in the next week, which would mean that it would be on the hook for the balance of the current contract.  All of which leads me to think that there’s a certain amount of ego and animosity at work here – on both sides – that’s made this situation a lot worse than it ever should have been.

On the other hand, this columnist is ready to welcome our new athletic director overlords.  He thinks TTU is throwing down the gauntlet in an attempt to establish a new paradigm in how programs like Tech contract with their head coaches.

… At places such as Texas, Michigan and Alabama, where money is no object and the jobs are considered the plums of the coaching world, such contracts aren’t necessary. Coaches seldom leave such high-profile jobs on their own volition.

But athletic directors in the rest of the college world are starting to believe they should have a little more control over where their money is going. They also believe that at least some of the money their coaches make as a result of their connection to the university should go to the university, and they’re starting to think they deserve at least some notice — and a say in the matter — if their coaches plan on using their schools as springboards.

It’s a sticky subject. If Myers gets his way at Tech, you can bet plenty of other athletic directors around the nation will pay close attention, and do their best to work similar clauses into future contracts.

Coaches seldom leave such jobs on their own volition?  Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban might disagree with that.  And this guy’s being more than a little disingenuous when he discusses what happened at Boston College earlier this year.  It’s not like Jagodzinski wound up on a corner somewhere selling pencils – he’s now the offensive coordinator at Jacksonville, a job that pays quite handsomely, thank you very much.  Leach isn’t likely to starve to death if TTU severs their relationship.

So pardon me if I’m a bit skeptical about this being the start of a new trend.   In the end, it’s counterproductive.  If a coach wants to go, it doesn’t seem to be the best strategy to force him to stay.  How well are things going to turn out for a football program run by a coach who resents being there?


UPDATE: This blogger thinks the deadline is a farce.  If that’s the case, management ought to concede right now.  As a negotiating tactic, setting a deadline and then backing down from it is pretty much an admission of weakness in bargaining position.


UPDATE #2:’s Andy Staples has a good summary of where things stand.


UPDATE #3: And ESPN’s Tim Griffin makes an interesting point regarding the dispute over the marketing clause TTU wants in Leach’s new contract.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, Mike Leach. Yar!

4 responses to “Lubbock showdown: start of a trend?

  1. peacedog

    Kind of an aside, but I’d really like to get an idea of how much Atheletic Departments across the country continbute to the academic side of things. Obviously, programs that are in the red won’t necessarily contribute much or anything (I suppose it’s possible they do contribute, but it seems useless, since a donor is going to have to cover it either way).

    If the TT sports teams don’t run in the black, I’m not sure why the school would expect money. . . OTOH, I do agree that it’s a good idea to send funds back into the university if it’s possible (and indeed Damon Evans just did that).


  2. Pingback: Morning Newspaper for February 18th |

  3. Macallanlover

    I find myself on the side of the ADs in this instance. Loss of a successful is a significant blow to your program for many years. Since you pay them millions if you fire them, and meet all the other obligations of the contract, there should be some strong measures to protect the program from abrupt disruption.

    Highly paid employees usually have non-compete clauses in their contracts, yet these coaches are allowed to jump ship and sometimes compete against their old programs in both games and recruiting (Tubberville, Rodriquez, Saban, Spurrier, etc.) I see the coaches’ side of this, but feel the ADs are right to protect the stability of their programs.


  4. Ally

    This is sooooo much better than Kiffin watch. Keep the posts comin’ Senator.