One man’s electrical closet is another man’s comfort zone.

You can't have a pirate without a sword.

Perspective is a bitch.  What’s playing out in Lubbock, Texas right now scans like some college football version of Rashomon.  The player has one version of events; the coach has another.  Sources “close to the player” provide one set of facts; former players paint a very different picture.

Then there’s the player’s famous dad.  And the administrators who might have a financial stake in the dispute.

Given all that, I’m rather amazed at how quickly some folks have jumped to a conclusion that Leach needs to be gone sooner rather than later.  (James’ colleagues at the WWL – well, May and Holtz, anyway – were going strongly in that direction within an hour or two of the suspension being announced).

I’m not saying Leach is clean here.  This passage certainly indicates he’s dishing out some bullcrap of his own:

Liggett, speaking on ESPN and CNN, said James’ injury “didn’t seem serious enough to the doctor to send him home nor admit him to the hospital. It was Coach Leach that decided he would be better off out of the heat.”

(The National Weather Service reported a high of 66 degrees in Lubbock on Dec. 17 and 55 on Dec. 19, the dates of the events in question.)

Not exactly Death Valley in August.

But that $800K bonus sure puts the school’s actions to date in a bad light.  So does the bad blood that came into being during Leach’s acrimonious contract negotiations with Texas Tech last year, as mentioned in this article.

Now that Leach has sued the school in order to coach in the bowl game, I don’t see how this ends well.  But it’s fascinating to watch in the meantime.

Oh yeah, speaking of that bowl, how much fun do you think James and his teammates are having right now?

James was with the team in San Antonio. Defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill will be interim coach. Asked if it were awkward for James to be around the team, McNeill said, “I hope not.”

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UPDATE: No hearing today; Texas Tech fires Leach.

Minutes before Mike Leach was going to court in attempt to return as Texas Tech coach for the team’s bowl game, the school fired Leach by handing a termination letter to his attorney.

Leach’s attorney Ted Liggett says the letter says Leach is “terminated with cause effective immediately.” No hearing actually took place after the firing.

The “with cause” part will no doubt be the subject of dispute.

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UPDATE #2: More thoughts on “with cause” from Chris Brown.  Chris makes a point about the apology that TTU asked Leach to provide James (which Leach refused to do) that crossed my mind when I read about it in the first place:

Note too that it sounds like the University tried to get Leach to sign an “apology” letter that quoted from the contract, which would have been used against him as an admission as having violated it and thus giving them permission to fire him for cause.

42 Comments

Filed under Mike Leach. Yar!

42 responses to “One man’s electrical closet is another man’s comfort zone.

  1. i wonder if lawyer-leach filed his own motion. maybe on the back of a napkin with a couple of reverse-pass play scribbles thrown in for kicks.

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  2. Scorpio Jones, III

    Boy, you can sure smell the money in college football these days, and over-paid, under-worked administrators everywhere are sniffing the purse.

    I do feel sorry for the little guys in the filing station who love the Red Raiders and don’t really understand the control issues involved.

    It would seem to me Craig James would know better.

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  3. The Realist

    Mike Leach just wants the $800K. That’s why he filed the injunction. They’ll have to pay that if he’s coach on 12/31/09, plus $400K for each year left on his deal (4) when they decide to get rid of him, so that pushes his settlement to $2.4M. They’ll need to fire him today to get out for $1.6M, which seems like a bargain at this point.

    The only way this works out better financially for the school is if they pay him the $800K bonus, but find reason to fire him with cause (which is murky waters at best) after their investigation. I wouldn’t look for Leach to negotiate a settlement, so TT is either out $1.6M if they can him today, or fight it out in the courts with $2.4M on the table.

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    • Macallanlover

      Do you really see Mike Leach as the villian here? I am overwhelmingly pro-management in most any employment situation I study, but sometimes there are cases where managers abuse their authority, and I see this as one of them. I get that the AD doesn’t like respect Leach. Let’s face it, he is eccentric and would not fit comfortably with many administrations, but they are the ones who gave Leach the current contract with the $800K bonus. To sign on with the James’ bizarre version of this situation smells to high heaven as a ruse to avoid payng Leach what he has justly earned, and that is just wrong. Don’t re-hire or give him a raise if you wish, it is a free market afterall, but don’t steal from the man.

      And why would you sacrifice your team this week before the bowl? Couldn’t this have been dealt with next week without all the attention and drama? I doubt the third team WR would be missed if he didn’t make the trip if he felt uncomfortable. I don’t think it could have been more mishandled by TT and the athletic department.

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      • rbubp

        From ESPN.com:

        “A person close to the inquiry told The Associated Press that Leach was ‘begged to work something out to avoid a confrontation.’ The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

        That person also said Leach late last week postponed a meeting related to the inquiry and refused to sign a letter saying ‘no one injured would be returned to work out without doctors’ permission.’

        The school’s attorney left a voice mail message with Leach’s attorney late last week that the university needed a letter of apology by noon Monday, the person said.

        It did not arrive.

        ‘That’s when they made the decision to suspend [Leach], thinking that would bring him to his senses,’ the person said.”

        It’s about time the knuckle-dragging caveman aspect of football were put to rest. This crap would not be acceptable in any other forum of society except the military, and football is not war, and it is not life and death.

        It’s not war, people. It’s a game.

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        • DawgPhan

          really ESPN’s “insider sources”…gee I wonder who that could be…could it be James poisoning the well some more..give me a break.

          “working something out” = “play my son in the bowl game”

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          • rbubp

            That’s the AP they cited, not their own insider sources.

            It doesn’t matter. This is all a case of whose scrotum is bigger than whose, as per usual with these troglodytic affairs.

            Eventually coaches will get the message. Most obviously already do. (How come you never hear about this in baseball or basketball except for Bob Knight?)

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        • Macallanlover

          Oh please, a Dr. Spock do-gooder now. Knuckle dragging cave men indeed! Thank God you aren’t a UGA coach because there are many similarities regarding discipline in team sports and any organization that requires coordinated movements (yes, that includes the military. Don’t reply and embellish this, we are talking discipline only, not life or death.) A leader must maintain respect, and enforce rules and attitudes.

          When Baby James showed up wearing sunglasses to walk the track during practice time, then refused to remove the sunglasses citing doctor’s orders, putting him in a darkened room doesn’t strike me as “too tough”. The kid had apparently been a whiner, and a slacker whose father called constantly to complain about playing time for the 3rd string WR. I think Leach showed restraint in not kicking him off the team. But them I don’t buy into the PC, liberal leanings of our society who might prefer he be awarded a trophy and qualify for disability pay.

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          • rbubp

            That’s right. Junction Boys all the way! Injuries are for sissies, and rumors are only accurate as they apply to the case we’re supporting.

            Doesn’t it occur to anyone to have any weight at all that the university suspended him? If Leach refused to discuss this with university officials as suggested by the other/invalid rumors, is that not also a dereliction of duty? What would happen to you if you ignored your managers?

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            • rbubp

              Perhaps, sometimes, we forget two things:
              1. This does not appear to happen anywhere near as often in other sports as it does in football. Consider all the past incidents too–Kush, Hayes, Earle Bruce. Given the rather long pattern, there clearly is a culture clash even compared to what goes on in other team sports. (Predictable and generalized denials may commence immediately.)

              2. The coaches work for the university, not themselves.

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              • Macallanlover

                I have seen nothing indicating Leach did anything wrong regarding James. I don’t consider refusing to apologize for a incident where you did no wrong as “insubordination”. I respect the police, and also did my employer’s authority, but I will not plead guilty, or apologize if I am innocent. That would be sacrificing my principles, that is all I see Leach doing. Unless other significant information is forthcoming that contradicts what has been reported, I fully support Leach. The WWL is not a credible source in this instance, and should go to extremes to be sure of their position given their relationship with Craig James.

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              • Dog in Fla

                Today’s Heresy* Phrase of the Day:

                “2. The coaches work for the university, not themselves.”

                *’Heresy’ is proposing some unorthodox change to an established system of belief, especially a religion, such as college football as viewed by college football coaches and their ancillary remora-like agents, leeches or lawyers, or all of them, that conflicts with the previously established opinion of scholars, such as college administrators, athletic directors, HR geeks or those who have not been in the coliseum of the arena, or all of them, of that belief such as canon.[much clarification needed] ‘Heresy’ is sometimes confused with ‘apostasy’ which is disaffiliation from orthodoxy and ‘blasphemy’ which is defamation of orthodox opinion.

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              • rbubp

                BTW, Craig James would be running as a Republican.

                I hate it when they eat their own.

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                • Macallanlover

                  Just running as a Republican doesn’t make him a great candidate, just means he is someone to consider. Being a Democrat in these times is a knockout factor as they are required to toe the party line. I miss the days when elected officials could represent their constituents and vote for what they believed in. Then voters could argue issues rather than parties, and representatives could vote the way their districts/states feel.

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                  • rbubp

                    It does mean that he is a Republican whose PC, wussified (Brandon’s word re: Mangino), liberal-leaning son is not putting up with the very typical, nothing-to-see-here football coach, though.

                    Just as you illustrated it for us earlier.

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                  • NRBQ

                    That second sentence is rich, Mac.

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      • The Realist

        I’m not classifying anyone as the villain. I’m just saying that Leach is forcing the administration’s hand. The fact that this story broke now seems like they want to use it to fire him with cause. He’s trying to hold out long enough to get the $800K bonus. I would, too.

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  4. Scorpio Jones, III

    FWIW….further investigation indicates there are substantial rumors Craig James is going to run for political office in Texas in the near future.

    (source: affadavit filed with district court in Lubbock)

    and now, from the WWL…….

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  5. Ty Durden

    from a medical standpoint, Leach actually did the best thing possible for the kid. When you’re recovering from a concussion the best thing to do is to confide in a dark area with minimal sound, reducing the amount of work the rain has to do to keep with a person’s surroundings. My guess is the medical staff told Leach this, and so being the smartass that he is he threw the kid in a closet

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  6. DawgPhan

    Just think that the James Gang could have handled it a little differently…Right now it would appear that his cry baby son is a giant p-word and asked his daddy to sic the boys over at the WWL on coach…

    Seems like Adam James could have had a word with the coach about it. Then daddy could have a word. In private and have it settled.

    If I was a Red Raider fan I would be super pissed that some 3rd string jobber of a WR is potentially f-ing with the best coach and run in school history.

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  7. Dog in Fla

    Texas Tech to hire siren Norah to lure and catch the captain Pirate of Lubbock, the lubliest village on the barren wasteland plains of West Texas (sister school: Auburn), into a trap wherein he will voluntarily dismiss his complaint for injunctive relief…

    In the meantime, while the TT administrators are trying to deal with Norah’s agent and figure out a way to chopper her into Lubbock, where unbeknownst to him he is waiting on the siren’s arrival, this EEG reportedly shows what appear to be the brainwaves of the head Pirate on his lazy day off in the media room/electrical closet/ship’s brig…

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  8. HVL Dawg

    If Leach wasn’t such a weirdo he’d probably be getting some benefit of the doubt these days, but…..if a horned toad had wings…..

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    • Dog in Fla

      It’s only fair that your ‘if horned toad had wings’ reference predicts that Cap’n Mike will next coach at TCU after somebody hires away the one TCU’s got now. He’ll just load his U-Haul and drive from Lubbock to Ft. Worth.

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  9. melodygodawgs

    It is interesting that adult children are legally responsible for their academic pursuits, but that James Sr. speaks for his son regarding athletic matters. This from the man who helped bring about the death penalty at SMU, a school to which his son was planning a transfer–until Leach refused to sign the form. So, have Leach’s trial in the ESPN court of bullshit and smear his good name. By the way, James Sr. is pursuing a run for political office. What a way to get your ugly mug out there!

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    • 69Dawg

      +1 Famous father, not so good at his position son and politics, this has Kennedy/Bush written all over it. I assume James Sr. does not care about the votes of West Texas. Why did the legacy not go to SMU in the first place?

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  10. Dog in Fla

    Outside media consultants in race to come up with best reconstituting lemons out of lemonades recruiting videos for Texas Tech in view of the Incident In the Electrical Closet.

    Here’s the first submitted. It was a two-parter that was summarily rejected after multiple viewings of the second part because of the NSFAnything except priaprism debauchery of second (the first was acceptable because of hot young nannie chick) with suggestion that second may be appropriate for direct submission to NCAA for ratting out Tennessee just in case NCAA needed anything more:

    One: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKACRVDitUA&feature=related

    NSFAnything Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJvvxEs1_pE&feature=related

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  11. Macallanlover

    The “cause” debate would all be done behind closed doors with a settlement requiring both parties to not disclose or discuss the arrangements or agreed upon resolution if Mike Leach were not involved. Since it directly involves him, who knows what will happen? I do think TT’s case appears weak on the “cause” matter and the timing of the bonus payment. A case could be made that Leach’s character was defamed by the way TT handled this. Regardless of how anyone views this, TT made a mess of this situation and it will likely cost them more than the $800K they tried to save. Next week it could have all been done quietly, or with significantly less fanfare.

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    • rbubp

      TTU has lawyers, too. Since it is so notoriously hard to get rid of bad faculty post-tenure–it’s the same problem, cause and contracts–they must feel pretty good that ML has violated university policy/the terms of his contract. Mangino got going away money for exactly this (legal) reason, but Leach isn’t getting that chance now.

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      • Just because a party has legal representation doesn’t mean it can’t do something that creates liability.

        I suspect TTU wasn’t expecting Leach to file suit to coach in the bowl game.

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        • rbubp

          True.

          It remains to be seen if the “mess” of this situation was made by TTU or by Leach himself, through his (invalid) rumored disinterest in cooperating.

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    • Dog in Fla

      I don’t know that i agree with you on this one, Mac. Cap’n Mike, who must have previously thought of himself as an invincible pirate, wouldn’t let them because of his claim for injunctive relief. He forced their hand and he knew it. He went to law school and wrote a law review article.

      From what i know about risk management, concussions and termination for cause contract provisions, unless the kid is lying and it doesn’t sound to me as if he is, my guess is that the only recent sports episodes that have been handled almost but not quite as badly as the way Cap’n Mike did his were Tiger’s many friends who are girls and the Jeremy and Urban Florida Sugar Bowl press conference show.

      The threshold for termination for cause does not mean that the kid had to die or suffer irreversible brain damage. It’s probably the general health, safety and welfare of the players he supervises. The timing of the $800k payment is coincidental because of the corner Cap’n Mike painted himself into by mishandling a player with a concussion although it is about the only imagined defense that he has left if what the kid is saying is true because the electrical room is a cool dark place to store a player with dain bramage in just ain’t going to cut it. Probably not even in Texas.

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      • rbubp

        “Dark” place. “Cool” doesn’t enter into it (though they claimed it –“wanted to get him out of the heat”), as the temps in Lubbock those two days were 66 and 55, or thereabouts.

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        • Dog in Fla

          Okay. So it was not hot. Maybe all, except the lawyers involved, would have been better off if a trainer had only thought to request the player’s permission to put a blindfold on him or, even better yet, just asked him to close his eyes and promise not to open them for a couple of hours.

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      • Macallanlover

        Dog in Florida, I think everyone is missing the link between sunglasses and a dark environment. Leach was having Baby James walk the track since he could not practice. When he showed up with sunglasses, he was being a smart ass (to me) as who would do that? Leach asked that he remove the glasses and Smart Ass said something along the lines of low light being helpful to those recovering from concussions. That is when Leach took the unusual approach of getting out of the light and placing him in a room without light. Tit for tat on being a smart ass, but I can see this with a player somewhat challenging a HC with other personnel around.

        Based on the above, I wouldn’t apologize either, TT should have backed Leach as the punishment wasn’t cruel, and placed the player in no danger. They didn’t back him because there were issues between the AD and Leach, and some within the administration. If he apologized he was saying he was wrong, thus leaving himself open for being fired with cause. I think the only “cause” I see here is a weak insubordination argument which could be defeated by it was akin to having him admit guilt. Why would he do that>

        Why did TT fire him rather than let the court hear the argument? Were they concerned about how they would look? Did they prefer to negotiate a settlement with him rather than let a judge clear the way for him to coach this weekend insuring he would qualify for the $800K bonus? I think that was exactly the reason, that along with how dumb they may look when all facts were put under the microscope in open court. I don’t see cause here, and feel any settlement will be north of the bonus amount as it looks like TT was definitely trying to sidestep that responsibility. Otherwise, why not wait until after the bowl game? What a mess for the team, and I think James Senior has blown his political opportunity. Football is king is Texas, and a lot of egos just made a laughingstock of the school and likely doomed recruiting for the coming year.

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        • Dog in Fla

          I don’t blame the coach for not signing a letter of apology because that could be used v. him. He does not think he did anything wrong anyway. Don’t be surprised to hear later that the James family would have let the whole thing blow over if only they had gotten such a letter. That’s the usual tactic.

          However, I don’t think you ever need to get to an apology letter demand/request or to the $800k payment deadline because a coach should never put himself in a position to counter-punch with a kid whose personality and parent issues can probably be excluded from evidence if his personality and his parents don’t relate directly to the head injury, which supposed or not as I understand it had not been ruled out medically at the time of the confinement (a/k/a what some would call ‘false imprisonment’) of the player as allegedly directed by a trainer acting on instructions from someone up the chain of command.

          Believe me, I have no problem whatsoever with a coach going all gunny on a player but if it was insubordination, why didn’t the coach kick his ass off the team right then and there and call an ambulance to take the kid to the hospital just in case there was a head injury rather than doing what he did, which even to me is contrary to common sense when a head injury has not been ruled out?

          Onto the important stuff, my guess is that they fired him because they did not want to risk losing a hearing on temporary injunctive relief because if they did, grounds for termination with cause would evaporate; they felt that they had good termination for cause reasons in hand now and did not want the $800k deadline to pass although in these disputes with college coaches, it seems $800k is easy to part with chump change because it’s other peoples’ money anyway.

          But maybe most important of all, the coach by the filing of his injunctive relief complaint and having an emergency hearing set, handed to them on a silver platter the chance to get rid of him if they were so inclined. They were. They called his bluff. It may cost them some money but even if it does it probably won’t be on the scale of Notre Dame to Weis money. Even if it is, they are happy to be without him because the magic has definitely gone out of that marriage.

          With head injuries now being such a publicized concern in football, the coach and his lawyers and their one doctor i guess have some serious explaining to do to get around termination for cause. I doubt they’ll get it done by attacking the kid, his dad and ESPN because, while as much fun as that may be, it does not seem to be relevant to the ‘for cause’ issues and neither are the apology letter demand/request or the $800 k payment deadline date.

          Everybody will bitch, moan, kick and scream awhile and then, magically, the case(s) will be settled probably with a confidentiality agreement on numbers so all concerned can loudly declare victory!

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  12. rbubp

    Very interesting post you’ve linked, Senator, thanks for posting it. It makes it sound more and more like they’re using this as the means to get CML out of there.

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  13. Paul

    The thing I don’t get, is how you can file a restraining order to be allowed around people.

    /not a lawyer

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