We've all experienced things that start off being kind of amusing but then become old. Examples include that good looking girl you really want to nail but who talks non-stop, or the toddler in the airline seat in front of you who reacts in a funny way when you make the ubiquitous "a-boo" face at him. Know what I mean? After about 10 times, the kid's reaction isn't amusing enough to make you want to keep making a fool of yourself. Nevertheless, the little turd won't stop standing in his seat looking backwards at you. It gets old, real fast. Well, Mike Leach's zany antics are becoming somewhat tiresome to the Spudster.
This "negotiating" crapola has gone on far too long, and I'm leaning toward placing the blame on Leach for the delay. At first, I tended to believe the pro-Leach blather from such reliable sources of information as the Football Board on Scout (yes...that's a joke). What I've heard is that Leach's agent contacted Gerald Myers way back in April seeking to renegotiate and that Myers did not respond at first (bad move), and some time later, when he did respond, he supposedly told the agent "Sorry, but no more money. If he has a better offer elsewhere, well, bye" (worse move). Because I liked Leach, I tended to think any fault was with the administration, whom I figured was trying to be cheapshits in the situation. Now, I'm not so sure. Some of Leach's recent statements to the media, which he claims he does not want involved in the negotiations, but who he still comments to, have me doing a 180.
Right now, I'm pretty pissed at Leach. Of course, I love Tech winning more games than in the past. The fact that he didn't fit the good ol' boy mold was a big plus to me. I thought it was funny when he started the pirate thing. I guffawed (only people over 40 can "guffaw") when he did the TV weatherman bit. His off-the-wall disposition during interviews would sometimes make me cringe a little, but I still snickered. Now, I'm not quite so amused. You'd think after an 11-2 season, I'd be a little more grateful. But here's my problem: my alma mater's team got the crap beat out of them twice on national television. The OU loss, I won't necessarily lay at his feet. But Ole' Miss? That just looked like a situation where the team wasn't ready and Leach just got flat outcoached. What went wrong? I don't know, but maybe Ole' Coach Funnybritches should have been more focused on trying to beat a very good SEC team rather than placing his grill on 60 Minutes or embarking on his annual job hunt. I'm just sayin'.
It's the yearly job hunt that irks me the most. His looking around is as much a surprise as finding a boll weevil in a cotton field. If it's December, Mike's sure to be on the road, seeking another gig. I really can't blame anybody for wanting to improve his lot in life. Who is the Spud to say Mikie shouldn't reach as high as possible in getting his piece of the American dream? But hey, don't screw my school over while doing it. Tech already has to deal with the problem of being behind UT and A&M in several ways, some real and others only perceived. But Leach's yearly cheatin' heart act only serves to advance the concept that Lubbock is only a place you want to be from. It makes Tech look bad. Moreover, it can't help recruiting. At least one kid decided on another school over Tech citing his concern over whether Leach would be there next year. Assistant Coach Seth Littrell, one of Tech's best recruiters, recently announced he was leaving to go to The University of Arizona. Littrell mentioned the uncertainly of the Head Coach position as a factor. Thanks, Mike.
I'm well aware of all the arguments that can be made for him going to some bigger, fancier program. But when one considers Leach and his idiosyncrasies, the conclusion might be reached that he is in the best place possible for him. Leach is unconventional, and Tech pretty much lets him be so. Case in point: Leach reportedly hates alumni relations and fundraising. These are expected duties of a head coach at any big time program. Leach isn't required to do them. It was amusing to hear Leach's name bandied about when the job at Tennessee was open. It is difficult to imagine Leach at a Knoxville fundraiser, allowing himself to be grappled about the shoulders by some big Southern dummy while hearing "This here's gooood people!" I figure Ole' Mike would last about two years in that environment. Besides, Leach doesn't even look "corporate" enough for some big time program. Leach appears like he just got dragged behind a truck driving to the Goodwilll. Can you imagine Pete Carroll walking around his office wearing flip flops? The tobacco road bullshit artist down in Austin may have yellow teeth, but he doesn't walk around looking like a pile of dirty laundry. But Leach gets a pass. He is the King of Lubbock. Ok, there are certainly more prestigious kingdoms, but not many others where there's such a low risk of forced abdication. Leach probably never has to buy a meal, wait in line or fear a DWI. He can say what he wants, do what he wants, dress like he wants, tell the media to pound sand, blow off boosters, whatever suits him. Hell, they don't even make him play defense. Not a bad deal.
One thing that hasn't helped is that Leach employs the services of IMG as his agent. IMG is the Kimbo Slice of sports agencies. This is the same agency that represents such luminaries as Tiger Woods. And reportedly, they've been dealing with Tech as if Leach is Tiger Woods. Seems like you should have to win at least one championship before you get to retain the most obnoxious agents and have them big time people. But hey, as the old punchline goes: "Baby, the doctor say I'm impotent. Well, if you's impotent, you gotta act impotent and look impotent." IMG has done such swell things as contract Tech's Regents directly with offers and counter proposals, intentionally circumventing Hance, Myers and Guy Bailey in the process. Nice. Of course, that galled Myers to no end. The relationship between Myers and Leach has dissolved into something akin to two old ladies swatting each other with their purses in a fight over the contents of the bargain bin.
"How bad you want that buyout now, Mother *#@&er?!?!"
Of course, it's always about money. Reportedly, the school has offered in the neighborhood of $12.7 million over 5 years. The negotiations are allegedly bogged down over such terms as the buyout provision of the contract and the school's desire to terminate for cause if Leach interviews without permission during the life of the contract. The buyout provision is not abnormal, something like $300k per year for any remaining contract year...not particularly onerous. Given Leach's track record of looking around, one can hardly blame the Athletic Office for this figure. The termination for cause for interviewing is pretty harsh and not at all normal. But again, given that Leach is apparently as loyal as a tomcat, I'm not sure I can blame Myers for asking. There's supposedly also some impasse over Leach not wanting to have to answer to Myers, which of course, is downright childish; Myers is the AD for Christsakes. Similarly goofy has been Gerald's "hardball" tactics which would tend to piss off anyone with a modicum of ego. To me, all of this just stinks. What really hacks me off is that because of the delay, if Leach leaves now, our chance of getting a quality replacement is about as good as beating Mark Mangino to the last slice of pie. Thanks again, guys.
Leach has done much for Tech's program. He's brought unprecedented publicity to the school, some of it even good. But he's now doing harm. It maybe asking a little too much, but I'd like to see a little loyalty here, or at least concern from the man for what he's doing to the program and the school as a whole. If he wants to be here, great. Let's get the differences hammered out and the agreement executed. If he doesn't want to be at Tech, he should move it on down the line. Maybe his shtick will play as well elsewhere as it does in Lubbock. Maybe not.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Posted by Spuds Collier
at 12:32 PM