Leach, James' reputations on line amid allegations of mistreatment
This is going to get ugly.
In the hours after the news broke late Monday afternoon that
In one corner, we have the revered and ever-controversial coach of a Big 12 program. In the other, a perturbed father who happens to be one of the most celebrated college players in the state's history and a highly visible television personality. It's Mike Leach's word vs.
Let the lawyers' fees fly.
Leach's suspension and ongoing investigation are the result of allegations made by the family of sophomore receiver
According to the
The description sounds horrific.
However, according to the paper, Leach "did not dispute the facts, but did not believe he had done anything wrong." According to Leach's attorney,
"Because of the fact that he had a concussion and he was extremely limited in the physical activity he could undergo, Mike felt like that was the best place for him and still be close to and part of the team,'' Liggett told the paper. "There's much, much more than meets the eye. The diagnosing doctor has signed a note stating that Adam James was in no way injured by the actions coach Leach took. In fact, he was better off in the building than he would have been outside."
As for the player, Liggett told the AP: "I believe that [Adam James] was a disgruntled student athlete that like many were not happy with their playing time." (James finished the regular season 10th on the team in receptions, with 17.) The
Regardless of whose side you take, this does not look good for Leach. If his intent was to punish and/or humiliate a concussed player, he sure picked the wrong year to do it. Thanks to
"Over the past year, there has been a greatly enhanced recognition of the dangers of concussions and the potential for long-term physical damage to players," said a statement released by James' family in supporting why they chose to report Leach to the university.
But one should always approach with caution the allegations of a disgruntled parent, whose perspective is often understandably skewed. In this particular case, the disgruntled parent happens to be one of the most visible personalities in the sport -- which is probably why this issue accelerated as quickly as it did.
You may recall the recent story of South Florida coach
The battle between the architect of USF's program -- who, according to FanHouse, made a point of reminding Miller: "Before you say anything, just know I am the most powerful man in this building" -- and a walk-on's father was a mismatch of epic proportions.
Texas Tech could have done the same thing. It's a common PR tactic: launch an open-ended investigation, wait for the storm to pass and, most importantly, stand behind your $2.5 million coach.
The fact that the school suspended Leach
Leach's blunt personality and unconventional methods have long made ripe fodder for fans and media conditioned to strait-laced, cookie-cutter coaches. Last year, as the Red Raiders streaked to a 10-0 start and knocked off top-ranked Texas, Leach's
Now, facing undeniably disturbing accusations, many will jump to the conclusion that Leach's days in Lubbock are numbered. It won't be that simple. If anything, we may be at the very beginning of a long, protracted fight.
Leach's reputation is on the line. So is his coaching future. His lawyer sounds ready to battle his accuser and the school on the coach's behalf.
Just as notably, Craig James' reputation is on the line. ESPN has dealt with no shortage of controversies over the years involving its on-air personalities, and with the exception of those who were egregiously wronged (like
This is going to get ugly. Somebody's career could soon be jeopardized.
But which one will it be?