Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Great Pirate - Unemployed

So, Maryland has passed on hiring Mike Leach. I think it's going to be tough for the Great Pirate to find a HC job at a major college, for these reasons:

  1. He's suing his last employer for wrongful termination. That flag is at least yellow, probably orange and dare I say red in some circles. As I heard Doug Gottleib say, "it's easy to hire Mike Leach, but how to you get rid of him?"
  2. He's suing ESPN, the most powerful media presence in college sports.
  3. His last employer fired him for "continuos acts of insubordination".
  4. Leach somehow developed such a contentious relationship with his bosses at TT that they fired the winningest coach in school history who was also graduating his players.
  5. For the last few years, he's dabbled in other opportunities. No one was offering him a ticket out of Lubbock before items 1 through 4.
  6. Leach just wants to coach. He doesn't want to be the CEO type and manage a staff and rub shoulders with university officials and boosters. He just wants to design devious offensive game plans and win football games. He's very good at these last two.
  7. There's video of Leach allegedly putting a player in a storage shed. Leach does not seem remorseful about it at all. As much as I figure Lil James is a punk and deserved it, the stuffy shirt academic snobs can't comprehend this. Those same types must sign off on his hiring.
  8. As much as schools are supposed to be about developing the student athlete, graduating students and winning football games, that's not all there is to it. Today's coach also heas to be a) media friendly; b) respectful to boosters; c) cooperative with university administrators. From what I understand, Leach is 0-3 on these last items.
  9. In the real world, you're more likely to be fired for being a pain in the butt than you are for being incompetent. Leach has become an example of that in the coaching world. Most people aren't inclined to hire someone they expect to have problems getting along with, much les perhaps being sued. 
  10. If you think I'm wrong, consider this: There are 66 schools in BCS automatic qualifying conferences. Of those 66, 39 have hired coaches since the end of the 2007 seasons. Two schools have done it twice. I believe that Leach was either looking at or using other job opportunities as negotiating tactics since at least 2007. I believe that's one of the reasons TT administrators grew frustrated with him. Anyway, out of those 41 hiring opportunities, none hired Mike Leach.
Here's your list of the AQ teams that have changed coaches since the beginning of the 08 season...


2. Florida State
3. Maryland
4. Duke
5. Georgia Tech
6. Miami
7. Virginia
8. Indiana
9. Michigan (2x)
10. Minnesota
11. Purdue
12. Colorado
13. Iowa State
14. Kansas
15. Kansas State
16. Nebraska
17. Baylor
18. Texas A&M
19. Cincinnati
20. Connecticut
21. Louisville
22. Pittsburgh
23. South Florida
24. Syracuse
25. West Virginia
26. Oregon
27. Southern Cal
28. UCLA
29. Washington
30. Washington State
31. Florida
32. Kentucky
33. Tennessee
34. Vanderbilt (2x)
35. Arkansas
36. Auburn
37. Mississippi
38. Mississippi State
39. Texas Tech


Christov said...

I miss "The Great Pirate." That's difficult for me to say considering I cringed everytime we had to play his team. He can coach...plain and simple. He might be a bit off, but aren't we all? *twitch**twitch*

HeadThief said...

C - I miss his quirkiness. We're all a bit off. I miss the time that we focused on results and didn't worry about image and politics so much. I'll stop before I start telling the kids to get off my lawn.

Anonymous said...

I think you could take Tech’s side or Leach’s side on any of these points and split them down the middle - if not dismiss them outright. Allow me to demonstrate.

1) The player was never in medical danger. This is according to the team doctor in a sworn affidavit provided by Texas Tech.

2) Leach never had the player locked anywhere. The player was placed in a shed where teammates were known to congregate during practice breaks. He was monitored by a trainer and not required to engage in physical activity.

3) The player was also put in a pressroom used by visiting coaches. While there, he was instructed not to enter an adjoining electrical closet. The player did enter that closet, filmed it, and used a public relations firm to broadcast the video along with the claim that he had been locked inside.

4) The player had a history of problems including causing $1,100 damage to school property after a meeting with coaches (during which he was demoted for his poor attitude).

5) The player’s father had repeatedly called the coaching staff and administration complaining of his son’s lack of playing time. The content of the calls have been made public and can be best described as ‘unprofessional’.

6) Texas Tech conducted an investigation that was still ongoing when Leach was fired. An open records request failed to show any evidence of wrongdoing or uncover any previous complaints against Leach.

7) Leach’s contract stated that 10 days’ notice must be provided as well as an opportunity to address any accusations made. Insufficient advanced notice was given and no opportunity was provided to address the allegations. When Leach attempted to seek a court injunction against the unlawful suspension (as allowed in the Texas Whistleblower Act and ‘due process’ under the Texas Constitution), he was fired.

8) The Wall Street Journal and Dallas Morning News uncovered documents that showed that Leach was likely fired due to “ill will left over from heated contract negotiations”. These documents were made public by those news outlets.

9) Mike Leach later sued ESPN and Spaeth (PR firm) because they knowingly put forward the narrative that Leach had been fired for insubordination and player mistreatment. Leach claims that neither claim was ever supported by the available facts. ESPN’s own ombudsman published an article on this matter that was critical of the company’s handling of the incident.

10) Numerous former players and Team Leach, a Facebook group that started in response to his firing, publicly support Mike Leach. Team Leach has 60,000 members and has created a $45,000 scholarship for Texas Tech students interested in coaching.

Mike Leach is an AFCA National Coach of the Year, appeared in a bowl game every season, is the winningest coach in Texas Tech history, and boasted the 8th best player graduation rate in the country. If he had not filed a lawsuit against Texas Tech, all of those accomplishments would be forgotten. He would instead be an insubordinate employee that put winning above the health of his players. Thankfully, he has continued to make a principled stand in defense of his own good name.

These lawsuits do not hinder his employability. Instead, they are the one thing that could ever restore it.