No one has ever accused Mike Leach of doing anything halfheartedly, save for perhaps coaching defense. So it won't come as a surprise that Leach's new tell-all memoir about his firing at Texas Tech, Swing Your Sword, doesn't appear to pull any of its punches towards the Tech administration and those he felt helped that administration bring about his ouster.
An excerpt from the book now published at The Postgame shows that chief among "those" in Leach's crosshairs is the father-son tag team of ESPN analyst Craig James and his son Adam James. Adam, of course, was the Tech receiver whose concussion (and treatment from Leach and other Red Raider staff in its wake*) sparked the furor that led to Leach's dismissal. In the excerpt, Leach accuses the elder James -- and reproduces several e-mails backing those accusations -- of using both a communications firm and his connections at ESPN (particularly with reporter Joe Schad) to manipulate the story's presentation in the media.
But perhaps the larger accusation is one that Leach has leveled before, and now in much greater detail: that Tech chancellor Kent Hance and other members of the Tech administration had already planned on removing Leach after his acrimonious 2009 contract negotiations, and simply used the James brouhaha as an excuse to make good on their intentions.
Leach alleges that an internal investigation by university attorney Charlotte Bingham found that accusations the coach had mistreated Adam James were "inaccurate." He goes on to say that despite those findings, the school suspended him while (per Bingham's testimony) Hance asked Bingham to alter her report for being too "milk toast" [sic]. Leach responded to the suspension by filing a restraining order that would allow him to coach the impending Alamo Bowl, just before being terminated; the excerpt claims several e-mails from Tech regent Jerry Turner show the restraining order, not Leach's treatment of James, as the immediate cause for Leach's firing.
An e-mail from ex-regent Windy Sitton to Turner reads:
"Jerry, I know his firing has been in the works since the Chancellor and the AD were outmaneuvered by Leach. That is our problem.
"The problem rests with the arrogance of the Chancellor and the ineptness of the AD. Everyone sees through this injustice to Mike Leach and Texas Tech. The Sitton family has given scholarships and have had multiple seats since 1976. We will not renew our options [on] our 12 seats or for that matter our [public seat licenses] for Basketball. This whole thing smells, and we do not want to be a part of this blight on Texas Tech."Yikes. Considering this and other similar pieces of evidence -- and that Bingham's investigation seems to have given Tech a perfectly valid reason for keeping Leach if they'd wanted to -- it's hard not to feel like Leach's argument is convincing.
But Leach's still-pending (employment-debilitating) lawsuit doesn't rest on convincing bloggers like the one you're reading. Will the book's details ultimately stand up in court? We don't know. (Seeing as how the suit has been dismissed once already and is now awaiting appeal, we sort of doubt it.) But we're interested in seeing every last juicy one come to light all the same.
*Remember that infamous "electrical closet" in which James claimed Leach had forced him to stand? Leach claims in the excerpt James had been told specifically not to go in the closet.
UPDATE: Leach has also released an excerpt to SI.com, one detailing his account of Adam James' behavior leading up to the punishment in question ... and the punishment itself, of course. Also very much worth a read.