Sports In Paradise By Dale Jones
Where do I begin?
I guess by saying that I have never been a huge Mike Leach fan. As a football coach, I think he is talented and somewhat innovative, but as a person, well, I never really felt like he had it all together.
Leach, who won three different coach of the year awards in 2008 and was given a 5-year contract extension, always seemed to be a guy who’s “elevator didn’t go all the way to the top.”
So my initial reaction upon hearing the Adam James incident in which Leach supposedly locked him in a closet while he was nursing a mild concussion was, “go figure.”
I wasn’t surprised in the least. It sounded like something you would expect from a guy like Leach.
,,,But then I watched the interview with ESPN’s Reese Davis.
Before I go any further, let me say how disappointed I am with Davis. There he was, doing the very first public interview with a coach accused of locking a player in a “closet,” and at no point during the interview does Davis ask Leach if he HAD, in fact, “locked a player in the closet.” How can you NOT ask that question?
But as I listened to Leach, who was first suspended and later fired for improper treatment of a player, I began to believe him.
I thought it was ironic that just minutes before Leach’s legal team was to meet with Texas Tech officials in court to straighten out what really happened, he was fired. I also found it interesting that Leach was prepared to receive an $800,000 bonus once he finished the season.
Ted Liggett, Leaches attorney, said “Texas Tech finally knew that (Leach) was going to have his day in court and that all of the facts were going to come out. We had evidence to present to show what was really going on, but they pulled the trigger. They don’t want that coming out.”
In his interview with Davis, Leach made it clear that former NFL player and ESPN analyst Craig James, the father of Adam James, was hounding the coaching staff about playing time for his boy.
This is the kind of thing that happens in park and rec league, not Division I college football.
Also, the fact that Craig James works for ESPN could explain the limp-wristed questions coming from a normally likeable Reese Davis. They didn’t want him to ask the point-blank questions because they knew there was nothing to this.
Initial reports sounded as if Leach himself grabbed James by the collar, tossed him in a utility closet, locked the door and threw away the key.
Now we hear the WHOLE truth.
Adam James had indeed been diagnosed by team doctor Michael Phy with a mild concussion. Still, according to Texas Tech football trainer Steve Pincock, injured players were to report to practice and were placed in an area where they could participate in activities that are consistent with their respective injuries.
Adam James, however, showed up for practice in street clothes, sunglasses and wearing his cap on backwards.
Leach went off! What coach wouldn’t?
Can you imagine what would happen if a second team receiver showed up for a practice in Tuscaloosa in street clothes and a hat on backwards? He would STILL be running.
Okay, so James was placed in a portable building that is used to store coolers and blocking dummies. So he wasn’t allowed to sit down during the duration of practice. I assure you, there have been much more severe forms of punishment done to college athletes over the years that we will never know about.
Bottom line is Adam James is an average player and a spoiled brat with a well-known father who was trying to use his weight to control his sons playing time. Reese Davis gave a softball interview, probably at the orders of the higher-ups at ESPN because they knew that Leach would give an answer they didn’t want to hear.
Mike Leach, while using a lack of judgment by ordering James to be placed in dark room during practice should never have been fired.
After all of is said and done, someone is going to land on their feet in a much better position, but it won’t be Adam, Craig or Reese.
-Hit ‘em straight
—Dale Jones covers sports and news in Baldwin County.