Mike Leach. Where to start? I could start with the hairstyle that even Vince Gill, the originator, gave up several years ago. I could start with the insane pirate thing he came up with, or the "fat little girlfriends" comment.
But all that is quirky and harmless. But it's this new stuff that has everyone up in a tizzy, and has me aching to point out the heart of the matter:
Mike Leach is a bad example to his players, and other players on other college teams.
It's not just that he allegedly pooh-poohed medical advice and sought to humiliate Craig James, although Leach says he was doing him a favor. Putting him in a dark shed/electrical closet/media room/Hanoi Hilton/luxury suite/outhouse/hen house/dog house may have been his way of keeping him out of the sun he said he needed to avoid as part of his treatment for a slight concussion, but that wasn't how he and his family perceived it.
And that is the point where Leach, as a coach, should be checking his ego. After all, isn't that what teamwork is about? Last I checked, a coach is part of the team as well. If this is still the case, a whole lot of this could've been mitigated by a simple apology.
Leach says that the school wouldn't tell you who complained. How many athletes get sent to solitary when they are injured, Leach? He couldn't maybe remember on your own that he sent Craig James' kid to the hole one time when he came to practice with sunglasses on and complaining of a concussion? Were there that many that he's just a blur in a long line?
So let's say we give Leach the benefit of the doubt, though, and say maybe he couldn't remember which one of his players had a concussion this season and was sent to a dark shed/electrical closet/media room/Hanoi Hilton/luxury suite/outhouse/hen house/dog house. He had no clue who it was, so he couldn't apologize directly.
That still doesn't mean he couldn't say, "Please tell the family I'm sorry for the misunderstanding, and find out if there's some way we can work this out."
Instead, he lawyers up and has the guy give the media a tour of the dark shed/electrical closet/media room/Hanoi Hilton/luxury suite/outhouse/hen house/dog house, and then proceed to slander the student athlete who levied the complaint to begin with.
Maybe Craig James is a helicopter parent. Maybe Adam James just isn't that good, and is inconsequential to the program in the grand scheme of things.
But none of that really matters. What matters is that Leach began looking out for himself, and not his team. Some might argue that by fighting to coach the Alamo Bowl game, he is looking out for his team. Maybe so.
But it also sends a message to his players. Suspensions can be circumvented. Punishment and apologies are for people who can't figure out how to throw someone under the bus and move on. If someone tells you that you're suspended for your actions, don't man up - lawyer up. You'll be back on the field by morning.
Football - from the NFL right down to the high school level - has been a case study in medical negligence when it comes to head trauma. It took a lot of time and convincing to make the NFL take concussions seriously, and that's hopefully trickling down to the collegiate level. Even just two concussions in a short span of time can do grievous harm, possibly even death.
So this was Leach's opportunity to do something good. He could've easily said to the family, "I'm sorry there was this misunderstanding about the injury. When I did what I did, I thought I was helping. Why don't we work together to promote some awareness of concussions and what coaches SHOULD do in response to one?"
That would've been a response that would have made all of this a non-story. It would have been a story with a productive ending.
But instead, we have a mess. And ultimately, Tech's program will suffer the most. If Leach stays, there will always be those parents that steer their kids to other schools, other programs, because they're unsure of the well being of their child. That seed of doubt has been planted.
If he goes, the program loses the one coach who can make that quirky Lubbock situation work and draw decent talent over to that corner of the world, and then coax out offensive wonderment.
And all because being a Leach means never having to say you're sorry.
Update: Local Texas sources are now reporting that Texas Tech fired Mike Leach this morning.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Dallas ABC affilate WFAA verified that this video, shot by Adam James, is real. What do you think?