Sports

Texas Tech was only party in the right

TEXAS TECH FIRED Mike Leach because of his arrogance. Kansas rid itself of Mark Mangino because of his abusive bully tactics.

No doubt, Leach is a bully and Mangino suffers from an overabundance of arrogance, but Leach and Mangino are out of jobs for different reasons.

Both universities were justified for taking action against successful coaches.

There is no reason for me to repeat my defense of Kansas athletics director Lew Perkins' handling of allegations that Mangino abused players. I'll explain why Tech athletics director GeraldMyers had to lance Leach after a Red Raiders receiver complained about being thrown in the "hole" during practice.

All Leach had to do was apologize to receiver Adam James and promise James' famous father - ESPN analyst and former NFL running back Craig James - that he regretted confining Adam to an equipment garage and a small office space during practice.

Had Leach expressed remorse in private, this controversy never would have emerged publicly, never would have caused Tech officials to suspend and then fire Leach.

Leach, a lawyer, allowed his pride and arrogance to trump common sense. He couldn't bring himself to make peace with a spoiled player and a stage parent. Worse, Leach couldn't bring himself to do the right thing for his employer.

Leach stood on principle.

Craig James stood on ESPN.

Mike Leach and Texas Tech lost. The Worldwide Leader flicked the lights and rolled cameras as one of its top college analysts threw a televised tantrum because a football coach humiliated his son at two separate practices.

As best I can tell from reading newspaper accounts, this Leach-James showdown has nothing to do with the mild concussion Adam James suffered during a Dec. 16 practice. The concussion is simply a prop, a tool being used to beat Leach over the head. It's a "buzzword" the media can throw around to make Leach sound irresponsible and dangerous.

Leach did not endanger Adam James by sending him to a garage or tiny office space. That's not a defense of what Leach did. It's simple context and perspective. Leach wanted to humiliate Adam because in Leach's mind Adam James is cocky, lazy and perhaps a bit too mouthy.

Texas Tech administrators could see how this situation was going to play out. They had no interest in engaging Craig James in a whining contest. Texas Tech is in Lubbock, and the university has access to campus radio and TV stations. Craig James is powered by a global sports-TV monopoly. Once James tossed around the words "concussion" and "shed" and "health" on a young child, any rational adult could see who was going to lose this battle.

Leach's bosses advised him to smoke a peace pipe with Craig James.

Leach's ego wouldn't allow him to think straight. He's the king of Lubbock. He's bullied his administration numerous times during the past six or seven years. Leach and the school have bickered over his salary several times, and last year the school president had to personally oversee Leach's latest contract extension. Leach thought he could win one more war with his superiors.

His bosses pulled the trigger. I don't blame them. Leach was owed an $800,000 bonus Thursday.

The genius football coach picked a fight with an ESPN broadcaster. It was stupid and arrogant. It doesn't matter that Craig James - in my opinion - exaggerated the potential harm his son could suffer standing in a garage for an hour or two.

Leach revealed himself as dangerously irrational. He tried to sue Texas Tech so that he could coach "his" team in the bowl game. Are you kidding me? It's not his team. It's Texas Tech's team. Mike Leach is not Texas Tech football. The school has the right to employ whomever it wants as its football coach.

The James family handled this situation improperly. Leach obviously handled it improperly. The lone responsible adults are the Texas Tech administrators who tired of Leach's arrogance and got rid of him before he started another fight the university had no chance of winning.

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