January 01, 2010
In his initial statement to the media Wednesday night, just hours after being ousted as Texas Tech's head coach, Mike Leach accused his former bosses of "deal[ing] in lies" and "fabricat[ing] a story" to satisfy some longstanding grudges against him in the administration building, but with a certain lawsuit with Tech on its way, declined to go into further detail because of the "serious legal nature of this situation." That promise didn't even last into the New Year: By Thursday night, all bets were off as the deposed coach aimed squarely at Texas Tech in an interview with the New York Times, and especially at Craig James, ESPN personality and father of the player Leach is accused of isolating in dark rooms during bowl practices after he was diagnosed with a mild concussion:
Leach said that Craig James called the assistant coach Lincoln Riley so often to lobby for playing time that they had a meeting with Adam James. They played him two of the messages and asked, "How would you feel if we went in there to the meeting room and we stuck speakers up and we played these two messages for the team?"
Leach added: “After that we didn’t get any more phone calls from Craig, but he did proceed to call administrators."
"He made it clear that he had a business relationship with our chancellor or certainly was in conversation about such things," Leach said. "He made it clear that he was announcing this game or that. He always felt like we were leaving the best receiver on the team on the bench."
Nor did Leach save his vitriol for the father -- parroting some of his former players and a former assistant coach, he also told told the Times Adam James was "lazy" and "bitter" over a lack of playing time. When James showed up to practice wearing sunglasses after suffering the concussion, Leach says he ordered him "out of the light" and "did not know specifically where [James] had been taken." As for the widely-reported claim that Leach was locked in an electrical closet -- which regained steam again a bizarre cell phone video of Adam James in some sort of closet was leaked Wednesday night -- Leach followed his lawyer's lead by denying there was anything of the sort: "At no point was he locked anywhere. At no point was there an electrical closet."
A team trainer who carried out Leach's orders to isolate James backed up Leach on every point Wednesday, most crucially telling ESPN that he looked in the infamous electrical closet -- a tight, dark space off the press room where Leach's attorney said James had been sequestered for less than two hours with air-conditioning -- and said "no way that Adam would be placed in there."
In the meantime, the pro-Leach sentiment that led to a small rally on the coach's behalf Thursday in Lubbock reared its head in less hospitable fashion at the James' home north of Dallas, where police patrols have been "beefed up" because of online threats directed at the family. So far, though, when James says "We continue to be a victim of something," he's still referring solely to the accusations against Leach.