December 30, 2009
The word is official out of Lubbock: Mike Leach -- pirate lover, amateur meteorologist, part-time sitcom actor, gridiron savant and most successful head coach in Texas Tech history -- has been fired with cause. Tech officials handed a letter of termination to Leach's attorney just before the two sides were set to meet for a hearing on his injunction against the school to coach in Saturday's Alamo Bowl. The hearing never took place.
This should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, including Leach, for whom the writing was on the wall when he was suddenly suspended from the team Monday for allegedly sequestering a concussed player in a small space -- a player who happened to be the spawn of ex-SMU and ESPN analyst Craig James, who wielded his platform effectively -- during two separate practices before Christmas. He formally challenged the suspension on Tuesday, a move that would have allowed him to coach the team in the bowl game and collect an $800,000 bonus for being the head coach on Jan. 1. That clause was put into his contract in February to keep the man who put Texas Tech football on the map from being lured away by a richer school; at the end of nearly a decade of acrimony in dealing with Tech administration, it may have been the killer detail that accelerated his demise.
This isn't the end of the saga: Leach's lawyer, Ted Liggett, said the coach would be filing a lawsuit against the university "soon" to secure that compensation, or more if he can convince a judge Tech breached some of the due process clauses of his contract; Liggett also suggested outside the courthouse that there may be more to Texas Tech's case against Leach than we've learned in the last two days.
But based on what we've learned about Leach as his spectacular offenses forced him into the national spotlight over the last decade, he's not about to go out with gloves on or tongue held. I don't know and don't have any stake in who's right or wrong or who owes what in the end, but Mike Leach has been too successful, too fun, too unique and too good for college football for me to pretend I'm not rooting for the good Cap'n to give 'em hell throughout the process. Just like he always has.
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Leach termination letter via RedRaiders.com.