As I told corbindawg last night, if there’s one positive that has emerged from this Mike Leach soap opera, it’s that the World Wide Leader has given the Urban Meyer story a rest. That said….
Mike Leach has been one of my favorite characters in America for quite some time. Because of this crazy guy, I follow Texas Tech football as closely as any program outside the SEC. This guy is more interesting than the Dos Equis fella. From pirates to law, he’s interested in it all. How can you not like him?
This story has spelled trouble for Leach since it broke. First of all, his relationship with TT has been rocky since last year, so it’s not like it was Pete Carroll doing something like this. The biggest misfortune for Leach here is that it involves the son of an ESPN analyst.
Let me preface by saying this: It is the duty of a college football coach to take care of his players. He essentially has to play the role of a father to these kids. CMR and CRG do it best. These kids are away from home and feeling their way through college. Yes, Leach is a different character than my dad (and probably yours) so the way he handles things is “odd” sometimes. But he does have the responsibility of making sure that each of his players is well taken care of, goes to class, and is given every opportunity to succeed.
That being said, I think there is some undue pressure being put on Leach here. Honestly, to me it sounds like Daddy James is trying to get Coach fired. I may be way off base, but it’s no small secret that Adam and Daddy have had their feelings hurt a couple of times by Leach and the coaching staff. Now, I know that Craig James has played football on every level and knows what it’s like to be treated with “tough love.” But I also think that he may be over-stepping his boundaries a little here. Keep in mind, I don’t know the full story as to what happened, all I know is that Adam was put inside a dark shed for a few hours because he had a concussion. Not saying that I’d want my kid to do that either, but it’s not the worst thing in the world.
I didn’t play football after high school. Wasn’t quite big enough, a little way too slow, and frankly I wanted to go to UGA instead of some small school where I MAY could have sat on the sidelines as a backup long-snapper or something. (Truth be told, I didn’t even work hard enough to do that. Football was a 4 year thing for me.) I was an undersized offensive lineman on a team that went something like 15-26 while I was there. College football wasn’t really ever on my radar. Ok, it was never on my radar. However, I do know a little about “tough love” on the football field.
On to my point…Stuff happens on a football field and in a locker room that soccer moms would freak out about. Boys are yelled at and talked down to, nasty words are often said, and you’re tested to the limits of your physicality. I remember one time I had pulled a muscle in my lower back because I played “too high” against a guy that was a lot bigger and stronger than me. It was summer workouts and HOT. Mid-morning and already 95 degrees. If you’ve ever had a pulled back muscle, you know how bad it hurts to run, much less play football. But I toughed it out. At the end of workouts the following day we had to run gassers. The first time through I made it in just under the clock. The next time, I didn’t. So we ran them again. Same result 2 more times. I was fighting back tears by this point because I hurt so bad. My fellow linemen knew I was hurting and trying, but Coach was trying to teach us a lesson I guess. So, my name gets called to step out and run one by myself. If I don’t come in under the clock, the whole team gets to run some more. By an act of God, I made the run. At this point I am crying, the only time in my life I can remember crying due to pain. But I made it. Still don’t know how, but I did.
I never even told my dad about that experience. Didn’t think anything of it. It’s football, and that’s what you have to do sometimes. It’s not always pleasant, but it’s life. Same thing pledging a fraternity or joining a society. You have to do things you may not otherwise do, but the end is worth the means. To me, Adam James is being a little brat. I don’t think there was any physical harm done to him; he just had to do something he didn’t think he needed to do so he ran to tell Daddy. So Daddy gets on his TV station and talks about being a dad and his top priority is to protect his son and make sure they don’t have to do some things that Coach may feel necessary.
Here’s the thing: This isn’t new for Mike Leach. It wasn’t new for Kansas Coach Mangino when he yelled at players and said mean stuff to them. It wasn’t new when Erk grabbed a player by the face mask and head-butted him. It happens. When Texas Tech was #2 in the country Mike Leach was the Evil Genius. Now that they’ve come back down to reality, he’s just evil.
Many of you have been put in situations before as a young man that your parents would freak out about. But being a man, you didn’t tell them. You took your medicine and went on. If you didn’t like it, you quit whatever it was, whether it was a football team or a fraternity or whatever. You’ve got that choice. Adam Jones could have simply said “I’m not doing this.” He played 3 seasons under Leach already and hasn’t had a problem. All of a sudden he gets his feelings hurt and makes a mountain out of a molehill. Again, I’m not trying to belittle his injury. I’ve had a concussion before and spent the night in the hospital, but I played the next game. It’s not like he had a broken leg and was made to run 40’s up and down the field.
I could be way off, and if I am, I will publicly renounce my stance on this. I don’t mind doing that. But I just really feel like Coach Leach is being victimized here and that Adam Jones needs to man up.