It is a rare day when anything Jerry Bruckheimer produces has a redeeming parallel to real life, but I can extract something from the on-screen production that was taken from my favorite ride at Disney World as a kid. Mike Leach is the Jack Sparrow of college football coaches, and Texas Tech should have been savvy to that fact.
By now the Mike Leach situation is well chronicled. Some are rushing to condemn Leach as tyrant that was too harsh on his players. Others are attacking Adam James as a player who was not giving maximum effort and having a bad attitude. It has turned into a they-said, they-said argument and even the Texas Tech brass is not above throwing barbs.
Whatever happens, Leach deserves credit for one thing; he never gave in to the pressure. Leach's admiration for Pirate culture has clearly helped shape his personal philosophy. No matter what threat Adam James, his father or the Tech administration threw at him, Leach would not give into conformity.
Leach's dealings with James stemmed from his sense of entitlement due to his famous father and there is no reason Leach would take the action he did for no reason. The action he did take, putting James in an electrical closet when he was diagnosed with a mild concussion. Videos have come out showing James in the famed "closet". It will certainly get worse as Leach takes legal action.
Texas Tech should know and probably did know how Leach would handle this. He was brought into Texas Tech to lead a program that had no national visibility and took them to bowl game after bowl game got them in the top 5 last year. He did this on his own terms, using his own system. And boy how the money and recognition for the school rolled in. The school then tried to lock-in Leach for the long-term last year. Yet again Leach proved that he was going to do things on his terms or not at all. The stuffy bureaucrats that were dealing with Leach no doubt failed to realize this and the negotiation lasted 11 months. Leach in a statement he released claims there was hostility left over from the contract dispute. Again the pirate code invokes that Leach take what was owed to him. While the school was cashing in on bowl payouts and more than likely increased applications* and definitely increased TV revenue and exposure, Leach wanted his due slice of that. More than anything he wanted to be able to coach his way and as long as that was the case, he would stay in Lubbock.
That is a big reason why Leach stayed at Tech. No doubt offers came rolling in from other schools but he knew that he would not be captain of his own ship. Tech was willing to allow this, for awhile. They attempted the same thing in basketball when they hired Bobby Knight. A program that had been hit hard with NCAA sanctions was trying to build itself back up and chose a controversial strong-armed coach. It was not long before Knight got into a public argument with a school official. Texas Tech has been so willing to bring in coaches that insist on running their own program no questions asked, but when questions do arise, they are left unfit to deal with them in a competent manner.
Just to show how much they were concerned only with the welfare of their students, they released a letter to Leach's attorney basically emphasizing the point that they were fighting Leach on that specific day (Dec. 30th) to avoid paying him the bonus of $800,000 due to him today. Texas Tech brass brought it out in public through interviews with ESPN and the AP that Leach was uncooperative. I would not expect anything less from a pirate. The most telling statement released by the school stated this:
"In a defiant act of insubordination, Coach Leach continually refused to cooperate in a meaningful way to help resolve the complaint."
Leach will have it no other way. Defiant? That's who he is. He is a pirate and that is how he built your program and gave you national attention. He would rather have his ship sunk then turn it over to those who tried to undermine him.
Whoever hires Leach next, and someone will, they better understand what they are doing when they shake his hand and seal the accord because it's a pirate's life for Leach and whether you agree or disagree with how he runs his ship, it is not subject to change. I do not have all the facts and it is unlikely we ever will but I do know things from Leach's point of view because he has never changed it and will not because a young kid and his ESPN analyst father threatens him at the point of a sword
Texas Tech Fires Suspended Coach Leach; legal action expected [CBSSports]