How do I begin coping?
I'm not really sure where to start writing this editorial today. Frankly, I'm in shock, I'm upset, and I'm not sure who to direct this anger, confusion, and frustration at. So, instead, I'm going to go ahead and write a bit about what I know and hope that you guys find it useful.
How did we get to this point?
The long and short of it is that Mike Leach and the Board of Reagents cannot get along. We have two different organizations, Mike and his legal counsel and the BOR, who both are determined to get their way and are not willing to negotiate peace between the two. While it's a lot easier to just blame the administration, there is part of my mind that believes that Leach is just as much to blame, considering that he had the opportunity to play politic and go back to normal.
Frankly, though, I wouldn't have played the politics either. What the TTU administration asked of Mike Leach was unacceptable and was never going to be agreed to. And I think they knew it. Someone with the power was ready to be rid of Mike Leach and we get to suffer for it.
Lots and lots more after the jump. Please read, it will make me feel better.
Can we blame Gerald Myers?
If you want to, I cannot stop you from putting all of this on Gerald's head. What I have heard is that he had little part in the agreement Leach was asked to sign and his only part in the suspension was his name on the paper. In addition, I have heard that Myers found out that Mike Leach was fired at the same time that Mike's Lawyer did. He was not involved in the decision to fire Mike and does not seem to be involved in the following coaching search either.
If this is true, I think that it is more reason for TTU to ask for Myers' retirement. If your athletic director is so powerless that the university does not consult him when discussing the termination of his football coach, what is he for? I will happily use this term in this case: Gerald Myers is a lame duck athletic director and it is time to bring fresh blood into his position.
"Well, I don't want to root for Tech anymore"
Before you burn your shirts, consider sending them to me. I believe it's an overreaction to discontinue your fandom of TTU unless you were a t-shirt fan in the first place, in which case, that's your right. It's not only the coach that you're rooting for, it's the players and it's the idea of the Red Raiders.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't be upset or you shouldn't react against the university (petition, protest, write to, and withhold money from the university all you like), I'm simply saying don't give up your fan status over this. The other thing I hope to see is those of you who are considering withholding or not purchasing tickets taking the same stance as our incoming recruits and waiting to see what hire we make before making the leap.
Speaking of the recruits, here's a bit of good news for you within all the bad: Mike Leach was not a fantastic recruiter. While many of the 24 players that have verbally pledged to play football at TTU in 2010 are looking at their options, none have decommitted yet. None of the players were particularly close to Coach Leach and so none of the players have straight-up walked yet.
Where are we going to go from here?
Believe it or not, I'm already passed the stage where I believed (and I really did believe it in the deepest part of my heart) that this was the end of TTU football. It hurts, but it isn't the end. A good hire right now and we retain the momentum and keep this party rolling. The question is if this administration is going to make the right hire or if they're going to make the easy hire. I can almost guarantee that they make the easy hire.
By easy hire, I mean that there are two candidates out there that list TTU as their dream job: Art Briles and Sonny Dykes. There's one other coach, our interim HC Ruffin McNeil, that isn't exactly part of the old-school, but would still be an easy hire.
Personally, I do not want to see Art Briles or Sonny Dykes announced as the next head coach at TTU. I have begun to believe that Ruffin McNeil is the right easy hire. What qualifies me to believe this? Well, nothing, but I do have some reasons that I think make sense:
Sonny Dykes should not be the next TTU head coach because he has less experience as an HC than Ruffin and hasn't exactly been a world beater as OC in Arizona. He's been ok, but we'll see tonight if he's got an idea of what to do against Suh.
Art Briles should not be the next TTU head coach two reasons. He does not run the Air Raid. He runs a spread that can make use of our current players, but his spread is not the Air Raid. I think moving away from the air raid would put a hard stop to the national momentum that we've built and would be a return to a regional focus. An Art Briles offense could not recruit WR from Florida who want to come to TTU. I also think that him coming to Tech would mean losing a lot of our current staff which would result in the loss of this recruiting class.
So that leaves us with Ruffin. Ruffin will leave almost all of our current staff intact and that will ensure that we retain almost all of our current recruiting class. The only other option who will give you this would be Sonny Dykes. Ruffin is also one of our best recruiters and is in fact the finisher on our staff. That's something that Mike was never good at. He could sell a few kids on playing for the pirate, but not quite like Ruffin can. If the goal is to maintain momentum, then he's the hire.
Granted, TTU could go off and make the difficult hire as well. Names that will be thrown around include Kevin Sumlin at Houson (and Dana Holgerson as well), Tommy Tubberville, Bronco Mendenhall, Kyle Whittingham, Larry Fedora, and Gus Malzahn. Most of those options are offensive coaches that will come in with a new and different spread offense. Sumlin and Tubberville (maybe) are the only ones likely to leave the air raid intact.
"Wow, that was a lot of rambling"
Thank you, I hope you could take something out of that and if not, well, I'm not entirely sure that I did either. Still, it's been said
So the Alamo Bowl is a job interview?
One last thought before I wrap up this novel, this weekend's game is, in effect, a job interview for Ruffin McNeil. If the team comes out and plays, I think that it will be his job to lose. It's also a job interview for Lincoln Riley. He's only spent 1 season in the booth for Mike and has only been coaching for 3 years. Is he ready to be a full-time offensive coordinator? I'm not so sure, but it's not out of the question if Ruffin continues as HC or if an air-raid aligned, offensive-minded coach comes in.