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The Saga of Mike Leach and Texas Tech: It Ends

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Previous Editions of Our Saga

February 7, 2009 :: February 8, 2009 :: February 12, 2009 :: February 14, 2009 :: February 18, 2009 :: February 19, 2009


As of Wednesday night, I was pretty sure that I was going to have to play this video:

I'm still posting it because it's Johnny Cash and its a damned fine tune, but now it has no significance to the Saga of Mike Leach and Texas Tech other than just being a damned fine song.

We Have An Agreement

I had a number of people email and ask me what I thought was going to happen, and as referenced in the video above, I was fully prepared to be incredibly disappointed on Friday. Luckily, that's not the case. Privately, I thought that Texas Tech was going to let Leach go if he didn't agree to a contract extension. I was willing to bet a mortgage payment that Texas Tech was going to let him go if Leach did not agree to an extension as everyone realized that having a college football coach for only a two year commitment is less than ideal.

That's not what I wanted to happen, but being the eternal pessimist, this is what I thought was going to happen and although there was talk that deadlines didn't mean a thing, I'm pretty sure that they did mean something. I could be wrong, but it seemed to me that the administration seemed fairly resolute about the entire process and so long as the university could afford Leach's buyout of $1.6 million, then I thought this was a certainty.

But we have an agreement, the monetary terms are $12.7 million for five years.

I'm happy.

The Four Points

KCBD has the full transcript of the press conference and I thought that it might be good to go ahead and take a look at the 4 points of contention through this whole proces.

Notice vs. Consent

Press conference, Kent Hance:

. . . on the issue of approval to interview another school, we've changed that to notification. Gerald says that's all he wants, and that's all I wanted. And Mike said that's great with him.

That's what Hance said on Thursday at the press conference, but let's remember where both Hance and Myers stood on this. On February 6, 2009 Hance had the following to say about Leach:

"I like Mike and I want him to be our coach, but I don’t want his agents shopping him around every year. I found it outrageous that I saw in the newspaper my football coach was interviewing for other jobs. We expect him to notify us. We want loyalty," Hance said.

And Myers on February 9, 2009:

Then Myers said, "All I can say is nobody from those schools ever contacted me about permission to talk to Mike. That’s all I know. That’s all I wanted in that clause is to be informed.’’

How about the idea that perhaps the sticking point wasn't about consent, at least initially, and it was about notice? This is tricky, but certainly something to consider that maybe it was just about Leach being open and honest with Myers and Leach, man to man. I think that's all this was ever about.


Press conference, Kent Hance:

We also on the marketing part, I think we probably didn't explain that well enough. And that was a little vague and confusing to the general public as well as to Mike. The main thing that we're trying to do is that last year we felt like Mike was not marketed as well as he should have been. And that's something; we've got a new marketing group that's coming in. And we plan to market him. We think that as a Red Raider there's all kinds of potential out there from additional Red Raiders to Pirates. We plan to market him. He said that would be great with him and so we agreed on that. There really wasn't any disagreement on that. We've never wanted book rights or movie rights. I might want a walk on part in the movie. But we reached an agreement on that without any problems.

When this was initially reported, O'Hagan stated that this issue was an attempt to control Leach's likeness and retain the funds from this marketing:

"The University is asking for the right to dictate and have complete control over Coach Leach’s appearances, endorsements, book publishing, etc., and the right to profit off these activities," O’Hagan wrote. "In all my years in the business, I have never seen such a request. Mike currently has the right to negotiate, independently or through his agent, all such agreements and retain all monies derived from them.’’

And just this week, ESPN's Bruce Feldman incorrectly reported this about the marketing deal:

One said that all the money from his personal speaking properties -- for example, if he makes an appearance or writes a book about his life in Wyoming -- would go to Tech.

Myers' response at the time was the same as it was on Thurday:

"It just means that we want to mainly be involved with his media rights," Myers said. "A lot of schools probably do — maybe not all — have some involvement in coaches shows and things like that to generate outside income, but not the total personal rights of the coach. "Mike’s reported outside income last year was $10,000. We think we can exceed that."

In the end, Myers was telling us the truth and I'm a little surprised (I shouldn't be) that O'Hagan would twist the terms of this clause to the extent he did.

Termination and Buyout

Press conference, Kent Hance:

The other two provisions had to do with a buyout and had to do with the termination. And the termination; we had proposed $300,000 a year for the number of years left. And they had proposed 30 percent. And we reached deal today at $400,000 a year for the number of years left. And on the buyout, for him to go to another school, after talking to him & everything I'm convinced that this is a five-year contract but he wants to be here a lot more than five years. If he didn't want to be here, why should we penalize him if he wanted to leave. So, I just said we'll make that zero on the buyout. And there's certainly no buyout in there, because I know he's not leaving. And Mike likes us, we like Mike. And this was kind of an unusual situation. People said there were some disagreements. We care, and we care deeply about Texas Tech. And we all have issues we have to look after and I think that pretty well sums it up on those issues. And we're happy about it and we shook hands and had a good visit.

This is where Hance made his money and although I wasn't in the room, I think this simply came down to Hance asking Leach, "Do you want to be here?" Assuming that Mike's answer was relatively short, I think that Hance really just wanted to hear it from Leach, again, man to man, "Yes, I want to be here. I want to coach this team."

End of story.

And as Skin Patrol pointed out last night, now both parties can walk away, if it comes to that, without one party having a leg-up on the other.  That's the way it should have been from the beginning, not a penalty to walk away, but with a little baggage and as possible.

Wrapping This Up

ESPN Big 12 blogger Tim Griffin stated that as part of Leach's new contract was more than $400,000 for his assistant coaches and left the door open for a possible return of Seth Littrell, who left for Arizona. If Littrell returned, that would be huge for Texas Tech.

It's been mentioned a number of places, many times by you guys, but when Leach would say that it was out of his hands, it wasn't. I know, it's best to let your attorney or agent do the leg work for you, but if Leach and Hance had met a month ago, by themselves, without agents or other administration, we would have had a contract in place before signing day.

Deadlines = motivation.

DMN's Kevin Sherrington has a good a take as anyone, essentially writing that both Leach and Texas Tech paid a price and finds fault with both sides.

With Texas Tech and Gerald Myers:

If there's a loser here, it's Tech's athletic director. Hance not only cut Myers out of the negotiations, he also worked it so that Leach will have to notify the school, not Myers, if he chases another job.

Myers isn't having much luck keeping his head coaches in check this decade. If Bob Knight wasn't barking at his president at the salad bar, Leach is telling media outlets that Tech is trying to "extort" money from him. Myers is a lion tamer without whip or chair, and Hance locked the gate.

And with the Captain himself:

Leach deserves a large share of the blame for how this all played out. He tried to grab more power than any coach would have the nerve to do, and without playing by the rules. He acts without considering consequences. Sometimes the results are charming. Sometimes they leave him surprised when the opposing coach is coming fast across the field, and it's not Leach's hand he wants to grab.

The Pirate sorely misjudged his hand, too. While he was galavanting around the globe last weekend, his supporters had to wonder: Could $2.5 million a year for five years in this economy really be so bad, even with clauses that ultimately were thrown out? Couldn't he at least try to schmooze at fundraisers a little more?

And what about hiring a PR person to organize a love-in this week, and only 40 people showed up?

I think there are some generalizations that Sherrington makes about both men, but these are fair points.

Thanks Again

I said it the other day and I'll say it again, it's been awesome for me to watch you guys respond to each other and comment without getting nasty and it's such a huge relief that you guys are able to moderate yourselves. Perhaps we made waaaay to big a deal of this situation, but the fact that we were able to have intelligent conversation about the process, the players and the eventual result speaks volumes about you guys.

Open Thread

Consider this your official start to spring practices and football talk. We plan to do some write-ups on each position going forward as well as positional breakdowns. If you guys have any thoughts, suggestions, story ideas or questions, feel free to shoot me an email and we'll see if we can't answer them for you.