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The Saga of Mike Leach and Texas Tech: Contract Negotiations

Now This is a Quagmire

When Mike Leach talked about his contract status on Wednesday, my response was this:

The thing I find most interesting is that Leach basically said, "Gerald, it’s your move."

Well, Gerald did move.

"Check, Captain Leach."

First and Foremost

Everything quoted here is from LAJ's Don Williams and DMN's Brandon George. Both journalists have done an outstanding job of detailing everything that's gone on here. Kudos and congrats.

Who Thought to Even Ask?

So here we are, magically, every news source in and around the Lubbock area now has access to every email and piece of negotiation between Leach, Leach's agents, Gary O'Hagan and Matt Baldwin of IMG Sports, and Texas Tech University.

I'm not real sure how to say this, but doesn't this all seem a little coincidental? I'm making some assumptions here, but how outrageous would it be if someone from the school and athletic department sorta mentioned that all of the communications between the school would fall under the Freedom of Information Act? Friday morning, Ryan Hyatt mentioned that by the time Monday rolled around, Texas Tech fans would have a whole new view of the negotiations. It happened a lot faster than that.  Quite simply, I think that someone perhaps mentioned to reporters to make the request and Texas Tech's hands would be tied. They would be forced to produce the information.

And boy did they.

It's About the Money

As much as we'd like to think it's not about the money, it is about the money. Last year, in April Leach and his agents asked for a 5 year deal for $15.25 million ($3.05 million/year), which would have vaulted Leach ahead of Mack Brown ($2.91 million/year) for a college coach's compensation.

It's about the money.

December 5, 2008, Texas Tech offered to Leach a contract worth $12.1 million over 5 years ($2.42 million/year) and Leach's agent's countered on December 16, 2008 at $14.25 over 5 years (part 2) ($2.85 million/year). On January 9, 2009 Myers and Texas Tech counters at $12.7 million ($2.54 million/year) which includes a bonus of $600,000 if Leach completes his contract. January 20, 2009 Leach and his agents accept the base salary of $12.7 million over 5 years ([Note by Seth C, 02/07/09 8:15 AM CST ] REMEMBER:  The four provisions that Leach and his agent are balking at now are in this January 9, 2009 offer.  Leach and his agent accepted the terms of those provisions on January 20, 2009), but asked for an additional $1.15 million in incentive bonuses as follows:

Bonuses TTU 01/09/09 Offer Leach 01/20/09 Offer Difference
Graduation >65% (Leach's Offer is 70%)
$25,000.00 $25,000.00 $-
Wins/Ties Big 12 South $25,000.00 $50,000.00 $25,000.00
Participates in Big 12 Championship Game $25,000.00 $25,000.00 $-
Wins Big 12 Championship Game $25,000.00 $75,000.00 $50,000.00
Participates in BCS Bowl $75,000.00 $150,000.00 $75,000.00
Participates in Cotton or Holiday Bowl $50,000.00 $75,000.00 $25,000.00
Participates in any other bowl $25,000.00 $50,000.00 $25,000.00
Plays in National Championship $- $150,000.00 $150,000.00
Wins National Championship $250,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $750,000.00
AP Big 12 Coach of the Year $25,000.00 $25,000.00 $-
AP National Coach of the Year $50,000.00 $50,000.00 $-
Final AP Poll Ranking #11-25 $25,000.00 $50,000.00 $25,000.00
Final AP Poll Ranking #1-10 $50,000.00 $75,000.00 $25,000.00
If 5 Regular Season Conference Wins $25,000.00 $25,000.00 $-
If 6 Regular Season Conference Wins $50,000.00 $50,000.00 $-
If 7 Regular Season Conference Wins $75,000.00 $75,000.00 $-
If 8 Regular Season Conference Wins $100,000.00 $100,000.00 $-
TOTAL $900,000.00 $2,050,000.00 $1,150,000.00

Please explain to me how it's not about the money?

I want to be clear, I have no problem with it being about the money, but don't tell me it's not about the money. It's always about the money.

Just ask Rod Tidwell (language warning).

Unacceptable Items

In Texas Tech's January 9, 2009 offer, Leach's agents claim that there are four items in this contract that are unacceptable.

  1. Early Termination: Texas Tech is offering a buyout of $300,000 per year for every year remaining on the contract. Leach's agent says that the Big 12 average is 50% rather than the offered 13.5%. Again, I think Texas Tech is calling Leach's flirtations into question. If Leach is really committed to Texas Tech then what's the problem? If he signs a 5 year contract, he should be committed to the University, without any sort of issue of buyout. I can somewhat understand Leach's position that the University can terminate the contract without cause for the same amount, but it seems that Texas Tech's stance is, what's good for you, is good for us too.
  2. Permission To Interview: Heaven forbid that Leach not be able to continue to interview anywhere he pleases. Leach has flirted with Miami, UCLA, Clemson, Tennessee and Washington within the past two years of being Texas Tech's head coach. One of the items that Leach feels is inappropriate with Texas Tech's latest offer is that Leach must ask AD Gerald Myers for permission to interview.

    This is not a problem for me in the very least. Leach has done enough looking for me. Either I want someone completely committed to Texas Tech or don't want him in Lubbock. I know that people look for jobs all the time, but the free reign that Leach has had over the past two years is too much.

    Myers said in an email in December of 2008 the following:

    "We want you as his agent to stop shopping Coach Leach everywhere and him not saying anything to deny that he's looking for another job."

    This is the game of chicken that Leach and his agent have been playing for the past two years and now the it's time to pay the piper (sorry for mixing metaphors, etc.).

  3. Buyout: Leach's current contract sits at a flat rate of $500,000, which means that should Leach jump ship to another job, Leach only has to pay a $500,000 fee to Texas Tech. Texas Tech countered in it's latest offer is that the initial buyout is $1.5 million, but that amount is reduced by $300,000 for each year that Leach completes of his contract. Thus, by the end of the term there will be no buyout, at the end of next year, the buyout will be $1.2 million, the next year it's $900,000, etc. Seems completely reasonable to request a higher buyout, but that assumes the coach wants to continue to coach at a particular university. What this means for Leach is that he has to be somewhat committed to Texas Tech and obviously, that's not what he wants.
  4. Personal Likeness Rights: At first, I thought this was the one item that I thought was too much in favor of Texas Tech, but then I read Hyatt's updated post on Friday afternoon regarding this sticking point:
    Lots of folks will have a hard time understanding O’Hagan’s complaint about the outside income-marketing issue via the newly minted deal Tech has with Learfield Communications as of today. If I’m reading it right, it merely brings Leach in-line with what Pat Knight and Kristy Curry are already doing, which is to allow Tech go generate much more than the 10K a year Mike currently "earns" whether he "earns" it or not. Anything done by Leach’s agents would still go to Leach, like say a commercial for 50-Yard Line Steakhouse or Dog Food. Again, there isn’t anything about that clause that seems out of line or unreasonable and for O’Hagan to say so seems a bit disingenous to me.

    I also sort of read this last provision to mean that the school will control Leach's likeness while he's working for Texas Tech, which again makes sense. The head football coach is a representative of the school and oftentimes the figure-head for the program. I can understand why Texas Tech would want to control that image somewhat. In retrospect, and knowing that this current provision is in similar contract provisions with Pat Knight and Kristy Curry, it doesn't bother me so much.

    Again, this has no effect on the compensation that Leach's receives.

Going Above Everyone's Heads

On January 13, 2009, Myers emailed to IMG that he and Texas Tech were sorry that Leach and his agents have declined Texas Tech's January 9, 2009 email. One of Leach's agents, Matt Baldwin, decided that because he wasn't getting anywhere with Myers and Kent Hance it would be pretty cool to just go above their heads and email the Texas Tech Board of Regents, stating in part:

"We feel that there has been some misinformation about our position regarding the most recent contract offer made by Texas Tech. This feeling is based on some of the questions that Mike has been asked from some board members and boosters. In the interest of accuracy, we have prepared a chart which compares four elements of change that were introduced at the eleventh hour."

On January 16, 2009, Texas Tech board of Regents Chairman F. Scott Dueser responded to Baldwin's email as follows:

"I cannot adequately express the level of disappointment I feel that you would take the liberty of communicating directly with certain members of the Board of Regents regarding the status of your negotiations with Chancellor Hance, President Bailey and Athletic Director Myers without at the very least showing them the courtesy and respect of receiving a copy of your communication. If your message was calculated to divide the Board or undermine the Chancellor, President and Athletic Director, you have greatly misjudged us and the mutual respect we have for one another."

On January 20, 2009, Leach and his agent state that they are ready and willing to accept the current, January 9, 2009 offer, but asks for $1.15 million more money in bonus money.

It's not about the money.

As of January 20, 2009 in an email from Baldwin to Myers, Leach was fine with the four provisions in Texas Tech's January 9, 2009 offer, but increased the bonus incentives detailed above.

On January 28, 2009 Baldwin emails Myers and now he expresses that Leach feels that these four provisions are unacceptable.

It's not about the money.

Last night on KCBD Channel 11, (hat-tip Tech 92), Hance essentially said that Texas Tech is done negotiating with Leach's agents.

Deadline: February 17, 2009

This is Texas Tech's deadline for Leach to sign the contract. I'll go more into what I think will happen on that date as we get a little closer, but my initial thought is that it doesn't look good for anyone involved.