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Double-T Nation Daily Diatribe :: 01.02.10

I Need a Break: I hope you'll excuse me as this DTN DD will be attempting to take a break from the Mike Leach Saga (with the exception of a few comments in the Odds and Ends section).  There was a basketball game yesterday that I completely forgot about and a football game today that seems like an afterthought.  I'm going to enjoy taking a mental break of sorts for this evening's game and hope like hell Ruffin McNeill and the team get a win. 

Continued Support:  As an aside, I've received over 250+ emails over the past two days regarding this situation.  A majority of those emails were also emails to the Chancellor.  If I haven't responded to a personal question to me, I apologize in advance as I'm trying to work through and read each and every email.  I cannot thank you enough for speaking your mind and as much as you may not believe that your voice matters, it does.  At some point, this entire ordeal will become a cost-benefit analysis for the Texas Tech administration.  If ticket sales are dropping like a rock, and I would expect that they will, then I believe that the administration will need to make a change in order to appease the masses, that person being Myers. 

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is:  Jim Sowell really wanted Leach gone, evidenced by his emails from last year.  I have no doubt that Sowell already gives a hefty sum to Texas Tech, but let's see him really put his money where his mouth is.  I think it would be entirely appropriate if he personally donates the funds to defend the oncoming lawsuit between Leach and Texas Tech and any settlement that Leach has with the university. Sowell had no problems making it known, very publicly, how he felt about the entire situation, let's see how vocal he is going forward.

Myers' Hypocrisy:  The other day I referenced an incident where Bob Knight hit a player in the chin.  The player's parents didn't have any sort of problem with how Knight treated the player, but the problem I do have was the attachment to the University's response to Leach's injunction, which had a 2004 memorandum regarding how Texas Tech faculty was to act on behalf of the university.  One of the relevant portions of this memorandum stats as follows:

Physical abuse or any person on university-owned or controlled property or at university-sponsored or supervised function; or conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any such person;

I'm sure the University will this language to position themselves in a light whereby Leach violated this terms of employee conduct.  Then I was reminded by an emailer about this situation that Bob Knight had at a salad bar in Lubbock, with Myers as the athletic director and the then chancellor of the universityMyers drafted a memorandum where he pleaded that Knight not act in this manner and this draft initially suspended Knight for three games and a press release was even sent out.   Ultimately, Knight wasn't suspended at all.


James' Announcing Career:  I rarely link to the DMN, but the DMN has a writer that's dedicated solely to writing about sports and television and radio broadcasting, Barry Horn.  Horn opines this morning the following:

Bottom line: As the result of his parental concern, Craig James was a catalyst in getting Leach fired. That's baggage that ESPN's college football analyst will have to carry.

It will absolutely have an impact on James' assignments. The network will be hard-pressed to send him to any Big 12 game for awhile. Ditto to the games of any school where Leach, in any capacity, might wind up.

James has a solid body of work as a booth and studio analyst, but it remains to be seen how this affair influences what he says on future broadcasts and how viewers perceive it.

The fact that this is even out there is a small victory for those who feel like James shouldn't be announcing another game for ESPN.

McNeill Should be Given Serious Consideration:  LAJ's Don Williams writes this morning that interim head coach and defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill should be given serious consideration as the head coach of Texas Tech and I agree with Williams on just about every bit of this:

Players love McNeill. Over the years, countless recruits have brought up the name "Coach Ruff’’ when telling me why they wanted to join the Red Raiders. And it’s not just him, which brings up an important point.

Among the many things Leach did right and did well, here’s one that
wasn’t specifically mentioned all that often, but should be: Leach put minority family men in key positions throughout his staff. I can’t help but think they created a comfortable environment that players’ parents — particularly minority players’ parents — trusted. That matters in a sport in which recruiting makes all the difference.

Aside from McNeill, assistant coaches Dennis Simmons and Brian Mitchell, strength coach Bennie Wylie and player personnel director Antonio Huffman gave diversity to a staff that also has a blend of veterans in their 60s and young guys in their 20s. Those hiring need to think long and hard about giving up the gains made in recruiting — not just this year’s class, but long term — if they turn everyone loose.

I think Leach's hiring practices should be applauded and although it's probably a taboo subject on some level, I think that hiring minority coaches and putting those coaches in positions of authority throughout the team.  I cannot speak for every team, but I'd be lying if I didn't think that McNeill's presence as the second in command and being a minority had an effect on the recruits.  This may be a situation where it shouldn't matter to prospective players, but it does.  That's not to say that I don't think that McNeill has earned the defensive coordinator job on his own merits, because I think he has.

In fact DMN's Kate Hairopoulos (quoting the DMN twice in one morning?  WTF?) writes that McNeill is ready to coach up and love up his players:

"I love coaching, our kids and the parents of our kids," McNeill said. "Let there be no question there. I'd be honored to take care of their most prized possessions, because I'm a dad, too."

Though McNeill is the defensive coordinator, he recruits offensive and defensive players.

"The kids know how I am," McNeill said. "I tell them what I expect and what we're going to demand. I'm not afraid to coach them hard or love them hard."

Despite what may happen today, please do not judge McNeill or any other candidates on just one game.  Sure, this game is an audition of sorts, but McNeill, as well as Sonny Dykes, or Kevin Sumlin or Tommy Tuberville, should be based on their entire body of work, not just one game.

  Time to Play:  FWST's Dwain Price writes that the staff and players are ready for this opportunity, including new play caller Lincoln Riley:

"I’m fired up, I can’t wait," Riley said. "I’ve been waiting for this forever. I’ve got a great staff around me. We’ve got a great plan. We’re excited to go play and our guys are, too."

There Was a Game?  Apparently I'm not a very good fan because I didn't even realize that there was a game yesterday.  The Red Raiders beat McNeese St., 76-75 (boxscore).  LAJ's Courtney Linehan has a recap of the game, and head coach Pat Knight thinks that last year, this is a game Texas Tech would have lost:

"I really think last year we would have lost this game big," Knight said. "That’s the difference. This game we hung on, played it to the end, and got a hard-fought win. That’s what I look at."

I'll get back on the basketball wagon with Sunday's game against UTEP.  For now, check out the StatSheet player impact for yesterday's game: