Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Is Leach getting lynched in Lubbock?

Some of ye socks have quite justifiably criticized yours truly for the overabundance of posts surrounding the Florida Gators this time o' year.

But, what is a frustrated Texas Tech fan to do in this little corner of heaven?

Until recently, I have had to explain to folks in this neck of the woods just exactly where TTU is. Lubbock?! Never heard of it . . .

All that began to change several years ago when a quirky, odd ball named Mike Leach took over as head coach of the football team at my alma mater.

And, unlike the crap and nonsense that's being peddled in Washington lately, Leach's brand of change has been the kind I can actually support.

He assumed command following the departure of the "legendary" Spike Dykes. Remember him? I do, and I don't think I was alone in my lack of enthusiasm for his coaching. I grant him the singular exception of a win over a Duke team coached by Steve Spurrier in the All-American Bowl before the legendary "Evil Genius" came back to Florida to christen The Swamp. But, I digress . . .

Before Mike Leach, the Red Raider "faithful" struggled to get 40,000 seats warmed in Jones Stadium during football season. Their team was on NCAA probation and, by all accounts, had a shamefully low graduation rate.

Today, more athletes are actually earning diplomas in Lubbock. Attendance at Leach-coached football games always breaks the 50,000 mark. And, his team has appeared in ten straight bowl games.

Of course, like most stories surrounding athletics at any level, this one boils down to money. Leach's outstanding performance at Tech has a lot of it flowing into the school's budget, enough to pay for an $84 million expansion if its outdated stadium to accomodate those aforementioned gowing attendance numbers.

So, it is with a great deal of sadness that I heard the news out of the Staked Plains today. Mike Leach has been suspended, and may very likely lose his job before his team takes on Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl.

The reasons given for his suspension are many and conflicting. And, at the end of the day none of them really matter, as much bigger questions will survive the explosive details: What will happen to Leach, his coaching staff, and the players? Has Tech's football revival come to an end? Will all those extra bucks have to be funneled away from expansion plans to pay legal bills?

And, more selfishly, does this mean coverage of Big 12 games way down here in SEC territory will revert to pre-Leach days?! Perish the thought!!

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