In a stunning development, Texas Tech fired head football coach Mike Leach on Wednesday.
Leach was seeking a temporary restraining order Wednesday morning in state district judge William Sowder’s court in hopes of being able to coach in Saturday’s Alamo Bowl against Michigan State. However, Tech officials decided to move forward and fire their embattled coach.
Before the judge's ruling, a source close to the situation believed Tech would try and find a way to fire Leach.
“They can fire him at any time,’’ the source said. “There’s an amount of money they would have to pay. But if that happens, there could be a player revolt.’’
That course turned out to be correct.
The Leach saga started when backup redshirt sophomore wide receiver Adam James suffered a mild concussion during a Dec. 16 scrimmage. James alleged that Leach subsequently mistreated him and confined him to a dark room with no place to sit or lean for three hours on one occasion, and on another occasion he was placed in a dark electrical closet.
Leach and his attorney, Ted Liggett, disputed those accounts.
However, when Tech officials investigated the matter after receiving a complaint from James and his family, they chose to suspend Leach while the investigation was ongoing. Others believe this has never been about Adam James, but about a legion of prominent movers and shakers associated with Tech who want a new coach.
Liggett believes the case gained steam only because James’ father is prominent former SMU and NFL player Craig James. Craig James currently is a college football analyst for ESPN.
A source said Craig James has meddled with the Tech program and wanted Leach to promise him that his son would be a starter next season.
Leach coached 10 seasons at Tech and produced an 84-43 record while taking the Raiders to a bowl game all 10 seasons. He is the school’s all-time winningest coach and consistently has one of the best graduation rates in the country.
However, a source said some of Tech’s hierarchies and influential boosters didn’t particularly care for Leach’s brash style and had been waiting for the precise moment when they could part ways with the popular coach.
“I think they are the same people that didn’t want to extend Mike’s contract last year,” the source said. “They’ve been out for him ever since, and this is the first hiccup.
“And I think Craig James is friends with some of those people.”
Earlier this year, Leach went through some contentious contract negotiations with Tech athletic director Gerald Myers before he was finally given a three-year extension that brings his current contract to five years and $12.7 million. Under terms of that contract, Leach was due an $800,000 bonus if he was still the Raiders’ coach on Thursday.
Now, he will not receive that $800,000 bonus.
However, the Raiders must pay Leach $1.6 million — or $400,000 for each of the four years remaining on his contract.
Defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill has been named the interim coach and will coach the Raiders against Michigan State.
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