Tuesday, January 5, 2010

24 comments Jay Mariotti Smells Chum In The Water, Becomes ESPN's Mouthpiece

Jay Mariotti of course had to give his take on the Mike Leach and Texas Tech situation. I am writing about it today. You may ask why I am giving my opinion on it a week after the story broke. Well, the reason I am doing that is the same reason Jay Mariotti sucks for hearing about the story and immediately jumping the gun and instead of waiting for all the information to come in, then decides Mike Leach is guilty of all charges and is completely 100% in the wrong. It's what I call reactive journalism and I really can't stand it. Regardless of whether Leach was wrong or not, Mariotti just got one bit of information and popped out a column, which I think is a bit presumptive.

Reactive journalism is when a journalist gives a comment on a story developing and takes a hard stance one way without getting all of the facts first or waiting for all the facts to be brought out. Don't get me wrong, Mike Leach is very much in the wrong here, there's no doubt about that, but I don't believe he is the only person in this story that has been wrong. The bottom line: Don't condemn someone or pretend you know all the facts about a story the instant the story breaks.

(For instance, Jay Mariotti doesn't mention the Texas Tech administration doesn't like Mike Leach because of last year's contract negotiations. )

Of course Jay Mariotti is in no way familiar with this rule. If he gets a chance to come down on someone in the sports world he will do it with malice and as quickly as possible.

If you've wondered why there's an intense focus on concussions, why the NFL finally dumped the medical specialists who said head injuries don't pose long-term health dangers, why NFL players no longer can return to a game if they suffer even the slightest concussion and why one Democrat in Congress has compared this growing crisis to the deception of "tobacco companies pre-1990s'' -- well, America, meet Mike Leach.

We finally have our culprit for concussions in football. Concussions in the NFL and college football are all Mike Leach's fault. Every single last one of them.

First, let me put a disclaimer out there for what I am writing today. I do not think it is acceptable to lock an athlete in a garage or punish that athlete for not playing with a concussion. Obviously this is unacceptable and any coach that does this deserves to be fired. My point is that we have no idea if the accusations by the James family are true or not. Leach didn't force him to play with a concussion, he had been fed up with James' behavior in the past and his methods of sitting James for practice are questionable. The accusations certainly seem to be true, but excuse me if I don't trust ESPN to tell the whole story when they employ the victim's father and have a interest in showing Adam and Craig James are not in the wrong in any fashion. I can't pretend Mike Leach isn't an asshole, because he is, but I find it interesting the only major sports network that is still sticking with this story 100% (by sticking with this story 100% I mean they are reporting every little development) is ESPN.

The other major sites have moved past it. Meanwhile ESPN keeps uncovering evidence that current Texas Tech players didn't like Mike Leach. There is even a story about how Adam James will be welcome back to the team and how the trainer who put James in the closet (that was the size of a one car garage) didn't like doing it, but of course he did it anyway. This is the same trainer who contradicted James account of what happened originally. ESPN did give Mike Leach an interview though, so kudos to them for that.

There was barely a mention on the ESPN site about how CBSSportsline.com received emails from current and ex-Texas Tech players and coaches in support of Mike Leach. Leach is in the wrong, no doubt, but I also believe Texas Tech wanted to get rid of him because he is a pain in the ass and this gave them a chance to do so. The emails I linked earlier prove they didn't exactly like having him around. ESPN has stayed on top of the story simply because they don't want to fire Craig James and need to make him look credible to keep calling college football games for ESPN.

This article Jay Mariotti has written is not good. He should have just done what Gregg Doyel (who is no stranger to ripping people) did and let the story come out a little bit and write this article. It blames everyone. Sure, that sounds like a cop-out to just blame everyone involved in the situation, but there is also a lot of truth to it. There is plenty of circumstantial evidence neither Craig or Adam James liked the playing time Adam was receiving and plenty of evidence the contract negotiations with Leach left a bitter taste in the school's mouth last year. There is more to this story than an electrical closet/garage and a concussion. Someone needs to tell Jay Mariotti it is possible to write an interesting and meaningful column without choosing a side and putting that side with the full blame for a situation.

As long as creepy thugs such as the Texas Tech football coach exist, no amount of discourse, reform and legislation is enough.

Mike Leach is a weird guy. He loves pirates and just overall seems like a royal asshole, but after all we have found out about Adam James and the real circumstances around his "punishment" doesn't it seem a bit much to call Leach a "creepy thug?" (Contrary to ESPN's opinion, not everyone at Texas Tech liked Adam James) Maybe he is 25% creepy, but a thug? These are the type of statements that have caused Ozzie Guillen to call Jay Mariotti slurs and challenge him to a fight.

You personally I just think Mike Leach is just a victim of the "Crabtree Curse" Gregg Easterbrook always talks about. If you even get around Michael Crabtree, it ruins your life.

I am sure many of you have read the emails sent to Dennis Dodd of CBSSportsline defending Mike Leach. Granted, these are letters from Leach's coaches, current players, and ex-players so there may be a certain amount of bias in the letters because they like the guy...but isn't that the point? These people didn't have to write or say ANYTHING and they took the time out to write and tell what kind of person they thought Mike Leach was, as well as what kind of person they thought Adam James was. The easiest thing for these individuals who wrote in is to keep their mouth shut and see how the situation plays out. I believe ESPN's reporting shows some bias.

There were players who were happy that Mike Leach was gone from the team and there was one player quoted on ESPN as saying he was happy Leach was gone. This article on ESPN (what a shock) details some of the things Texas Tech players said about Leach that were negative and how he treated his players. Wes Welker said his experiences with Leach were positive. Would Wes Welker ever lie?????

Personally, I think Mike Leach has gone overboard at times with criticizing his players. Not everything he has said in the past is appropriate, so I won't defend him for that. I just want to see some fair coverage come out of this. Players are tough on their players and curse at them, I just don't get why video of Mike Leach cursing at Adam James is news to anyone who has played sports. Is Mike Leach a bully? Probably, but in the realm of the world outside of football I would say 90% of head coaches are bullies in college football. That doesn't make it right of course.

Part of me can't help but be a little jaded and find it interesting that the only sports site of the Big 4 (CBSSportsline, CNNSI, FoxSports, and ESPN) that was able to find and interview many players who didn't like Leach was ESPN...who just so happens to employ Adam James' father as an analyst. Other sports outlets have reported on the incident obviously, but no other network has had as much front page information and developments as ESPN. Sure, you could say they are just doing their job and reporting sports news, but I have to say ESPN isn't always the best at reporting sports news and developments when all the facts aren't known (i.e. Ben Roethlisberger legal situation at the beginning of the NFL year).

ESPN wouldn't by chance have any personal interest in making sure Craig James and his family aren't discredited would they? It severely hurts Craig James credibility as a college football analyst if it is eventually shown his son exaggerated the claims, got a prominent D-I head coach fired, and basically put himself in the middle of a situation where he didn't have all the facts. ESPN wants Mike Leach to be the bad guy here in my mind. Mike Leach has also done a lot to make himself be the bad guy here, so it's like shooting fish in a barrel.

Sure, Adam James is Craig James' son and he wants to protect his son, but he also knows he is a high profile individual in college football. I can't and won't fault him for that. The problem lies in the fact he can't put himself in situations with those coaches he covers to look like his personal life is going to cross over negatively with his business life. I am sure Mike Leach was tough on players, football coaches tend to be that way, but if the claims were exaggerated that's a problem for Craig James. Calling the room Adam James was placed in an electrical closet when it was as big as a one car garage is a bit of an exaggeration. I can't fault Craig James for defending his son but he had just better be sure he has all the facts correct. I am not sure he did that.

When an athlete sustains a head injury of any sort, a coach should have the educated sensibility to drop all other priorities and concentrate fully on that player's well-being.

What is Mike Leach supposed to say? He is supposed to say, "One of my 100 football players has a mild concussion? He is a 5th string receiver who plays sparingly? Let's cancel practice and not focus on the bowl game that will potentially bring in a ton of money to the school and make sure he is going to be fine!" All Leach can do is have a trainer check this player out, which is what he did...obviously his methods were questionable in getting James out of the sun.

It would be nice if Mike Leach could personally tend to each and every player that gets hurt, but this is not realistic. Realistically a coach has almost 100 other players he has to tend to as well to make sure they win the bowl game, boosters who want a bowl game win, and other football-related things to do. That's why Mike Leach and Texas Tech has a training staff, to take care of injuries (even head injuries) and allow the coach to worry about coaching the football game. So it's not realistic for Mike Leach to drop everything and focus completely on Adam James and his concussion.

In the case of Adam James, a redshirt sophomore receiver, Leach reportedly doubted that he had suffered a concussion during a Dec. 16 practice and thought he was just another player disgruntled about playing time. Even though James had been examined a day later and told not to practice after being diagnosed with a concussion and an elevated heart rate, Leach wasn't a caring, compassionate soul about it. Actually, he came off as a warped and sinister ogre when, according to sources who spoke to ESPN and the Associated Press, he told a university trainer to move James into a secluded room -- "to the darkest place, to clean out the equipment and to make sure that he could not sit or lean. He was confined for three hours." If James tried to leave the area, a source told the AP, he would be kicked off the team at once.

Obviously if this is all found out to be true, then Mike Leach is an asshole and deserved to be fired. At this point, Mariotti decided to come to his conclusion without hearing any part of the other side of the story. Of course Jay Mariotti had a deadline to meet and didn't have time to report what Mike Leach said about the situation. I mean, and really, why would Mariotti wait for both sides of the story to come out before condemning Mike Leach?

According to the New York Times and Dennis Dodd (what Dodd wrote is in bold italics) this is what Mike Leach said he told the trainers to do with Adam James:

If what Mike Leach said was true in the New York Times on Friday, then what we all thought two days ago is a mirage. Leach and other sources claim that the coach did not, in fact, mistreat Adam James. Leach said only that he did not know where the player was taken and that he ordered only that James be taken "out of the light."

Regardless of which side is actually true, I think Jay Mariotti should have waited until Mike Leach decided to speak before condemning Leach. Or he could have at least acknowledged he is only listening to one side of the story. Of course he doesn't do that. What Mariotti fails to understand is that Mike Leach is not a doctor and was coaching football practice. He probably told the team doctor to take care of James and get him out of the sunlight if he has a concussion. Some sources say Leach said exactly this, while other sources say Leach gave specific instructions as to where to put James.

Pincock stated on Saturday that he didn't agree with Leach putting James in the one car garage that he placed him in. If Leach did order Pincock to put him in that location then he is in the wrong, but it's still Pincock's story against Leach's...and Pincock has sort of changed his story between what Leach's lawyer said and what the affidavit Pincock signed claimed. Either way Leach delegated this responsibility and wasn't personally responsible for shoving a player in an electrical closet. That it shouldn't make a huge difference, but still.

Leach is supported by head trainer Steve Pincock and a team doctor.

So who are these "sources" ESPN and the AP have? It's obviously not one of the team doctors or the head trainer. I have a weird feeling the same players who came out and spoke out against Mike Leach are the same ones who are ESPN and the AP's "sources" on this situation. Pincock, through Leach's lawyer already agreed with Leach's story, but now he says he didn't agree with the punishment and hasn't seen another player treated like that before or since that time. I am not even sure what to believe in regard to what he says. Leach's camp has him saying one thing and then after Leach gets fired, he slightly changes his story.

The Lubbock Avalanche Journal reported that the room was a shed and that Leach forced James to stand in it for two hours during practice.

That's awesome and informative. Unfortunately the actual people who put James there had a different take on the situation...or seemed to originally.

In this article Pincock says the first place Adam James was placed was an equipment garage and the second place he was placed in a media room, which did have an electrical closet, but James wasn't supposed to go in there. It turns out he did go in there at some point and shoot some video eventually put up on YouTube.

So unless there is a big conspiracy to discredit Adam James even after Mike Leach has been fired, we have conflicting accounts on what happened. Stuff like this is why I hate reactive journalism. Jay Mariotti doesn't even mention there could be another side to this story, or even acknowledge what he is writing isn't stone cold fact. There are semi-conflicting accounts on what Pincock was told to do and even if he was told to put James in that one car garage/electrical closet, did he HAVE to do it? We have James who said he was put in the closet, Pincock who said he wasn't put in the closet but says Leach ordered the player to be put somewhere dark to make him miserable and Leach's account where he told Pincock to put in a dark place, but was not specific. I am not sure how on December 29th Mariotti could have taken one account and found it to be the truth.

Two days later, Leach allegedly told a trainer to place James "in the darkest, tightest spot. It was in an electrical closet, again, with a guard posted outside." Know what comes to mind? The movie "Midnight Express," the true story of an American who was tortured for years inside a Turkish prison after trying to smuggle drugs through an airport.


Really? Jay Mariotti has just compared Americans being tortured in a Turkish prison to a football player allegedly being put in an electrical closet/one car garage. Maybe this is a bit of an extreme and overdramatic analogy?

I realize West Texas is far removed from modern civilization, filled with flying dust and tumbleweeds,

I bet they don't even have Starbucks and don't drive hybrid cars either. BARBARIANS!

a place that embraced and revered Bob Knight after he was fired for roughing up young people at Indiana.

Why would you embrace and revere someone who turned the basketball program and around was accused of absolutely zero NCAA violations or instances where he roughed up players? Shouldn't everyone be judged and never forgiven for wrong acts they committed a few years ago even if they never do it again? Jay Mariotti seems to think so.

According to Ted Liggett, Leach's attorney, James embellished the severity of his head injury. Liggett called it a "mild concussion,'' telling the AP, "I believe that [James] was a disgruntled student-athlete that, like many, were not happy with playing time.''

This is another part of the story that Mariotti sort of skips over. The fact Mike Leach, and other coaches on the team, had difficulty with Adam James in getting him to play through injuries (not a concussion) and generally act like he gave a shit out on the field. It is on record that James was not happy with his playing time, so I am sure both parties have some harsh feelings towards each other because of this.

To deal with the "mild concussion,'' Liggett says James "was placed in an equipment room as it was much cooler and darker" than the practice field "after a doctor had examined him and returned him to the field." He was required to spend one to two hours in seclusion, not three, said Liggett, who added that ice was made available to James while a trainer stood guard outside the room. On the later date, Liggett said James was ordered to stay in a "press room with air-conditioning and a stationary bike he could use.''


I believe it was also a doctor that said James had a "mild concussion" so I am not sure why that term is in parenthesis. It may be an exact quote but its also a fact in this case. I think this may be the one aspect of this situation that has been generally agreed upon, so there is no need to question the validity of it. James had a mild concussion. I am pretty sure this is a fact.

I am not a doctor and I have no idea what the proper procedures after a player has had a concussion are, but I am pretty sure keeping a player out of the sun and not in the heat (since James also had an elevated heart rate) is about the best many schools can do for a player. Even with a concussion, I don't think a college football player will be sent home to play Playstation 3 and hang out with his friends. If Adam James wants to be on the football team, he can't expect to leave the football facility, even if he is injured, while his teammates practice. As far as getting James out of the light, I think this was a good move. Again, the way he was gotten out of the light was questionable.

Oh, and we're supposed to feel better now, assuming the explanation is true in any sense? If anyone should be placed in solitary confinement and wrapped in a straitjacket under lock and key, it's Leach. What a friggin' lunatic.

Yes, we are supposed to feel better if the explanation is true because it pretty much refutes the allegations the James family has made in regard to how Adam James concussion was handled. It feels like a pretty bizarre way to handle a concussion, but I am not a doctor so I have no idea how a concussion should be handled.

I got a concussion in the 6th grade playing basketball and blacked out on the floor of a bathroom. I was sent back into my classroom with the lights turned off and no air conditioning while everyone else played basketball. Then I went about my day as a 6th grader. I wanted to be in a dark closet with no one around because my head hurt and the world was spinning. I am not saying this was the right remedy for Adam James, but after having a concussion the darkness was my friend. I am not saying this was the solution for Adam James or he should have been locked up like he was, but the lack of light can't hurt a concussion.

My point is that as far as I know there isn't a foolproof way to deal with a concussion, so putting a player in the dark out of the heat sounds to a non-professional doctor like me like something I wouldn't have minded at the time if I had a concussion. Of course if I hated the coach who put me there then I would be pissed.

Word hasn't reached Leach, evidently, that concussions can kill athletes of all ages. Or cause dementia and other cognitive decline. Or lead people to depression and suicidal thoughts. Since when did Leach become a licensed doctor and determine concussions can be treated in a dark room?

I am pretty sure the head trainer and team doctor put him in that room. I don't know much about this situation, but if either them thought this was a terrible idea would they have done it? Even if Mike Leach said to do this? I know Pincock said he did as he was told, but if the dark would have made James' concussion worse I don't think Pincock would have done it. So we can't say Leach was an asshole because he did something to worsen James' concussion. Since the trainer and doctor are licensed professionals I would like to think they wouldn't have put him in a dark room if this was a terrible idea.

Is this situation really involve a concussion issue? I don't feel like it is, so I am not sure why Mariotti is trying to turn it into one.

The way Leach reacted is the traditional, macho, grunt/snort response that ignores an enlightened ongoing campaign about how head injuries damage athletes later in life.

Maybe he should have handled the situation differently, but I don't think the way James was treated would have caused his concussion to be worse. If Leach had made James play football on the field both days, then maybe I would get on the "blame Mike Leach" train. It's hard to do that when you listen to all the conflicting evidence going back and forth. At least for me it is.

James' story becomes more credible upon learning his father is Craig James, the former SMU and Patriots star, who now works as an ESPN analyst.

How the hell does his story become more credible because of this? If James parents worked in a mill or were school teachers would his story have been LESS credible? Sons of ESPN analysts can lie and exaggerate just as much as everyone else's children can. In fact, Adam James may have been more likely to exaggerate his claims knowing his dad had the ability to do something about his problem with Mike Leach. I am just throwing that out there.

I've covered Craig James' football career and know what he stands for. I don't believe for an instant that his son is a crybaby hypochondriac seeking more playing time.

So basically Jay Mariotti is defending his co-worker and friend. Unfortunately there are other football players and coaches (current and former of both) on the Texas Tech team that know the situation better than Jay Mariotti who say Adam James wanted more playing time and wanted to sit out practices with injuries and that is where all this stems from. Again, that doesn't make it right, but it's pretty clear both the Leach and James parties had had enough of each other at this point.

Dennis Dodd said this:

I received two calls this week from people I trust saying James had bothered coaches and that he had tried to leverage his influence at the network to get his son playing time. Big Daddy James had become a royal pain in the you-know-what.

I thought from the beginning it was borderline unethical that friends and co-workers of James were reporting this story. It had that "railroad" smell to it from the beginning with James being portrayed as the protective parent.

Can we consider Jay Mariotti as one of these "friends" and "co-workers?" If so, then what Mariotti is writing isn't even journalism but a biased one-sided account in an effort to discredit a prominent college football head coach. I am pretty sure that is not what he is supposed to do as a sports journalist. Of course calling Mariotti a journalist is a stretch anyway.

To the contrary, James is a concerned father who was brave enough to expose Leach's medieval tactics.

Maybe this is the "railroad" smell Dennis Dodd was talking about.

Leach has been especially nutty, ripping his players for being too close to "their fat little girlfriends'' after an October loss to Texas A&M. He suspended a starting offensive lineman for violating unspecified team rules

What? He attempted to implement and enforce team rules? What a nut-job! Mike Leach is a crazy person for holding his players to team rules and standards he has set.

and banned the Twitter craze after a linebacker, Marion Williams, Tweeted about why the players were in a meeting room when "the head coach can't even be on time.''

Mike Leach banned Twitter? I don't know how a rational person could believe this isn't something only the criminally insane would do. Who bans Twitter, especially when a player uses Twitter to say negative things about the coach. Mike Leach is crazy!

It should surprise no one that Leach will use the legal process in an attempt to coach the Red Raiders in the bowl game.

I know. I hate our legal system that allows people who are accused of crimes or who have some other legal issue they want resolved to get heard in a timely fashion. What's this "due process" bullshit attorneys are always trying to shove down everyone's throat?

"There's much, much more than meets the eye,'' Liggett argued in the Lubbock newspaper. "The diagnosing doctor has signed a note stating that Adam James was in no way injured by the actions coach Leach took. In fact, he was better off in the building than he would have been outside.''

What, Fred Flintstone's cave wasn't available?

It's pretty clear Jay Mariotti has no idea what the specific remedy for a concussion is or is willing to suggest what a better method of dealing with Adam James' concussion would have been. Mariotti just blindly knows Mike Leach is in the wrong. He knows this because he knows Craig James. This doctor's note should pretty much take care of any concussion concerns Jay Mariotti has, but of course it doesn't.

No, the sword has one edge. And it can be fatal, sooner or later, only exacerbated by the presence of too many cruel and disturbed coaches.

I like how Jay Mariotti is turning this into a concussion issue to say that Mike Leach was in the wrong (rather than an issue of mistreating a student/athlete by locking him in a closet), even though Mike Leach didn't do anything that would have made James' concussion worse. If the allegations are true, then yes he was out of line in putting James in the electrical closet/one car garage, but he didn't make James concussion WORSE, so Mariotti's preaching about how Leach made James' concussion worse falls on deaf ears. Locking a player in an electrical closet is inhumane, if true, and Mike Leach should have been fired or at least harshly reprimanded, but he didn't make James concussion worse.

I will end with a good thought by Dennis Dodd:

The fact that Leach would not "apologize" to the James family didn’t make sense from the beginning. If Adam’s treatment was so heinous, why would a simple apology make Big Daddy go away?

Interesting. So the way Mike Leach reportedly treated Adam James was so terrible that Craig James and his family felt compelled to report it to Texas Tech officials, but it wasn't so bad that a simple apology would have fixed it? That doesn't make sense to me. If James' treatment was so bad as to get Leach fired, how would an apology been enough to make up for it?

Who really knows which side is telling the truth? My point is that before he writes columns criticizing Mike Leach for mistreating his players, Jay Mariotti has a journalistic responsibility to his readers (who all hate him, so it may not matter) to at least pay attention to the other side of the story. Rather than just reacting to the first thing he heard about the story and trying to turn this into a issue where Mike Leach made Adam James' concussion worse.

Was Mike Leach wrong for his treatment of Adam James? Yes, probably. The fact Mike Leach thought Adam James was lazy and probably took it out on him sometimes is not irrelevant, but neither is the fact the Texas Tech administration did not like Leach and the James family wanted Adam to get more playing time. I think all of these things had something to do with this incident. Leach was in the wrong, but Mariotti should not come down on Leach until he knew the whole story. The whole story is a little more balanced than was presented in this column.

24 comments:

RuleBook said...

I happened to be in Lubbock during this entire fiasco. The Lubbock newspaper equated Craig James to a little-league dad, calling daily to complain or demand something. Immediately after the accusations, former Tech players jumped to defend Mike Leach, saying that he was always demanding, but never abusive.

In addition, those that knew Adam James called him a spoiled prima donna. Leach always expects his injured players to still work out in ways that won't affect the injury, but James had a tendency to refuse to work out at all whenever he was injured.

Believe me, in Lubbock, Leach's faults and weaknesses are well known, but everything that was written in the Newspaper that I read and the local media basically said that Adam James was a malcontent using his father's influence to get back at Leach for playing time.

Tech wanted to save the headache, so they said Leach would not be punished if he would issue a formal apology. Leach argues he did nothing wrong and refused to apologize (that by itself makes me think he didn't do anything as bad as claimed). The general consensus in Lubbock is that the contract negotiations and bitterness from them is what caused the firings. The Adam James incident merely gave them an out by which they could avoid paying the balance of the contract.

Bengoodfella said...

Thanks for the feedback on this post Rulebook. I was a little nervous because I was kind of taking Leach's side on this issue. I thought Mariotti and the world jumped the gun.

I think what happened (outside of what you typed) is that Leach thought James milked his injuries and refused to work out, so he wanted James off the practice field in a room where he would be able to heal. What has gotten lost in ESPN's coverage is that there are TTU players who have defended Leach and said he was never abusive. They only focused on the players on the current team who didn't like Leach.

That's why I included Dodd's take because there was more to the story. The James family was already unhappy about Adam's playing time and really must have been upset when Adam reported this to them, so they took action. I find the coverage to be a little biased because it's not like Leach has been abusive on a regular occasion to athletes. Not to mention I couldn't understand how a simple apology would make this go away. If it was that bad, what would an apology do?

TTU was probably still pissed about the negotiations and saw a chance to get rid of Leach. Leach is a stubborn asshole, we have seen parts of that before, but I would think if he really did something wrong he would have tried to save his job and apologize. Mariotti's article sucked because he just took the initial reports as fact and wrote what ESPN wants him to write.

Martin said...

The whole shed thing never made sense. if he's injured, why isn't he in the training facility? He has a concussion, he should be someplace dark and cool, where he can sit or lie down. I've had a serious concussion before, and this is what was instructed by the doctor who treated me and then the family doctor I saw the next day. An unconditioned shed is not the place for the kid to be, pain in the ass or not. My house has an unairconditioned one car garage, place is brutal for heat and just general lack of air movement whenever I have to do something in it. I can't imagine the shed was any better.

It seems clear to me that the uni wanted to get rid of Leach, and Leach wanted to get rid of James, and so everybody comes out looking like a moron for this. Everything could have been avoided if the team merely had standard procedures for dealing with concussions that everybody was aware of. From the news that has filtered out, this was clearly not the case.

KentAllard said...

Mike Leach is a flaming asshole, but this does smell like a railroad job. I doubt a football coach in the middle of practice would say more than "take him some place dark, and see he's taken care of."

Then again, I hold Mike Leach responsible for the concussion I got in 89, and the three before that.

ivn said...

Love the unwarranted Bob Knight dig. Lubbock and Texas Tech embraced a coach who wins games, cares about graduating his players, and doesn't violate NCAA rules? NO FUCKING WAY

"Still, there is no defense for such a malicious, irresponsible response to a player's medical condition."

it may have been irresponsible but it is not malicious...like you (BGF) said he didn't do anything to make the concussion worse. it's not like he started smacking Adam James in the head or anything.

not to mention that part of Jay's argument lies in "well, the dad was a good guy so the kid is too." Wrong. Plenty of decent guys raise asshole sons. Especially if the dad is a former pro athlete and has a cushy ESPN job.

Jay Mariotti:sports::Glenn Beck:politics?

Fred Trigger said...

I didnt get through the whole post yet, but the part about the whole video of a coach yelling at a player stuck out to me.

Why is that such a big deal? OMFG a coach was yelling at and berating a player.....like that never fucking happens!

Let me tell you about coaches: No matter what sport, what level, they are competitve fuckers and THEY WILL yell at and berate their players. Thats what they do.

Back in the day I was a solid golfer (around a 1 handicap) and we had a golf meet. I was shooting pretty well and then, coming into the final hole, I snap hooked a drive left into the trees. Infuriated, I hit a provisional, which resulted in the same shot. After this, I slammed my club hard enough to snap it in half and then I helicopter tossed it down the fairway. I ended up finding the first ball and made a birdie (short par 5) and ended up shooting a 34. But then, the other teams approached everyone and, long story short, I got DQ'ed for unsportsmaniike conduct. So...we got back on the bus to go back to school and the coach LIT ME UP. It was along the lines of (In front of everyone) ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, YOU PIECE OF SHIT! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WIH YOU! YOU COULDN'T CONTAIN YOUR TEMPER FOR ONE HOLE, YOU FUCKING HEADCASE? I CANT EVEN LOOK AT YOU, GET FUCKED!

Over the top? Yes. Was it really that big of a deal? No. I got over it in a few hours. What was the point again? I feel this is turning into a BGF rambling now. Point is: Coaches are psychopaths. No mstter what sport.

Fred Trigger said...

oh, I forgot to mention, we lost the match because of my DQ. I guess that kind of justifies the anger. Its funny, because my friends and I still talk about that moment to this day.

Just to point out how weird this dude was (he was the school psychologist) he strolled up next to me at the urinal the next day and said "so, what do you think?" Really? What do I think? About what? What kind of weird ass random question is that to ask?

Bengoodfella said...

First off, I was more nervous about this post than anything else I had put up here because I don't think I ever got my point across but just posted it anyway because if I didn't just post it I never would.

Martin, I agree with you about why he wasn't in a training facility. I think what would have made this situation go over more smoothly is if there was a set of guidelines with what to do with a player with a concussion. That way it is not left up to the coach. If there were guidelines and Leach didn't follow them, he could have been fired.

I thought the garage was air conditioned? I have heard so many things I don't want to get my facts wrong.

That's why I think Doyel had it right. This is everyone's fault. We need concussion guidelines for a coach to follow, Leach needed to follow the guidelines, the school just needed to fire Leach b/c they don't like him and James needed to quit whining.

Kent, I feel like I have been semi-defending people I don't like on this blog a lot lately. Mike Leach falls in that category. I hate Texas Tech and I hate him, but I feel like Mariotti and ESPN have only interviewed those who hate Mariotti and not the players who sent emails to CBSSportsline.

Ivn, I actually like Bob Knight and his past behavior was abhorrent, but he did nothing at Texas Tech to disgrace the program. I didn't get the dig by Mariotti either. What frustrated me about Mariotti's take is that he turned this into Leach making James concussion WORSE, which isn't true. He didn't help the concussion, but he also didn't hurt it (at least from what I have heard). It's the wrong angle I think.

To base his opinion of Adam on Craig James is just faulty reasoning. You said it very well yourself.

Fred, I don't think anyone can ever read through my entire posts. You are right coaches yell a lot at their players. It's what they do for whatever reason, it doesn't make it right, but just because Leach yelled at James doesn't mean this should be ammunition for him to be fired.

Man, you lost your temper didn't you? I have broken a few clubs, but never like that. I guess it shows you that coaches, no matter what sport, yell. I got yelled at a few times in tennis as well, not as bad as that, but there were vulgar words exchanged.

Fred Trigger said...

haha, I'm a lot calmer now, since I dont expect to shoot below par on a consistent basis. Believe me, me and that coach went toe to toe. I had such a huge temper back in the day, but I'm more laid back now. Except when people go above my head, but thats a military story for a different time. And no one cares about that shit anyway.

rich said...

I'll reiterate what Fred Trigger just said, coaches yelling isn't a big deal. Had he actually hit a kid (opposed to say grabbing him by the pads), then I could understand people being up in arms. However, when you're dealing with young athletes (HS/College) sometimes yelling is the only way to get the point across.

It's up to a coach to know his players (and the situation) well enough to know who responds to being yelled at and who responds to being talked to like an adult. Like RuleBook said, Adam James has been called a prima donna and these types of players typically only respond to yelling, because it erodes some of their "better than you" ego.

Specifically in that video, the reason I'm perfectly okay with the yelling and cursing:

1. James walks away from Leach. If your coach has something to say to you, you don't ever turn your back to him and you certainly don't walk away.

2. He hangs his head. Had James manned up and looked his coach in the eyes the situation probably would have been different. I can't say for a fact it would have, but walking away with your head down is pretty pathetic and should absolutely result in coach being pissed.

3. The words Leach used made it seem that James was a "repeat offender." From my experience, coaches will give you one or two private chats about something before blowing up on you in front of everyone. If a player doesn't change b/c coach tells them to, then it's up to the team to help change the behavior.

I don't know all the facts and so I'll reserve judgment, but again, like has been said before, both parties involved seemed to have led to this situation blowing up. It's just sad that ESPN has become personally involved, since as we're all aware ESPN isn't always unbiased.

Bengoodfella said...

Fred, you had a school psychologist? I don't think my school had one at all.

Rich, in a situation where the player is difficult to get through or seems to think he is above being coaches, yelling is the only way to get through a little bit. To sort of enforce the superiority of the coach. Obviously there is a limit to the yelling.

I noticed the same things you did in the video. How James walked away with bad body language and didn't seem to respect Leach or care why he was being yelled at.

It is up to each person, but I honestly would trust someone like Graham Harrell who was a team leader. That was his role as the quarterback and I think even though he may have been one of Leach's favorites he also may have a good perspective on the situation from being a team leader.

I just haven't liked how ESPN seems to find everyone who doesn't like Mike Leach and has ignored some evidence to the contrary.

Fred Trigger said...

yes, we did,and he hated me. Thankfully I was good, so I got those "perks" Bascally, he needed me to be good---and I was--so he dealt with me.

KentAllard said...

My high school head coach never yelled at me, but my defensive coach was on my ass for a steady two years (because I was slow and made up for it by being small). My junior year, we had a rash of injuries, and in the second half of an already lost game to the #1 team in the state, I had to move to corner, and was put on their all-state receiver, who could run a 40 in about a third of my time. Sure enough, first series he blows past me for an 800-yard (or thereabouts) touchdown to put them up 45-7. I dogged chased him down field, falling further and further behind. When I finally got to the endzone, I took out my anger (there's a little more to the story that would make me sound less psycho) by dropkicking the receiver in the back of the legs. He crumbled to the ground, sparking a bit of a melee. I was thrown out of the game, and received a consolation trip to Montgomery for a meeting with the state high school athletic association director (I would repeat the trip during baseball season for something else). This was the only time my defensive coordinator said he was proud of me. "Youse bird you showed some spirit!" he said. Go figure.

I had an anger management problem in high school, I guess.

Evan said...

I also like how it often gets lost in the story that Adam James showed up to practice out of standard uniform for injured players (backwards hat, sunglasses, street clothes).

As someone who has played college sports, the easiest way to piss of a coach is to show up out of uniform, injured or not. So Leach clearly wanted to discipline him, what were his options. He can't make him run (concussion) and any sort of discipline on the field is a distraction to the team preparing for a bowl gam or he kicks him out of the practice (James gets exactly what he wanted a free three hour block).

So Leach put him in a place where he would be safe, but wouldn't get out of his time commitment to the team. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

Regarding why he wasn't in the training room? Any sort of concussion treatment/evaluation would be done before or after practice. Where I played ice, tape, rehab was never done during practice hours, in part because the athletic trainers are normally on the field with the team practicing and so injuries were not a way of getting out of practice.

Sending James back to the training room would have been a huge gift, athletic training facilities are a giant social gathering for athletes (girls in sports bras, track shorts, ice baths, hot tubs).

Bengoodfella said...

Fred, I pretty much know we didn't have a psychologist. That's interesting.

Kent, I think I have learned too much about you and Fred's anger tonight in these comments. I have to say, with it being football and getting beat like that, I don't know if I could have held my anger in too much either. I had a pretty bad temper back in the day and I have a competitive problem.

To the issue of coaching, a coach is supposed to teach his athletes through sports the way situations should be handled and how to respect authority. It's obviously pumped up to a degree, but a coach will get on a player if he is considered insubordinate...which I am assuming that's how James was seen by Leach.

Evan, good point about he showed up to practice. That wasn't really contested by James' camp or anyone else. I see your train of thought and just thinking from Leach's perspective on how to punish James or take care of his concussion without giving him a benefit of going to the training room (which I did not know about all the perks of a training room, it sounds nice), so he put him in a place where he couldn't be a distraction to the team but also wouldn't be affected negatively by the heat or light. It sounds bad to a normal person, but from a sports perspective it could make some sense.

I should have known that about injury treatment before practice. Players on all levels are expected to show up before practice to get their injuries tended to before practice actually starts, so as not to miss practice. So because Leach had a concussion he should have shown up before practice to get whatever treatment he needed and not wandered out on the field and announced he had a concussion (which from what I know is essentially what happened).

I don't want to let Leach off on this or anything, but I feel like he didn't want to give James (who was apparently notorious for getting out practice and being injured) an easy out for practice or a benefit while the rest of the team practiced so he put him somewhere he couldn't be a distraction and wouldn't have his concussion negatively affected.

Martin said...

It's a concussion, there is no treatment. And by training facility, I'm positive that TExas Tech football has it's own training facility that it's not sharing with the women's volleyball team or anybody else. Since he had already assigned a trainer/assistant to be with the kid, could have just sent him back to the office to sit in a chair for three hours.

Fred Trigger said...

psychologist is a loose term. His office is basically where I hung out in half study before lunch. My HS graduating class was around 900, so maybe not all HS had one. He was still batshit crazy.

Gene said...

Ben,

One great point you make is in wondering why all this hand wringing is going on over cursing at players, poking them in the chest and generally getting in their face.

as I have mentioned, I played some football and this is all absolutely routine and in fact, I have seen much worse like water denial, gassers until vomit and actual physical violence. Its just done, the players accept it and it is almost like a team bonding thing. Humiliating someone and making them feel like a pussy for being injured was also pretty standard in my day.

Stand in a one car garage???? That's baby shit.

All of these henny pennies have no idea of what really goes on at two a day practices in august or at halftime of a game you are losing. Football is a tough game and it builds character, there is no room for political correctness like people being worried thta Leach called their girfriends fatsos. so what? Leach is a little wrong here, but not much and certainly not enough to lose his job. If King James isn't involved, you would never even hear about this story. I agree with your article and think Leach has a heck of a lawsuit brewing.

Fred Trigger said...

haha,I'm really not an angry guy, but certain shit sets me off, and since I'm really tired and cant sleep I shall share a story.

A guy I work with (who is an E-6) kept going above my head and kept going to the OINC (Officer in Charge, who is an E-8) with any problems he had with me. Now this shouldnt really tick me off, since I'm an E-5 and these types of problems can be handled at the lowest level, like any normal work enviornment should be. So I went to him and said "Hey, I dont appreiciate you going to the OINC talking shit about me." To which he said--which pissed me off even more-- "what are you talking about?". So I explained my problem with what he was doing, and he basically told me to get fucked and that he was going to keep doing what he was doing. Well, this basically set off that aforementioned anger and I went off on the following tangent: YOU FUCKING DOUCHEBAG! QUIT GOING ABOVE MY HEAD! GET FUCKED! STOP BEING A PUSSY AND COME TO ME WHEN YOU HAVE A PROBLEM! UNLESS MILITARY RULES HAVE CHANGED, YOU ARE TO HANDLE SHIT ON THE LOWEST LEVEL--NOT THE HIGHEST! Thank god my OINC loves me, or I might be sitting at E-4 right now, because I unloaded on the dude and havent heard anything since. In fact, he went to my friend right after and said "I think something is wrong with Fred." To which my friend replied "no, I think he's just pissed you keep going above his head." and the guy just goes "no, I think he has something going on, I'm concerned." Long story short: If the economy wasnt so bad, I would've been out a long time ago. And that ends my rant, I'm glad I got that out of my sytem, thanks for listening.

rich said...

Gene,

I don't know when you played football, but I played HS (2004 graduate) and while a lot of the poking and yelling was present, a lot of the other things I never really had to go through. Gasers? Oh lord yes, but we never had water withheld (maybe b/c it was TX and 110 degrees outside), just had it be a threat; if you needed it you got it, if coach (and the trainers) thought you were being a bitch you didn't.

Injuries were kind of iffy though. Players who had "injuries" were teased, but if a kid had a concussion, we all understood that he wasn't practicing because he couldn't. Now the guy with the "strained hamstring" or the "turf toe" was ripped on, but for the most part, but serious injuries were kind of safe as far as mocking and teasing went.

I'll always remember what my coach said to me after I completely screwed up three plays in the regional semifinals. Starter came out needing to get his ankle taped, so I got to take three snaps. Bobbled all three plays (being 15 and playing in front of 45000 people isn't easy) and the last throw was a 10 yard curl which I chucked 25 yards downfield... Starter comes back in, coach grabs me by the pads and tells me something along the lines of "If I knew you were going to piss yourself like a 13 year old girl, I would've put in my daughter." Not really life scarring, but there's a lot of stuff that happens that seems really terrible that you get to laugh about later.

Trying to bring this back to the original topic, I can completely understand why Leach yelled at James, but when you have a kid with a concussion, you don't treat him like James was treated. Now was it Leach's fault that he was there? I don't know, but if you have a kid suffering from a concussion you can find things for him to do that don't require you to lock him in a room. When I had a concussion my junior year, I stayed inside the coach's office going through audibles and through progressions with one of the trainers. It wasn't the same as practice, but it was something that was constructive.

Of course, since none of us were at any of Tech's practices, it's hard to say why James was treated that way. If James came in and basically said "No, I'm too hurt to do anything, just put me in a dark place and leave me alone," then I'd be inclined to agree with what Leach did (maybe not the time period, but I could see a half hour in the room to 'punish' him). It was bad, but under certain circumstances it was justifiable. Now if Leach was just being an asshole and told the trainers to lock him in the room and leave him there, then that's a no-no.

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, he probably could have James also spend a few hours trying to figure out who should start between Sheffield and Potts next year, since neither head coach of TT could figure it out this year.

Gene, water denial would suck pretty bad. I guess it depends on where you played football whether that would work or not. Even when I played tennis I couldn't get a drink of water while we were running drills or practicing. It's not even close to having pads on and being denied water, but it just shows even the "wimp sports" like tennis have hard ass coaches.

The verbal and team related abuse you just kind of have to deal with if you are going to play sports. The first thing we used to do after the tennis team was picked was give each other degrading nicknames (the coach helped) and then it pretty much went downhill from there in regards to the coach he called us that and then did the whole "yelling and coaching" thing.

Rich, the account you seem to give is pretty much what I expect from HS football. I would hope they don't do water denial or anything like that. In regards to the Mike Leach situation, my point was that Mariotti seems to have made up his mind on whose is at fault and it's not that easy to make the decision.

Yelling and harshly criticizing players seems to come with the territory, as your story showed, but you are right we don't know exactly what happened. That's why I am not really defending Leach, just not rushing to judgment even after a week.

There was other things James could have done, and we don't know what the other options were. Going through audibles or some of his other responsibilities on the team might have been better. We don't know if Leach had given him a few warnings prior to this or what had gone on that caused this situation to occur. Maybe he had given him other things to do in the past and he thought James was still being a little lazy...or maybe Leach is an asshole who tries to bully his players.

I am not trying to make excuses for Mike Leach, I just think there has been a large rush to judgment based on the story of a 20 year old kid who reportedly also had an attitude problem. Leach very well could have been completely out of line, but we aren't getting the full story from ESPN because they are not interested in telling the full story in my mind.

I am agreeing with you, we don't know exactly what occurred, so it's a bit unfair to call Leach a thug and compare the situation to Americans being tortured in a Turkish prison.

Fred, I enjoyed your story. That has happened to me a few times, obviously not in the military, but usually if someone has a problem with me they are too chicken shit to take it to me. I unfortunately can not yell at them, though I do practice a fair amount of doing this behind closed doors.

Dylan Murphy said...

I don't think the problem is that we don't know all the facts. As with most sports stories involving locker room/practice scandals, we'll never know the whole truth. However, it's obvious that Leach did something wrong. What's causing such outrage is that he's outright denying any wrongdoing. For any of you who saw the video Adam James made on his cell phone, there's no way someone would lock themselves in that room out of choice. So obviously Leach did something. I'm not going to assume what, but regardless of who actually did what, it's ultimately Leach's responsibility. You can try and blame other people, but he has to know what is going on with his football team, especially with something like this. So my biggest problem with Leach is his denial: we all know you did something. Maybe it was overblown, but admit it. The public shows over and over again that they are very forgiving. He's just an idiot for not taking advantage of that.

Bengoodfella said...

Dylan, I think you are right about what is causing the outrage. Either Leach is a stubborn asshole who doesn't want to say he was wrong or he really doesn't think he was wrong.

I think you are right that he is ultimately to blame for the miscommunication or whatever happened between him and the trainer/doctor. I think Leach could have handled this situation with a little bit more tact and I think he believes he handled the situation well and therein lies the problem.

Mike Leach did not make it easy on himself by not apologizing. If he had just done so, I think this would have blown over very quickly, but it got drawn out because he waited to give his side of the story and then it just went on and on.

The Cincinnati Kid said...

Very interesting take on all of this. I gave up on reading Jay Mariotti after hearing him on Around the Horn ranting on and on about Ozzie Guillen a few years ago. It's refreshing to know that in a world of political correctness, Jay Mariotti is still a soundly hypocritical blowhard who doesn't do research before he writes his columns.