Mike Leach is Gone, Did Tech’s Prestige Go with Him?
Mike Leach was the best thing that every happened to Texas Tech football.
Now he may be the worst.
Within the blink of an eye, Leach was fired as head coach of the Texas Tech Raiders football.
By now, you know why Leach was fired. He had a player locked in an electrical closet after he suffered a concussion for reasons only known to Leach himself. Reportedly, Leach was given a chance to rectify the situation but chose to be stubborn instead, so Texas Tech had no choice but to let him go.
But in letting Leach go, as appropriate as it was, they also let go the guy that gave birth to Texas Tech football as a nationally ranked program.
In 10 seasons with the Raiders, Leach brought 10 winning seasons to Lubbock, 10 bowl appearances and 5 bowl wins. And in 2008, Leach led the Raiders to their biggest win in school history, defeating the top-ranked Texas Longhorns on primetime television.
With all that winning came a lot of money, especially from the bowl games, where schools are guaranteed multi-million dollar checks. Tech broke some of that off to Leach this past winter, giving him a $12.7 million contract after an intense series of negotiations that Leach took public on more than one occasion.
But more important than the money was the recognition. Of course, the recognition turns into money via the form of better recruits, better seasons, more student applications, and so on and so forth. And whether Texas Tech wants to admit this or not, it’s hard to get those things with just any old coach. Heck, Texas Tech knows it’s hard to get those things even with a great coach.
Don’t forget that Texas Tech was the employer of Bob Knight, their former basketball coach. With all of Knight’s previous success, celebrity and outspokenness, he still didn’t change the perception of Texas Tech basketball. Yes, maybe he got a recruit or two that the average Joe wouldn’t have been able to enlist to Lubbock, Texas, but none of his recruits were the best in the nation. And he didn’t win any big games or go deep into the tournament. He was just a big fish in a small pond, whereas Mike Leach was a big fish that made the pond bigger.
You have to give Texas Tech credit though. It’s hard to get rid of a guy that has changed the perception of a school’s participation in a sport, especially a sport that is so endeared by Texans in that city and state. They just fired the best coach they’ve ever had, and perhaps the most renowned figure they have ever employed in recent school history. That’s a hard person to fire, but it was the right decision given what Leach had done.
However, sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t result in the best of results. I have a feeling Texas Tech will find that out in the very near future.
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