Why is this story out of Lubbock, Texas bothering me so much? Why is the image of a spoiled brat whining to his famous daddy the only image springing to my mind?
Let’s start with what we know: Adam James, son of ESPN commentator and former star SMU running back Craig James, is a backup receiver on a Texas Tech football team that underachieved this season.
We also know that the Red Raiders’ coach, Mike Leach, is an enigmatic personality, a weird dude with sometimes bizarre methods. But never before have those methods been documented as dangerous.
James apparently suffered a mild concussion in mid-December, was sent to a building at the end of the practice field to rest. (James describes the building as a “shed,” but I have a very hard time imagining any football-related building on Texas Tech’s campus is “shed”-like.) Please note, these allegations surface after James had little to no action the last two games…
I have spent more than a fair amount of time watching trainers and team doctors work. I have never seen a trainer cower down to a coach, and I have actually seen team doctors sharply talk to head coaches. That is why I’m having a hard time swallowing this whole thing. If Leach was in any way, shape or form causing harm or unnecessary discomfort to any of his players, at least one of — if not all of the following three things would have happened, or would be happening:
1.) The trainers — even the student trainers — might have followed Leach’s order at first, but they would have immediately run to a superior, to a certified atheltic trainer on the field or in the training room, orto a team doctor. If they felt Leach was giving odd or improper orders regarding a players’ health — especially about a concussion — they wouldn’t have stood for it.
2.) We’d be reading quotations from someone on the medical and/or athletic training staff. We would already have heard from whoever was in charge of the training room that day — he has to be dying to clear his name, right? Or, wouldn’t we have read a quote from a student trainer waiting to publicly right a wrong? I can’t imagine we will see this student trainer, or a certified athletic trainer but this is where we need an unnamed source to be unearthed by the fine journalists in Lubbock.
3.) Other players would be going crazy. If a coach put a player in harm’s way, that players’ teammates — his friends — would be rushing to his defense. And they would have done it that day. Someone would have leaked it to the press, posted the info in a forum on RedRaiders.com, told a friend who told a friend… When coaches do something harmful, or even just terribly uncool, reporters find out and investigate.
So far, all we have heard from is lawyers and the university’s brass.
I want to know more about James. Is he a troublemaker, or a hard-working player? Is he there on his father’s laurels, or by his own merit? Is he frustrated over playing time? Has he had other issues with Leach? Has Leach had other issues with him? Do his teammates have his back? If not, why not? Has Leach sent other players to the “shed,” or just James? I want t. o see photos of the alleged shed. I want to know what the trainers thought.
Here is something else we know: In February, after 10 months of tenuous negotiations, Leach and the school agreed to a contraction extension: through the 2013 season for $12.7 million. If Tech terminates the contract, the school must pay Leach $400,000 for each year remaining on the agreement.
Here are some stories for more reading, but I’m anxious to read what the Texas reporters dig up on this story, and I hope ESPN can do a solid job despite its affiliation with the James family.
From RedRaiders.com: http://www.redraiders.com/2009/12/28/leach-suspended/
From SI.com’s Stewart Mandel: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/stewart_mandel/12/29/texas.tech.leach/index.html
From ESPN.com’s Joe Schad: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/bowls09/news/story?id=4776848
**New link that includes a photo (sort of) of the “shed”: http://www.doubletnation.com/2009/12/29/1223515/the-saga-of-mike-leach-former#storyjump**