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Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach chooses not to go quietly

by Jenni Carlson Published: July 29, 2011

Mike Leach is fighting to clear his name and working to rebuild his reputation.

In the process, he's hurting his chances of coaching football again.

There's no way around that fact. None. He is suing his former employer, Texas Tech. He is suing sports' biggest media conglomerate, ESPN. And now, he is telling his no-punches-pulled, no-holds-barred story in a new book, “Swing Your Sword.”

Stuff like that doesn't endear potential employers. Leach knows it, too.

“It's had a chilling effect,” he admitted.

But …

“I don't know what my alternatives are really.”

Some coaches might've gone quietly about their business after being fired amid scuttlebutt and scandal. They might've shrugged off the suspicion they were targeted by a jealous chancellor. They might've turned a blind eye toward the evidence they were smeared by a resentful parent.

Leach couldn't do that.

“When you consider that I've been the victim of being smeared nationally, if I leave it out there, there's a presumption that it's true,” said the candid coach, who will sign copies of his book Saturday in Oklahoma City. “If I clear my name, then it's like, ‘Oh, you made ESPN mad,' which I'm not sure that's a world any of us really want to live in.

“So, when you're at that fork in the road, what's the right thing, what's not the right thing?”

He sighed.

“The right thing, obviously, is to tell the truth.”

That's what Leach hoped to do with his book. He started thinking about writing a memoir after the 2008 season. It was going to be about his background, his influences and his path into coaching.

Then, the path went off a cliff. In Dec. 2009, Leach was suspended amid allegations of player mistreatment and rumors of infighting between the coach and some university officials. When Leach fought back and hired an attorney to challenge the suspension, Texas Tech fired him.

He suddenly had a new chapter or six to add to his book.

“The aftermath at Tech, I didn't want to leave that hanging out there,” Leach said. “It would be conspicuous if it wasn't there.

“I'm not a guy that really hides stuff.”

Obviously not.

In the book, Leach describes Texas Tech chancellor Kent Hance, for example, as a guy who “loved the microphone” and who “could get jealous of others getting the spotlight.”

“As a coach, you understand that politics are a part of the job,” he writes, “but I was surprised at the level of ruthlessness, and at the lying, just for the sake of obtaining power at Texas Tech. The pettiness and the pointlessness of it was shocking.”

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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Mike Leach Book Signing

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Barnes & Noble, 6100 N. May Ave.

Former Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach will sign his recently released book, “Swing Your Sword.” The book will debut at No. 6 on the New York Times best sellers list next week in the hardback advice and miscellaneous category.

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