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Jenni Carlson: It's difficult to find truth in the Texas Tech ordeal

by Jenni Carlson Modified: January 5, 2010 at 12:17 am •  Published: January 5, 2010

photo - There are no winners in the Mike Leach fiasco at Texas Tech. AP PHOTO
There are no winners in the Mike Leach fiasco at Texas Tech. AP PHOTO
This much we know about what led to Texas Tech firing Mike Leach — it started with wide receiver Adam James being held out of practice because of a concussion.

This much we know about the aftermath of this mess — no one comes out a winner.

Beyond that, it gets murky.

Did Leach confine James to a small, dark electrical closet? Lock him in the room? Have someone guard the door?

Or was it not nearly so sinister?

Depends on who you talk to, and even that’s not always so simple. Assistant Lincoln Riley was among a group of coaches and former players who sent letters of support for Leach to school administrators. He even contended in his letter that what James was doing was "his way of trying to ‘get back’ at us coaches,” but then late last week, Riley said James had his support.

It’s difficult to find the truth in this whole mess, and the only way we’re ever going to know exactly what happened is if it ends up in court with players and coaches and administrators having to raise their right hands and tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

But that isn’t going to happen. Neither side wants their own dirty laundry aired in court, so any lawsuits that arise will likely be settled before anyone ever steps foot in a courtroom.

So, while all of us outsiders are left to gossip and speculate and wonder what really happened, the two sides involved are trying to move forward. Tech is working to hire its next football coach while Leach is trying to find his next coaching job.

My guess — Leach will have an easier time moving on than Texas Tech will.

His career has been dealt a setback. There’s no doubt about that. He is no longer the rising star that he was even a year ago. Back then, his team had just derailed Texas’ national championship hopes and finished the regular season with a school-record 11 wins. He was a national coach of the year, a candidate to surely move on to another high-profile school at some point, a quirky and whacky personality who even lured the pressed-and-buttoned "60 Minutes” to lovely Lubbock to do a profile.

The TV news show might want to come back and do another story, but it won’t be the off-the-cuff, what-a-nutty-guy feature that it did a year ago.

Still, Leach will be quicker to recover than Tech.

There are enough questions about what really happened that another school will hire Leach. Heck, one might do it before the end of the week. New Mexico has a coach it would like to show the door after he attacked and punched an assistant earlier this year.

by Jenni Carlson
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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