Game Time: Global Thermonuclear War In Lubbock
Remember the movie War Games where Matthew Broderick's character hacks into some online set of games, decides to play Global Thermonuclear War and sets of a chain reaction that nearly launches actual government missiles all over the world? In the end, the missiles don't get launched, instead we're left with a very `80's message that in GTN War, there are no winners. Texas Tech fans are nodding their heads today, for they now know about a nuclear war in which there are no winners.
It's only proper that I close out the decade with a movie reference from roughly three decades ago. Old-school pop-culture references are my go-to move, much like Kobe's jumper from the elbow or Adam James post-dating Youtube videos of random electrical closets. And with that, you can probably see where this one is going.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you turn your attention to the west, you will see a large mushroom cloud...that's Lubbock. Specifically, the nuclear fallout is Texas Tech University, which has never been more fractured seemingly over some prima donna son of a prima donna who wound up standing (in my best Spencer Tillman from Horrible Turn...."my oh my....standing!") in some room for a few hours.
Whatever type of room it was -- we've heard shed, electrical closet, ice house, media room -- it really doesn't matter anymore. Despite our hourly dosage of Craig James on the Worldwide Leader (absolutely nauseating segments which became especially vomit-inducing when James had the gall to bring out the V word...."victim", NOT the V word that most of you are using for his son, Adam), this stopped being specifically about Adam James and his concussion the second Texas Tech decided to fire Mike Leach over this whole thing.
Leach making an example of a kid whose support from his teammates (current and former) and coaches (current and former) is mixed at best, and I'm being VERY kind, is merely the straw that broke Kent Hance, Gerald Myers, and Jim Sowell's collective back. (More on these three in a second.)
Much like a marriage gone awry, the actual trigger event to the decision to finally divorce is very rarely the actual cause of the divorce. The symptoms were there all along, and the divorce is merely a result of varying dysfunction in both sides of the partnership. It goes like this -- there's usually a realization somewhere that both sides are together for the wrong reasons (Leach's contract renegotiation in early 2009), some sort of event that bubbles all of the marital dirty laundry to the surface (hello Adam James), a weak attempt to try and Super Glue it together one more time (Texas Tech's attempt to get Mike Leach to apologize to the James family), and then finally the axe comes down (start packing, Mike).
So if we could, let's stop speculating about the size of the room that Adam James was in, how long he was in it for, and how lazy he was. For the Leach haters, let's also stop making it sound like he treated Adam's concussion by using Adam's cranium as a life-size target in a game of Whack-a-mole. Little Adam stood in some climate-controlled room for a few hours. Bizarre? Yes. Silly? Maybe. Life threatening? Please.
This story is no longer about Adam James, so Craig James you're off the hook. Go hover over the coaches at the practices of whatever sports your other three kids play, and get back to what you do best -- making inane comments that you can never support with facts during your broadcasts and filling out an AP ballot that makes no earthly sense.
The story is now about the hatred between and, to a degree, the ineptitude of two parties -- Mike Leach and the three-headed monster of Hance, Myers and Sowell. While everyone is trying to make sense of what Mike Leach did with Adam James, that was merely the trigger event -- the fertilizer for a feud where the seeds were planted long ago. Where Leach deserves to be criticized is for giving the school any kind of opening to whack him...unless he saw it coming all along and didn't really care. And to take it back to the marriage analogy, there does come a point where at least one party stops caring about the outcome. They just want out. Leach has yet to speak, so to be fair, we don't know this to be the case. He also needs to get paid, so I don't blame him for sitting tight on giving his side of the story.
The answers to the test are right here; no story can be written about the sad ending to the Mike Leach Era without reading those emails exchanged between Jim Sowell (TTU booster), Kent Hance (TTU Chancellor), and Gerald Myers (TTU AD).
Read those emails, and then continue on....trust me, if you go to any school other than Texas Tech, they are highly entertaining. If you go to Texas Tech, I would imagine they're chilling. They paint a picture of an athletics department and administration that don't wipe their ass without talking to Jim Sowell. It's as if Texas Tech were run by Myers and Hance versions of the Kobe and LeBron puppets with Sowell as the puppeteer. That's my first impression.
Secondly, the degree to which Sowell shit-talks Leach in rhe emails is amazing. It's actually counterintuitive, in a way. The string of emails illustrates a portion of the exhausting renegotiation process the school chooses to go through with a coach that, by Sowell's assessment, is a complete undesirable who is barely competent to get an interview at McDonald's much less Auburn. My question to Sowell would be "If he's as much of a buffoon as you make him out to be, then what does that say about every other hire the school has ever made to coach football, because Leach is far and away your best coach and the main reason people outside of Texas can now find Lubbock on a map?" Sorry, it's just a fact and judging by the reaction of most Texas Tech fans today, they agree.
In the end, like Global Thermonuclear War, today there are no winners. Hance, Myers, and Sowell have had the curtain ripped back on an administration that appears to lack in competence almost as much as they would like you to believe Mike Leach does. Leach's next competitive endeavor will now take place in a courtroom as he seeks to get paid for what he sees as his wrongful termination. Both of these parties may land on their feet. Texas Tech probably won't make a sure home-run hire, but they might hit a solid double in the gap.
As for Leach, contrary to what some will have you believe, he will not be that tough a sell to some athletics director out there desperate to win, sell tickets, and graduate players. Ironically, this is what got Bobby Knight re-hired after he actually CHOKED a player, a long end to a litany of abusive player practices at Indiana. Indeed, it got him re-hired....AT TEXAS TECH, as if we needed another illustration of how little Leach's termination has to do with Adam James and performance.
The losers in all of this are the Texas Tech alumni and fans, who finally got a taste of relevance on Leach's watch. We have no idea who the next coach will be, we just know it will be someone a whole lot less interesting than Mike Leach. Whether he is more successful remains to be seen. I just hope we get to read the e-mails leading up to the hire; I find the comedy team of Hance, Myers and Sowell to be side splittingly funny. Unintentionally, but still very funny.
Now if anyone can find me a string of emails from the Junction Boys commenting about this whole Adam James thing, that would be sweet. My guess is they have an opinion on it, and it involves the V word....no, not "victim".
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 weekdays on the Sean & John Show, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.
- Game Control: Just How Overwhelmed Have The 2015 Houston Texans Been?
- Report: Antiabortion Law Leads to Longer Wait Times at Clinics
- Harden 2.0: How James Harden Became Houston’s Biggest Crossover Sports Celebrity