My colleague Mark Schlabach caught up with former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach this week. Here is what Schlabach had to report:
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said Thursday that he never felt Maryland was serious about hiring him and said his pending lawsuits against the Red Raiders, ESPN and a Dallas public relations agency are probably limiting his ability to land another job.
Leach, who is in Arizona this week to broadcast his sports talk show on Sirius, said Maryland is the only school that has contacted him about coaching since he was fired as the Red Raiders’ coach on Dec. 30, 2009.
The Terrapins hired former Connecticut coach Randy Edsall to replace Ralph Friedgen, who was fired after 10 seasons at his alma mater. Leach was considered a front-runner to replace Friedgen because of his longtime relationship with Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, a former Terrapins football player, who is now one of Maryland’s biggest financial contributors.
“I talked to Maryland,” Leach said. “I don’t know how serious they were. My record speaks for itself.”
Leach said he hopes he hasn’t been ostracized in his profession because of the way his highly successful tenure ended at Texas Tech. He had an 84-43 record with the Red Raiders and his offenses were among the most prolific in the country. Leach was fired two days after he was suspended for allegedly mistreating receiver Adam James, the son of former NFL running back and ESPN analyst Craig James.
Adam James, who was recovering from a concussion at the time, told Texas Tech officials that Leach twice ordered him to stand in a dark utility closet during practice. Leach disputes the allegations and sued Texas Tech for wrongful termination and filed a separate libel suit, which accuses ESPN and a Dallas PR agency of slandering him.
“I hope not,” Leach said Thursday, when asked if he feared he has been blackballed in the coaching profession. “I hope folks have more integrity than that, especially when you consider I didn’t do anything wrong and the public record pretty much shows that.”
But Leach admits his pending legal action has probably hindered his chances of landing another coaching job.
“It certainly limited my market,” Leach said.
Leach, who lives in Key West, Fla., said he hopes to coach in college football again. He is in the final stages of writing his memoir, “Swing Your Sword,” which was co-written with ESPN The Magazine’s Bruce Feldman. The book is scheduled to be published by Center Street sometime this spring.