Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big 12 [Print without images]

Friday, February 6, 2009
Leach vs. Tech: Who holds the upper hand in contract impasse?

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Mike Leach's agent has told two Texas newspapers that the Texas Tech coach has been given a Feb. 17 deadline to accept a contract extension, although several elements are onerous.

Leach turned down a five-year, $12.1 million extension in early December. The school sweetened the offer to $12.7 million over the same contract terms last month shortly after the season ended. Athletic director Gerald Myers has told the Lubbock-Avalanche Journal it is the school's "best and final offer."

The Lubbock paper and the Dallas Morning News both filed Freedom of Information Acts to obtain correspondence between Texas Tech and its board of regents and Leach's representatives. The Texas Tech coach hasn't been directly involved in the negotiations.  

The Morning News reported that Leach's agents, Gary O'Hagan and Matt Baldwin of IMG said the financial arrangements aren't the sticking point. Instead, four contact terms that Leach and his agents don't agree with are included in Texas Tech's final offer.

Among the sticking points are the following, according to the Morning News:

The university originally placed a Jan. 20 deadline on the offer, after which Myers wrote that it would be withdrawn and Leach's current contract would stay in place without any changes.

Myers told the Avalanche-Journal Friday that the portion still stands if the offer isn't signed in the next 10 days.

"We've got to have a date when we either have a new contract or not,'' Myers told the A-J. "We can't just let this thing ride on and on.''

This will be a fascinating battle to watch play out. Obviously, Leach's bargaining power has increased exponentially with Texas Tech's recent success. He was the subject of a story on 60 Minutes last month where his coaching acumen was lauded.

The season ended badly for the Red Raiders after a 10-0 start that saw them soar as high as No. 2 nationally before losses to Oklahoma and Mississippi negated much of that late momentum.

The Red Raiders finished 11-2, matching the school record for victories and earned them a share of the first Big 12 South Division championship in school history.

At the same time, Leach's contract has become a tiresome subject for many Tech fans. And in today's current economic climate, could he really walk away from the kind of a contract that could set him up for life?

We'll see what happens over the next several weeks. I wouldn't even speculate to guess how things might turn out.