Big 12: Leach and Tech agree

Podcast: Texas Tech's Leach on new deal

February, 20, 2009
2/20/09
1:50
PM ET
Mike Leach, on The Herd with Colin Cowherd, talks about his new contract with the Red Raiders and says there are no hard feelings with the school.

Leach facing huge rebuilding job

February, 19, 2009
2/19/09
11:04
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

So much for the struggles of negotiating a new contract.

Now comes the hard part for Texas Tech coach Mike Leach.

Armed with a new agreement with the school, Leach will be overseeing one of the nation's biggest rebuilding jobs when spring practice starts for the Red Raiders on March 25.

 
  AP Photo/Mike Stone
  Mike Leach has his work cut out for him heading into the 2009 season.

All he has to do is find a replacement for quarterback Graham Harrell, the career FBS leader in touchdown passes, and two-time Biletnikoff Award winner Michael Crabtree. Arguably, they might be the two most enduring symbols of Leach's success at Tech.

Backup Taylor Potts will take over at quarterback after throwing just 85 passes in his career.

Another big chore will be rebuilding confidence for a defense that allowed an average of 46.7 points and 486.7 yards in its final three games last season.

It will be difficult for Texas Tech to duplicate last season's success when the Red Raiders claimed a share of the school's first Big 12 South Division title and matched the school record with 11 victories.

Leach relishes the challenge of keeping the Red Raiders competitive with Texas and Oklahoma, as well as a resurgent Oklahoma State team in what should be another challenging race to the division championship.

"I'm thrilled about this season. We've got a group that not all these [are star players]," Leach said. "They are all highly motivated and are working really hard. Every time you check on them, everybody is doing everything right. I can't wait until the spring."

That 2008 success should only help the Red Raiders continuing building, Leach said.

"One positive byproduct is that a lot of people are excited about Texas Tech," Leach said. "We had a great year last season and I think we'll have a better one next season."

Has Leach's relationship with Gerald Myers been broken?

February, 19, 2009
2/19/09
10:29
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

An interesting sidelight following the settlement of Mike Leach's contract impasse will be his relationship with Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers.

The two were involved in contentious negotiations that weren't settled until Tech chancellor Kent Hance and Leach conducted one-on-one, 11th-hour negotiations Thursday afternoon.

"To put it mildly this has been a tough negotiation," Myers said. "It's been a tough time. It's good to get it behind us. It's done and we're pleased."

The dialogue didn't pick up until Myers and Leach's agents were left out of the bargaining.

"I said that I wanted Mike to be our coach," Myers said. "That got lost with the rhetoric and specifics of the negotiating process. But I never wavered on that point. I'm excited about our football team."

But it's clear that Leach has seldom been on the same page as Myers, a former basketball coach at the school who still holds the school record with 326 career victories.

(Read full post)

Hance, Leach joked about Tech coach's strategy

February, 19, 2009
2/19/09
9:26
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Mike Leach's proclivity for gambling provided some levity during the tense contract negotiations Thursday afternoon with Texas Tech chancellor Kent Hance.

"Mike has a great sense of humor," Hance said, chuckling. "I told him it was fourth-and-long and he said he went for it a lot. But I told him he didn't want to get sacked."

The contract meetings picked up after Leach and Hance met without other representatives present on Thursday.

"We had a good visit and he's a good guy," Hance said. "We had a long meeting, but the negotiating only lasted about 10 or 15 minutes."  

Hance, a legendary West Texas politician who once beat former President George W. Bush in a congressional race in the 1970s, said the intense interest in negotiations was a little like politics.

"We've got a lot of great fans," Hance said. "I heard from some of them. It reminds me of my years in politics. They are a lot more vociferous after 10 or 11 at night, and their spelling isn't as good in their e-mails the later it goes."  

Tech assistants get boost with Leach's contract

February, 19, 2009
2/19/09
9:12
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The new contract negotiated for Mike Leach comes with a caveat for members of his staff.

Leach insisted, and received, $400,000 in additional pay for his assistants.

That boost will enable the Red Raiders to come closer to traditional powers like Texas and Oklahoma, which traditionally have paid their staff more than other Big 12 schools. Oklahoma State has also made big boosts in assistant coaches' salaries in recent seasons as well.

It's still to be determined whether that contract boost would enable the Red Raiders to re-hire Seth Littrell from Mike Stoops' staff at Arizona.

Littrell, a former Oklahoma running back who was considered one of the Big 12's best recruiters, decided last week that Stoops' staff provided more stability than Leach's, which looked tenuous at that time.

It remains to be seen if he will return to Texas Tech after Leach's new contract.

If not, it means that Leach will be scrambling to add another member to his staff before spring practice starts.

Leach's deal should boost Tech's momentum

February, 19, 2009
2/19/09
8:22
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It would have been hard to imagine Jones AT&T Stadium without all those "Jolly Roger" flags that have been so prominently displayed the last several seasons.

 
  AP Photo/Matt Slocum
  Mike Leach took Texas Tech to No. 2 in the national rankings in 2008.

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach's contract extension will enable him to remain in Lubbock for the next five seasons. The announcement will also keep one of the most innovative and original characters coaching in a place where he has thrived over the past nine seasons.

In the process, he has made the school's football program a viable contender in the Big 12 South Division -- a noteworthy task considering the power of Texas and Oklahoma concentrated atop the division.

Leach has made inroads and boosted the Red Raiders to rarefied status in 2008. Tech started with a 10-game winning streak and soared to No. 2 in the national rankings. The Red Raiders' 11 victories matched a school record as they made their ninth bowl trip in his nine-season coaching tenure.

In the process, he did it with a panache that gave the program a national identity. How else could Tech have imagined being featured in national television games, or during Leach's interview on CBS's "60 Minutes" that represented almost an infomercial for the program and his accomplishments?

That success has enabled the program to make recruiting inroads that resulted in Leach's best class, announced earlier this month. Particularly noteworthy are the defensive players attracted who might give Tech more of an opportunity to be competitive in the conference rather than relying on Leach's traditional offensive-heavy philosophy.

The colorful Leach is probably the best salesman the school could ask for. Having him in place for the next five seasons will be intriguing to see how much more growth the program can make.

Tech officials are ecstatic about what appears to be in store for them after Leach's agreement to the new deal.

"The deal has been done and shook on, and I'm happy that it's done," Tech board member Mark Griffin told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "Coach Leach has brought renown to that university that we've not seen in my lifetime, at least, and we're certainly hoping for better stuff.

"I'm pleased that the parties were able to come to an agreement."

And the best part of all? We'll probably get to see the Texas Tech Goin' Band from Raiderland decked out in those cool-looking pirate costumes again sometime next season.

Because that's something as unique to the Big 12 and all of college football as Leach is himself.

Leach wins big by earning contract extension

February, 19, 2009
2/19/09
8:03
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Thursday's contract extension for Texas Tech coach Mike Leach was done with a flair for the dramatic that was almost as memorable as the Red Raiders' last-second landmark triumph over Texas last season.

 
  L. Scott Mann/Icon SMI
  Texas Tech and coach Mike Leach agreed Thursday on a new deal.

This time, there was no need for Michael Crabtree to make a late, game-winning catch in the final seconds. Leach took care of all that by himself.

After huddling for 2 1/2 hours Thursday afternoon with Tech chancellor Kent Hance, Leach and school officials emerged to announce the details of the contract.

Less than a day before Tech's board of trustees was set to potentially end his nine-season tenure coaching the Red Raiders, Leach's job status appears set for the next five seasons.

The financial terms of the $12.7 million contract weren't the real question. But the wording of the contract was, and Leach ended up with a clear victory.

The new agreement includes no buyout clause for Leach if he were to find another job. Tech's original offer included a clause that would have required him to pay $300,000 for each year remaining on the contract.

Leach now will have to notify Tech officials if he plans to interview for another job, but there will be no penalty for doing so.

Leach's concession came on the percentage of his contract that will be guaranteed. His new deal will provide $2 million of the total $12.7 million package, or about 16 percent. Tech had originally asked for 12 percent.

Both sides compromised on the last sticking point of the agreement. Leach will retain the rights to his likeness and income from books, movie deals and national speaking engagements.

The key for Leach came in the last 72 hours when he made a late blitz by appearing on countless national television and radio shows. His availability enabled him to get his story out while Tech officials retreated.

Public opinion turned decidedly during that period. A couple of disgruntled fans bought a full-page advertisement in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Wednesday, expressing their dismay with the school's handling of Leach's contract talks.

The deal's chances of happening also improved because Leach and Hance negotiated directly. Leach's agents, Gary O'Hagan and Matt Baldwin, were in Indianapolis to attend the NFL combine.

The new deal will now make Leach the third-highest paid coach in the Big 12 -- behind only Texas' Mack Brown and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops -- and should enable him to become the winningest coach in school history. Leach is tied for second place on the school's all-time list with 76 victories, six behind Spike Dykes.

Leach, Tech agree to new five-year deal

February, 19, 2009
2/19/09
5:55
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Texas Tech and Mike Leach have agreed to a new five-year contract, a source in the Texas Tech office confirmed.

A news conference will be held in Lubbock at 6 p.m. to confirm the extension of the $12.7 million deal.

Obviously, we'll have much more as the night transpires. But it looks like Leach was able to stare down school officials and get the contract that he wanted only a day before a scheduled executive session that was set to determine his employment.

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