Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Leach firing could give MSU an edge
By ESPN.com staff
The Mike Leach era is over at Texas Tech, only three days before the Red Raiders take the field against Michigan State in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
Suddenly, a game that looked like a major mismatch for Michigan State is getting very, very interesting. Sure, Leach doesn't throw passes, score touchdowns or make tackles, but he has been the face of the Red Raiders program for the past decade.
Some will spin this and say Leach's firing and the turmoil will galvanize the Red Raiders on Saturday night. I don't buy it. This is a major distraction for a team, the type of event that can ruin the locker room. Michigan State might be short 14 players because of suspensions and dismissals, but the Spartans went to San Antonio knowing the obstacles they'd be facing. Texas Tech, meanwhile, has to be in total shock right now.
Bowl games are a different type of mental challenge. Players have to want to be there. They need to be focused and sharp, especially by this point in their preparation. I can't see Texas Tech as locked in as it needs to be.
"They're facing some adversity as well, so it's not just us," Michigan State kicker Brett Swenson told the Detroit Free Press. "Both teams just have to rise above it, get the job done and prepare for the game. We're both facing some type of obstacle, but you have to stick to the game plan."
Michigan State could get blown out Saturday night at the Alamodome (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET). The Spartans also could knock off a shaken Red Raiders bunch. There's not a more bizarre bowl matchup than the Alamo, and I can't wait to watch and see what happens.