Monday, September 28, 2009
Red Raiders clamping down on social networking
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
So much for freedom of expression around Texas Tech.
Texas Tech coach Mike Leach has banned his players from using Twitter after several unflattering things about him and his program seeped out from players’ comments after the Red Raiders’ 29-28 loss to Houston Saturday night.
The self-styled “Pirate of the High Plains” might be facing a mutiny unless he can right his ship very quickly. Squelching their comments on social networks appears to be his first step.
The most surprising move came Sunday when senior offensive guard, Brandon Carter, a team captain and frequent team spokesman, was indefinitely suspended for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
Leach left the door open -- barely -- for the return of Carter, a preseason All-America selection who didn’t allow a sack last season. Carter’s attitude was infectious with his tough playing disposition, tattoos, and spiked hair.
“Anything he needs to do to get back is pretty much between him and me,” Leach said.
The discord continued after the Red Raiders returned to Lubbock and Leach apparently was late for a meeting with his team Sunday afternoon. Senior linebacker Marlon Williams was especially vociferous about Leach's leadership on his Twitter account.
"Wondering why I'm still in this meeting room when the head coach can't even be on time to his on [sic] meeting," Williams wrote on his "Kos 39" Twitter account. The tweet has been taken down as silence has spread over the Red Raiders’ program.
Leach fired back at the disgruntled players Monday on the Big 12’s weekly coaches’ teleconference.
“Anyone who is a malcontent doesn’t stay around here long,” Leach said. “We’ve got a full group of players who are ready to take (his) place. And interestingly enough, he doesn’t have a Twitter page anymore.”
The sniping across Cyberspace is the last thing the Red Raiders needed after the disappointing losses to Texas and Houston -- their first back-to-back losses since midway through the 2007 season.
“That game left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth,” senior cornerback Jamar Wall said. “We’ve got to come back ready to go.”
The turnaround and the late loss came after Tech appeared to have dominated the early parts of the game. The Red Raiders’ seldom used rushing game kicked in and gave them a chance to mash the Cougars at the point of attack as they claimed an early 21-10 lead.
But the Red Raiders struggled moving the ball later in the game and were turned away on downs inside the Houston 5 early in the fourth quarter, including a pivotal fourth-down stop of quarterback Taylor Potts from inside the Houston 1.
“That series was extremely disappointing,” Tech center Shawn Byrnes said. “We had the ball four times inside their 5. We wanted to put on our shoulders and punch it in. And the fact we weren’t able to do was frustrating.”
Leach said Monday he probably would have elected to have kicked a field goal that would have given his team an eight-point lead if he had it to do over again.
“We only needed half a yard and we had been moving them around pretty good down there,” Leach said. “If I had to do it over again, I probably would do it different.”
It makes the Red Raiders 3-4 since a 10-0 start to start last season that pushed them to No. 3 in the country after victories over Texas and Oklahoma State late last season. Their victories during that period came over North Dakota, Rice and Baylor last season.
Their challenge to turn the season around will be daunting in a South Division that appears more competitive than ever this season. Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all are among the nation’s top 14 teams nationally in the most recent Associated Press poll. Texas A&M appears to have a recharged offense and defense. Baylor has its strongest recent collection of talent, although the loss of Robert Griffin will be a tough one to overcome.
And any comments from the Red Raiders’ BlackBerries have been suppressed, Wall said his team has vowed to put aside the recent controversy as it tries to complete with their upcoming scheduling gauntlet.
“We need to forget about it, let it go,” he said. “What happened Saturday and yesterday, we’ve got to put it aside. We’ve got to pull tighter. We just need to put it behind us, play the next team and keep going from there.”