Texas Tech coach Mike Leach received word today that he has been fined $10,000 and has been given a public reprimand by Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe for comments Leach made about game officials after Saturday's 59-43 loss to Texas.
In the Big 12's announcement of the sanctions, Beebe cited the fine amount as "the largest fine issued to date by the conference." It is double the $5,000 fine assessed Kansas coach Mark Mangino for comments about officiating made after a loss to Texas in 2004.
Tech officials responded with a statement saying no one from the school's athletic department would discuss the fine. Not Leach, not athletic director Gerald Myers. Not anyone.
But here is what some of them must be thinking behind closed doors: A pretty cheap investment if it prevents certain officials who live in Austin from working Tech games in future seasons. Or if it leads to changes in Big 12 officiating policies in the future (check back on that after the 2008 spring meetings).
Leach makes more than $1 million per season, so a $10,000 fine hardly qualifies as a huge financial hit. If the school actually pays the fine, it's an even smaller blip on a larger financial radar screen.
Make no mistake: Leach's rant was calculated and delivered in a calm voice. He knew what he was doing, knew there would be a financial price to pay. He also wanted to get his message out there and believed its value -- when put into the public consciousness -- would be potentially greater than the financial hit he would take for delivering it.
It will be interesting now to see how the Big 12 handles things, up front and behind closed doors, in dealing with Leach and future assignments of game officials for Tech games. For Leach and Tech, this could be the best $10,000 they've ever spent.
-- Jimmy Burch