By Dwain Price
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, who was fired Wednesday, has the support of a lot of people close to the Red Raider program.
Leach was fired in the wake of backup redshirt sophomore receiver Adam James' claims that he was mistreated by Leach after he suffered a mild concussion during a Dec. 16 scrimmage. CBSSports.com received some e-mails from coaches and former players who totally support Leac, with some basically describing James as a malcontent who was lazy and felt a sense of entitlement because his dad, Craig James, is a former SMU and NFL player and now works as an analyst for ESPN.
The e-mails obtained by CBSSports.com include messages from Tech strength coach Bennie Wylie, inside receivers coach Lincoln Riley, former assistant coach Dana Holgorsen (now at Houston), and former players Graham Harrell, Eric Morris and Rylan Reed. Here are the e-mails:
Two days prior to the incident in question, I disciplined Adam James along with several other recievers. His attitude was poor the entire time; even with constant plees for improvement. By the end of the practice, a few of the other recievers accepted their lack of performance in the previous practice and worked harder. Adam was not one of these individuals. He was last on all the excercises asked to do and talked and "danced" during the discipline. When told that this was unacceptable, he simply shrugged his shoulders. I continued to encourge him with no success.
Head Strength and Conditioning Coach
Texas Tech University
To whom it may concern:
You can find out a lot about a person after playing three years of college football with them. Adam James was a teammate of mine from 2006-2009. Ever since the day he arrived on the Texas Tech campus you couldn’t help but to feel a negative energy from him. He expected people to baby him and that he was going make it solely on the fact that his father was a very successful player. Coach Leach has never been a coach to just give something to someone because of who they are. He believes that everyone is equal and you have to earn respect from your coaches and teammates. Adam was never known as a hard worker. I can honestly agree with this because we played the same position and I witnessed his laziness on a daily bases. Adam seemed to have a negative attitude towards the football program the majority of the time. That negative energy is never good for a team and can cause some major problems on and off the field. During practices, Adam always tried to get by with doing the least he possibly could. Never do I once remember Adam to be excited or enthusiastic to be out there. It was almost like he was playing the game of football to please someone other than himself.
To Whom It May Concern:
Texas Tech University and the athletic department is filled with great people from the top down, starting with the chancellor all the way down to the student athletes involved in the programs. In the football program, Gerald Myers and the rest of the administration have put together an unbelievable staff that believe success only comes from hard work and doing things right. The staff expects the players and everyone involved to buy into their beliefs, but like anywhere not every player agrees with or buys into what the coaches and program stand for. At Texas Tech the majority of the players do everything the coaches ask of them and anything possible to improve the team. Adam James is one of the few players who has never bought into what Texas Tech football was built on and in my years there with him had a negative impact on the team because of his attitude and work ethic on and off the field. Coach Leach demands a lot out of every player in the program and pushed his players and coaches as hard as any coach I have ever been around, but he is fair to every player and would never make and decision or action that is not best for the Texas Tech football program.
Before Adam James ever entered the football locker room at Texas Tech I heard how spoiled and selfish he acted in a team atmosphere from many of my baseball friends. Adam was on the baseball team his true freshman year at Tech, before he ever joined the football team, and did not make it through the baseball season because of his selfish attitude. After a baseball game in which he felt like he did not get enough playing time, but the team still won twenty to one, he came into the locker room after the game and “pouted and threw a big fit” according another player on the baseball team. A few weeks later in the middle of the season, he just stopped showing up to practices or game and quit because he was not happy about how he was being treated. One of my roommates was a baseball player on the team and many of my friends were a part of the team that witnessed all of this. These baseball players told me he was “spoiled and selfish” before he ever came to the football team. After quitting baseball he came out for football and his selfish attitude was very evident, as was his laziness. During off-season workouts he often would be caught skipping lifts in the weight room or finding ways to cut corners/get out of conditioning exercises. When we had player organized seven on seven throwing in the summer, when he would show up he was much more interested in playing his own games on the side of the field or telling people that he wasn’t going to run any routes because the coaches do not get him a “fair opportunity” anyway. During the season he was often “injured” (it usually seemed like a very minor injury that could keep him out of practice but never out of any other activity, including games) so he would not participate in some drills in practice. None of these acts were productive for our team, but the most detrimental part of Adam was his off field attitude and actions. In the locker room and away from the facility, Adam used any opportunity he had to tell other players how he was being treated unfairly, how the coaches did not give him a fair chance and how we did not have to do everything the coaches told us because they had no option but to play some of us. When I heard these kinds of things I usually tried to put an end to them but Adam pretty consistently talked bad about the coaches or down played the importance of working hard, when he was off the field. When he talked to young players or players that were usually on the scout he would explain how the coaches were not fair to certain players and only played favorites. When he talked to players that did get some playing time he would talk about how we didn’t really have to do what the coaches asked of us because the coaches had to play us anyway. And it almost always tied back to how he was not getting a fair chance to play just because the coaches were unfair. The coaches were always more than fair to Adam I felt, because he came in the game during certain formations and situations last football season, but because of his work ethic and attitude, many of the players on last years team had a hard time trusting him or relying on him because he was not always practicing and we had seen his laziness during the off-season. Adam was a kid that seemed like he had been given everything he wanted his whole life and acted like if things did not go exactly how he wanted someone was treating him unfairly or someone needed to be blamed for his failures. He was a selfish player on and off the field that was counter-productive for our team and would be for any other team.
Mike Leach was not only my head coach, but he was my position coach all five of my years at Texas Tech. I spent more time with him than any other player during my five years and had meetings with him every day. He was very hard on me and every other player in program and he held very high expectations for every player. He would push us all every day during the season and during the off-season. He felt that hard work, dedication and doing things right was the only way we could be successful and compete in the Big XII conference. He worked harder and longer than anyone else in program and was committed to winning at all cost. He would never have been unfair to a player or not played the best players he had because he wanted to win more than anything else. Coach Leach also expected us to be tough but smart at the same time. He would not pressure a kid to play with a serious injury or play when he did not feel ready to play. Coach Leach is a man that cares about his player and puts his players, coaches and the well being of the Texas Tech football program above all else.
Coach Leach is a great coach at Texas Tech that emphasizes the importance of hard work and doing things the right way so that the football program has the best opportunity possible to be successful. He, along with the administration and the rest of his staff, have built a great football program at Texas Tech that is built on the virtues and principles that give any program an opportunity to be successful. Every single player may not buy into the program’s beliefs, but Mike Leach has almost everyone on board with him and the Texas Tech football program on a successful track.
To whom it may concern:
As a player under coach Leach, I have experienced some of the most memorable moments of my life in which I am very grateful for. As I stated I am a former Red Raider that played for Mike Leach and got to know him well over my four years as a Red Raider. I admire the professionalism and dedication Mike had for the game, the university and his players. He always demanded the best from each of us and we became better players and people for it. Although he pushed his players and coaches to be the best, his decisions and actions were always consistent with maintaining the program’s integrity and were in the best interest of his players. As a player, my commitment to the team was based on the trust I had developed in Coach Leach as a leader who would always put his players and his team in the best possible position for success. As a result of his guidance and coaching, in combination with my own hard work, I was able to overcome great adversity to become an All-American tackle.
A couple of bowl games ago in the Gator Bowl, I suffered a severe injury to my lower left leg in which took a lot of support from family, friends, fans, coach’s, teammates and most importantly coach Leach to get me back. It was a long road to recovery that took careful attention from trainers during practices, and Leach was always checking to make sure that I was ok. During camp, oftentimes I had to practice one day and then take a day off because of soreness. Coach Leach was very understanding, always had my best interest in mind at all times, and I will always be appreciative of that.
Another incident that occurred was after my pro day in which I hurt my knee and my dream of playing in the NFL quickly came to a halt so I went home to rehab with two semesters left from graduating. I was able to get a job and start working, but quickly realized that to get the dream job in the real world that I always wanted, it would take getting my degree from Texas Tech. When I got home from work one day, I got a phone call from coach Leach asking, if they were able to get some paper work filled out, would I be willing to come back to school to finish my degree, and of course I said yes. I am proud to say that, as a result of coach Leach’s influence, I will finish my degree from Texas Tech in May 2010. If that does not show how coach Leach cares for his players, then I do not know what does.
The allegations against coach Leach are not consistent with the standards and beliefs that he has for himself and the University of Texas Tech. He has always been fair and respectful to my teammates and I. I was very saddened to hear that someone could try to take away all that he has done for this university, players and fans. I hope that you take this into consideration, and I also would be willing to further discuss anything in detail in person or by phone.
To Who it May Concern:
During the last two years of being the inside receivers coach, I have
had the chance to learn alot about Adam James. He came to Tech
because of one person: Coach Leach. Although we adamently doubted
his talent, we as coaches came to see that Adam actually had enough
talent to help us out. The problem, though, is that Adam is
unusually lazy and entitled. Many other players on this team,
specifically receivers, have a much larger role on this team with less
talent. I have always been worried about Adam's effect on my other
players because of his weak and conceited attitude. I recently found
out that Adam deliberately undermined my authority on many occasions.
This is particularly disturbing because Coach Leach hired me to make
our receivers the best group in the country, and Adam has damaged this
group far more than I even realized. He should be grateful forthe
opportunity that was given to him here that was not offered at any
other Division 1 football program. He has an unvelievable sense of
entitlement because of who his father is; one that hurts himself and
people around him. Adam is the kind of person thatakes excuses or
blames people for things that go wrong in his life.
Furthermore, I don't have children yet, but when I do I hope they are
coached by someone like Coach Leach. I have learned so many great
things from him and am incredibly lucky to have him in my life.
I am writing this letter on behalf of Mike Leach in regards to the Adam James situation. I was the inside receiver coach at Texas Tech when we made the decision the sign Adam James in January of 2007. Adam had no offers to play NCAA D1 football during and after his Senior year. After a conversation between Coach Leach and Adams father Craig, Coach Leach acquired a brief highlight tape of Adam and made the decision to take him as a scholarship student athlete. I was opposed to doing so in belief he was not a D1 football player. Coach Leach overrode my opinion and Adam became a Red Raider. During the rest of my time at Texas Tech I was Adams position coach where I always remained critical of Adams ability to play at this level due to being lazy in not only the classroom but also in the off season and during practice. Coach Leach was the one who kept saying he believed Adam would eventually contribute. Adams teammates believed he was selfish and were constantly getting onto him for lack of effort as they sensed entitlement on his part due to his father being a very good football player. Adam eventually ended up playing a little after I left due to his body type being able to do some TE sets which consists of around 5-10 plays a game. Adam should be thankful for the opportunity to play at Texas Tech and for Mike Leach, who gave him the opportunity. In my opinion playing 5-10 plays a game in an outstanding offense is more than he would get at any other school in NCAA D1 football.
OC & QB's
University of Houston
Two practices before Adam James claimed he had a concussion, Coach Leach and I were forced to discipline him for poor effort from the previous practice and poor effort during the early drills of that day. This has been a common theme about Adam's work ethic and attitude during his entire career. Adam, along with two other receivers that were also unsatisfactory, was sent to run stadium steps with Bennie Wylie. After the practice, Bennie made it very clear to Coach Leach and I that Adam was a complete "jerk" while he was being punished. After talking with Adam after the practice, it was very clear to me that Adam did not agree with the punishment and believed that we were just mis-asessing his effort. He complained to me that we were not doing our jobs as coaches and that his effort was just fine, all of which is very typical of him to say. By comparison, the other receiver that we punished agreed that his effort wasn't his best and had a good attitude with Bennie and also in meeting with me after practice. It's just another example of Adam thinking that he knows more about coaching than people who have been coaching for their entire lives. I have no doubt that anger from this led to where we are today with this situation and is his way of trying to "get back" at us coaches