So Texas Tech chancellor Kent Hance has offered former Red Raider defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill a job. Actually, Hance has offered McNeill a chance to pick from a series of jobs.
It's sort of like spin the Wheel Of Fortune and wherever the wheel lands, that's the job you can have. Except the head coaching job.
Here's a news flash. McNeill wanted the head coaching job. The one he was one of the two finalists for, but you guys at Tech decided to give to Tommy Tuberville.
Is somebody having a difficult time sleeping because of the way McNeill has been treated? Is somebody feeling just a little guilty about how McNeill was treated while he put a positive spin on one of the worst three-week fiascos in the history of college sports?
He was always praised by his competitors for his consummate work ethic, and was the man the Red Raiders usually rolled out to speak to the media whenever coach Mike Leach wasn't available.
In other words, McNeill was Texas Tech's go-to guy, the ambassador of the football program. Unfortunately, when it was time to go to the go-to guy and award him with the job he justly deserved, Texas Tech dropped the football.
This is nothing against Tuberville, because I'm sure he's a fine man and will be equally a fine coach and win a lot of games for Tech. But sometimes you can find an equally fine coach in the very next building if you just open your eyes a little bit wider.
Tech's defense was the constant joke of college football before McNeill took over as the defensive coordinator -- first as the interim defensive coordinator five games into the 2007 season and then as the permanent defensive coordinator the last two years.
Then, when Texas Tech was knee-deep in the middle of arguably one of the worst public relations crisis in college football history, who did the university call to help bail them out? That's right, McNeill, the same man they released on Wednesday.
With just six days to repair the school's embarrassing image before playing Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl, McNeill -- the players said -- protected them from the national media, calmed their nerves and helped make a tense situation enjoyable.
And if you're going to blame a coach when a team loses, then you have to credit McNeill for helping guide Tech to an improbable 41-31 win over Michigan State.
After that game, all 14 players I interviewed _ including 13 starters _ said they wanted McNeill to be Tech's next head coach.
I guess the players' aren't old or politically savvy enough to have opinions that matter after all.
"He has nothing but the utmost respect from everybody on the team,'' quarterback Steven Sheffield said of McNeill. "That guy loves us and we love him.
"He's helped us mature. It's not a good situation for him.''
Linebacker Bront Bird said it has been "extremely difficult'' to realize that McNeill will no longer be on the Red Raider coaching staff. Like others, Bird will miss McNeill's booming voice, his comforting words, that shoulder he gave the players to cry on, and those chest-bumps he dished out when the defense came to the sidelines after making a great play.
When Bird's mother passed away in 2008, one of the first men to reach him and offer his condolences was McNeill. He was more than just an X and O coach to his players.
"Coach Ruff has played a big part in my life on and off the field,'' Bird said. "He was the guy who actually brought me up to play as a freshman.
'I think he's a great coach and I think everything will work out for him. I'm sure he'll get an offer somewhere else and go on to be very successful. I wish him the best. I'm going to miss him a lot.''
It's too bad McNeill couldn't continue his success on the football field at Texas Tech. But I guess when it comes to Texas Tech, the glass ceiling for a man fully devoted to the football program like McNeill stopped at "interim head coach.''
What a shame.
-- Dwain Price