By all accounts, Mike Leach should be a hot commodity on the college coaching front this upcoming offseason.
But Leach wonders if his legal issues with the Texas Tech administration may give some potential suitors for his services the cold shoulder and keep them from hiring him to become their next head football coach.
Tech fired Leach last Dec. 30 for “continuous acts of insubordination” in the wake of his alleged treatment of receiver Adam James. James accused Leach of putting him in a media room and a dark equipment room while the player sat out practice with a concussion.
Leach has sued Tech for the $12.7 million remaining on the contract he signed in the spring of 2009. Tech officials said they don't owe Leach any money and that he breached his contract.
Leach, who coached at Tech from 2000 to 2009, wishes the legal issues will disappear so he can get on with his life. And he believes some depositions in his lawsuit will ultimately clear his name.
For his part, Leach said he has no choice but to fight his case so he can restore his name and reputation. Yet he thinks he's caught between the proverbial rock and hard place.
"There’s a couple of people who made false allegations about me,'' Leach said. "Well, if I ignore it they’ll assume that the allegations are true, and then I can't get a job.
"And if I go through litigation to clear my name and set the record straight, then they’ll say, ‘Well, you’ve got litigation and you can't get a job.’ But if you’re wanting to get a top football coach, this thing is going to be over in a couple of months.''
Leach's name popped up this week as a possible candidate to replace Randy Shannon, who was fired last Saturday as coach of the University of Miami. Billionaire businessman Donald Trump even wrote a note to Miami president Donna Shalala basically trying to encourage her to hire Leach.
As far as Leach is concerned, he said his legal woes with Tech should have no bearing on his next job.
"I'm innocent anyway and I've got all the documents and depositions and everything to prove it,'' Leach said. "Plus, if you want me to coach your team and coach your players, I’ve got the high graduation rate.
"Besides, you don’t want some guy that’s going to put his tail between his legs (at the first sign of trouble). That’s not the type of guy you want to lead your program. How can you talk about championships? You don’t want somebody that backs away when they attack his reputation.''
Leach and his family live about three hours from Miami in Key West, Fla. He hasn't spoken with Shalala or any Miami officials about its coaching job, and won't speculate on whether he'll be able to receive a formal job interview from the Hurricane.
"I think (Shalala would) be exciting to work for, plus they have some stability,'' Leach said. "When I was at Tech we had three chancellors and five presidents (in 10 years).
"I think the Miami job is a great job and a great opportunity. And I think it’s a great place to coach.''
-- Dwain Price