Mike Leach and Crisis Communications

Someone please tell former Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach to seek crisis communication counsel immediately and drop his personal attorney Tedd Liggett, whose speciality is personal injury law. As of January 1, 2010, the Texas Tech firing of Leah is official,  but there’s still his reputation to manage for future opportunities. Being an “iconoclast” cost Mike Leach his position at Tech and his opportunity to coach his team at the Alamo Bowl.  Fortunately, his week of drama didn’t negatively impact the focus or emotions of the Texas Tech Red Raiders team as they romped over the Michigan State Spartans in a 41-31 victory last Saturday.

Leach’s quirky and irreverent style were an asset as a football coach whose core objective was to motivate young football players.   However, he should have had an expert crisis communication counselor at his side after allegations arose that he mistreated an injured player.  It’s clear after last week’s investigation that Leach mishandled the treatment of Adam James, a sophomore inside receiver who was injured in practice in December. By now, everyone has watched the James cell phone video of his time spent in the Texas Tech closet.  Not exactly a primo recruiting piece for Texas Tech.  Even the NFL now understands the traumatic impact of a concussion, however mild, on the human brain.  Whether James was a slacker on the field or not is irrelevant – it is abuse when a coach places an injured player in a closet or garage instead of having him sit on the bench and watch the team practice.  Leach is the coach/leader and should have handled the situation in an instructive manner.  He put himself in an adversarial position when he didn’t sign an apology letter drafted by university leadership.  Instead of acknowledging that he behaved inappropriately Leach decided to bring in his personal attorney to represent his position and sue the university to allow him to coach his team at the Alamo Bowl.  A crisis communication counselor would have started a conversation with the university leadership and worked out a collegial conclusion to the matter.  Leach chose poorly.  He gave Texas Tech the perfect opportunity to rid the university of $12.7 million worth of G&A; and the same individual who has made some colorful statements at post-game press conferences including this gem: his players shouldn’t listen to their “fat little girlfriends” tell them how wonderful they were after the Red Raiders disappointing loss to Texas A&M.  That’s not exactly the messge you want your head coach communicating to the sports media, the university community or the world.  What’s left now is the speculation of whom will Texas Tech appoint to Leach’s former position; and the interpretation of his contract with the university.  Should be fun.

Bring on the BCS Championship game with the Texas Longhorns versus the Alabama Tide.  Mike, who?

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