It's been an incredible week for the head dread pirate of Lubbock, beginning with his reaction to the rumor, supposedly floated by the Cleveland Browns' Eric Mangini, that Michael Crabtree is a "diva."
"Michael Crabtree has been more successful as a receiver than that guy has a coach at this point," Leach said. " ... Part of the reason is he's (Crabtree) too shy to be like that."
Said Leach: "My definition of a diva is someone who's loud and self-absorbed. Michael Crabtree is the furthest thing from loud that I've seen."
[...]Leach described Crabtree as the "ultimate team player who would serve the 49ers well." As for Mangini? "Let's see how all those non-divas do up in Cleveland this year," Leach said.
Ouch. (Of course now it looks like that Graham Harrell might sign with Cleveland, though as of right now he has only a tryout.)
Then came Leach's comment about former Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee, who was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round. Now, McGee's career at A&M was, well, disappointing: he played in a triple option offense under Dennis Franchione, and then came Mike Sherman to go with a "pro-style offense" (that supposed holy grail for all potential NFL draftees), but he got hurt and finished his senior year as a backup. Asked about the Cowboys' pick, Leach said:
"I'm happy for Stephen McGee," Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said. "The Dallas Cowboys like him more than his coaches at A&M did."
Sherman, via official release, replied,
"I don't understand Coach Leach's comments about Stephen McGee," Sherman said Monday. "He was named our starter until he got injured. I've always believed in Stephen's character and I've always believed in his talent, and I always will. I see him having an outstanding NFL career.
"Coach Leach is in no position to comment about my relationship with Stephen McGee."
In the end, a perturbed Sherman addressed the issue two straight days. Leach, unable to not have the last word, fired back again.
"I never questioned the handling of the (A&M) players in any way and have always expressed the utmost respect for their coaching staff," Leach told The Avalanche-Journal.
"I’ve always said that it is truly exciting to play Texas A&M - the quality of coaches they have, the great team and great tradition and, above all, the quality of players they have," Leach continued. "I’ve always known A&M had great players. The fact that they have the luxury to put a third- or fourth-round draft pick on the bench, to me, identifies what a truly great team they are.
"It’s an honor for us at Texas Tech to have the opportunity to play them. There are numerous players on our team that will never get a look or play a down in the NFL, so you can imagine how exciting it is for me and them to go play a team the magnitude of Texas A&M and look over there on the bench and see third- and fourth-round draft picks."
"How can anyone not be shocked that they’re offended by this?" Leach told The A-J. "How is that possible? I mean, they’re the ones that keep issuing these official statements. I haven’t issued any official statement. I just answer questions when somebody asks me one."
Ah, great stuff. Sherman, of course, can't stay quiet either, so he has chimed in yet again as well.
Responded Sherman on Tuesday, "I'm not one to say that's just Mike being Mike. You're not going to get a free pass with me. I don't get a free pass. I would never comment about any of his guys."
McGee won the starting job last preseason, but was injured in the second game and never fully recovered. . . .
"That could have been taken as a shot at Stephen McGee that if he was so good then why didn't he play?" Sherman said. "Or it could have been taking a shot at the Cowboys, or at (former A&M coach) Dennis Franchione.
"Coach Franchione's job wasn't to try and make Stephen an NFL quarterback, it was to win football games. And if it was his feeling that running the football was his best choice, like it was when I was here (as an assistant) with R.C. (Slocum), then that's what he did."
I don't know much about Stephen McGee. I didn't see anything of him last year, though I saw him play a few times in Franchione's gun-option attack that never got off the ground. As far as NFL drafting quarterbacks, I don't have the data but it's hard to evaluate. Guys with talent who are late draft picks or undrafted have to get lucky to see the field, so there is a skew to high draft picks, and the NFL is big on measurables. Matt Stafford was projected as the #1 overall coming out of high school, and sure enough in college he neither got shorter nor threw the ball with less velocity, so he was there again. Leach is right that the NFL overvalues arm strength, and he is right that it is not nearly so scientific as all these NFL guys pretend. That said, where you get drafted is a pretty good predictor of what kind of career you will have -- on aggregate -- but there's a ton of noise, especially among quarterbacks.
But, if nothing else, we should all just be thankful we have Coach Leach to keep us entertained in the offseason. Maybe his next quarterback, Taylor Potts will get drafted: he's 6'5", 220 lbs.
P.S. I'll be out of pocket for the next few days at the Kentucky Derby. Betting suggestions welcome.