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Thursday, April 30, 2009

The detestable, inimical Mike Leach

As EDSBS points out, the detestable Mike Leach has a real issue with telling the truth, and the people (i.e. other highly paid coaches) are finally speaking out to put this outrage to an end.

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."

And later:

"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.


Jon said...

The guy I know who works for a service that calculates speed figs likes Fresian Fire. Good luck. I hear that event is decadent and depraved.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the NFL overvalues arm strength. To be a great QB in the NFL you have to be able to fit throws into tight windows so arm strength is a necesity. Also since guys like Peyton, McNabb, Palmer, Big Ben, Eli, Rivers, Rodgers, Cutler, Ryan and Flacco the NFL isn't as bad at drafting QBs as people think. QB is the most important position but the hardest to scout and teach so there will be some guys who dissapoint. But if you can get a guy like the ones I listed it is worth the risk.

Anonymous said...

I'm normally one of those guys who enjoys a character (you know the type, you either hate 'em or love 'em), but Leach needs to be reminded of his position as head coach of a college. I respect him for his intellect, I respect him as a man, I respect him as a coach- but he needs to learn when to shut up and stop making these comments public. If this was a player, he would be disciplined.

Richard said...

Lovin' every minute of it. Leach hasn't said a thing that's offensive to anyone - unless one adds in what he hasn't said. It's called "damning with faint praise", and he (a lawyer originally) appears to have mastered it. The responses are all of the variety of "I'm pissed, but I can't tell you for sure why."

A latter-day classic of the genre is this recommendation written of Mike Brown, Bush's post Katrina "helluva job there Brownie" FEMA Director

"Yes. Mike Brown worked for me. He was my administrative assistant. He was a student at Central State University," recalls former city manager Bill Dashner. "Mike used to handle a lot of details. Every now and again I'd ask him to write me a speech. He was very loyal. He was always on time. He always had on a suit and a starched white shirt."

He would have made a great 4th round pick for Dallas.

Chris said...

Anon: On the arm strength issue -- It's obviously important but I think it is overvalued in a very specific sense.

To me, in the NFL arm strength is a threshold. You have to be able to throw X type of passes; deep outs, digs into coverage, etc. Yes, tight-spaces etc. Obviously that is different than long bombs (i.e. better to throw it on a rope than deep).

But I also think that once you hit a threshold, it stops making a difference too much, or at least is dwarfed by accuracy, etc. In other words: if both guys can throw the 18 yard comeback, but one guy's arm is somewhat stronger than the other, that doesn't really matter and we should look at other things and basically write off arm strength. If one guy can't make that throw, then that might just eliminate him. Does that make sense?

Maybe Harrell's arm doesn't meet the threshold, I dunno. But I do think the NFL guys get obsessed with a guy with a turbo charged arm when, to me, past a certain point, the other stuff becomes more important.

Anonymous said...

I think it's the media that gets obsessed with a guy's arm strength. It's one of the few things the Mel Kipers of the world can see on TV and go, "Oh, he's throwing it much faster than that other guy." They don't understand anything more than that, even though they think they do.

I'm pretty confident the guys in the NFL are there for a reason, so I'm forced to lay blame on the media, as easy as it is. : p

Anonymous said...

Mangini asked for it. I have no sympathy for him. But Leech was out of line going after McGee he's just a player.

Anonymous said...

Leach has finally realized that he is never going to get a better job than Texas Tech so he is letting loose. He is no longer holding his personality back.

Anonymous said...

Mike leach is spot on. Why should he have to shut up...if people keep making bad decisions then at least he has the balls to let them know.

Hes got a great job at tech...£2+ million a year is pretty sweet