Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winning isn't the only thing, not at Texas Tech

It’s always noteworthy when a University that places high value on its football program opts for good behavior even at the possible cost of a game (or more). That’s why this column made such a fuss over Oregon Ducks football coach Chip Kelly when he suspended his star running back for sucker punching an opposing player who was taunting him after a Ducks loss in their season opener.
Now we want to give three cheers for Texas Tech, who suspended football coach Mike Leach on the eve of Saturday’s big Alamo Bowl Game against Michigan State. Leach is accused of punishing a player who suffered a concussion in practice.
 A source close to the player’s family told ESPN that he sustained a concussion on Dec. 16, was examined on Dec. 17 and told not to practice because of the concussion and an elevated heart rate. The source said Coach Leach called a trainer and directed him to move James "to the darkest place, to clean out the equipment and to make sure that he could not sit or lean. He was confined for three hours." According to the source, Leach told the trainer, two days later, to "put [James] in the darkest, tightest spot. It was in an electrical closet, again, with a guard posted outside."
The suspension will surely be litigated, and we’re not sure yet what all the facts are. What’s clear and indisputable, however, is that Texas Tech, occasionally maligned as a football factory, places player safety and ethical behavior above winning. Here’s hoping their first reward is a win over the Spartans Saturday in the Alamo Bowl.


Glenn Logan said...

As a sports blogger, I am closely watching this. But I urge you to restrain yourself before passing judgment on this affair.

Details are coming out that are casting doubt on the veracity of what we think we know. Assuming the facts are right, I totally agree with your commentary, but the facts are coming under question.

Stay tuned. This story is just beginning, I think.

But even if it turns out to be wrong, there needs to be a serious conversation among university presidents about what kind of treatment is acceptable. Even if this turns out to be far less egregious than alleged, it does raise an issue that has been festering under the surface of college sports for some time now.

I think the time has come for a reckoning, no matter what the ultimate facts are in the instant case.

Bob said...

See my later blog. The trainer has refuted Leach's claim of no mistreatment. Leach ordered the player to be locked in a room so dark that...[stream of obscenities].