Leach lashes out at Tech, James family

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For the first time since being fired by Texas Tech, Mike Leach has spoken out about his dismissal as he conducted interviews with both the New York Times and ESPN to ring in the new year.

And, in both cases, the former Red Raider head coach alternately denied mistreating one of his players to railing against the university, the player — Adam James — and the James family — ESPN analyst Craig James in particular.

As for the alleged abuse of Adam James — initial reports stated that Leach had ordered the receiver confined to a dark, cramped room/electrical closet — Leach said it simply didn’t happen. According to the coach, he had ordered James to be taken “out of the light” as he had been diagnosed with a mild concussion.  More specifically, Leach stated he was unaware where James was taken as he “was busy coaching practice.”

Leach then lashed out at what he described as falsehoods being distributed by the media in general and ESPN in particular.

“There have been several things that have been brought to my attention on the ticker that’s just false,” Leach said according to the Times, referring to ESPN’s bottom line ticker. “He was never locked anywhere. At no point was he locked anywhere. At no point was there an electrical closet.”

Steve Pincock, Tech’s head athletic trainer, backed up Leach’s claims, saying in a statement that “Adam was never locked in any facility, and was never placed in an electrical closet or tight space, or instructed to do so.”

“Adam showed up to practice in street clothes, no team gear, and dark sunglasses,” Pincock said, according to the statement. “Adam walked about 40 to 50 yards, very slowly and with a non-caring attitude.”

Pincock said Leach then asked that James be moved to a location “where sunlight could not bother him as he was wearing sunglasses.”

“I instructed Adam to stay in the garage and out of the sun, so the light would not worsen his condition,” Pincock said in the statement. “While in the garage, Adam was walking around, eating ice, sitting on the ground, and, at one point, sleeping; at no point was there any enforcement to make Adam stand up.”

At least part of the public perception is that Leach mistreated a player who was diagnosed with a concussion.  According to Tech team physician Dr. Michael Phy, and based on his understanding of the situation, “no additional risks or harm were imposed on Adam by what he was asked to do.” 

So, you have two people who are either current employees of the school or are employed by the school — Pincock and Phy — who come out with statements of support for the former head coach?  Interesting.

Anyway, during both of the interviews, Leach claims it wasn’t his treatment of James that led to this situation.  Instead, it was an overbearing father and a lazy and entitled son who prompted this entire sordid affair.

In particular, Leach blasted Craig James for the way he hovered over the program, calling both Leach and his assistants in an attempt to get more playing time for his son.  He also made damning statements about the ESPN analyst attempting to use his position of “power” to force his son into additional playing time.

Leach described a divisive and tense relationship with Craig James, whom he said he had to deal with more than every other parent on the team combined. He said that James frequently attended practices and called assistant coaches.

“I think he used his position at ESPN to try to coerce me into allowing Adam to play more,” said Leach, who said he expected to coach again. “But the thing about it is as the coach, I watch every inch of film. I’m deferring to the judgment of 12 people as we look at the film on who should play and who should play when and then we make our decision based on that. I don’t feel like it’s fair to the other players and I don’t think it’s the right way to do business to allow influence and position to dictate when you play a young man.”

Leach said that Craig James called the assistant coach Lincoln Riley so often to lobby for playing time that they had a meeting with Adam James. They played him two of the messages and asked, “How would you feel if we went in there to the meeting room and we stuck speakers up and we played these two messages for the team?”

Leach added: “After that we didn’t get any more phone calls from Craig, but he did proceed to call administrators.”

Leach said that Craig James felt his son was not getting a fair shot and threatened to call the administration about it.

“He made it clear that he had a business relationship with our chancellor or certainly was in conversation about such things,” Leach said. “He made it clear that he was announcing this game or that. He always felt like we were leaving the best receiver on the team on the bench. It’s inconceivable that we’d ever want to do that or consider doing it.”

Again, this is making both sides look bad.  Really bad.

But, the more information that sees the light of day, the more it becomes blatantly obvious that the person on the receiving end of the most hits — and the blackest of eyes — is Craig James himself.  And, by extension, his employer.

In essence, an analyst at the dominant sports network in the world got a head coach fired.  How he can continue as one of the lead analysts for the World Wide Leader is beyond me.

Then again, when you have a monopoly on sports information, you can pretty much do whatever you want, can’t ya?

South Carolina DB Ali Groves takes medical hardship, will remain on scholarship

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The injury-plagued career of a member of South Carolina’s secondary has officially come to an end.

USC officials confirmed to The State that Ali Groves will not return to the Gamecocks football team. The defensive back has taken a medical hardship waiver, making him ineligible to suit up again for the Gamecocks.

The Georgia native will, though, remain on scholarship. He’s expected to graduate later this year with a degree in business administration.

A three-star member of USC’s 2013 recruiting class, Groves was rated as the No. 47 safety in the country. Groves sustained a right shoulder injury his true freshman season, with the injury lingering over the next couple of seasons as well.

This past spring, Groves, who didn’t play a down for the Gamecocks, was moved from cornerback to safety. Twice in his career, Groves was named to the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll.

Four-star 2017 QB Kellen Mond, an ex-Baylor commit, verbals to A&M

COLLEGE STATION, TX - OCTOBER 31: Texas A&M Aggies mascot Reveille runs onto the field before a NCAA football game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Kyle Field on October 31, 2015 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Eric Christian Smith/Getty Images)
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Baylor’s recruiting loss will turn into another football program’s gain.  Again.

On his Twitter account Monday, 2017 quarterback prospect Kellen Mond announced that he has decided to verbally commit to play his college football at Texas A&M.  Mond had been considered the crown jewel of Baylor’s 2017 recruiting class after committing to the Bears in the summer of 2015, but opted to decommit less than a week after Art Briles was dismissed as BU’s head football coach.

Shortly after decommitting from Baylor, Mond announced a new Top 3: Auburn, Ohio State and A&M.  Those schools were listed in his order of preference at that moment, although the Aggies were, obviously, able to make up ground on the other two.

Mond visited College Station earlier this month, and, coupled with the Buckeyes landing a verbal from five-star quarterback Tate Martell — a former A&M commit, incidentally — had seemingly pared his choices down to the Tigers and Aggies.  According to his tweeted announcement, A&M’s “tradition of excellence,” along with the coaching staff, led him to his latest commitment.

Mond, a Texas native who is playing his senior season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., is rated as a four-star prospect on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. That recruiting website rates him as the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 103 player overall.

Pitt joins trend of stadium-wide beer sales for football games

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Ohio State announced earlier this month that it would be offering cold beers to all of-age fans during football games this fall in The ‘Shoe.  A couple of weeks later, a fellow FBS member to the east has followed suit.

As part of its press release on new fan initiatives for the 2016 season, Pittsburgh announced that beer will be sold stadium-wide throughout Heinz Field this upcoming football season.  Prior to this season, alcohol sales were only permitted to those ticket holders in the club and suite sections of the stadium.

The first opportunity for fans to take advantage of the new policy is the home opener against Villanova Sept. 3.  The ACC opener Oct. 8 against Georgia Tech.

From the press release:

The expansion of this amenity will coincide with the implementation of appropriate safety measures for Pitt game days, ensuring the continuation of a fan and family friendly environment for all. (Such measures are already in place for Steelers home games. Aramark, Heinz Field’s official food and beverage concessionaire, provides comprehensive staff training in the sale of alcohol.) A portion of the funds from beer sales proceeds will be dedicated to drug and alcohol education programs for the overall student body through Pitt’s Division of Student Affairs.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, there are now nine Power Five members with a similar beer policy for football games.  One of the nine is West Virginia, with the Post-Gazette writing that athletic director Scott Barnes cited data from WVU “suggesting that beer sales in the stadium could actually cut down on alcohol-related incidents.”

Houston’s Howard Wilson granted medical hardship waiver

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Not surprisingly, one member of Houston’s secondary will get back the time he lost last season.

According to a press release from the Houston sports information department, Howard Wilson has been granted a medical hardship waiver for the 2015 season. Wilson sustained a season-ending torn ACL in the third game of 2015, making the decision to grant the waiver a no-brainer.

The waiver will extend Wilson’s eligibility clock through the 2018 season, and makes him a redshirt sophomore for the upcoming season.

As a true freshman in 2014, Wilson played in all 13 games, starting one of those contests. He had three interceptions that season.

Prior to his injury, he started the first three games of last season. He’s projected to start at one of the corner spots for the Cougars entering summer camp.