Leach’s book nets writer an ESPN suspension

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On Monday, Mike Leach released his new book Swing Your Sword, which in part details his acrimonious departure from Texas Tech in December of 2009.

The firing was due in part to Leach’s alleged mistreatment of Adam James, the son of Craig James, the ESPN college football analyst who moonlights as a Chinook in the Texas Air National Guard; obviously, the James Gang plays a prominent role in Leach’s book, with the coach mincing no words when it comes to anyone involved in his firing.

Unfortunately, there’s apparently some collateral damage stemming from the book.  Just as unfortunate, said collateral damage doesn’t involve Craig James.

ESPN the Magazine‘s Bruce Feldman, one of the most professional individuals you’ll ever run across in the business, was involved in assisting with/the editing of Leach’s biographical account, an arrangement that had been agreed upon prior to Leach’s firing.  And, according to SportsByBrooks.com, Feldman has been indefinitely suspended by ESPN due to his participation in the book — after he’d already received permission from the network and his bosses to do work on the book.

From Brooks:

Well before Mike Leach was terminated by Texas Tech in late 2009, Feldman had agreed in principle to assist the coach in compiling material for a Leach biography. That biography, in which Feldman was mostly charged with recording Leach’s first-person account of his life, was released this week with the title, Swing Your Sword.

Because of Leach’s acrimonious departure from Texas Tech, which allegedly stemmed from complaints about the coach’s alleged treatment of the son of ESPN college football analyst Craig James, Feldman’s participation in Swing Your Sword was not initially assured. Multiple management and editorial sources at ESPN have told me in recent months that Feldman would only participate in the Leach book project upon  direct approval from ESPN management – which Feldman indeed received.

We have reached out to ESPN requesting both a confirmation/denial and their side of the story, but we’ve yet to hear back from the WWL.  All that does, in light of Brooks’ report, is leave many, many questions unanswered.  Such as…

So, ESPN, after giving him permission, indefinitely suspends not only one of that website’s best writers but one of the best in the college game, period, but still employs the man who allegedly launched a smear campaign against Leach that ultimately ended in the coach’s firing?  So, Leach sued ESPN as well Spaeth Communications (Smears ‘R Us) in November of 2010 for libel and slander as Feldman was working on the book; was still reportedly given approval after the suit was filed to continue working on the book; and yet the book’s release pushed them over the edge?  So, the allegations made in Leach’s lawsuit…

“ESPN published and failed to retract false and damaging statements based on information it obtained in large part from Craig James… who ESPN knew to be hostile to Leach.”

“[The case also concerns] the false, misleading and defamatory campaign against Leach by Spaeth Communications, a public relations firm hired by Craig James for the purpose of creating public opinion hostile to Leach.”

…didn’t prompt ESPN to to indefinitely suspend Feldman or bar him from working on the book eight months ago, but the release of the book three days ago did?

I guess, though, when you’ve been wallowing in hypocrisy for well over a decade, you get used to the stench.

Cincinnati, Western Michigan ink home-and-home series

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Cincinnati and Western Michigan have agreed to a 2-game home-and-home series, it was announced Monday.

The Bearcats will host WMU on Sept. 12, 2020, and Western Michigan will host Cincinnati on Sept. 10, 2022.

The programs have met three times prior. Cincinnati and Western Michigan also played a home-and-home in 1949-50; the Bearcats won both games by scores of 27-6. Cincinnati also won their meeting in the 2007 International Bowl in Toronto,  a 27-24 triumph.

Cincinnati already has road games lined up with Miami (Ohio) and Nebraska in 2020, with a Sept. 5 opener still to fill. Considering the Bearcats already have two MAC opponents and a Big Ten trip lined up, that game will almost certainly be a home game and likely against an FCS opponent. In 2022, Cincinnati will host Indiana and play Miami (Ohio) at the Bengals’ Paul Brown Stadium, with their Sept. 3 opener still unfilled.

Western Michigan also has a road trip to Notre Dame on the schedule for Sept. 19, 2020, and does not have any other games slated for 2022.

USC AD Lynn Swann explains wins still trump strength of schedule

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For a long time, college football programs on the west coast have battled to overcome an east coast bias. USC athletics director Lynn Swann says that is still a hurdle USC faces to this day, which is why the Trojans go about trying to build as competitive football schedule as they can.

“Because of time zones, people on the East Coast aren’t really seeing us,” Swann said in a Q&A with The Orange County Register. “We have to play a tougher schedule. If the voters are going to look at four teams to be in the top four, the Pac-12 playing the Pac-12 won’t get it by itself.”

That comment alone could be received as a veiled (or not-so-veiled) shot at the rest of the Pac-12, but it is a fair comment to say, especially after the postseason the Pac-12 as a whole just had this past bowl season (it was… not very good). Swann’s comment though backs up the overall philosophy power conferences and programs within them have taken to heart since the introduction of the College Football Playoff, where strength of schedule is held in high regard and placed on a pedestal above most other factors to determine a playoff contender and separate them from playoff pretenders.

“We have to schedule teams and we have to have that very competitive schedule to be able to get that look,” Swann said. “And we’ve got to win those games. So it’s important to have Texas on the schedule. It’s important that Notre Dame is playing well and we play them and we beat them along the way.”

Scheduling attractive games is great, and it allows for a slightly wider margin for error, but recent history has shown that the strength of schedule does not act alone in getting a team into the playoff as much as actually winning games. The last two seasons have seen one-loss teams without a division championship invited to the College Football Playoff (Ohio State in 2016, Alabama last year). Last year, USC lost two games but won the Pac-12 championship but was largely left out of the conversation that involved Alabama and Ohio State.

“The committee who’s going to vote on this is going to look at strength of schedule. They’re going to look at how you win games,” Swann explained. “They’re going to look at a lot of factors. They’re going to look at the competition inside your conference, outside your conference, all those kind of things. It won’t ever be just one thing.”

USC has yet to play in a College Football Playoff and the 2018 season could be an uphill climb to get there with so many key losses from last season. Regardless, the Trojans continue to be improving with depth and scoring big wins to return to work their way back to the big championship stage.

Florida is opening spring practices to fans

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What’s one easy way to get fans on board with a new head coach? Invite them to practice.

Florida head coach Dan Mullen wants the doors to be open to fans to come watch the Gators practice during the first two spring practices the Gators will conduct next month. Seats will be limited at the practice field, of course, but Mullen seems optimistic this will help get the energy going for the program from the jump this spring, and that could potentially lead to a good crowd at Florida’s spring game to wrap up the spring practice schedule.

Florida is scheduled to begin their spring football practices on March 16. That practice and the next day will be open to fans to attend practice, which likely will lead to some personal interactions with coaches and players for any fans who take Mullen up on his offer. Florida’s spring game is scheduled for April 14.

Florida fans may be getting a chance to see a hard-working bunch of Gators. Early indications are Florida players are already claiming to be working harder than they have in years in the offseason workout routine.

But it won’t be just the fans that will be given some exclusive first-hand looks at the Gators this spring. Mullen will also look to extend an open invitation to Florida faculty and staff to some spring practices. Those dates are yet to be determined.

Helmet sticker to SEC Country.

Clemson commit wins free Chick-fil-A for a year

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Who doesn’t love a good meal from Chick-fil-A? Hopefully Clemson commit BT Potter does because he just won free Chick-fil-A for an entire year.

Potter was voted the Chandler Catanzaro Kicker of the Year, and to the victor go the waffle fries. In addition to a $1,000 scholarship, Potter will have a one-year supply of Chick-fil-A meals on the house. That could add up to a lot of chicken sandwiches for the second-ranked kicker in the Class of 2018, according to Rivals.

This wasn’t a contest won by asking for retweets on Twitter, but Potter did have Clemson fans come to his support by stuffing an online ballot box. Maybe Potter can use his Chick-fil-A year-long supply to hand out some milkshakes.

The best part about all this? There doesn’t seem to be any way for the NCAA to come in and ruin the fun, as there are no NCAA violations in play here. Score one for the good guys.

Potter, a native of South Carolina, committed to the Tigers back in June 2017.