With the clock possibly ticking on his coaching career at Texas Tech, Mike Leach took his case to a national audience Wednesday in what could be a last-ditch effort to save his job.
During an appearance on ESPN, Leach was asked if he expects to be fired Friday when the Texas Tech Board of Regents holds a special teleconference meeting to discuss his employment.
"Well, no. I mean I know that sounds odd. But you know, it's like and I've said this a couple of times. It's like John Wooden says, 'Your best is always enough,' and everyday Tech gets my best. And I think part of that along with the efforts of the other good people I have to work with we've been able to achieve a lot of things. You know, if somehow my best isn't good enough, I can live with that."
There is big money riding on Friday's meeting. According to terms of Leach's current deal, which runs through 2010, he is scheduled to be paid $1.85 million in 2009, plus a contract completion bonus of $800,000. Leach is due $2.15 million in 2010, plus a contract completion bonus of $200,000. Tech will owe Leach a buyout of $1.5 million if it cuts him loose Friday.
Bottom line: Leach will earn $5 million if he completes the final two years of his deal. If Tech terminates the coach, it will have "saved" $3.5 million.
Leach has a 76-39 record since becoming Tech's coach in 2000, but a strained relationship with athletic director Gerald Myers has spread to other members of the athletic department and regents during negotiations on a contract extension. The breaking point may have been a Jan. 15 email that was sent directly to regents by International Marketing Group, which represents Leach. The email bypassed Myers, chancellor Kent Hance and university president Guy Bailey.
Although Myers, Hance and Bailey were copied on the email later that evening, then-regents president Scott Dueser accused IMG of trying to undermine Tech's leadership and divide the board.