Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tech coach had the glory but not the power

He had thought he was bigger than the college president, a mistake one of his former Texas Tech counterparts had made on an early stop in his career. But just like Bob Knight at Indiana, Mike Leach misread his standing, a miscalculation that cost Leach his job.

In a way, Tech's decision yesterday to fire Leach could represent a tectonic shifting in the intercollegiate landscape, a reminder to people that football and basketball coaches don't lord over an institution like Third World strongmen. Even a coach with Leach's coaching portfolio can't design all the rules at an institution of higher learning.

That fact seems to have lost its currency over the years.

Let a coach win enough games and championships, and nothing he does ever earns him censure. His fiefdom has one man in charge, and anybody else who enters must take off his shoes at the front door.

Just think about how college coaches have demanded the world from university officials and ended up with the universe. Alumni talk about how energized they are because their alma mater is winning.

The school's graduation rate?

Leave it to a rump organization like the NCAA to worry about that. Besides, a Top 10 ranking in the year-end AP Poll always trumps a 10-percent graduation rate, right?

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