Tennessee’s head coaching search continues to twist and weave its way around the country. And now there’s reportedly interest in a coach all the way over in Washington.
Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports reported on Wednesday morning that Tennessee athletic director John Currie is “intrigued” in Washington State head football coach Mike Leach. But there’s reportedly a hangup from Currie’s side of things.
According to Feldman, Currie doesn’t like the fact that Leach sued Texas Tech, his former employer, and that’s “a tough one for him and the Vols to get past.”
Mike Leach sued Texas Tech after being terminated in 2009 as their head coach. Texas Tech elected to fire Leach after allegations that he mistreated a player suffering from a concussion. That player, Adam James, was allegedly “punished” for having a concussion and was locked in an electrical closet for hours. But Leach has vehemently denied that ever happened.
“I didn’t lock Adam James anywhere. I didn’t tell Adam James to go anywhere,” Leach said. “I told the trainer to get him off the field.”
Leach’s contract with Tech stated that if he were fired “for cause” then the university would have to pay him his base bay of $300,000 and other performance incentives and nothing more. Tech claimed Leach was fired “for cause,” but Leach says the cause wasn’t proven in court and was false. He claims he received the $300,000 in base pay but did not receive the $1.6 million in guaranteed income he believes he was due. He also did not receive the $800,000 retention bonus that was due if he was the head coach of Texas Tech on December 31st, 2009. Tech fired him on December 30th, thus being able to avoid that expense.
But Leach says that bonus was “six years in the making” and due to him that year.
Dicky Grigg, an attorney who represented Texas Tech and then-Chancellor Kent Hance, stated that “Ultimately, Leach’s mistreatment of a student-athlete with a brain concussion, coupled with his subsequent insubordinate behavior, left the university with no choice but to fire him. Coach Leach was justifiably terminated for cause in conformity with his contract.”
Leach’s decision to sue Texas Tech is reportedly the main reason why Currie and Tennessee are hesitant to give Leach a shot. Only time will tell if the two sides ever meet to discuss Tennessee’s opening.
Leach has been a head coach at both Tech and Washington State. He’s compiled a career record of 122-80 at both schools and just led Washington State to a 9-3 record, the third straight season he’s won at least eight games with the Cougars. He was 12-25 in his first three years there before finding success the last three years.