The Associated Press reported this morning that an appeals court has dismissed Mike Leach's lawsuit claiming that Texas Tech had committed a breach of contract when they fired him in January of last year, and denied his claims for monetary damages. But not surprisingly -- given Leach's by-now famously stubborn temperament and own law degree -- Leach and his representation say they will file an appeal of the ruling, and hope to take the case to the Texas Supreme Court.
This may or may not be the right move, legally speaking. (This blogger is certainly no lawyer.) But in terms of Leach's coaching career, currently in a state of suspended animation, the appeal won't do anything to help get him back on the sidelines.
Because at this point, it's fair to assume that Leach's legal entanglements have become a major roadblock between Leach and his next head coaching gig. 22 schools hired new head coaches this offseason, and only Maryland gave Leach so much as an interview. For a coach with Leach's oft-stated (very oft-stated) desire to return to coaching and his impeccable resume -- exciting offenses, high graduation rates, no NCAA trouble, a legitimate national championship contender built in the relative hinterlands of Lubbock -- the snubs are otherwise inexplicable.
Take the case of Dana Holgorsen, a Leach disciple running Leach's offense. Why is he one of the hottest coaching commodities in the country, even without any head coaching experience at the FBS level, while Leach -- who all-but-invented the offense Holgorsen runs and has a decade of highly successful head coaching under his belt -- can't get a sniff? Why hire the guy you're hoping becomes the next Leach when you can just hire the real thing?
The only logical answer is Leach's reputation for prickliness and the ugliness of the legal dispute between himself and Texas Tech. As one official at a BCS-conference school told Sports Illustrated :
"When you're looking for the promise of a new day, you don't want to have to account for those cloudy days from years past," said a senior athletic administrator whose BCS-conference school had a recent opening but never considered Leach. "Wherever he is hired, it's going to be difficult not to have that opening press conference and those opening profiles include what happened at Texas Tech."Leach may eventually have his day in court. But it looks like that day, more than ever, may cost him years of his coaching prime. If he's serious about getting back to football (and about repairing his image, fair or not, as an unmanageable maverick), it's likely long beyond the point where the appeal should have been dropped.