Countdown doom: Leach’s closet, Tiger effect, Dogs’ ‘honor’

There's a reason The Count doesn't use his left hand.

The Count excelled in the dark.

The Count never played college football. Oh, he had mad skills in high school. Great quickness and an ability to disguise his coverages. For some reason he always excelled at night games. But he figured if everybody was going to call him bloodsucker all the time, he might as well go to law school and be an agent. Worked out well. Made a nice living getting Sesame Street to bust its budget every year and he avoided some of the sideline wackos that are now molding young minds. What is going on with college football coaches lately? First, there are reports of South Florida’s Jim Leavitt grabbing a player by the throat and punching him in the the face twice at halftime of a game. Then Mark “Jabba The” Mangino of Kansas loses his job after being tagged for all sorts of bizarre abuse of players, including one incident in which he forced a player to “bear crawl” across a hot turf practice field, where the artificial turf has reached temperatures of 199 degrees. The player ended up with singed hands. But Mangino got the the worst of it. A judge ordered him to eat a salad. Now comes Mike Leach, who has a thing for dark closets. We count down . . .

10. He’s got a concussion? Rub some dirt on it

That's no an electric chair Mike Leach is sitting on. Had to sell it to make room for the electric closet.

Mike Leach on his throne. Looks like an electric chair.

ESPN has dropped former SMU great Craig James from its coverage team for Saturday’s Alamo Bowl between Texas Tech and Michigan State. Smart call there. Might as well eliminate any chance of  an analyst yelling, “Creep! Thug! Nazi!” at one of the coaches on national TV. James’ son, Adam James, a receiver on Texas Tech, has accused Leach of more bizarre and over-the-top abuse, including being made to practice with a concussion, and being forced to stand in a dark shed for three hours because Leach thought he was faking, according to the Lubbock Avalanche Journal. ESPN also reported James was ordered to stand in an electrical closest, which, of course, leads to the question: Does Lubbock have electricity? Now, if you want to wait to see how this thing plays out, that’s fine. All I know is, Texas Tech just suspended its $2.5 million a year football coach for a bowl game, so there’s got to be something to this. In fact, word is that Leach doesn’t really deny anything — he just thinks there’s nothing wrong with it. All together now: Oy.

9. Leaches rushes to Mangino’s defense (respect among thieves)

Mark Mangino yells at a waitress for running out of blue cheese dressing.

Former Kansas coach Mark Mangino yells at a waitress for running out of blue cheese dressing.

Do I need to be nice to Leach because he’s an offensive whiz and he coached at Valdosta State? No. He gives even psychotic football coaches a bad name. (And by the way, between Leach and Mangino, you would think Big 12 football teams actually hit somebody.) There’s a difference between disciplining players and humiliating them. And with sensitivity about concussions at an all-time high — even the NFL admits it’s an issue after decades of, well, standing in the dark — Leach’s alleged behavior is reckless. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. When the whole Mangino story broke, Leach came to his defense: “I think you try to select the most effective way to coach your guys, but my suspicion is, and nobody truly knows what went on in Kansas, but my suspicion is Mark is in the middle of a witch hunt, which is unjustified. Heaven forbid somebody should ask a guy to focus and for the sake of his coaches and teammates pay attention. Well there are different ways to do that. Sometimes after you’ve asked them a number of times, you raise the bar.” Your witness.

8. This shirt pairs well with your NIT hat

You know those stores that sell all of those failed Ronco products? Yeah. Found a shirt for them.

If you were to make out a list of things that winning the Independence Bowl is better than, it would go something like this: 1) Losing the Independence Bowl; 2) Um… OK, yes it was a good thing Georgia dumped Texas A&M Monday night. The potential positives of a win were outlined here before the game. But Independence  Bowl champions T-shirts? Sweatshirts? Hats? Seriously? Yes. Here’s the link. You can buy your gear now or just wait a week when they’ll be in a half-price bin at Value City, adjacent to the defective three-legged jeans and the discontinued prune-and-mulberry Pop Tarts. OK, here’s the deal. The Count doesn’t have much of a budget. But if you’re the first lunatic to buy one of these shirts, take a picture of yourself and email it to me (jschultz@ajc.com), I’ll send you $5. Ready. Go!

7. Wall Street now has bulls, bears and a Tiger (oh my)

Wall Street reacts to Tiger Woods.

Wall Street reacts to Tiger Woods.

If Elin Nordegren has her way, the only thing Tiger Woods will be left with after the divorce is an Independence Bowl shirt and the bent 5-iron she whacked over his cranium. But even if Nordegren takes Woods for $1 billion, it still wouldn’t match the projected $5 billion to $12 billion collective shareholder losses of the companies that Woods has endorsement ties with. Two economics professors from the University of California-Davis looked at recent stock market returns of Woods’ eight major sponsors, including Nike and Gatorade, and determined he makes 1929 look like a Tupperware party. Honestly, I’m not smart enough to break down numbers like economics professors. But when one of them says, “Total shareholder losses may exceed several decades’ worth of Tiger Woods’ personal endorsement income,” I figure that’s newsworthy.

6. Meanwhile, Tiger works on his short game

Woods must be taking the report hard. He was spotted partying in Palm Beach over the weekend with mistress No. 1, Rachel Uchitel. I believe it was a Tupperware party.

5. Anything? OK, here’s $50. Go paint my sanctuary

So at what point does one stop flexing?

So people ask me all the time whether the media spends too much time reporting on athletes’ personal lives. I tell them, I don’t write about 90 percent of what I know. They say, “Yeah?” I say, “Yeah.” They say, “So how do you know when to write something?” I tell them this: If I’m sitting in a hotel lobby and I see a Braves’ pitcher walking into an elevator with, um, an independent

Do I want to know why Rachel's holding a rope?

At what point does Tiger stop flexing -- and do I want to know why Rachel's holding a rope?

contractor, I’m not going to write about it. But if I’m sitting in the same hotel lobby and I see the Pope walking into an elevator with the same independent contractor, do I ignore it? No. I ask the Pope about his new follower. If he declines to answer, then I’ll ask him if he can make sense of the Javier Vazquez-for-Melky Cabrera trade. The point is you have to weigh what’s a story. Tiger’s a story. He’s not the leader of a religion but he has a significant flock, and this story long ago mutated far beyond the standard celebrity-cheats-on-wife story. Why do I tell you this now? Easy . . .

4. Tiger, Britney and the Kardashians: One stop-shopping

Get used to this. TMZ.com, which excels in checkbook journalism and dumpster diving, has seen its traffic jump with Woods’ sexcapades coverage. So it soon will launch TMZSports.com. Producer Harvey Levin told the New York Times, “I really don’t see a difference between a sports star and a celebrity.” Forget that Braves pitcher/Pope analogy I just used.

3. How do you say plummet in Russian?

When you're about to make $100 million, you can wear kilts and get away with it.

When you're rich, you can get away with kilts.

If you believe Thrashers general manager Don Waddell, impending free agent Ilya Kovalchuk gave his agent, Jay Grossman, the go-ahead to start talking about a contract several weeks back because he liked the early direction of the team. But now you have to wonder if Kovalchuk’s thoughts have changed. Told you 11 days ago that negotiations between the player and team suddenly looked ominous. A few days later,  Waddell admitted that negotiations had hit a “snag.” (A snag? Is that what they call several million dollars these days?) Now the worst news: The Thrashers are fading. After a 14-7-3 start, they’ve lost five straight and have won only four of 14 games in December (4-9-1). So if the money’s not there and the results aren’t there, what is Waddell going to sell Kovalchuk on? The weather? Nyet.


2. Preview: Live tonight from Hawks-LeBron

Taking a break from football tonight to blog live from the Hawks’ game against LeBron James, the remains of Shaquille O’Neal and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The last time the Cavs were in Philips Arena, they were closing out a four-game sweep in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Something tells me things will tip in the other direction tonight.

1. And finally . . .

Saw this linked on The Big Lead. A New York plastic surgeon is offering a New Year’s Eve breast augmentation package for $100,000. It includes roundtrip airfare between New York and Miami, luxury hotel accommodations for one month (!) and tickets to three parties, including the Lady Gaga show at the Fontainebleau. I’m not sure but I think the only requirement is that you name your new booms Mike and Mark.

238 comments Add your comment

Asheville Dawg

December 29th, 2009
8:35 am

Asheville Dawg

December 29th, 2009
8:36 am

yes there is a first time for eveything

mitbulldawg

December 29th, 2009
8:37 am

Nobody Cares

December 29th, 2009
8:41 am

Shreveport? Nobody was there, and nobody of any importance watched.

Reid Adair

December 29th, 2009
8:43 am

Well, I have been trying to decide which picture is worse … Mike Leach in that “throne” or Mark Mangino looking so incredibly large. It’s a coin toss, I think.

As for their troubles? There was a time when coaches could get away with stunts like that, and nobody cared if they did it. Those days, unfortunately or not, are long gone.

Tim

December 29th, 2009
8:44 am

I watched and I’m important

Asheville Dawg

December 29th, 2009
8:51 am

Let me get this straight, when my high school football coach whupped me upside the head ( I had a helmet on thank God), to get my attention I was abused? I thought I had just pissed him off again. And yes he did get my attention. But the bells in my head still ring.

Tortillared

December 29th, 2009
8:52 am

Love your comments about Lubbock and electricity. You know what else Lubbock and the rest of Texas has most of America doesn’t have? Jobs. ;) Just thought I’d return the jab.

Seriously, any comment about Craig James being one of the players that got SMU the NCAA Death Penalty? No? Craig James isn’t exactly believable or a guy you trust.

EW

December 29th, 2009
8:55 am

Criticizing Independence Bowl T-Shirts? Where’s your sense of capitalism? This can’t be worse than GT getting rings made for a win over UGA can it?

Buck Naked

December 29th, 2009
8:56 am

Good article Schultzie…. Is it bad that I missed the first half because re-runs of Seinfeld and The Office were on. What is wrong with me??? I thought I was a football fan.

"Chef" Tim Dix

December 29th, 2009
8:56 am

Anyone heard the story as to why Florida State Troopers couldn’t meet with Tiger?

Supposedly he went straight from the emergency room to AZ for plastic surgery.

Finally the Golf Channel has some real material for a new and improved “Big Break”.

Hot Phone Sex Princess

December 29th, 2009
8:56 am

It doesn’t take money to look good in a kilt. Most men look very good in kilts. In fact, I’d like to see you wear a kilt, Jeff. Can you make that happen for me?

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

December 29th, 2009
8:57 am

I was never so embarrassed! They spray painted my a$$! I didn’t ask for this job. When we got to Shreveport everybody was real nice and everything was going well but when we entered the stadium they took me into an electrical closet and spray painted my a$$ white! I did not come out of my dog house after that. Some clown did an interview on ESPN2 and talked about spray painting my a$$ white and how much paint it took. I am gone. Finished. If I had known about this I would have walked with Coach Willie.

Dawg Tired

December 29th, 2009
8:59 am

There are girls you marry and there are girls you have crazy sex with. Looking at all of the players, it appears that Tiger got that part right. Unfortunately for his wife and kids, he did it all at the same time.

"Chef" Tim Dix

December 29th, 2009
9:00 am

I wonder if Elin has a “Body Snatcher’s” voice?

Bet she did on Thanksgiving night.

Tiger by the Tail

December 29th, 2009
9:00 am

Anyone who has ever played football in a small South Ga town knows this Leach, ManGIANT stuff happens ALL the time. In the 80’s it was called “character building”. I personally dont have a problem with it as long as it is obvious that the player is faking. But when a player is hurt…well thats a different story. I guess pressure gets to some coaches more than others…..I had a coach that would line slow defense lineman up and make them tackle a flagpole cemented in the ground….Now how cool is that? :-)
I played offense.

Sonny Clusters

December 29th, 2009
9:01 am

Clusters would not put up with that either, Russ. We was never spray painted but once they hosed off Stinky Wintes so we could stand to be around him. When we was playing ball Coach could get away with most anything.

Get It Right

December 29th, 2009
9:01 am

The Tiger Woods story has been gong on for over a month. Now, we’re hearing about how there are too many stories about Tiger. First we get the stories, then the stories about the stories, then stories about there being too many stories, all of which have to retell the original story and subsequent stories. STOP!

Jeff Schultz

December 29th, 2009
9:02 am

Chef — Yes, Tiger never should’ve asked Elin to pass the gravy.

ed

December 29th, 2009
9:02 am

Is it true that the count had some “work” done a few years ago? He does not seem to age. And how about shedding some light on the real reason cookie monster is no longer on the show. I heard he was caught stealing Lorna Doones from Mangino’s house… Come to think of it, in that picture Rachel Uchitel looks like she is made of plastic… is she really a muppet? Enquiring minds want to know Jeff.

Jeff Schultz

December 29th, 2009
9:03 am

Ed — Personally, I think the entire Tiger Harem would make a great set of Muppets. Look for it soon on E!

Jeff Schultz

December 29th, 2009
9:05 am

Get it Right — actually, I only right about it when there’s something new. New mistress. New movement in divorce talks. New effect on Wall Street. See? New.

Jeff Schultz

December 29th, 2009
9:05 am

Sonny — What’s Stinky up to today?

"Chef" Tim Dix

December 29th, 2009
9:06 am

I never seen a muppet with it’s lights on.

jim

December 29th, 2009
9:07 am

This is not about Craig James and what he did or did not do as a player. This is about a coach who locked a kid in a closet for 3 hrs because he had a concussion. Think people – this is just wrong on so many levels. The “good old days” are gone. Coaches should not be a position that allows them to abuse players. Maybe some people were proud when a coach hit them with a helmet , or my personal favorite, when the coach would not let players drink water. Those days of insanity should be gone. Fire Leach.

Jeff Schultz

December 29th, 2009
9:07 am

Tiger by the tail — You’re right about this not being new for Leach. As for the possibility of him faking, maybe it’s just me but I think the fact it’s Craig James’ son gives the kid more credibility. … Flag pole. Ouch.

"Chef" Tim Dix

December 29th, 2009
9:08 am

Rachel and the rope?

Teaching a class on how to untie the knot.

Jeff, she’s leaving her lights on for ya.

Garr

December 29th, 2009
9:08 am

Ironic that an Atlanta based journalist would question whether or not Lubbock has electricity. Give me Lubbock, with or without electricity, over Atlanta any day of the week. Congestion, crime, traffic, humidity, and boring. A few words that describe Atlanta to me. And your peaches are overrated. Take that.

Commentator

December 29th, 2009
9:08 am

Many congrats to the Dogs for beating up on the 8th place Big 12 team. Well earned and well played. Great confidence builder. Might our local high school team have beaten them?

Jeff Schultz

December 29th, 2009
9:09 am

Russ .. Sorry for your pain. Now hit the showers and get ready for spring ball.

Jeff Schultz

December 29th, 2009
9:10 am

Hot Phone Sex Princess — Where have you been? You legion of followers have missed you. And in answer to your question: Yes. After two vodkas.

SimpleDawg

December 29th, 2009
9:10 am

Adam James is lucky Ol’ Skull & Crossbones Leach didn’t make him walk the plank……

Funny how the quirky darling of last year becomes a sinister deviant 1 year later.

So much for the 5th ranked offense in the country…..a sign of things to come in other bowl games? Big 12 either all offense with no defense, or all defense with no offense?

I still don’t know what to think of Urban Meyer’s bombshell, and subsequent hand grenade…..surely the loss of Saint Timothy hasn’t been giving him angina….or has it? The cynic in me says he’s creating an out, just in case things don’t go well in Gainesville. Although, I can’t see UF suffering too much with all of the talent they have. Unless, they “turn the program over to someone” who may wreck the beloved program by not following the carefully crafted system established by King Urban.

Too much drama for me.

ed

December 29th, 2009
9:10 am

Almost forgot… Manchester looked really good in that game last night… even if the non call on offsides gave them a gift on their second goal. There was some boring experiment in existential nihilist theater on afterwards… a grand statement on the absurdity of existence… I don’t know what it was… turned the channel and watched re-runs of Match Game 77. Did the count ever do Match Game?

KJ

December 29th, 2009
9:12 am

Yeah, because this is probably the first time in recorded history that shirts have been made featuring a minor bowl win ::rolleyes::

“Shreveport? Nobody was there, and nobody of any importance watched.”

Nobody except for the NFL scouts that will, once again, be selecting multiple times from UGA’s player base.

If you want to see “nobody of any importance”, try looking in a mirror.

Jeff Schultz

December 29th, 2009
9:12 am

Chef — Tiger’s lack of a public appearance since that night makes the plastic surgery story very plausible. At the very least, we know he had cuts and possibly a chipped tooth.

Jeff Schultz

December 29th, 2009
9:13 am

Buck Naked — No apologies necessary. At all.

Sonny Clusters

December 29th, 2009
9:14 am

Stinky went on to Princeton and then did some work at Wharton. He goes by Marston Winkes now. We heard he hangs out with a rich old spinster that owns some newspapers.

Jeff Schultz

December 29th, 2009
9:15 am

EW — Tough call there. It’s close.

"Chef" Tim Dix

December 29th, 2009
9:16 am

Matchgame 77. Celebrity drunks and Don Sutton. Those were the days my friend.

Jeff Schultz

December 29th, 2009
9:16 am

Tortillared — Thanks for the Lubbock economic report. Still not moving there…. About that LSU team, probably half the roster got paid. I’m sure Dickerson got more than James, though. But seriously, I don’t see how that impacts his credibility or his son’s with something like this.

Jeff Schultz

December 29th, 2009
9:17 am

Asheville Dawg — Are they ringing for you and your gal? Sorry.

Jeff Schultz

December 29th, 2009
9:20 am

Reid — Don’t Google Mangino photos if you have a sensitive stomach.

JV

December 29th, 2009
9:21 am

Come on, Jeff – when UGa fans, with their team’s tough strength of schedule, complain that their teams deserves a better bowl than the other SEC teams with the same record, you chide them for expecting bowl selection process to be fair. And now you mock them for being in a bad bowl. Whatever.

"Chef" Tim Dix

December 29th, 2009
9:23 am

“When you’re rich, you can get away with kilts”.

Or, you’re Roddy Piper.

K.D.

December 29th, 2009
9:23 am

Just REMEMBER Tech has Leach under investigation! His is INNOCENT until proven guilty not the other way around. Craig James and his ESPN news job threatened Tech to “leak the story” if Tech did not suspend Leach?? Adam is just a redshirt player, Coach Leach deals with him day by day and other players, so you do not know if he is real or faking. Leach says faking? Where is Dr. note? Why sunglasses? If he can’t take the heat, stay out of the pot, and play for someone else. Get rid of AD Gerald Meyers, not Leach. Get the real story before you “hang Coach Leach, or put him in the electric chair” Until you walk in Leach’s shoes, don’t judge. Is Momma and Daddy gonna go after the military in their “training” of your child? Do you think they care what Mom and Dad think or they build character?? The University IS giving the boy an education to play for Texas Tech so he must do what he is there to play for, just like your son or daughter who signs up for the military, fight and defend our country…………come on people, wake up most coaches “deal with players” everyday………….Leach just does not play YOUR game and politics

jef

December 29th, 2009
9:27 am

Hi my wife went to med school at Texas Tech and we have lots of friends there. I can tell you there is no comparison between Mangino and Leach. Leach runs a clean program. If you look through Lubbock’s newspapers this morning, many of his former players have supported him. The problem was that this player Adam James was the son of ESPN commentator Craig James. Craig and Leach had this going on for a while, Craig was trying to be a minor league dad asking for more playing time for his son, who is in reality a horrible wide receiver. Finally, when Craig had a chance, he went to the university administration, probably threatening a media nightmare. The lesson “never recruit a celebrity child to play football for your schoo”

Nobody Cares

December 29th, 2009
9:29 am

KJ- Your biting words of wisdom have cut me to the bone. Seriously, nobody cares.

Jeff Schultz

December 29th, 2009
9:31 am

Jef — I’m aware of comments from other players. For the record, Mangino had players support him too. As did Bobby Knight and others. As for the whole son-of-a-celebrity thing, seems to me the Manning boys worked out OK. I could give you a million other examples.

Sonny Clusters

December 29th, 2009
9:31 am

We was remembering Terry Forster “Tub of Goo” and then we realized it was because of that picture of Coach Mangino. Jeff, did you ever interview “Tub of Goo”?

Jeff Schultz

December 29th, 2009
9:32 am

JV — I never said Georgia should be in a better bowl.