So the ESPN football analyst wants to run for KBH’s Senate seat. Here is the first question he will be asked when he announces for office: What did you know and when did you know it? “It” is SMU’s pay-for-play scandal, when the university leadership, including then-Governor (and SMU board chairman) Bill Clements, was paying football players in the 1980s. James himself has never been implicated in the scandal that led to SMU’s receiving the NCAA’s “death penalty.” Still, I find it hard to believe that James (or anybody else on that team, including the coaches) was in the locker room and didn’t know what was going on. Kids brag. Or they show up with gold (or diamond) jewelry. Or they are suddenly driving fancy cars. If James knew, he is complicit in the destruction of SMU’s football program, just as the members of the Black Sox who knew that the 1919 World Series was fixed and didn’t report it were complicit in the dishonoring of baseball. And he shouldn’t have a position of public trust. And while I’m on the subject of Craig James: Make that two football programs he has brought down, Texas Tech’s being the second. Here is the situation facing Tom Tuberville, the new football coach. Mike Leach was successful because he had a system. He knew the kind of player he wanted to recruit: unheralded quarterbacks with strong arms who get rid of the ball quickly, and unheralded receivers with sure hands and quickness. Other programs in the Big Twelve weren’t trying to recruit these guys. Perhaps Tuberville will try to emulate Leach’s methods. But if he tries to employ a different system, if he tries to recruit the top athletes in the state, he will find himself in competition with Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, LSU, Florida, Alabama, Miami, and everybody else who has figured out that Texas is a gold mine of talent. He may get a few of those athletes. But he won’t get enough of them, at least not enough to compete with Texas, A&M, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. And Tech will be back where it was before Leach came. Tech cannot compete for talent on equal terms with the glamor programs. Mike Leach understood that.
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