February 16, 2009

Would Texas Tech really fire Mike Leach?

With coach Mike Leach and Texas Tech in a stalemate over a contract extension, there is a chance for this affair to take a turn toward the absurd: Texas Tech could fire Leach.

You read that correctly. A coach who just led his program to one of its greatest seasons ever could get fired because of an inability to reach some type of peace on a contract extension that is on the table.

The thinking goes that if Tech can't come to some accord with Leach who has two years remaining on his deal school officials could just turn the page now rather than having him return to coach the final two years of his contract.

But would Tech really fire Leach? Such a move would be ridiculed across the nation.

Leach's agents have no issue with financial terms of Tech's offer, which is a five-year, $12.7 million contract that computes to around $2.5 million per season. But the deal includes several provisions that Leach's camp find unacceptable. He has until Tuesday to accept or decline a contract he was presented in early January.

Texas Tech athletc director Gerald Myers could not immediately be reached for comment.

If the unthinkable happens Leach gets fired don't be shocked if Tech makes a run at Baylor coach Art Briles, who was running backs coach at Tech under Leach from 2000-02. Another possibility is that defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill could be promoted to the top spot.

Still, the likelihood of a firing seems remote. Texas Tech has to make this work. Losing Leach would have a crippling effect on the program and the school.

NFL assistant may be in line for Pitt job
Pitt's search for an offensive coordinator may end soon, and many feel New York Jets receivers coach Noel Mazzone is the front-runner. Mazzone has been with the Jets for the past three seasons and has been an offensive coordinator at Ole Miss, Auburn, Oregon State and N.C. State.

Other targets are Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, Pitt tight ends coach Brian Angelichio, Buffalo Bills quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt and Pitt running backs coach David Walker.

Cincy makes a hire
Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly wasted little time in naming Bobby Diaco as his defensive coordinator. Diaco comes to Cincinnati from Virginia, where he recently was promoted to defensive coordinator from linebacker coach. Diaco's arrival means Cincinnati likely will switch to a 3-4 defense.

Diaco replaces Joe Tresey, whose Bearcats defense ranked 31st in the nation (321.9 ypg) during Cincinnati's run to the Big East title and Orange Bowl berth this past season. In a statement, Kelly said he and Tresey "differ philosophically over where we want to go defensively in the future."

Several sources have indicated that Tresey was offered the Miami defensive coordinator post but later had that offer rescinded. By then, Cincinnati had opted to move in another direction.

Prince back to Virginia?
There are rumblings that Ron Prince may rejoin the Virginia staff. Before becoming coach at Kansas State before the 2006 season, Prince was offensive coordinator at Virginia under Al Groh.

For Prince to return to Charlottesville, the UVa staff likely would have to be shuffled. As things stand now, the only openings are for a linebackers coach and a special teams coach. Some think Groh will assume defensive coordinator duties now that Diaco has left to run Cincinnati's defense. Prince is an offensive coach.

Memphis in the market
Memphis is in the market for a defensive coordinator after Tim Walton bolted to take a job coaching the secondary for the Detroit Lions. This will be the third defensive coordinator Tigers coach Tommy West has had to hire in three years. West said he thinks Memphis will have one of its best defenses in the past decade, so he isn't in a hurry to hire someone. In one season under Walton who was coordinator at Miami in 2007 before being fired Memphis' defense improved from No. 100 nationally to 57th.

Four DCs in four years for Miami
Miami surprised some by hiring John Lovett as defensive coordinator. He heads to Coral Gables from North Carolina, where he was special teams coordinator and a "defensive assistant."

Lovett has extensive experience coordinating defenses, having done so at Bowling Green, Clemson, Auburn, Ole Miss, Maine and Cincinnati.

Lovett will be Miami's fourth defensive coordinator in as many seasons. Bill Young ran the defense in 2008, Walton in 2007 and Randy Shannon in 2006.

Tom Dienhart is a national senior writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dienhart@yahoo-inc.com.


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