‘Craig James gave Joe Schad Adam’s cell number’

The new Mike Leach book, Swing Your Sword, is out.

Mike Leach New Book: Swing Your Sword

In the book, Leach retells the events of his legally-challenged ouster at Texas Tech in late 2009 - and provides stunning new documents and details that verify a professional public relations campaign paid for and orchestrated by ESPN’s Craig James against the all-time winningest coach in Tech football history.

If you followed the story as it initially unfolded, you may be aware of at least some of the actions of Texas Tech officials during the regrettable episode. Actions that left Leach no choice but to seek legal remedy soon to culminate at the Texas Supreme Court.

If you were reading SbB at the time, it wasn’t unreasonable to suspect that Craig James and his professional public relations representative, Spaeth Communications founder Merrie Spaeth, may have had a role in shaping ESPN’s coverage of the story.

But now, thanks to Texas Tech’s status as a state-funded institution, emails obtained through open records requests by Leach and his attorneys show a concerted effort by Craig James and paid agents of the ESPN analyst to materially impact ESPN’s editorial approach to Leach’s untimely departure from Texas Tech.

Leach reports in his new book that even before a complaint against Leach was lodged by Craig James regarding the coach’s alleged mistreatment of his son - former Texas Tech football player Adam James - Craig James had hired Spaeth. (It was Spaeth who hatched the infamous Swift Boat public relations campaign that helped turn public opinion against John Kerry’s during the 2004 presidential election campaign.)

Here is one such email included in Swing Your Sword in which Spaeth Communications employee Rebecca Shaw asks Craig James in an emailif we want to forward the players’ names and numbers exclusively to [ESPN reporter] Joe [Schad].”:

From: Rebecca Shaw
Sent: Monday, December 28, 2009 11:30 PM
To: James, Craig Subject: RE: ESPN 6:29 PM

Craig - Merrie’s position - and I agree - is that the story has been put to bed tonight. Let’s take a look at the coverage first thing in the morning and make a decision then if we want to forward the players’ names and numbers exclusively to [ESPN’s] Joe [Schad], whether we want to include the AP reporter, or if we want to hold off a day to see if the university makes a statement. I’ll be up early checking the coverage. Merrie’s good with the statement that I drafted for you for ESPN. Would you like it circulated to Kevin and Jim or do you want to noodle on it awhile?

Rebecca Shaw Executive Vice President Spaeth Communications, Inc.

In addition to the emails, Leach reports in the following Swing Your Sword excerpt that Craig James went so far as to personally provide the cellphone number of his son, Adam James, to ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad: Read more…

realtalk: Why Is Mike Leach Really Suing ESPN?

Today Mike Leach filed a libel lawsuit against ESPN and Spaeth Communications. The premise of the legal action, filed in Lubbock District Court today, is essentially to allow Leach to clear his name.

Mike Leach accused Craig James of making inappropriate calls to his coaching staff

But if you’ve followed the Leach vs. Texas Tech saga like I have, you know the real reason Leach is going after ESPN and Spaeth in this instance.

Last night, before Leach made his claim against ESPN and Spaeth, he executed another legal manuever that has gone largely unreported. That manuever though went a long way to revealing the real motivation behind today’s lawsuit.

From KCBD in Lubbock yesterday:

“Officials say former Texas Tech head football coach Mike Leach has dropped all legal action against the individuals named in his suit against the University.

“That included Chancellor Kent Hance, President Guy Bailey and Athletic Director Gerald Myers, plus two members of the Board of Regents Larry Anders and Jerry Turner.

“This does not mean he dropped his case against the university, just the individuals named in the lawsuit. ”This is not a new development,” says Leach’s Attorney Ted Liggett.  “The parties entered into a ‘Rule 11′ agreement finalizing the judge’s decision of several months ago that no action will be taken against the individuals. 

“However, Texas Tech and Craig James are still defendants.” 

So Leach has dropped legal action against all persons in the Texas Tech lawsuit except James, while continuing to press his multi-million dollar claim against the school in the same case.

Think that might have something to do with the fact that it was Craig James who first set Leach’s professional life ablaze by going public with charges of abuse by Leach against James’ son?

The same Craig James who …

  • browbeat Leach - against the wishes of his assistants - into giving his son Adam a scholarship when no other prominent football school was offering a full ride
  • secretly hired Spaeth Communications, the company best-known for discrediting John Kerry’s military career with its “swift boat” campaign in 2004
  • called his dispute with Leach “a spiritual war” - implying you-know-what about the coach

In Texas Tech administrators, James did have accomplices in Leach’s firing. Though more James puppeteers than equal participants to the demise of the winningest coach - any sport - in school history. (A coach who, in his final year at the helm of the Red Raiders, led his team to the highest graduation rate for football players of any public institution in the country.)

No, this new Leach lawsuit isn’t about ESPN. Or Spaeth. Read more…

Leach Sues James-Hired Swift Boat PR Firm, ESPN

Today Mike Leach filed a lawsuit in Lubbock District Court that accused ESPN and James-hired public relations firm Spaeth Communications of defamation.

Mike Leach ESPN lawsuit

Case introduction:

Mike Leach ESPN Lawsuit

Lawsuit excerpt:

Mike Leach lawsuit

Here is the letter Leach attorney Liggett sent to ESPN:

ESPN James Lawsuit

 Lawsuit excerpt covering Spaeth Communications:

Mike Leach ESPN lawsuit

What Leach wants: Read more…

Craig James PR Firm Blogged Using ‘Pseudonyms’

On Jan. 10 I reported that Craig James hired Dallas-based public relations firm Spaeth Communications before he went public to complain about Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach’s treatment of his son Adam.

Adam James Video From Spaeth Communication

That followed a Jan. 8 piece I wrote about the James-hired p.r. firm, which was the architect of the “Swiftboat” public relations campaign launched against 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry.

Melinda Alvarado of FOX 34 in Lubbock and Katie Bauer of NBC’s KCBD-TV in Lubbock report Craig James testified under oath on Saturday about Spaeth’s role in, based on James’ comments in his deposition, what appears to be a concerted public relations campaign designed to discredit Leach.

Read more…

James Hired Swift Boat Firm Before Going Public

Last Friday I reported the same firm that oversaw the p.r. campaign of the Swift Boat veterans against John Kerry in 2004 was also advising Craig James in his public complaint to the Texas Tech administration about the disciplinary methods of Red Raiders football coach Mike Leach.

Merrie Spaeth Swift Boat Veterans Craig James Mike Leach

 (In hiring Swift Boat pr firm, ESPN’s James gave clue of fear over backlash)

Today I talked to the Founder of Spaeth Communications Merrie Spaeth about the company’s specific role with the James family.

Spaeth told me that she was initially contacted by Craig James before he went public with his complaints about Leach after a third party recommended the firm to the ESPN announcer.

I’m pretty sure his first call was on Dec. 19. He reached out to us,” Spaeth said.

Spaeth said that James wanted her company to, “help (James family) with the first burst of attention.”

Our first role with them was to think through what to say publicly. We advised him on the drafting of the family’s first statement that was distributed to reporters,” Spaeth said.

Spaeth also provided previously unreported details about the Adam James cellphone video. She said that James actually shot two videos during his separate confiments at Texas Tech practices and, “showed them to his parents.” Those videos were part of the impetus for Craig James taking the complaint against Leach public. Immediately after the second video was shot, Craig James contacted Spaeth to advise him.

Spaeth said the public release of the Adam James cellphone video was based on prior statements by Leach: “We came to a consensus that the video should be released to the public after Leach said some things that were at odds with adam’s story.

She did not say who had the initial idea to release the video to the media, only that it was a consensus-driven decision by her and the James family.

About the second video uploaded to Youtube and distributed to media outlets that showed Leach shouting at Adam James during a Tech practice, Spaeth said, “I have not seen it and don’t know about it.

Spaeth also clarified her role with James in the wake of his recent public announcement that he’s considering running for U.S. Senate.

Read more…