ESPN Was Likely To Part Ways With James In April

Earlier this year while discussing a potential run for a U.S. Senate seat in Texas, Craig James said he didn’t think his documented, prominent role in Mike Leach’s ouster at Texas Tech would affect his political aspirations.

Craig James: Lubbock Radio Station Poll


From Glenn Hunter of D Magazine on Jan. 31, 2011,

ESPN college football analyst Craig James, who’s weighing a run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s senate seat, says his role in the firing of Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach won’t hurt him politically–even in the heart of Red Raiders country.

“I feel very confident about our position,” said James. “Most people in Lubbock support my position.”

Those comments prompted an attempt by widely-published, D.C.-based pollster Stefan Hankin to verify the latter claim made by James.

On March 7, 2011, Paul Burka of Texas Monthly magazine reported that Hankin’s James-based poll consisted of, “401 likely general election 2012 voters in the West Texas metropolitan regions of Lubbock, Odessa-Midland, and Amarillo were surveyed March 2-3, 2011.

The results, per Hankin:

We found that Mr. James has virtually zero support in West Texas. He is, most likely due to his role in the firing of Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach, a very unpopular figure.

While the entire region is not overly friendly territory for Craig James, the former SMU football star is especially unpopular in the Lubbock area with 52% of voters having an unfavorable opinion of Craig James and only 7% having a favorable opinion.

If you had to pick a winner in the PR battle between Mike Leach, Craig James and the Texas Tech administration, the former football coach is the overwhelming winner.”

In the same January, 2011, D Magazine article that inspired Hankin to clinically debunk James’ claim of support in Lubbock, James said of his possible political campaign:

I’ve got to analyze it. I’m thinking about it. I’ll announce [my decision] sooner rather than later.”

Over 11 months of analysis and thought led James to affirm his decision to run on December 19, 2011.

The same morning that James committed to vying for a U.S. Senate seat in Texas, the highest-rated talk radio station in Lubbock, News Talk 790 KFYO, posted an online poll asking listeners, “Would you vote for Craig James in the GOP primary?

The results: 97% of respondents to the conservative talk radio station’s poll answered, “no.”

And the citizens of West Texas aren’t the only ones voicing disdain over James’ germinating political campaign.

Monday Mac Engel of the FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM reported:

A friend of mine who works for a senator in Austin told me a few lobbyists are already leaning on James to not run in this race. That he has no chance of defeating Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Republican primary in the spring.

The same day as Engel’s report noting Texas lobbyists imploring James to reconsider his political candidancy, James told Fox News:

I’m out of the things I’ve enjoyed and I’m going to take that to Washington to make a change and make a difference.

With former presidential primary pollster Hankin already having verified his microscopic voter support in West Texas, and a reported growing distaste across the state for James as a political candidate, why would the former ESPN announcer jump into such a difficult race?

Perhaps because he was about to be pushed?

Multiple sources have indicated to SbB in recent days that ESPN was unlikely to retain James as an employee of the company after his contract expired in April.

While that likelihood may or may not have played into James deciding to make his first foray into politics, his decison had to have come as a relief to ESPN management, which is facing a defamation lawsuit from Leach that is largely based on the documented actions of Craig James.

It would be impossible to think that those actions by James, which were detailed in a trail of damning emails published in Leach’s Swing Your Sword autobiography earlier this year, weren’t central to what SbB has been told was a pending case that ESPN execs were preparing to make against their future employ of James.

Monday, James said on Fox News, “I’m out of the things I’ve enjoyed.”

For the past two years, Mike Leach has been saying the same - thanks to James.

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Tx Tech Rep: SbB’s Use Of School Logo Is Illegal

In 10 1/2 years of operating SbB, I’ve never been sued or been faced with any serious legal action. None.

IMG complaint to SbB on behalf of Texas Tech regarding SbB's illegal use of Texas Tech logo

(Texas Tech rep IMG fired legal guns 72 hours after SbB’s BCG revelations)

Over the years I’ve reported on Texas Tech quite a bit - especially as it pertains to Mike Leach, and more recently, Tommy Tuberville and Billy Gillispie. The accuracy of those numerous reports has never been specifically disputed on the record by anyone associated with Texas Tech.

Texas Tech Coach Tommy Tuberville reacts to SbB Facebook Posts About Him

(SbB post on TT football coach Tuberville caused Lubbock media uproar)

If you’ve read my exhaustive coverage of the unfortunate circumstances of Leach’s departure from the school, you’re well aware of the varying forms of documentation I’ve posted that portray Texas Tech officials - and others associated with the school - in an unflattering manner throughout the former football coach’s legally-challenged ouster.

In addition to Leach and Tuberville, on August 23 I reported details of the regrettable early tenure of newly-hired Texas Tech basketball coach Billy Gillispie. None of the facts of that story have been challenged on the record by anyone associated with Texas Tech.

Mike Leach New Book: Swing Your Sword

(TT rep IMG included “Truth” image linked to Leach book in SbB complaint)

On August 26, yesterday, I received an email from the company Texas Tech uses to oversee its licensing: IMG. The email, originated from IMG’s “enforcement” department, claimed that SbB’s use of the Texas Tech logo was, in fact, illegal.

The text of the email is below. [Note: IMG owns and operates ‘Collegiate Licensing Company’, ‘CLC’]

Please find attached a letter from the Collegiate Licensing Company Legal Department. Thanks.

Judy Martin | Enforcement & Compliance Assistant

IMG College and The Collegiate Licensing Company - an IMG Company


August 26, 2011
Sports by Brooks

Re:  Unauthorized Use of Texas Tech University Trademarks

Mr. Brooks:

This letter serves to put you on notice of the proprietary interests of Texas Tech University. Read more…

Leach: Feldman Had ESPN Approval For His Book

Mike Leach appeared Friday morning on WQAM-AM in Miami to discuss his new book, Swing Your Sword, with morning show host Joe Rose.

Stewart Mandel #freebruce Tweets

(SPORTS ILLUSTRATED’s Stewart Mandel led #freebruce charge on Twitter)

During the interview, Rose asked Leach about the recent decision by ESPN Vice President and Director of News Vince Doria, ESPN THE MAGAZINE Editor-in-Chief & ESPN Books Editorial Director Gary Hoenig, and Editor-in-Chief Pat Stiegman to suspend ESPN college football writer Bruce Feldman for his involvement with the the coach’s book.

Joe Rose: “Mike I wanted to ask you about Bruce Feldman. I see he’s been suspended by ESPN for his affiliation with the book, what’s your thoughts on what’s taken place with Bruce?Read more…

‘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…