Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cool Hand Leach

Today we’re going to drop in on Texas Tech football practice and see how things are going:

The players, dressed in identical uniforms, come through the chain link fence to the practice field. The assistant coaches order them to count off. Each player shouts loud enough for the coaches to hear, until all 105 have counted off. The head coach rises from his rocking chair on the porch just outside the field. An assistant coach calls out to him, “105, zero in the box, one transfer. All 106 accounted for.”

Nodding, the head coach comes out in front of the players who are now lined up in several rows on the field. “James, step forward,” he yells.

Two assistant coaches escort James from the ranks toward a small wooden building the size of an outhouse. Behind a short wall, James removes his uniform and puts on a flannel dress.

The head coach addresses the team. “When a man’s head ain’t right, he gets a little rabbit in him. It’s my job to set his head straight.” He nods toward the coaches, who lock James into the small box.

The rest of the players break down and split into their various position units. The offensive linemen go through drills to get loose and practice their basic footwork. A big powerful lineman yells out, “Takin’ it off here, boss.”

“Take it off, Luke,” the coach responds.

The lineman takes off his shirt, his hard sweaty body glistening in the hot sun. Further down, a thin wide receiver who’s been standing around juggling footballs says, “Takin’ it off here, boss.”

The assistant coach just stares him down and slowly shakes his head. The head coach catches the assistant’s eye and makes a slashing gesture across his throat.

“Taylor, step out,” the assistant barks at the juggling receiver. He escorts Taylor toward the sand pit where the receivers practice their footwork. He pushes Taylor face first into the sand. Another assistant throws a shovel in the sand next to Taylor.

“Son, why is your sand in Boss Leach’s sandpit?”

Taylor just looks at him, confused.

The assistant kicks the shovel up against Taylor. “Get your sand out of Boss Leach’s sandpit.”

Taylor stands up and begins to shovel the sand out of the sandpit.

Further down the field, the defensive and offensive linemen are squaring off against each other one-on-one. A huge chiseled fifth-year senior goes against an underdeveloped freshman. The freshman comes charging in and the senior drops him to the ground with a forearm to the head. The freshman gives his head a shake, gets to his feet, and charges again. With beefy paws, the senior picks him up by the shoulders and holds him up for a second. “Stay down,” he whispers to the kid before throwing him back into the crowd of linemen. The linemen try to hold the kid down but the kid shakes them off and busts through toward the senior again. This time the senior lowers his shoulder into the gut of the freshman who gasps and hunches over. The senior lifts him over his shoulder and carries him to the side of the practice field.

Back at the sandpit, Taylor leans on his shovel after successfully removing all of the sand from the pit. An assistant coach walks up. “Why you got your sand on my practice field?”

Taylor stares at him. “Well, I had to get it out of--”

“Shut your mouth, boy! Get your sand off my practice field. Now!”

Taylor obediently starts shoveling the sand back into the sandpit.

On the other side of the field, Boss Leach watches the offense go through its game plan. On one play, a receiver streaks straight down the field. The quarterback steps back and launches a long heave just as the receiver stops and breaks toward the sideline. The ball falls easily into the hands of a defensive safety who returns it for a touchdown. Boss Leach throws down his clipboard, saunters over to the receiver, and stares at the receiver through sunglasses. “Son, what we have here is a failure to communicate. I said X-Down-Go, not X-Up-Stop!”

Back at the sandpit, an exhausted Taylor continues to shovel the sand back into the pit. A coach approaches. “Taylor, I thought I told you to get your sand out of Boss Leach’s sandpit?”

“But, but--Boss Sadler said not to put it on his field.”

“I don’t care. Get your sand out of Boss Leach’s pit.”

Taylor drops to the ground and starts crying. “I want to move my sand, just tell me where. I can’t take it. I’ll do anything you want. Just let me be. I’ll take care of the hounds if you want me to. You’ll see, I’ll be the best, most obedient football player you’ve ever seen. Please, please just let me be.”

The assistant sighs. “Hit the showers, Taylor.”

A garbage can is banged loudly from the side of the field. Boss Leach tells the players to bring it on in. Once again, they count off as they go through the fence toward the locker room. After they are through, the assistant yells to Boss Leach, “104, one in the box, one transfer. All 106 accounted for.”

Boss Leach sits in his rocking chair and sips a glass of iced tea. He points toward the box then pushes up the edge of his hat with his glass. An assistant lets James out of the box.

Back in the locker room, the players quickly shower and head toward the chow hall. En route, a player is overheard saying, “I swear I can eat 50 eggs in an hour.”


  1. Oh, yeah. All Leach has to say is, "What we have here, is a failure to communicate".

  2. Yep. Well, it would help if he didn't trash the James family... and if the fat cat boosters liked him.