In the end, Texas Tech not only blinked, it cowered.
Mike Leach and his agents reached an agreement late Thursday afternoon with Texas Tech on a three-year extension ending an offseason stare down that had turned coyote ugly.
Maybe Texas Tech finally realized it was ... Texas Tech. It had little leverage because it was a program without much pedigree, little history and teetered on the brink of irrelevance if it had fired Leach, the most charismatic and second-winningest coach in school history.
The largest concession -- embarrassing, really, for Tech -- was Leach can now take another job without financial penalty. The coach had been working under a $500,000 penalty if he took another job. In the new deal, the school was seeking $300,000 per year for each season left on the contract.
When the ink dried, it was decided that Leach will owe zip if he walks. Guess each side figured that's a fair risk. While Leach has played footsie with several schools, none of them have hired him. It might be that Texas Tech and Leach are made for each other: A quirky coach out in West Texas going up against the big boys with underachieving athletes who are barbed wire tough.
Sure, it's hard to recruit to Tech (especially defense), but when the alternative is unemployment $2.5 million a year looks pretty good. Leach sounded genuinely concerned in recent days that he would indeed be fired.
But after Leach missed a school-imposed deadline to sign the extension on Tuesday, the one thing that Tech couldn't allow to happen was to let their coach serve out the last two years of his current deal. It would have been impossible to recruit. Tech, Leach and his agents would have looked like stooges. A fragile program most likely would have wilted. It was either fire Leach or get the extension done.
Team Leach gave a little on guaranteed money. He gets $2 million of the $12.7 million, 15.7 percent. Leach's agents had been asking for 40 percent. The school's most recent offer is 12 percent. Why couldn't this have been done months ago when Tech was riding the wave of its best season ever?
Two words: Gerald Myers.
Each side will claim victory but Tech was backed into a corner by bulldog super agent Gary O'Hagan. The 6-9 O'Hagan is not only physically imposing but he's psychologically intimidating. The deal got done with O'Hagan in Indianapolis for the NFL combine and Leach hashing things out face-to-face with chancellor Kent Hance.
Suspiciously left out of the negotiations was Myers, the athletic director. He played too hard a hand, bluffed with a pair of 2s. Myers' amateurish bravado cost Texas Tech its good reputation. In time, that can be repaired. It almost cost Tech its football program, the biggest athletic money maker. This episode is probably going to cost Myers his job.
The stands were full. The facilities were improved. Texas Tech was a national story from the New York Times to "60 Minutes". Myers was about to run off the man who made it possible. You don't get taken behind a corrugated metal shed and pimp slapped in West Texas without losing something more than pride.