Big 12 links: Tech shelves Leach's contract talks

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Mike Leach has Texas Tech on the brink of challenging for the school's first BCS bowl. But school officials say they can't afford to negotiate a rollover on his existing five-year deal until after the regular season ends in December.

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported that the upshot will mean that Leach will finish the season with with only two years remaining on his current deal.

"Let me preface this by saying we want Mike to be our coach," Tech athletic director Gerald Myers told the newspaper. "We made a decision some time back to wait 'til after the season to do his contract. I don't want anybody to read anything into that.

"We want him to be our coach. We want to be able to compensate him at the level that the market dictates. As you know, we operate on a tight budget every year, and I just felt that we would know a lot more about our budget situation in December, so we've made a decision to wait until after the season to do his contract.''

Tech officials told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that the school is running a deficit for the second time in the last three fiscal years, making it prudent for them to be careful financially.

But can they really afford that with Leach, whose modest contract ranks him in the middle of Big 12 coaches? Leach's salary guarantees him $1.75 million this season, $1.85 million next season and $2.15 million in 2010 and two contract-completion incentives totaling $1 million - $800,000 if his stays through 2009 and $200,000 if he remains in place through 2010.

Leach has become an almost larger-than-the-program figure for Tech football. His love of all things concerning pirates has become well known over the last few years.

A big season might provide him with the ultimate treasure chest - and the booty might be coming from another school if Tech officials aren't careful.

Shiver me timbers, enough about Leach and his contract. How about some links from around the Big 12?

  • WTLG isn't some kind of new radio station in Norman, but the Oklahoma Sooners still are listening closely to Coach Bob Stoops' mantra of "Win The Last Game."

  • Barry Switzer will be appearing as himself in an upcoming episode of the TNT series police drama "Saving Grace." A TNT publicist told the Tulsa World that Switzer is hailed as a hero by all of the policemen in the series except for "Butch," a former University of Texas football player. The show may be set in Oklahoma City, but it doesn't keep an occasional tropical plant from popping up in the background if you look hard enough. It would be kind of like Switzer's mentioning his old QB Turner Gill in the show's dialogue.

  • Oklahoma State will be the first team in the conference to kick off practice, beginning this afternoon in Stillwater. Mike Gundy's most pressing concerns are finding a backup to QB Zac Robinson and an improved defense.

  • Topeka Capital-Journal reporter Tully Corcoran's "Hawk Bloc" blog has a couple of funny stories about how former Kansas coach Don Fambrough still can't stop hating Missouri. His angst obviously has been heightened as Gary Pinkel's program has kept getting better.

  • A YouTube video showed Oklahoma freshman WR Josh Jarboe rapping about guns and shooting people. It wasn't a wise choice for Jarboe, who was arrested earlier this year for bringing a gun to Cedar Crest High School in Georgia. The felony charges were reduced to misdemeanors, reports Jake Trotter of the Oklahoman, enabling Jarboe to keep his scholarship.

  • Veteran Waco Tribune-Herald Baylor beat writer Jerry Hill is leaving the paper after a 25-year career there covering the Bears. He'll become the director of communications for Baylor's Bear Foundation. His newspaper has an 11-minute video stocked with some of his favorite memories.

  • Forget about the rush to find a new quarterback and featured receiver at Iowa State. Andrew Logue of the Des Moines Register said the Cyclones' biggest task will be finding a replacement for NG Ahtyba Rubin.

  • Nebraska WR Todd Peterson had a unique description of playing for the Cornhuskers in a diary he's writing for the Sporting News. "I am always telling people this about growing up in Nebraska and what football means to the state - from the outside looking in, you can't understand it, and from the inside looking out, you can't explain it." I always thought that was how Aggies described their association with their school, too.

  • Fort Worth Star-Telegram Oklahoma beat writer Mike Jones doesn't expect Auston English will be slowed down by his recent appendix operation.

  • A visit by Nebraska coach Bo Pelini and athletic director Tom Osborne was big news in North Platte, Neb., where it merited top-story placement on Page 1 of the local newspaper, the North Platte Telegraph. "(The support around the state has) been great," Pelini told the Telegraph's Ben Vigil."Myself, our staff, we've been well received and people are excited right now. Ultimately, it's our job to keep them excited by putting a good product on the field and that's what we're focused on right now."

  • New Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman isn't ready to mimic other A&M coaches and auction a chance to go hunting with him for charity. "Until I beat Texas Tech and Texas, I'm not going hunting," Sherman joked to the San Antonio Express-News' Brent Zwerneman. Probably a wise choice to avoid guns altogether. Are you listening, Josh Jarboe?

  • Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Sherman told the Austin American-Statesman's Randy Riggs of his basic philosophy in recruiting. It sound remarkably like one he probably used as an NFL head coach.

  • Colorado LB Lynn Kotoa avoided jail time after pleading guilty to felony menacing for assaulting two men
    with a rock in his fist during an altercation on Feb. 16. Buffaloes coach Dan Hawkins doesn't let convicted felons play on his team. Katoa has already been suspended from the team and won't play this fall.