Riley offers support to James

SAN ANTONIO -- A Texas Tech assistant who criticized Adam James in hopes of saving Mike Leach's job said Thursday the player has his support in the wake of the head coach's firing.

Acting offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley stopped short, however, of saying whether he wants the sophomore wide receiver back next season.

"It's on him and his family," Riley said. "I can't really comment on that because I don't know. I can't think about that right now. I got to be thinking about Michigan State."

James is the son of ESPN college football analyst Craig James.

In a letter last week to Texas Tech administrators Riley called James "unusually lazy and entitled." The school fired Leach on Wednesday after allegations that he mistreated James' concussion.

"I told [James] I know we're on different sides of the fence on this deal, but he's still my player," Riley said. "All the threats to him and his family are ridiculous. I told him if he needs help as far as feeling endangered in any way, I'll help him out any way I can."

In the town north of Dallas where the James family lives, police have beefed up patrols around the home because of threatening statements made online.

"Nothing has happened at the house, but everybody knows what's occurred on the blogs over there, so it's precautionary to the threats being made," Celina Police Chief Joe Williams said Thursday.

Riley declined comment on the harshly critical letter he sent to university officials Dec. 26, two days before Leach was suspended indefinitely. Riley wrote that James is the type of person who makes "excuses or blames people for things that go wrong in his life."

James continues to practice with Texas Tech but will not play Saturday in the Valero Alamo Bowl against Michigan State.

Texas Tech did not make players available to reporters for the second consecutive day. James joked around with teammates Thursday while walking off the practice field.

Nearby, Mike Leach's name was still branded prominently on the outside of the team's equipment trailer.

After Leach's firing, wide receiver Tramain Swindall told The Associated Press he supported the decision to fire Leach. Contrary to comments made by Swindall and other players happy to see Leach go, Riley said it doesn't reflect the attitude of the entire team.

"I think it's easy to say that when somebody's gone," Riley said.

Riley, a former walk-on quarterback at Texas Tech who Leach made a student coach, flatly said "no" when asked if Leach ever put a player in harm. He declined to say whether he thought Leach got a fair shake.

Riley was among several current Texas Tech coaches and former players who wrote letters defending Leach last week to school administrators.