Late in the evening last Thursday, the Twitter account of Washington State coach Mike Leach (@coach_leach) bounced from YouTube clips of his old Texas Tech teams to pictures of The Beatles to a recommendation for the horror movie “Annabelle Creation” to articles about dinosaurs and Croatia.
Leach is, more or less, a beginner at social media. He was never much interested in it before this summer and admits that the rare tweets attributed to him were usually written by someone else.
“I had some followers and always dictated tweets,” Leach told USA TODAY Sports in a recent phone interview. “I never actually typed one.”
But since the last week in June, Leach’s account has been a hub of activity, largely focused on one topic: sovereign immunity.
Leach claims Texas Tech owes him roughly $2.5 million for the 2009 football season — his last at the school after which he was fired with cause over alleged mistreatment of Adam James, the son of former ESPN analyst Craig James, who claimed his son was locked in a closet with a concussion as punishment (Leach has denied those allegations).
Furthermore, Leach is still irate he didn’t get his day in court because Texas’ laws protected the school from being sued unless permission was granted by the state legislature. It wasn’t, and the Texas Supreme Court ruled against Leach in his 2012 appeal to have Texas Tech’s immunity removed.
Now, Leach is moving the fight to a different forum in social media, where he has nearly 59,000 followers.
“The No. 1 reason I got on Twitter is to promote WSU football,” Leach said. “And the No. 2 reason is the sovereign immunity law needs to be changed.”
Most days, though, tweets about his Washington State team appear to be in the minority. And on several occasions, he has been prone to President Trump-like eruptions aimed at former Texas Tech chancellor Kent Hance, for whom he still harbors personal and professional animus.
A recent sampling of Leach’s tweets including the following pointed comments:
July 8 - “I believe that a great investigative reporter would have a lot of fun looking into the 1 billion dollars that Hance supposedly raised!”
July 23 - “I want to expose the legalized stealing by officers of the State in Texas, like Kent Hance, by using sovereign immunity on Contracts.”
Aug. 6 - "Sovereign Immunity is Big Government preying upon small business. It has hurt a lot more people than just me.”
Aug. 11 - “Someone brought up a great point. I will campaign for politicians in Texas who are against sovereign immunity on contracts.”
Tech disputes Leach’s position, saying it paid him what he was owed. “The courts have ruled on this matter," the school said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports earlier this summer. "We have resolved this issue and have moved forward.”
Just as fascinating as Leach’s ability to use his Twitter platform to educate the public about sovereign immunity in Texas is how seamlessly he weaves those comments with random topics that come across his timeline.
Leach has long been one of the most fascinating characters and unique personalities in college football, with interests ranging from pirates to history to politics. And in Twitter, he’s found a forum to explore and promote those interests while interacting with fans and answering questions.
“I tweeted the day this whole thing lifted off, and as I’d sift through it I started running across interesting articles online, just offbeat stuff, stories that can enrich your life a little bit,” Leach said.
In just the last few days, for instance, Leach has shared articles about castles in the United States, Icelandic thermal pools, Steve Spurrier’s best insults and a family that found a boa constrictor living in its attic. Sometimes, the time stamps on those tweets indicate Leach was reading in the middle of the night.
“I’ve always been like that,” he said. “I’ll fall asleep, get up, go to the bathroom or get up, mess around, go back to sleep, that type of thing.”
Though he has retweeted and responded to a number of people, Leach said he can’t promise he’ll spend as much time with it once the season starts. He’s at a bit of a disadvantage with Twitter, he said, because he doesn’t type very fast.
But he still plans to tweet about sovereign immunity, posting a new case every week of how Texas’ laws are incongruent with 49 other states.
“That’s like banana republic Latin American dictator stuff. It’s so contrary to the understanding of our rights that everybody enjoys in our country,” Leach said. “I’m thinking I’ve got quite a few people follow my Twitter, so I can bring some awareness of this. I’ll be on it for awhile and I get a kick out of the (interaction), but I’m not moving on. These guys cheated me.”
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