There is one thing that strikes me as I read excerpts and e-mails from former Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach’s new book “Swing Your Sword”.

It isn’t what Leach alleges — that Tech chancellor Kent Hance and former athletic director Gerald Myers felt taken advantage of by their outspoken football coach after contentious contract negotiations in early 2009, and that the electrical closet incident with Red Raiders’ receiver Adam James was Tech’s excuse to drum up charges against him. I’m not surprised, and I’ve said so here.

Leach and his legal team found e-mails from a disgruntled former regent and others that they claim back their version. Open records are a real booger at publicly-funded institutions like Tech.

It also isn’t the incredibly damning e-mails Leach and Co. are releasing that show Texas Tech leadership was in cahoots with a PR team hired by Adam’s dad and ESPN analyst, Craig James, to orchestrate a tidal wave of negative press against Leach.

I didn’t know anything about Spaeth Communications before Yahoo Sports published the excerpt, but the fact of its involvement casts a layer of slime over everything Texas Tech has said. Why would Craig James need a PR firm to deal with Leach’s disciplining of his son? Why would Texas Tech take ANY marching orders from that firm…unless it wanted to?

What gets me isn’t even the alleged willingness of many ESPN leaders and personalities to roll over like good doggies and let the PR firm throw them the James/Tech version of how Leach treated Adam James.

Take this e-mail from Spaeth VP Rebecca Shaw to Craig James that asks if he’s ready to let the leash off some Texas Tech players who would talk up the James’ side of the story to ESPN college reporter Joe Schad. Read it and tell me ESPN shouldn’t tuck its tail between its legs, courtesy of “Swing Your Sword” and Yahoo Sports, which ran the excerpt:

“Let’s take a look at the coverage first thing in the morning and make a decision then if we want to forward the players’ names and numbers exclusively to Joe, whether we want to include the AP reporter, or if we want to hold off a day to see if the university makes a statement. I’ll be up early checking the coverage. Merrie’s (Merrie Spaeth, agency CEO) good with the statement that I drafted for you for ESPN. Would you like it circulated to Kevin and Jim or do you want to noodle on it awhile?”

Schad gets cracked pretty good, here, as does Craig James.

But ESPN has eaten its own before. Why it would allow half the Pony Express to run all over its integrity is beyond me.

A man with a law degree and a penchant for pirate lore, Leach isn’t firing a broadside of muck just to see what sticks. He’s boarding Texas Tech’s ship with his swashbuckling lawyers and proving with paper that he’s no Captain Bligh, worthy of mutiny.

He’s taking on his foes one-by-one, slashing away at them with their own cutlasses, which they have so graciously handed to Leach via the ample documentation of their own electronically recorded words, creating what promises to be a big, bloody mess, full of reputations either scarred or dismembered.

But none of this is what I find most remarkable about the whole e-mailed episode. I have only one question, and I don’t think it’ll be answered after reading the book…

Doesn’t anybody use a damn telephone anymore?