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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 3, 2010

Turmoil can't stop Texas Tech


By PAUL J. WEBER
Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Ruffin McNeill

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SAN ANTONIO Ruffin McNeill and Texas Tech closed out a difficult week with a game Mike Leach would've loved.

Finally, the Red Raiders could unwind a little.

With everyone still talking about their fired coach, the Red Raiders blocked out the distractions and rallied to beat Michigan State, 41-31, in a shootout at the Alamo Bowl last night after a week that left Texas Tech in turmoil.

The Red Raiders (9-4) fired Leach on Wednesday amid allegations he mistreated Adam James. The wide receiver, son of ESPN analyst Craig James, got a hostile reception all night from the crowd, who booed the sophomore so loud that it drowned out the marching band.

But when it was over, there were only cheers. The crowd chanted "Ruffin!" in a thank-you to the interim coach who navigated the Red Raiders through a week the school is desperate to forget.

"This feels great," running back Eric Stephens said. "I love coach Leach. He's a great coach. But we got behind coach Ruffin and gave him a great victory."

Flanked by two security guards as Texas Tech celebrated, James declined comment.

"We faced adversity all year long," McNeill said. "I'm proud of our players, our coaches and Red Raider Nation."

Hours before kickoff, Texas Tech released an affidavit in which school athletic trainer Steve Pincock says he told James he was "sorry" for having placed the player inside an equipment shed. Pincock told Tech officials he didn't agree with that "form of treatment for anyone."

Trailing 31-27, backup quarterback Steven Sheffield marched Texas Tech downfield in eight plays, the last an 11-yard touchdown pass to Detron Lewis. Baron Batch tacked on a 25-yard touchdown run to put it away.

"To the world outside Tech football this week was chaotic," Stephens said. "But inside Tech football everyone knew coach Ruff had this team under control."