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Craig James Confronting SMU, Mike Leach Scandals During Senate Run

Former SMU player Craig James is running for the Senate, but will face obstacles with voters due to his past involvement in college football. He is tied to two different college football scandals in Texas.

Former SMU Mustangs player Craig James is running for the Senate as a Republican representative. He may run into some trouble at the polls in his home state of Texas due to a pair of scandals he had been involved with in the world of college football.

SI.com touched on the obstacles that James will need to overcome with the voters. The first scandal involved his playing days at SMU, which later received the "death penalty" from the NCAA due to repeated infractions, not least of which involved players taking payments.

James had already been gone from SMU for several years when the penalty was imposed, but he acknowledges taking "insignificant amounts'' while playing there. He says he can't remember how much or who gave it to him. He dismisses it as the mistake of an 18-year-old kid who wasn't mature enough to say no.

But even playing a small part in the destruction of a then-beloved local sports legacy likely pales in comparison to the other Texas scandal that James has been tied to.

James' past also raises doubts among many Texas Tech fans who blame him for the 2009 firing of coach Mike Leach. James complained to school administrators that Leach mistreated his son Adam, a former Red Raiders player, by twice ordering him to stand for hours confined in a dark place after he got a concussion.

Leach denies mistreating the younger James and has said Craig James was a meddling dad who badgered coaches to get his son more playing time. Leach also contends an $800,000 bonus he was due on Dec. 31, 2009, was the reason he was fired. Leach has sued the university, ESPN and Craig James.

Football fans in Texas have been proven to have very long memories in situations like these. The truth of the matter is that neither of these scandals took place all that long ago. Any lingering resentment from voters is sure to be bad news for James.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.