May 30, 2012 — How has the University of Alabama athletic program gotten so bad?
Sure the football team has had a little recent success, but if you look back eight years ago it was mired in probation as one of the worst offenders in the history of college football. The program was so bad Dennis Franchione didn’t want to coach there. If you look far enough back, neither did Bill Curry.
Mike DuBose could survive a scandal involving his secretary when he was winning, but lost his job when the wins dried up.
Alabama has suffered more NCAA sanctions than any team in college football in recent years.
When Mike Shula was fired, Alabama had a hard time getting a big name coach. Several high profile coaches turned Tide athletic director Mal Moore down cold, including West Virginia’s Rich Rodriguez.
Alabama eventually turned to a failed NFL coach, Nick Saban, who surprised many and has done reasonably well over the last three years. He did lose to Louisiana Monroe, one of the most embarrassing losses in the history of Alabama football, though.
Since Saban took over there have been myriad issues. There was the curious half-game “oops, we’re behind” suspension of a player, multiple discipline issues and arrests of other players, arrests of the coaching staff, and numerous public relations gaffes.
He does have two national championships on his resume, but one of those was marred with controversy when a team that didn’t even win its own division was allowed to play for the title. The odd situation was so controversial it sparked efforts to revise the way champions are determined.
The basketball program is worse.
The men’s basketball team hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2006. Back when Wimp Sanderson was coaching, the program was a regular NCAA participant. Alabama tried, but was unable to lure a big name coach when the program released Mark Gottfried.
Remember when Gottfried took the Tide to the Elite Eight in 2004, eight years ago? No coach since has been able to come close to that success.
The women’s basketball team is even worse than that.
The Alabama women’s basketball team lost 19 games this season. It lost ten SEC games in a row. The Tide hasn’t had a winning SEC record since the 1997-98 season and hasn’t made the NCAA tourney since 1998-99.
Alabama baseball coach Mitch Gaspard has the Tide headed on a downward spiral. His team won 43 games his first year, 35 his second and missed the NCAA and SEC tournament in this, his third, winning just 21 games.
The Alabama softball team lost its coach, Patrick Murphy, and then in an unusual move got him back. Despite a solid run of regular season success, the Tide has failed to bring home the bacon at the national level.
Other than softball coach Patrick Murphy and football coach Nick Saban, most of the hires made by athletic director Mal Moore have been suspect and/or failed to perform.
Note: Mal Moore, Nick Saban, Patrick Murphy, Mike DuBose, Mike Shula, Mitch Gaspard, Jim Wells, Dennis Franchione, Bill Curry, Mark Gottfried, Anthony Grant, Wendell Hudson, Paul Bryant, Jr., Rich Rodriguez, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Friz Freling, Lady Gaga and Kate Beckinsale either declined to comment or were not contacted for this article.
See how easy that is? See how easy it is to buff over positives and highlight the negatives?
How irate would Alabama fans be today if that (all of it true) story was filed by the Alabama beatwriter, printed by the Mobile Press-Register and posted on al.com? The reaction would likely set off seismographs in Egypt.
Yet Auburn fans are expected to placidly accept virtually the same treatment from our beatwriter Evan Woodbery.
This is the third criticism of Woodbery filed by the Never To Yield Foundation since February. It’s safe to say we’ve gotten results.
Although Woodbery hasn’t changed his tone or been moved to the Alabama beat where he belongs, he at least no longer pretends to be objective.
Today’s rehash of everything negative he could dream up reads like the Catfish and Hushpuppy Manifesto, culled directly from the summer of 2010 tent revivals where Bama blowhards bilked gullible fans with fables of nefarious doings at Auburn.
Woodbery hits almost all the talking points those snake oil salesmen pitched during their “Plains are Burning” tour including SACS, boosters, Jetgate, basketball investigations and assorted others.
His attack on the Auburn athletic program was no random occurrence. It was specifically timed. He launched his salvo on the heels of a successful Auburn football recruiting weekend, a transparent attempt to counter positive momentum created during the Big Cat Weekend in the minds of recruits and their families.
His expose into events eight years old also comes on the heels of a groveling homage to the greatness that is Nick Saban that appeared in Woodbery’s newspaper and online a day before.
Why was Big Cat Weekend not a topic for Woodbery, al.com or its affiliated newspapers? Auburn hosted many of the nation’s top recruits, but the event was largely ignored. Is Big Cat Weekend of interest to Woodbery only when he can try to pin NCAA violations on the Tigers? Seems Big Cat Weekend was on his radar in 2009.
Reverse the situation. What if the satirical article above was written, not as an editorial, but by the writer assigned to the Alabama beat? What if that Alabama beatwriter was an Auburn graduate who previously wrote for the Plainsman? What if that Alabama beatwriter was formerly assigned to the Auburn beat for another state daily? What if that Alabama beatwriter was all of those things?
How long would that Alabama beatwriter last?
How long should Auburn fans continue to tolerate Woodbery?
Enough is enough.