When the going gets tough, the weird turn pro.

Talk about your Freudian slip:

Skeptical, the lawyer for the plaintiffs read Pilson a quote from the writings of the late Paul “Bear” Bryant, in which the legendary University of Alabama coach observed in retirement, “I used to go along with the idea that football players on scholarship were student athletes, which is what the NCAA calls them, meaning student first and athlete second. We were kidding ourselves, trying to make it more palatable to the academicians. We don’t have to say that, and we shouldn’t. At the level we play, the boy is really an athlete first and a student second.”

That was a win for the plaintiffs, just getting that in the court record. But then it got better.

Much better.

The lawyer, Bill Isaacson, asked Pilson if he thought such an opinion has an impact on the affection that Crimson Tide fans have for their team, and more broadly, television ratings for games.

Pilson bristled, responding, “We’re talking about the strongest possible school in terms of pro football. I read what Bear says, but I — I think, frankly, the University of Alabama football advocates follow their team win or lose, paying them or not.”

You read that right. The court transcript did not get it wrong. Pilson called Bama a pro team.

Besides the pro team comment, read that last sentence of Pilson’s carefully.  He took the position that paying student-athletes would make college football less attractive to its fans, yet there clearly says that Tide fans couldn’t care less about payment.  (Hell, let’s face it – a major chunk of that fan base would support payment if it got Nick Saban even one more five-star, right?)

Then, again, maybe it wasn’t a slip after all.

Most interesting about Pilson’s oral gaffe on the stand was that no one — not the judge or even the NCAA’s lawyers — tried to correct his testimony.

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19 Comments

Filed under The NCAA, Whoa, oh, Alabama

19 responses to “When the going gets tough, the weird turn pro.

  1. reipar

    Isn’t Bama what we would normally call a statistical outlier?

  2. So Bama is a pro team now. Guess I will stop calling them semi-pro. At least Georgia maintains it amateur status.

  3. CannonDawg

    Bear got it right.

  4. Bulldog Joe

    The lawyer, Bill Isaacson, asked Pilson if he thought such an opinion has an impact on the affection that Crimson Tide fans have for their team, and more broadly, television ratings for games.

    The Crimson Tide fans I know would be pissed if Alabama stopped paying its players.

    They know these guys major in football and if anything, most Alabama fans feel the players are not paid enough.

  5. Cousin Eddie

    I can not get over the idea that the NCAA lawyers are basing there case on the idea that paying players will impact the affection on the sport, what legal basis is that for an argument?

    O’Bannon lawyers should use auburn as an example of a fan base that pays players and still blindly supports the team. ;-)

  6. Gravidy

    I guess I’ll be the one to pick the nits here, since nobody else has yet. “We’re talking about the strongest possible school in terms of pro football” most definitely does not equal “Pilson called Bama a pro team” – at least not to my ear.

    Furthermore, stating an opinion about the attitude of Bama fans doesn’t serve to undermine a stated opinion regarding college football fans in general.

    As I freely admitted, I’m picking nits, but I just wish people would let the NCAA crash and burn on their own without adding their own wishful thinking to their reportage.

    • “We’re talking about the strongest possible school in terms of pro football” most definitely does not equal “Pilson called Bama a pro team” – at least not to my ear.

      So what does it equal?

      Furthermore, stating an opinion about the attitude of Bama fans doesn’t serve to undermine a stated opinion regarding college football fans in general.

      You really think ‘Bama fans are that unique in the big picture?

      And, yes, you are picking nits.

      • Hank

        I guess my reading comprehension was off. I took the first part as feeding the pros. I thought the Freudian slip was when he said “I think, frankly, the University of Alabama football advocates follow their team win or lose, paying them or not.” Which I could certainly take as they are currently paying them as that is all in the present tense.

  7. Gravidy

    First part: The first thing I thought of when I read the quote was that he was saying Bama sends more players to the NFL than most other teams. That is not the same as saying Bama is a pro team, and it isn’t particularly close, so I’m actually going to retract my statement about picking nits on that point.

    Second part: I don’t think Bama fans are unique when compared to fans of traditional powers. However, my definition of “the big picture” would include all divisions of college football, because the fallout of this case will affect the little guys also. So, yes, I think Bama fans (along with fans of other power programs) are in the minority in that particular big picture. And, yes, I am picking nits on this point.

    • Gravidy

      This was supposed to be a reply to Bluto above.

    • First part – your interpretation isn’t responsive to the question Pilson was asked.

      • Gravidy

        I really oughtta let this go, but I’m on my lunch break. What the Hell? I’ll spend ten minutes on this.

        The question he was asked:

        “The lawyer, Bill Isaacson, asked Pilson if he thought such an opinion has an impact on the affection that Crimson Tide fans have for their team, and more broadly, television ratings for games.”

        The response Pilson gave:

        “We’re talking about the strongest possible school in terms of pro football. I read what Bear says, but I — I think, frankly, the University of Alabama football advocates follow their team win or lose, paying them or not.”

        The author’s (and, apparently, your) interpretation of that answer:

        “Pilson called Bama a pro team.”

        My interpretation: Pilson was trying to make the point that Bama is an exceedingly good college football team and (as evidence) pointed out that Bama is a very reliable pipeline to the NFL.

        Precisely how is the author’s (or your) interpretation any more responsive to the question than mine? Hell, for that matter, how is it AS responsive as mine?

        He was asked if Bear Bryant’s comments would impact the affection Tide fans have for their team. To me, it makes much more sense for him to have said (in effect) ‘Bama is a great college team that sends a bunch of players to the NFL, so their fans will support them either way’. It makes much less sense to assume he’s saying ‘Tide fans will support them no matter what because they are a pro team’.

        • What does ‘Bama sending players to the pros have to do with its fan base’s affection?

          As for which interpretation makes more sense – this all came out of Bryant’s comment that his players are athletes first and students second. That has nothing to do with life on Sunday, and everything to do with attacking the NCAA’s case that you don’t pay student-athletes.

          • Gravidy

            I’m unable (and unwilling) to explain my point of view any more completely than I already have. I guess we both heard what we wanted to hear.

            • Propelling a car
              For some odd reason, you decide to throw baseballs at a car of mass
              M, which is free to move frictionlessly on the ground. You throw the balls at the back of the car at speed u, and at a mass rate of æ kg/s (assume the rate is continuous, for simplicity).
              If the car starts at rest, find its speed and position as a function of time, assuming that the back window is open, so that the balls collect inside the car. ;-)

              • Gravidy

                See? THIS is why I like this blog. :-)

              • Gravidy

                I always chuckled at how ridiculous these textbook problems had to be in order to be worked out with simple formulas. This one is no different. I have to assume I’m throwing a single continuous stream of a baseball whose mass is acting on the windowless car at a continuous rate. Man, I probably did that three times last week.

  8. AusDawg85

    Nick Saban is pleased to see his record as a pro coach has been improved greatly.