I’m guessing it’s not a good thing when the head of a task force you authorized to get your ass out of a crack for making a very unpopular decision sends out an email to the other members confirming you lied.
Category Archives: Whoa, oh, Alabama
Dig in, peeps.
- Jay Rome wants to have fun this season, instead of “It’s always been about going out and trying not to hurt myself anymore.”
- I got excited seeing the word “wheel” used in the context of Georgia’s offense, but it turns out all Seth meant was that Schottenheimer is tweaking the terminology of the play calls, not the system itself.
- Dennis Dodd insists that football is a money loser at most schools, but those schools still want football.
- Steve Spurrier is going to call the plays again this season. Why did he ever stop? “It wasn’t going very well … You make a bad call and say, ‘Awe, dumbass. Why’d I do that? Maybe someone else can do it better.’”
- Spurrier’s calling the plays, but he doesn’t know to whom yet.
- SI.com’s Zac Ellis drops in on Athens to let us know how Georgia’s offense is progressing so far.
- Corch wants you to know you’ve got nothing to worry about in the player injury department: “The game is safer now. I can give you 28 years of experience. The game is safer now than it’s ever been.”
- Nothing says school pride like having your mugshot taken in a logo’d t-shirt: “Parole Tide!!!”
I’m not sure what I like best about this AP story on the UAB memos, that the university president thinks the old story line still works despite printed evidence to the contrary, or that the state legislator who’s calling for his head runs a Rivals Web site dedicated to UAB sports.
Either way, it’s quintessential Alabama.
You will be shocked, shocked to learn that the decision to kill the UAB football program was made before the release of the report the school had hired a consulting firm to furnish. Hell, it may have been made before the start of the 2014 season.
… according to documents obtained by AL.com, the decision to kill football and the other two programs may have been made prior to the start of the football season.
The documents show that public relations firm Sard Verbinnen & Co. prepared detailed plans for UAB to announce last September that it would eliminate the three programs, months before the school made the actual announcement.
The documents also show the school pushed back the announcement date until the conclusion of the football team’s regular season on the advice of both Sard Verbinnen and CarrSports.
The documents indicate that Watts misled his student-athletes, coaches, supporters, faculty members and others on at least three separate occasions in November and December when he said the decision to kill the three sports wasn’t made until November.
As appalling as flat-out lying may seem – really, when will bureaucrats ever learn the coverup is usually worse than the original story? – it’s the rationale expressed for delaying the decision until after the football season ended that’s really shameless.
That memo offers “our basis for opposing a mid-season announcement.” It suggests the potential for “a critical mass of immediate transfer requests … where students refuse to finish out the season” or “a full team boycott.”
“If not effectively managed,” the memo says, “it is conceivable that UAB would not be able to field a competitive team – or any team.”
The memo also suggests the possibility that UAB football players “may react very badly if an announcement is made during the season.”
In other words, don’t do it for the kids.
And this is just as bad.
Sard Verbinnen, the New York PR firm, advised UAB in September to “allow other tough decisions to set the stage” to announce the review’s results. For instance, the university announced last June that UAB Medicine Employees would not receive annual merit raises based on “profound shifts in healthcare.”
Sard Verbinnen advised UAB that “further isolating the athletic department’s results from others announced earlier in the season will also lessen the chances that the UAB lumps all ‘tough decisions’ together and concludes that the university is in financial duress.”
It just goes to show you can never have enough bad news to prime the pump.
So why go to all the trouble to mislead almost everyone with an interest in UAB athletics? It can’t be political, can it? Nah… just ask the PR folks.
Also, Sard Verbinnen advised to wait until after the University of Alabama’s Board of Trustees meeting in November to help mitigate “unwarranted speculation” that the decision was driven by the board. Many UAB supporters believe several powerful trustees with Crimson Tide ties, including Paul Bryant Jr., got football killed. The board oversees UAB.
“The strategic review required time and careful deliberation by the department and the community’s perception of it should not be compromised by the negative optics that could result if it were communicated in parallel with a Board of Trustee meeting,” Sard Verbinnen wrote.
Good to see that’s been avoided.
You may have heard that in the most recent (2013-4) financial report filed with the NCAA, Alabama claimed a $33 million surplus in its athletics operations while Auburn posted a deficit of $13.7 million for the same.
Setting aside the usual black magic, book-cooking disclaimer for any numbers a school generates about its athletics department, if you take it for granted that Alabama had a better financial go of it than did its neighbor on the Plains, there are some interesting takeaways from the linked article.
Start with this:
Both schools have won a football national championship in the last five years, but Auburn has gone through a coaching change and Alabama hasn’t. Same thing goes for basketball where Auburn made a change last year, while Anthony Grant has been in Tuscaloosa since 2009.
Auburn is on the hook for buyouts for former football coach Gene Chizik and basketball coach Tony Barbee, among others — adding an additional $4,846,662 in severance payments. Alabama, meanwhile, only paid $272,140 in severance payments in 2013-14.
The stability of Alabama’s two revenue sports has helped it avoid costly buyouts and build up its financial coffers.
Because Alabama hasn’t been on the roller coaster ride that Auburn football has enjoyed over the past five seasons, it hasn’t taken the hit financially. And that just doesn’t extend to head coaches, either, when you consider what Auburn is on the hook for replacing defensive staff this offseason. Assistants leave Alabama, but they do so of their own volition, which is a no-cost situation for the school.
The point is that while there is more than one way to skin the cat when it comes to chasing excellence, as a general rule, this suggests over the long haul that landing on the right guy and sticking with him through changing market conditions (i.e., paying your head coach $7 million/year) is going to be better for the bottom line than going the flavor of the month route. And for those who suggest otherwise, it’s worth pointing out one last note.
Auburn collected $4.384 million in student fees, while Alabama collected nothing. Essentially, Auburn students are directly subsidizing the athletic department.
Of course, those students go to Auburn, so maybe they don’t care, but all other things being equal, I bet they’d prefer not to stroke the check if they don’t have to.
Even in the Bible Belt some things transcend all else. One scene from the first day it was legal for same-sex couples to marry in Alabama:
In Montgomery, paramedics Melissa and Kimberly Martin finished their night shifts and decided to get married on the spot after seeing that the judge was issuing licenses. They got married in their “Roll Tide” University of Alabama football T-shirts and planned a fancier ceremony later.
I guess they’re saving the houndstooth look for the second wedding. It’s more formal.
Alabama state Rep. Jack Williams, time will tell whether you’re brave or foolish.