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Alabama Football Program Continues to Circle the Drain

By on September 6th, 2006 in Football Comments Off on Alabama Football Program Continues to Circle the Drain

Great head coaches make the tough decisions. They sometimes make the unpopular decisions. Great coaches make decisions that may hurt them in the short term but will pay huge dividends in the long run. Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville and Texas coach Mack Brown are two of the great ones.

Each has had to deal with off-the-field troubles involving their players this year. For Tuberville, it started this summer with linebackers Kevin Sears and Tray Blackmon. Both ran into trouble and were immediately handed multi-game suspensions.

For Brown, it happened last week when Texas cornerback Tarell Brown and linebacker Tyrell Gatewood got into trouble with authorities. Brown’s response to the players was immediate suspension for this week’s game against top-ranked Ohio State. Never mind that Tarell Brown’s assignment on Saturday was to cover Buckeyes All-American wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Two strong leaders had the same response.

Now contrast that with Mike Shula and the Alabama program. On Saturday night, Shula didn’t hesitate to start linebacker Juwan Simpson despite him being arrested earlier this year on hand-gun and marijuana charges. Since Bama fans enjoy invoking the name of the Bear in everything, I’ll do the same. What in the hell would Paul Bryant say about that move?

Has the Alabama program become so desperate that it now must overlook felony charges in order to field a somewhat decent football team? It’s safe to say that Mike Shula has never struck anyone as a larger than life leader. I’m not sure he’s struck anyone as a leader period.

But this move on opening night is unbelievable. What’s more unbelievable is that outside of Paul Finebaum, this has been a non-story. Don’t tell me that the Bama media machine is not alive and well in the state of Alabama. Auburn’s football team has 18 players out almost 300 total students take a questionable course and the state media writes about it for weeks.

But when Juwan Howard commits multiple felonies and starts on opening night, hardly a word is said or written. I have many friends who are Bama graduates and strong supporters of the university. I feel sorry for them today. The Alabama program continues to spiral out of control. Talk about lack of institutional control. The Tide football program is at a point where it will do anything to win – even against Hawaii. On second thought, I can partly see why Shula started Simpson. He might have been the difference in that weak eight point victory.

I recently watched the Fox Sports Preseason Show featuring Auburn. During the show in a round table discussion, one of the analysis made an interesting observation. He said, “Auburn is Alabama. Auburn is what Alabama used to be.”

That’s the absolute truth. And it’s a truth that Alabama people are having a hard time grasping – including Mike Shula. Look for Juwan Simpson to line up against this week against Vanderbilt. The Bear would be proud.

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