Coach has chance to become hero
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Dr. Robert Witt of the University of Alabama had to be the bad guy Saturday. From all accounts head football coach Mike Price was a nice guy, a great coach and had already inspired his players in the few months he had been employed at Alabama.
From their testimony Saturday, the majority of the Crimson Tide players loved the guy.
However, Price committed occupational suicide by his actions off the field. Even if the minimum of what has been rumored is true, Dr. Witt had few options.
If he had given Price the benefit of the doubt and retained him, Witt at the least risked a season of bad publicity and ongoing innuendo. I’m sure Witt was concerned about what other shoes might drop.
Witt just wasn’t willing to have faith in Price’s reformation.
I’m not sure how stern a warning Price was given before the incident at the strip club, but no one who has been a major college coach as long as Price should have to be counseled about behavior.
As a Crimson Tide plan, I am frustrated not knowing all the facts. But, it is possible that the University and Price did not want all the facts to get out there because it would be too embarrassing.
Witt made the right decision – despite the horrible timing for the players and the difficulty of finding a coach so soon before the first game.
As one lady said on a talk radio Monday, the University of Alabama needs a hero. I don’t know if Mike Shula or Sylvester Croom can be that knight in shining armor to heal the wounds and rally the Crimson Tide faithful. They have not had head coaching experience. We got in trouble with that when Mike Dubose was given the job.
The new coach does not need to be from the Alabama family of players. Yes, I know Bill Curry was not able to beat Auburn. However, Dennis Franchione was a great coach who got scared away by probation and possibly other unknown problems with the University administration or trustees. Price should have been a successful coach if not for his off-field problems.
I’m not concerned about where the coach comes from, but I am concerned that he have the character and coaching ability to direct the ship.
The University must find a capable coach and then make sure we have a competent administration to back him up. I know Mal Moore loves the University, but love of an institution is not enough. It is hard to blame him for the loss of Franchione and problems with Price. Those appear to have essentially been good football decisions hampered by bad timing and luck.
It will take all Moore’s coaching and administrative ability to find the right fit this week for a wounded team and troubled alumni.
In addition, no hard decision will go unpunished. If the team has a bad record this season, Dr. Witt’s head will be on the block – no matter how correct his actions at the time.
Hopefully, after much turmoil over the last several years, a hero will ride into Tuscaloosa and lead the faithful to victory. Loyal football fans are helpless to the shenanigans of boosters and the fateful decisions of coaches and administration. We can only hope that Alabama will one day return to its proud tradition of hard nosed football without all the ugly off-field espionage. I may be too naive to think that will happen in this day and time, but if things don’t improve I’m concerned Southern football may die from its own excesses.