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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tournament Frustration.............

George mason '06, Alabama '04.

I've said this before, I'll say it again. Alabama basketball, and certainly Mark Gottfried's version, is mid-major basketball. and until the powers-that-be down there decide to make a championship commitment, that's all it will ever be.

For some folks, that's fine. for those of us who want a little more, well, it can certainly be a frustrating experience. And most certainly this time of year.

The most interesting game this tournament to date for me has been the Duke-Belmont game. Certainly this wasn't your grandfather's Duke team but the coaching chessmatch that went on between Rick Byrd and Coach K was a treat to watch. Coach K's body language after the match indicated he'd been out-coached and he knew it. And that's the thing.

True mid-majors that make the dance are, as a rule, well-coached teams. They have to be.

That's the difference between them and us. Mid-majors who make the dance have great coaching coupled with inferior talent. Alabama has great talent that's poorly coached.

At Duke, Kentucky, UCLA, Indiana, UNC, UCONN, Mark Gottfried would have been fired long ago.

We have been told by reputable sources (Cecil Hurt being one) the Board of Trustees and athletic director Mal Moore didn't want to buyout Mark's contract. No money.

Then, when LSU whips out the wallet and gives Les Miles a raise that tops Nick Saban, money flies out from the hinterlands to respond with a football staff pay raise. We already had the highest paid football staff in the conference! It's a big member contest. LSU whipped theirs out and said mine's bigger. When put in those terms, there's money.

I argued with Bob Bockrath years ago on a radio show about blasting Coleman Coliseum and building a new arena. Of course, you know where that went. And in the end, that's the bottom line.

Commitment. For those reading this blog, know my position on gottfried. I've never thought he was that much of a basketball coach. After the Ron Steele debacle, he should have been fired. Period. But hiring a competent coach isn't going to solve all of Alabama Basketball's problems.

C. M. Newton left Alabama years ago because he felt there wasn't the backing to get where he wanted to be. He didn't hide it.

The more things change, The more they stay the same. At Alabama anyway.

Friday, March 7, 2008

About Face......Forward March!

With the loss to Louisiana State University Wednesday night, my beleaguered Alabama Crimson Tide basketball team is now 15 - 15. The loss also means that this team, this season is winless on the road. And in what has to be the worst season overall for SEC basketball in recent memory. At this point the only locks for the NCAA tournament are Bruce Pearl's Vols and the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Closer to home the Mark Gottfried Machine is spinning 24/7 to try and influence the Board of Trustees to retain Mark for another season. Those on the wagon now include:

Mark McCarter - Huntsville Times
Kevin Scarbinsky - Birmingham News
Ian Rappaport - Birmingham News
Neil McCready - Mobile Register
Paul Gattis - Huntsville Times

Reasons for retaining Gottfried are varied and sometimes confusing. Mark McCarter writes, "Gottfried, to be frank, is not one of the 8 or 9 best X's and O's coaches in the league." Later in his column he describes him as "bright". Huh?

Others describe him as a loyal alum who represents the University well despite the claims of some that Mark on two occasions has allowed his name to hang out there while coaching searches have went on elsewhere, netting himself pay raises. Mark also told Kevin Scarbinsky in an interview in 2005 that if UCLA (his former employer) came calling on him to be their head coach, he'd have to consider it.

No Ron Steele.

Recruiting busts.

No assistant coaching.

Lack of commitment from the University.

But the one reason to retain Mark Gottfried conspicuously missing??

He's a great head basketball coach.

You won't hear anybody say that. Because it's just not true. You can argue the other points.

Can't touch that one with a Ron Steele three pointer.