"gone like a freight train, gone like yesterday, gone like a soldier in the Civil War - bang, bang, gone like a fifty-nine Cadillac, like all the good things that ain't never comin' back, she's gone."
And so goes the college basketball career of Richard Hendrix at the University of Alabama. Gone.
Gone in the NBA draft? Maybe.
First round draft pick? Not likely.
And don't think Richard doesn't know that. He's already got his degree. His father's a basketball coach. Despite the fact he signed to play for Mark Gottfried, he's no dummy. By his own admission, he knows he's a second round pick.
No guaranteed money.
No guarantees, period.
Richard's shot in the Association is at forward, but he doesn't have that game. Richard needs another year to hone his facing-the-basket skills. He (and his father) have determined that he can't risk another year under Mark Gottfried. Some make comparisons to Kennedy Winston, who also left early, didn't get drafted and eventually faded into hoops oblivion. (I think he resides next to Rod Grizzard. They collect and swap Pat Reilly yard gnomes)
The difference is Richard knows EXACTLY where he stands.
(are we clear?
ARE WE CLEAR?!?!?!
He's going anyway. (like a freight train....)
Of course, the pro-Gottfried media is focusing on the return of Ron Steele. Conventional wisdom held that if Steele and Hendrix returned, Mark Gottfried was practically guaranteed a SEC West title and his job saved. But a review of Gottfried's 10 year tenure reveals high expectations are followed by hard luck. There was scattered grumbling in the hinterlands before the '04 Elite Eight run. No one saw that coming. The rarefied air of the '04 - '05 preseason expectations crashed into a ugly tournament loss to Wisconsin/Milwaukee. (coached by u-know-who, north of the border) The '06 Sweet Sixteen tournament loss to Ben Howland's UCLA squad gave fans hope. We were a Ron Steele three-pointer from advancing. Fans again had hope for the future. We all know how that turned out. Since, Gottfried's program has folded faster than a cheap lawn chair at a Bear-Stearn's company picnic. (juxtapose the career path of Jordan Farmar to Ron Steele from that gam........no, don't)
No one wants to say it but the fact is Ron Steele would be gone too if he weren't damaged goods. Gottfried told anyone who would listen (and there were plenty in the lapdog local sports media) that Ron was the "best player in practice" late last season. High praise considering the flashy play of freshman phenom Senario Hillman. But we weren't entertained with any ESPN Top Ten Plays or YouTube videos of Ron from practice and considering the word from the NBA camps and tryouts it's now likely Gottfried was spinning to deflect attention from Ron's multiple knee surgeries. He's now taking a page from the Bryant playbook and poor-mouthing Ron.
And if there's anything Mark Gottfried's good at, it's beating down the bar of expectations and bunny hopping over to the raves and applause of his apologists in his dwindling fan base and media.
But give Mark Gottfried credit for one thing. It's June and we're talking basketball in Alabama. (for better or worse)
Give Richard Hendrix credit. He's one of the few good men to play basketball for the Tide.
Good Night and Good Luck, Rich.