May 03, 2003

Yea Alabama, without Mike Price...: Every Crimson Man has left you, say goodbye. Go tell your Strippers to behave, instead of charging room service to your shallow grave. And if a man needs a second chance, that's a shame, 'cause Bama moral standards are hypocritical and lame. Dance on, dance on, dance on, girls! Remember why Coach Fran left then. Go back to Washington, say goodbye, cause you're Dixie's scapegoat, Roll Tide! Roll Tide!

posted by Stan Chin to football at 02:50 PM - 23 comments

(Lyrics of "Yea Alabama" Fight Song, slightly modified. Ah, college.)

posted by Stan Chin at 02:53 PM on May 03, 2003

This controversy would have been old news in a month and forgotten completely by the time the football season kicked off. Alabama should have ridden out this media storm and stuck with Price. I don't think many people could have remained outraged for very long because of a couple minor but funny indiscretions involving strippers.

posted by rcade at 03:11 PM on May 03, 2003

I tend to agree, rcade, that it would been history by the fall, and perhaps at another school with other priorities it would have dissipated even sooner. But not at Alabama, not with the way that program has been sliding. Under different circumstances - if Price hadn't just started at Bama, perhaps - he might have been given a second chance. When Bear Bryant is the standard, it's hard for fans to settle.

posted by thescoop at 03:31 PM on May 03, 2003

I don't get it. Drinking with college girls, going to titty bars - these are the hallmarks of shame now? Sure it makes those coaches kind of lame, but is this really that big of a deal? There are so many felons in sports it's ridiculous. Let's reserve our derision for the people who actually break the law.

posted by Samsonov14 at 04:37 PM on May 03, 2003

rcade: It would have been old news, were it not for the fact that the NCAA put the school on a rather severe probation not all that long ago. That's pretty much why he was fired. Why take a risk? The guy pretty obviously has a serious drinking problem.

posted by raysmj at 05:02 PM on May 03, 2003

Unless I'm missing something, nothing Price did could get the school in trouble with the NCAA. This puts his acts in a different , and I think less harsh, light than the problems that occurred under Dubose and got them put on probation. He went to a titty bar and was taken advantage of by a dancer. The bars are legal, and I'll bet that most of Alabama's fans, players, coaches, and school staff have either been to one or have good friends and relatives who have. Firing the guy for this is harsh, and it puts the program further in a hole. As a former student at UT-Arlington, the school where Alabama's new president came from, I can't help but think this is the price you pay for hiring someone from a penny ante commuter school.

posted by rcade at 05:32 PM on May 03, 2003

rcade: It *could* have gotten the school in trouble. Every move the football program makes these days is being closely watched by the NCAA. You know that has to be true. Meantime, it's my understanding that the woman was not necessarily a dancer. (Price claims to have blacked out, and doesn't remember.) Meantime, Dubose problems had shown up before, long before the new president came along. He was sued for sexual harassment, the school paid a $350,000 and kept him on and ... the school went on the most severe probation of its history two years later, thank in no small part to Dubose negligence and turning a blind eye. Finally, Price had received a warning earlier this year, related to buying alochol for students. I'm not sure if it involved students of legal age or underaged, but if the latter, Price was a knucklehead. The firing seems to be violently hacking some the usually can't-be-satisfied types off, by the way. I'm of the opinion that, as weird as things get here, it wouldn't be bad to shut down the program for a year or so. Really. Something severe needs to happen. Today's firing may have been a morally haughty thing by a small-minded administrator, or not. But the attitude toward football here is far too all-consuming, and no crap should be tolerated.

posted by raysmj at 05:47 PM on May 03, 2003

When you read about the death threats that greeted Bill Curry when he took the Bama job, maybe that woman did Price a favor. Sheesh! If Price had been buying alcohol for students or exhibiting inappropriate sexual behavior around or with them, I think his firing would be more than justified. But if this is all outside the school -- non-students, consenting adults, etc. -- I hate to see a guy lose his job because he committed a legal but embarrassing act. I don't, however, hate seeing Alabama or any other big-name school experience grief. Go North Texas!

posted by rcade at 06:00 PM on May 03, 2003

The new president will undoubtedly be receiving death threats over the weekend too, and maybe on into the next month. Regardless of his academic pedigree, he's either a) totally naive and stupidly moralistic; or b) has balls the size of all of Texas, which is exactly what the football program needs in order to shut the death-threat crowd down. He might be a combination of both. (For the record, I've hear that Paul Bryant, Jr., who made his way onto the Board of Trustees because football supporters thought he'd put more emphasis on athletics - I kid you not - was in favor of keeping Price around, which kinda contradict's Stewart Mandel's implication that this was all good ol' boy-related.)

posted by raysmj at 06:13 PM on May 03, 2003

I wonder if the recent stink w/ Iowa State basketball had anything to do with it. I grew up in Alabama during 80s, and that place is football crazy, shutting things down for a year or two just might do everyone some good down in Bama. **Idle speculation** $1,000 on "room service" charges? That seems awfully fishy -- could that have been a way to disguise payment for another "service?"

posted by herc at 08:37 PM on May 03, 2003

When vito90 posted about this a couple of days ago, I had yet to hear about this topic in the national media. But here in Alabama, Birmingham to be exact, about an hour from Tuscaloosa, you would think the local media was awaiting the second coming. His firing was not a surprise and had been expected for a few days. I respect those opinions that differ from mine, but I think it's hard for people who don't live in this area to have any understanding of the situation. Here we have a brand new coach who has not even coached his first game for a program that has recently reached unprecedented levels of embarassment and yet, while representing the University of Alabama (this was not his vacation) he shows an unbelievable lack of common sense. Not only was this same coach warned to watch his behavior because of previous questionable conduct, he had a morality clause as plain as day in his contract. He completely disregarded both of these attempts at constraint. If he was warned before, and did this, what does the future hold? How can they trust him at all? If he can find this much fun in Pensacola, a sleepy beach community, how much fun could he have in New Orleans during the Sugar Bowl? The coach of Alabama is treated like a god in these parts, and with that reverence comes an enormous amount of scrutiny, even more scrutiny than usual at this point in Alabama's history. He was fully aware of these facts, yet chose to disregard them. He is not a victim. Not of the school president, not of the media, not of a 30-something stripper with a kid. He brought this upon himself. He is only a victim of his own lack of discretion. Yes, we all make mistakes, but we're not talking about a 21-year-old kid in college. We're talking about that kid's mentor. Teacher. Leader. Coach. The school gave him him a chance to be all of these things, but he blew it. Sometimes you only get one chance, even if it is the chance of a lifetime. I keep hearing that he broke no laws. The law has nothing to do with this situation. It has to do with the fact that when someone pays you 1.5 million dollars they expect at least a lick of common sense. Price was working under a university president who is upset with Alabama's reputation as a party school, and who has recently supported the implementaion of closing hours at local bars. I can understand the opinion that everyone makes mistakes, that he broke no laws and was just "doing what men do". But when you put it all together, and really understand the situation, this is an open-and-shut case. There was really no other option for the school but to fire Price. He had the job of his dreams, and he blew it. If he wants someone to blame, all he has to do is look in the mirror.

posted by justgary at 01:54 AM on May 04, 2003

Those of you who would wish a shutdown of your own athletic program for a year or two need to remember Southern Methodist University's death penalty. That school went from being a top-tier athletic program to a headed-for-IAA joke overnight and will probably never recover.

posted by rcade at 12:14 PM on May 04, 2003

rcade, maybe more programs need that experience to bring all of college athletics back to the more reasonable, amateur level that we were discussing in another recent thread.

posted by billsaysthis at 12:19 PM on May 04, 2003

rcade: True, but surely SMU's academic rep took a greater hit, at least in the short run, and the situation might have grown worse over time. (SMU went on probation again in 2000, by the way.) Meantime, maybe nothing the NCAA tries can really work. Ultimately, it's probably just a cultural/social thing. But universities are there to provide people with an education, not act as a semi-pro farm operation for the pros. Football brings in money and probably students, but for several years now the costs have been outweighing any benefits at Alabama, as far as I can tell (although the impossibly delirious news coverage admittedly provided me with some entertainment I probably needed this week).

posted by raysmj at 01:34 PM on May 04, 2003

Alabama, a school I detest (my wife's family all went to auburn) will recover. I have no doubt of that. Listening to more interviews today, including one where Price told a close friend (bledsoe) he woke up with the woman and had "no idea where she came from", I'm amazed he wasn't fired earlier. maybe more programs need that experience to bring all of college athletics back to the more reasonable, amateur level that we were discussing in another recent thread. Amen to that. The line between college and pro sports seems to have all but vanished, but it's the differences between the two that makes this firing so expected and, in my mind, appropriate.

posted by justgary at 06:48 PM on May 04, 2003

I don't have a problem with universities being used as a venue for professional sports -- big-time college sports are great entertainment, they raise big bucks that can be put into academics, and they provide an opportunity for many athletes to get a full-ride education. I just wish the "amateur" athletes were compensated for the millions their efforts bring the schools and not locked to a particular school by rules that their coaches are not subjected to. Considering the fate of SMU, I expect it will be the first and last program ever to be shut down.

posted by rcade at 08:10 PM on May 04, 2003

rcade: The key word is "can." How often does it go into academics? From what I hear, football is mostly self-sustaining at schools such as Bama. Money that does go into academics is instead second or third-hand - say, a football nut or alum/football nut who gives money to the engineering school or something. But the negative reports can also hurt a school's academic rep in a very serious way - in short, they can make a school look like a complete joke. Even then, according to a NY Times Magazine article, some of the larger programs have had financial troubles as of late. The University of Michigan, which averages more than 110,000 fans for home football games, lost an estimated $7 million on athletics over the course of two seasons, between 1998 and 2000. Ohio State had athletic revenues of $73 million in 1999-2000 and ''barely managed to break even" ...

posted by raysmj at 08:31 PM on May 04, 2003

Oh: There is a precedent for a university's president voluntarily shutting down a program - and having it thrive once recovered. It happened at Tulane in 1985, with its basketball team. By the early 1990s, the Green Wave team was being invited to the NCAA tourney. This was basketball, however, which is not a religion in the South (even if players get little extras now and then), and half the state of Louisiana isn't freaked out over Tulane, exactly.

posted by raysmj at 08:54 PM on May 04, 2003

South Alabama has for years tried to start a football program. Part of the 'anti-crowd' always point to the fact that most football programs lose money, and to start a program it would require money taken from other sports and academic departments. Of course, that deals with statistics, which can be molded to support just about any claim. Still, the theory that football programs pour money into other school areas is certainly not a given. I have no problem compensating football players, as long as you only accept players who can actually make it into the college like any other student. If your IQ is 85 and your accepted into a major university I'd say you been compensated already.

posted by justgary at 08:55 PM on May 04, 2003

If your IQ is 85 and your accepted into a major university I'd say you been compensated already. That's great. Some kid's not being used because he's getting a scholarship he's not prepared to take advantage of while the school makes 10 times that back off his athletic performances. How'd you feel if your boss trotted out some variation on that theme for your next review?

posted by yerfatma at 06:12 AM on May 05, 2003

If big-time sports were a money loser for their schools, there wouldn't be 50 programs trying to get to the top or stay there. It's like the perennial claim that pro baseball is in bad financial shape, which is put to the lie every time a franchise is sold. College sports also serve the purpose of keeping alumni interest high, which increases donations and has other benefits. Without sports, how many of us would be talking about our alma maters or paying any attention to them after graduation? Here in Florida, college football is a religion. Every Saturday, UF and FSU grads squeeze themselves into garish and often unflattering school shirts, cover their cars with logos and flags, and talk constantly about the games. Take away the overemphasized sports programs at these schools and you lose thousands of human billboards. I'm a graduate of the University of North Texas in Denton, which has a "commuter school" rep and doesn't get much respect among the big schools in Texas (it's third or fourth in terms of enrollment). The Dallas media largely ignores UNT, but the recent success of the football program is changing that. Perhaps the end result will simply be that UNT is perceived as a commuter school with a nice football team, but I tend to think that any reason for increased publicity will show more people that it's a pretty good school with a lot of strong academic departments.

posted by rcade at 09:35 AM on May 05, 2003

rcade: But those are *secondary* benefits which are tied into and contribute to the overall school rep - the money doesn't go directly into academic programs, and sometimes maintaining these programs isn't a cinch regardless. That's exactly and all I was saying. At the same time, the programs don't always provide the benefits that everyone assumes they do. The University of Alabama at Birmingham has pretty much found that out with its unprofitable and scandal-plagued program. It's not as if the school, which has among the finest reps on the planet in medical and public health research, needed that sort of PR. This is where my big question lies. Is there a point where costs absolutely outweight benefits, to a point where only those in major denial could say otherwise? Very possibly. Methinks the president at Alabama saw that point coming. (I'm thinking that to some degree it's already here, but football is too worshiped here to make doing anything severe even halfway practical.) Maybe publicity is publicity, whether negative or positive, but running a university isn't quite the same as maintaining one's celebrity.

posted by raysmj at 11:28 AM on May 05, 2003

That's great. Some kid's not being used because he's getting a scholarship he's not prepared to take advantage of while the school makes 10 times that back off his athletic performances. I have no problem with your take on the situation. However, the solution is not to pay him. The solution is for him not to be there. A very easy solution, but one which flys in the face of college football as big business. If big-time sports were a money loser for their schools, there wouldn't be 50 programs trying to get to the top or stay there. No doubt there are schools that make a ton of money from football (other sports are way out of footballs league with many costing the school money), but it's no guarantee. And I think the financial benefits would change drastically after you leave the 'top 50' schools. Where that money goes isn't cut and dry either. Basically, what raysmj said. I was born and lived for 23 years in florida. My brother went to florida state, as did my best man, and my best friend went to florida. As fanatic as florida college football fans are, there is no comparison with alabama. The whole auburn/alabama rivalry is all-encompassing, and it's difficult to find someone who doesn't have an allegiance to one team or the other. Which is fine. I have no problem with that. But it's nice to see someone putting there foot down and saying enough is enough. There are more important things at the U of Alabama than whether they go 3-8 or 8-3, and people (especially in Alabama) need to realize that. I love sports, and I love college sports, but there gets to be a point where it all becomes just a little silly.

posted by justgary at 12:25 PM on May 05, 2003

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