Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Bear is dead

So, Nick Saban has decided to return to the ranks of college coaches, coming back to the SEC as the head man for Alabama’s Crimson Tide.

My co-blogger Henry has pointed out the implications from the Miami Dolphins viewpoint, a team of which he is a fan.

My point in this post is different – and that is to suggest that The Bear is finally dead.

Although Paul “Bear” Bryant left this mortal coil in 1983, the revolving door that has been the head coaching job at Alabama is naught but a shadow of the hound’s-tooth capped legend. The man who followed Bryant directly was Ray Perkins, who started the incestous trend of Alabama hirings by having played for Bryant. Perkins coached Alabama for 3 years.

Perkins was followed by Bill Curry, who led the Tide to a 10-1 regular season record in 1989, winning the SEC. Bill Curry was the SEC Coach of the Year in 1989, and the recipient of the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year award. However, the unloved Curry, who had the twin unpardonable sins of no link to Bryant, and losing to Auburn, was out after the 1989 season.

Enter “Alabama man” Gene Stallings. Stallings was another Bryant protégé, having been an assistant coach under the Bear. Stallings led Alabama to the 1992 “national title”, but also led the Tide to real trouble with the NCAA, including forfeiture of 8 wins and a tie for the 1993 season.

Stallings was followed by Mike Dubose who – surprise! – played for Bryant at Alabama. Dubose led the Crimson Tide through a troubled tenure that ended with his firing in 2000.

Non-Bear related Dennis Franchione followed Dubose, but never really settled as a favorite with the Tide faithful. When the Texas A&M job opened, he jumped at it.

After the brief but highly embarrassing Mike Price incident, Alabama settled on yet another favored son – former quarter back Mike Shula. The only qualifying credential for Shula seemed to be his position as former Tide player, as his job directly before taking the head of the “storied” Alabama program was as quarterbacks coach for the Miami Dolphins.

Even though Shula was offered an extension after last year’s 10-2 season, 6-6 this year got him fired. It seems that even the Alabama fans had run out of patience for one of “their own”.

Nick Saban is about as far from the legacy of the Bear as one can get. Born in Fairmont, West Virginia, Saban played at Kent State in (gasp!) Ohio.

His coaching resume is as follows –

Kent State – Assistant 73’-76’
Syracuse – Assistant 77’
West Virginia – Assistant 78’-79’
Ohio State – Assistant 80’-81’
Navy – Assistant 82’
Michigan State - Assistant 83’-87’
Houston Oilers - Assistant 88’-89’
Toledo Rockets – Head Coach 90’
Cleveland Browns – Assistant 91’-94’
Michigan State - Head Coach 95’-99’
LSU - Head Coach 00’-04’
Miami Dolphins - Head Coach 05’-06’

Besides having 12 different jobs at 11 different places in 33 years (with an average stay of just shy of 3 years), there is something else that needs to be pointed out to Alabama fans.

Syracuse, New York. Columbus, Ohio. Annapolis, Maryland. East Lansing, Michigan. Toledo, Ohio. Cleveland, Ohio.

Alabama – you just hired a Yankee!

And not only a Yankee – a Yankee that has never had any affiliation whatsoever with the University of Alabama.

Can a Yankee Carpetbagger save the Crimson Tide?

Moreover, you are paying him what appears to be approximately double the going rate for the highest quality coaches in college football. Of course, with the sorry coaching carousel you yourselves have created since Bryant died, it was going to take a princely sum to get any coach in his “right mind” to take the job. An enormous sum to hire someone more qualified than – say - the QB coach for the Dolphins.

Yankee Carpetbagging is alive and well in Alabama!

Of course, Alabama has had 7 coaches itself in the past 23 years. Average length of tenure – about 3 years.

With a loyalty time period of both parties that approaches only three years, it appears Saban and the Crimson Tide were made for each other.

And in hiring a non-Alabama man, and paying a very, very dear price to do so, it also appears that the Bear may finally be dead in Tuscaloosa.

Whether the absurdity that is related to the Alabama coaching job has also expired remains to be seen.


Gator Duck said...

Here is a sure fire plan for success for Sabab:

1) Plastic surgery to look as much like the bear as possible
2) Speech lessons to sound as much like the bear as possible
3) A closet full of houndstooth headgear (to be worn everywhere, not just displayed)
4) A bookshelf full of books about the bear and of course tons of momentos, including items personally autographed to him by the bear (even though they will all have to be fabricated)

Mergz said...

That is classic, Duck.

Since you mention it, maybe the houndstooth hat would be preferable over that Panama Jack thing he seems to favor...

Anonymous said...

Your facts are incorrect about Stallings and the NCAA. A starting linebacker the year BEFORE Stallings arrived had signed with an agent prior to the end of the regular season. It was discovered after Stallings second year...

Anonymous said...

I'm tired of Yankee involvement in our traditions, can't we find any southern coaches for our boys? First it was Ohio boy Urban Meyer now it's Ohio boy Nick Saban. It's no victory when we have to salute a damn yankee leadin our troops.