Price made Witt's decision easy

Published 2:24 pm Wednesday, May 7, 2003

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP - Managing Editor
The rollercoaster ride that is the head coaching position at the University of Alabama continues to haunt fans. Only five months after Dennis Franchione stabbed Tiders in the back, the latest head coach, Mike Price, was fired on Saturday for his conduct at a Pensacola golf tournament after being warned of such activities by university president Dr. Robert Witt.
The situation is a sad one for everyone involved. What makes it such a tragic story for Mike Price and the players at Alabama is that it should never have happened. But, once the details were confirmed by Witt, it seemed he had little choice but to dismiss Price.
While few outside of the university inner circle knows exactly what happened that night, we have been informed that Price was warned about such behavior early on. Even before the Florida trip, rumors circulated on the internet about Price's activities in Birmingham.
In addition to the bad decisions in his personal life, Price's departure may, to a lesser extent, be due to the bad business decisions he made as well. Having gone four months without signing a contract with the university had to make it easier for Witt to pull the plug on Price. After all, this is the school that went a whole year with a coach working without a signed contract only to have that coach run on the first opportunity. If Price had signed his contract, it would have been much more difficult to fire him, primarily due to the money it would have cost the school.
In the end, Mike Price made the decision of his termination very easy for school officials. It was the decisions he made that cost him his job at Alabama. While he may have deserved a second chance as he claims, he is a grown man who knew better and had to understand the consequences. To get a second chance after being caught red-handed is a crap shoot at best.
Besides Price's own family, perhaps the most obvious victims in this debacle are the players who, in four short months, became attached to the new coach. Even without the Price scandal, this group of Crimson Tide players have been through a lot together. They felt the anger of being betrayed by somebody they trusted at the end of last season and now they feel the sting of losing another coach. All of this is in addition to being on probation with no hope of a bowl game and a reduction of scholarships.
For the Tide faithful, the typical high hopes that come with a new season will likely be replaced with an unfamiliar dread. Expectations for success will likely take on a whole new meaning in the upcoming season which begins in four short months. For a new coach to come in under the current circumstances and have a probation-plagued team ready to take on the likes of Oklahoma, Tennessee, Auburn and all the other competitive SEC schools is probably asking too much.
Right now, what Alabama needs more than success is stability. An interim coach who is familiar or a brand new face must come to terms with the current situations at Alabama. They aren't coaching the rock-solid Bama program of Bear Bryant, but rather a team whose foundation has been shaken and their trust in leadership lost.
Once again, fans look to athletic director Mal Moore to pick the right man for that job. For the sake of the players and the future of Alabama football, let's hope he makes the right call this time.

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