Alabama gets off light after latest incident with NCAA

By David Moorman  |   Monday, June 15, 2009  |  Comments( 1 )

College Football
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As embarrassing as it was for Alabama to run afoul of the NCAA, it could have been worse. The Crimson Tide could have lost scholarships instead of past victories. It also could have been banned from postseason play.

Both penalties had been imposed before, although neither happened this time when the NCAA handed down its judgment last week. Alabama simply will have to forfeit 21 wins from 2005-2007 during which time it used seven players who were identified for their roles in major violations involving the misuse of free textbooks.

In all, 15 other sports also received NCAA probation and Alabama was ordered to pay a $43,900 fine. That’s a pittance compared to the money the football team brought in during that three-year period, particularly last season when it started 12-0 before losing in the Southeastern Conference championship game and the Sugar Bowl.

Then again, Alabama is treading on thin ice. Since the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant retired after the 1983 season, Alabama has had a sordid history with the NCAA. It has flirted with the death penalty before, and unless it straightens up, it may do so again. As storied as the Crimson Tide may be, it is not above the law of the NCAA.

In Bryant’s place has stepped Nick Saban, who is the new face of the college coach and a disciplinarian who seemingly runs a tight ship. Saban took over the program in 2007, and while some of the infractions occurred during his watch, he inherited some of the mess left by former coach Mike Shula and an administration that wasn’t paying as strict attention as it should have been.

Alabama helped itself with its own self-policing and its willful acceptance of its penalties. The NCAA looks kindly on such action and on a coach with Saban’s squeaky clean reputation. Rather than have the (text)book thrown at it, Alabama seems to have turned over a new page in trying to clean up its act.

CHANGING DIRECTION: It’s a good bet LSU wide receiver Jared Mitchell will not be returning for his senior year.

After all, baseball seems to be the sport of Mitchell’s future, particularly since he was a first-round selection of the Chicago White Sox in the recent major league draft. As the 23rd player taken, Mitchell should receive a hefty signing bonus, which is more than will come his way in football.

Before LSU appeared in the College World Series, Mitchell was hitting .325 and ranked second in the SEC with 35 stolen bases in 44 attempts. He’s made much better use of his speed and athleticism in baseball than in football, where he’s caught only 24 passes in three years.

After five starts as a sophomore, he didn’t start any games as a junior when he caught nine passes for 106 yards.
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About David Moorman

Dave Moormann is an award-winning journalist, who has covered LSU athletics since 1980. He began his coverage with the Baton Rouge Advocate, where he was a writer and editor from 1980-98. In 1996, he authored a book on the history of LSU football entitled, "Fighting Tigers Handbook: Stories, Stats...
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