Hunter Ford: On Finebaum and the off-season

Real sport to fill football off-season is played on the radio
By Hunter Ford
You can read more from Hunter Ford at his blog Ford’s columns also appear in Bessemer’s Western Star newspaper.

The University of Alabama’s 2007-08 basketball season was finally shot in the head like the lame nag that it was.

The Tide was rejected by the glue factory of the NIT and turned down the notion of being chopped into Alpo in something called the CBI (College Basketball Invitational).

As I’ve said previously, basketball is a nice diversion during the winter and early spring when the sport is being played well by Alabama, Auburn or UAB.

But whether or not any of those schools fields a competent roundball squad, the inevitable black hole of summer descends upon those of us who are only truly satisfied by the winds of autumn and the pigskin smorgasbord.

In the vacuum of this dreary time, there are a few rays of light. Local talk radio in Birmingham keeps college football fans inflamed year-round. The largest sun in this galaxy is The Paul Finebaum Show. The Finebaum Show is a Jupiter sized planet, mostly made of noxious gas. Around this monstrosity orbits a host of entertaining and provocative callers. Some of these satellites  “Jim from Tuscaloosa”, “I-man”, “Elmo” and “Pluto” occasionally drift from orbit or are deemed unworthy of notice for a period of time.

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Such was the case a few weeks ago when “Shane from Centerpoint” drifted out of the gravitational pull.

Shane has become the front-man for the Million Dollar Band, unabashedly singing the praises of the Crimson Tide and largely defending his beloved Red Elephants through fair and foul weather.

Shane, who has also become a popular columnist for the Paul Finebaum Network website, was checking the back of his Crimson family in a recent column.  Fed up with the media’s incessant spotlight on the few Alabama football players who have run afoul of the Tuscaloosa PD, Shane decided to dredge up the ledger on some folks in Lee County. Armed with Orange and Blue fingerprints, Shane presented his case in his weekly column on the PFN.

Mysteriously, this column was not only rejected by the “management” of the PFN website, Shane’s column and photograph have been conspicuously removed (as of this writing).

Why? Finebaum is a shrewd gamesman.  The fact that he makes his living poking his finger in the eyes of the most powerful sports figures in our state is almost inconceivable. Finebaum got his start by sending poison pen pal messages to former Alabama head coach Ray Perkins. Perkins had a glare that would give most sports writers a rash. Perkins has a metal plate in his head. As a player, Perkins took a pair of pliers and yanked off a crushed toenail, laced up some cleats and went back in the game. It’s hard to imagine Finebaum playing golf badly. It is unfathomable to imagine him playing football. No, I could imagine Finebaum as a field goal kicker, scooping up a bobbled snap and throwing it left-handed like a girl into the hands of a linebacker who runs it back for a touchdown.

But I digress. Although lacking in any athletic capacity, Finebaum has a black-belt in playing the passions of we college football fans. Shane is not an unwitting accomplice. Although Shane is true and authentic in his love for the Crimson Tide, he is also fully aware of his ability to place a bee under the bonnet of Tide and Tiger fans alike. And Shane is a big part of the popularity of Finebaum, the PFN radio show and, until now, the PFN website.

Out of coincidence, I recently attended a conference of the most powerful lawyers in our state. The keynote speaker (who followed the Chief Justice of The Supreme Court of Alabama) was none other than Mr. Finebaum himself.  Finebaum told this group of heavyweight hitters that the most often asked question of him is: “Is Shane really your brother-in-law?” One of Tommy Tuberville’s lawyers, former Lt. Gov. Jere Beasley no less, even asked Finebaum the same question.

Finebaum answered this way: “I have two actual brother-in-laws. I have a sister in Memphis who is married, and my wife has a brother. One night at a holiday dinner, my wife’s brother turned to me and sincerely asked ‘Is Shane really your brother-in-law?'”

For now, Shane has taken his ball and is playing at an excellent website called The Capstone Report, check it out at  Shane will also be a guest columnist for The Western Star this fall. Stay tuned.


Add Yours
  1. 2

    Well, I’m committed to letting people with something interesting to say…say it.

    Two weeks ago, Shane wrote an outstanding column exposing Tommy Tuberville’s hypocrisy over discipline. That column was to be the last one posted on his normal outlet. Why? I don’t know.

    He wrote an interesting column on Pat Dye. It wasn’t posted on his usual outlet. I thought people should get to see it. That’s just how I am. I want to let people get as much information, and opinion as possible so they can make up their own minds regarding UA athletics.

  2. 4
    Hunter Ford


    Is Paul’s show less credible because Shane (or Bobby from Homewood) are allowed to call in and give their opinions?
    Is Paul any more or less credible as a host/columnist because his show features the opinions of others? Because he allows their opinions to be expressed does it mean he shares or believes in those opinions? Do you exist in a vacuum where your particular viewpoint is the only one that is relevant?


  3. 5

    The Issue is Advertising. The Market is Dead and there are so many “Join the National Guard” Ads to kill the hour. Shane was bumped to pander to some Ad Base that the “Suits” want to appeal to. I just want all that nefarious Auburn Ad Money and all 5 of their callers tote the note on the “Joxster”. I would rather hear an old woman break wind than listen to Auburn Talk.

  4. 6

    comparisons of paul’s show to this site are apples and oranges.

    i listen to paul’s show to be entertained. if i’m informed in the process, well, that’s icing on the cake.

    i read this blog to be informed. i don’t agree with everything i read here but i read on because i feel the info and sources are credible. the info i get here and other places helps me form opinions.

    there is nothing shane from center point can say or write that helps me learn anything. shane was a intregal part of paul’s show and site because he was a joke. he was a punchline. ditto bobby. ditto jim from tuscaloosa.

    shane is a dumb jock who doesn’t know it. and it disappoints me that others can’t figure that out, too.

    is tuberville’s hypocrisy news?? is anyone really shocked by anything that goes on at auburn?? is that supposed to make me feel better about the incompetence and spin control coming out of tuscaloosa???

    the crimson tide i grew up loving didn’t use auburn as a standard. they used auburn as a doormat to wipe their feet on. it’s no longer that way because of us, not them.

    you’re loving on shane now. but mark my words, your relationship with him will end the same way it’s ended with paul.

    (and mark this also, before the football season starts again, shane will be calling again, making a fool of himself………., again.)

  5. 7

    the crimson tide i grew up loving didn’t use auburn as a standard. they used auburn as a doormat to wipe their feet on. it’s no longer that way because of us, not them.

    True. Very true. While Auburn was heavily involved in the Gene Jelks saga, it was the hubris of our officials which doomed us to the NCAA doghouse.

    Then in the Albert Means fiasco there were problems within and outside the University. But with some semblence of common sense we should have been able to avoid the problems.

    And of course don’t get me started on hiring Dubose–that was the fault of everybody (well most everyone because Dubose was acclaimed coach by the fans.)

    And of course you are right–we still have serious problems within our athletic department. The frustrating thing is that so few people within the University are willing to see that and help pierce the veil and reveal the problems.

    Those of us concerned about the problems have to keep fighting, because one day we will triumph.

  6. 8

    those that see and those that have the money are two entirely different entities.

    i’m convinced that if we don’t bring someone in capable of competently running an athletic dept., and i emphasize here, AN ATHLETIC DEPT……. not just a football program, we will wind up in ncaa trouble again.

    mal held hands with logan young. he did because there was money in logan’s hands. it’s common knowledge, hell, they’ve come right out and told us, mal raises money, that’s why he’s there.

    the basketball situation is a microcosm of the problem down there. football will always be king at ‘bama. i really don’t have a problem with that.

    but the one thing mark gottfried has got right, they don’t put enough into basketball. b’ball should be second. i don’t know that it’s third or fourth.

    of course, if they did prioritize basketball as they should, mark would have been gone last spring.

  7. 9
    Hunter Ford

    I used to LOVE Alabama basketball. It was fun. I went to Wimp’s basketball camps as a young teenager. We WON SEC championships!
    Florida proved that you can win national championships in both sports. There is no reason Alabama can’t do that too…and furthermore, no reason the school and its fans shouldn’t strive to do it.

    More about Shane. Shane is the kind of guy that you would want to be friends with and a guy who is a great Alabama fan cause he stands up for his team through thick and thin and he stands with his friends through thick and thin. What more could you ask for?

  8. 10
    Wyatt Amberson

    Shane is an uneducated Boob. Half of the crap he has posted on PFRN has unverifiable sources. Anyone that takes him for more than a foolish and biased Bama fan , is an idiot! The guy wants to pretend he”s a writer & he can’t even spell.

  9. 11

    hunter, with all due respect, i don’t have to be told who shane corn is.

    my earliest recollections of shane of paul’s show are of him calling in and defending mike dubose. shane has since, without reservation, defended franchione, price and shula in the same way he defends saban and gottfried now. shane is a homer. at ther risk of scooping shane, want to know his predictions for the up-coming ‘bama football season?? here’s a hint. wins? think double digits. how do i know?? history. shane always predicts 10+ wins. always. so much for objectivity.

    shane is a tiny speck of an example of what’s wrong with alabama’s athletic dept.

    what went wrong in the antonio langham case?? someone didn’t pick up the phone and make a call. the ncaa rule book is clear. if you “suspect” your player has had contact with an agent, pick up the phone. you can argue who’s lying about langham’s story. you can’t argue whether stallings or ingram suspected. just can’t. where would we be now if someone stood up and said, “wait a minute?” this scenario snowballed thru the nineties to now.

    ditto wimp sanderson’s dalliance with his secretary.

    ditto the hiring of david hobbs. (for those thinking i’m some sort of hindsight palm reader, this is from a letter i wrote to the sports editor of the b’ham news in 1993:

    “this is your brain:

    dale brown
    eddie fogler
    nolan richardson
    rick pitino

    this is your brain on drugs:

    david hobbs.

    any questions?”)

    ditto the hiring of dubose over frank beamer.

    ditto the hiring of mike shula.

    ditto running ron steele into the ground.

    of course, the rubber stamp is the beaten path. unfortunately, the beaten path many times leads one over the cliff. it’s a cliff alabama’s been over many times since january 26th, 1983 with all-too-willing rubberstamp accomplices in the media in tow. (like the ones who told us a while back juwan simpson’s jailhouse punishment was sent down from on high by mike shula)

    sorry, hunter. i know exactly who shane corn is and the rubberstamp media he aspires to be. i don’t need his input. the market’s flooded already.

    ian rappaport. ray melick. kevin scarbinsky. mark mccarter. paul gattis, herb winches, mike mckenzie, matt coulter………..get my drift?

    p. s. and for those who might think i consider myself some kind of know-it-all, nothing could be further from the truth. there was a time i thought hiring bill curry over bobby bowden was the right thing to do. why? because clyde bolton told me so.

  10. 12

    p. s. and for those who might think i consider myself some kind of know-it-all, nothing could be further from the truth. there was a time i thought hiring bill curry over bobby bowden was the right thing to do. why? because clyde bolton told me so.

    ROFL. Since this is confession time. I wanted to hire Rick Neuheisel over Dubose, and I thought hiring Gottfried was going to bring Alabama basketball back.

    Speaking of the media, I’m looking forward to getting a chance to review herb’s show. I haven’t really listened to him in years…it should be fun and bring back some memories.

  11. 13

    BTW, you have me thinking about why the media in this state, specifically the sports media, do such a poor job. One big reason is that reporters who cover a beat develop a reliance on, and in many cases fondness for and friendships with the people they cover.

    Just look at the media who cover Tuberville. They love him, and so his hypocritical statements aren’t exposed with the glee the media take in hitting Nick Saban.

    Also, it takes years of judgement and experience as a reporter to know when you are being used. Think back to the last days of Mike Shula. Outlets like the Birmingham and Huntsville papers were writing stories so obviously WRONG, but were backed up with anonymous sources.

    I was assured by a senior editor the sources were SOLID and sufficient to warrant their use.

    However, reporters and editors have a responsibility to judge the sources for the agendas they are advancing.

    Sometimes those agendas don’t matter. Sometimes they do. That is where experience and judgement come into play. I just don’t see much good judgement on the part of this state’s media.

    This is a fun topic, and something worth examining. We depend on the media for our information, but it fails us on so many levels. Sports coverage is no exception.

    And as a disclaimer, I predicted Alabama would win 10 games and only lose games to Georgia, Auburn and LSU. While I am a fan, I thought we’d be able to beat a bad FSU team, and a mediocre Tennessee team. What I didn’t expect was the meltdown at the end of the season. Oh well….that’s why I’m not a gambler.

  12. 14

    i think you also must consider the athletic dept. holds access to their information over the heads of these reporters.

    paul finebaum has been banned from the campus’ of auburn and alabama.

    why? he didn’t tow the company line.

    i will never forget an interview matt coulter and scott griffin had with former miss. st. head basketball coach richard williams. williams msu squad had been bounced from the tournament the season before, first round. coulter mentioned it in the lead-up to a question.

    he never got the question out of his mouth. williams exploded into a tirade, taking complete offense to that tournament embarrassment being brought up. he excoriated both griffin and coulter. both immediately began kissing his ass to get back in good graces and making complete fools of themselves in the process. i would have told him to kiss mine and hung up on him. but i’m sure, consumate pros that they are, they were looking to that next interview. can’t be burning any bridges.

  13. 15

    and i recall listening to herb for years religiously.

    herb brought the term “done deal” to the birmingham sports talk radio lexicon.

    “the miami dolphins are coming to birmingham. it’s a done deal.”

    still makes me smile.

  14. 16
    Hunter Ford

    Hey Cap!

    When Finebaum was slashing on Mike Shula, I was writing a column advocating the hire of Rush Propst as the coach at UAB. Imagine that! In the process, I called as many UA trustees as I could get on the phone. I know some of them and were able to talk to about half of the board.

    Now, I called wanting to know if any of them would consider Propst to be a good hire for UAB. Of course, I got the usual “We don’t hire coaches routine. Because the Shula situation was hot I also asked what his future was. Everyone I talked to said Shula was safe! This was BEFORE he lost to Miss St. and THEN AGAIN to Auburn. The trustees sort of expected a loss to All-Barn…but they never say Miss St coming.

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