The past is a roadmap at UA

I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.
Patrick Henry, speech to the Virginia, Convention March 23, 1775

When I was in high school, I read Napoleon’s Maxims of War for the first time. His last maxim, amplified my already passionate love of history.

Maxim LXXVIII. Peruse again and again the campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus Adolphus, Turenne, Engene, and Frederick. Model yourself upon them. This is the only means of becoming a great captain, and of acquiring the secret of the art of war. Your own genius will be enlightened and improved by this study, and you will learn to reject all maxims foreign to the principles of these great commanders.

When I attended college, this love of the past influenced my choice to study history and political science. I knew the past was critical to understanding the future. Napoleon said it—so I was convinced.

Who knew that an understanding of history would also shed important light on Alabama athletics.

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I guess I should’ve known it considering as much time as we spend remembering championships long since past.

Alabama walks in the light of its past. And maybe that past provides hints to the future. Today’s hiring of Dave Hart as an assistant athletic director (perhaps athletic director in waiting?) harkens back to the University’s hiring of another favorite son, Cecil “Hootie” Ingram.

In 1989 when the shadow of chaos engulfed Alabama’s football program, Steve Sloan was ousted as athletic director, and Hootie Ingram was hired away from Florida State.

Ingram played football at Alabama, worked for the Southeastern Conference, and led a successful FSU athletic department.

Almost immediately, Curry was gone (of his own choosing more or less), and within a few years Alabama won a national championship.

Now comes a similar time of tumult at UA. A popular, but aging athletic director has postponed important decisions on the men’s basketball program—much like fans said Steve Sloan postponed making a decision about anything. While fans speculate on the coach’s future, the athletic director’s future is also debated.

When will Mal retire? Who will succeed him?

While Hart is heir presumptive, he isn’t necessarily heir apparent. Nonetheless, it would be hard to imagine someone with Hart’s year’s of experience at FSU as anything but the leader in a post-Mal athletic department.

Hart’s experience and stature mirrors Ingram. Ingram played football; Hart played basketball. And Hart arrives at a time of supreme uncertainty in the Alabama basketball program.

Hart has the advantage of being connected to the legendary C.M. Newton. Newton is a beloved former Alabama basketball coach, and a renowned administrator in his post-Alabama career.

Hart has the gravitas to hold Mark Gottfried accountable. Unlike anyone else around the Alabama athletic department administration, Hart is actually qualified.

That can’t mean good things for Mark Gottfried.