Should Mal Moore go? Should Alabama appeal?

Editor’s note: This mailbag idea started as one post, but the answers ended up being longer than I anticipated. I’m breaking them down into smaller posts for your reading pleasure.
Q: Should Mal Moore go? Should Alabama appeal?
Two questions asked several times this week, and I’ll be honest, I’ve thought about both issues for some time.

Should Mal retire? The easy answer is to shout YES. However, the problems within the athletic department are more systemic to the bureaucrats rather than leadership issues. Taming a bureaucracy is tough for anyone, but Alabama’s entrenched athletic department staff needs a serious overhaul.

Tim Gayle writing in the Montgomery Advertiser pointed out this, “Sure, this person was in charge of checking the student ID numbers against the master sheet and that person was in charge of making sure the player was on scholarship and eligible to obtain the aid, etc. But isn’t there one person in the university who could glance at the sheet and raise a red flag when they saw a 30 percent spike? That’s a hard fact to ignore and I’m sure that one had a higher priority in the committee members’ eyes than Alabama’s status as a repeat offender.”

This is the problem within the athletic department. Would improved oversight solve this problem? I’m not so sure it would. It couldn’t hurt, but when Alabama’s athletic department would rather use its time suing famed artist Daniel Moore than working with the artist, it tells you all you need to know about the culture in the AD. Bureaucrats only do what they want to do.

Would firing Mal solve this?

Did Ronald Reagan get total control of the runaway federal bureaucracy?

I’d prefer Alabama’s leadership look at the troublemakers within the athletic department before running off Mal Moore. I think several athletic directors in the post-Bryant years have been unable to solve the problems within the AD staff. On the whole, Moore’s tenure hasn’t been that bad. Every football hire made sense. Dennis Franchione was a hot coach, and a very respectable hire. Mike Price was a reputable coach in the PAC-10. Mike Shula was an emergency hire, and given the situation made sense. Moore even made the difficult decision to fire Shula. Moore hired a promising basketball coach in Anthony Grant this year.

Moore has problems, but the athletic department’s problems go much deeper than any chief executive. Let’s address that and then reconsider Moore’s status.

It could be argued the failure to tame the bureaucrats is a leadership problem. I won’t dispute that now; however, this has been a problem for the entire post-Bryant era, and likely needs the attention of the president.

As for the appeal, meh.

I’d probably have skipped the appeal, but when you have armies of lawyers and about a $100 million checkbook, why not.

The 2007 vacated wins seem to be the biggest point of discussion. Again, to Gayle’s column in the Advertiser, “Had the NCAA told Alabama to suspend the players indefinitely pending the outcome of the investigation, I would have no problem with vacating the five wins. But after looking at the evidence and handing down a verdict of a four-game suspension, the players were allowed to come back and play Auburn and Colorado. The Colorado win is not on the list of games Alabama is asked to vacate.”

The problem here is that the players were ineligible until they served the suspension. Therefore, the players were ineligible to play during those five wins earlier in the season. I don’t see grounds for an appeal here; the point isn’t that Alabama endured punishment, the point is the players were ineligible until declared re-eligible by the NCAA. I don’t buy the whole competitive benefit argument from the NCAA. I would have a much higher level of comfort with vacation of wins or forfeits in cases where the universities actually knew of the ineligibility.

A school should only be punished when it actively breaks the rules in an effort to gain a competitive advantage. When you play a player you know to be ineligible that is much different from retroactively declaring a player ineligible, as in this case.

The University should be penalized for its failure to monitor; however, a far better penalty would be a higher fine on the institution’s athletic department.