On the Paul Finebaum show yesterday, both Gene Stallings and Pat Dye took exception to comments made about them a week earlier as Finebaum interviewed former Texas Tech head coach and current loony bird, Mike Leach.
Leach insinuated that the two legendary coaches, both of which are either presently or are in the process of induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, were fired from Alabama and Auburn for breaking NCAA rules.
Leach’s sentiments came as a result of comments made by Stallings and Dye on the Finebaum show in reference to Leach’s repeated comments that Alabama may be a top ten team, but shouldn’t be in the top five. To date this season, Leach has picked Bama to lose three times. Alabama is currently 5-0, recording wins over three top 25 teams, two of which were in the top 10 at the time.
It is well-known that Leach is a volatile head case, a fact that drove Texas Tech to terminate him despite his success there. It also prevented him from getting opportunities at other schools, including Auburn. Leach also may carry a grudge against Alabama for their 13-10 win over Texas Tech in the 2006 Cotton Bowl (following the 2005 season), where Alabama’s defense embarrassed his high-octane offense on national television essentially in his own backyard. Following the game, Greg McElroy decommitted from Tech and committed to play football at the University of Alabama.
In Monday’s interview, Stallings contested that he wasn’t asked to resign in 1996, and that no one at the University other than the president and his family knew he was going to do it when he did. Dye offered a similar story on his departure from Auburn.
Stallings and Dye appear on the Paul Finebaum show weekly to talk about college football. The old rivals turned friends currently appear on the show each Monday sponsored by Craneworks, and at one point during Monday’s interview Dye asserted that Paul should see if Craneworks wanted to hire Mike Leach to take his place on the show.
The interview grew tense when Finebaum clammed up and stopped talking (like a 5 year old child), and at one point Dye had to ask if Paul was “still there.” It was obvious that Dye had completed his thought, but Finebaum made the juvenile claim that he didn’t know if Dye was through.
Here’s the deal. When you think Paul Finebaum, think Andy Kaufman. For those too young to remember, Kaufman was a comedic performer in the 1970s and early 1980s whose career thrived on attention gained for himself via gimmicks and antics that left audiences wondering if what they were witnessing was a hoax.
One such ongoing prank was Kaufman challenging Memphis area wrestling champion Jerry Lawler to a wrestling match. Not much bigger than Finebaum, Kaufman repeatedly taunted the gigantic man, then ran like a school girl when the wrestler got remotely close to him. The act included a fight on the David Letterman show in 1982, and ended with Lawler pile driving Kaufman into a wrestling mat, where Kaufman would later claim Lawler had broken his neck. Kaufman would wear a neck brace publicly until his death from lung cancer in 1983, though those closest to him would later contend that his neck injuries were no where near as severe as he claimed.
Here’s my point. Paul Finebaum will do anything to draw attention to himself, and what played out on his show yesterday was the stuff that has made him as rich as he is today. Guests like Mike Leach are just what the doctor ordered for sensational events and comments that are sure to follow.
But Pat Dye and Gene Stallings should not dignify the Paul Finebaum radio show with their presence. Finebaum showed both of the legendary coaches great disrespect, at one point contending to both of them on the air that what they were saying “according to his sources” was false.
Finebaum thrives on the same awkward discomfort that made Andy Kaufman famous. If you want to play a party to that as a sponsor of the show or just a listener, that is your choice.
But Gene Stallings and Pat Dye shouldn’t. In this writer’s opinion, they should bid the show arivaderchi.