News broke overnight of former Alabama running back Glen Coffee being arrested in Fort Walton Beach on a weapons charge.
Coffee was pulled over for speeding then failed to provide registration or proof of insurance; a cocked pistol was found in the center console. The report didn’t say whether or not the gun was registered to Coffee. Coffee was released a short time later.
The day before former Alabama receiver DJ Hall and a former walk-on Darwin Salaam were arrested in Tuscaloosa on marijuana charges at an extended-stay hotel. Both men were freed on $30,000 bond. Hall still holds the Alabama career receiving record with 2,923 yards.
Whenever an arrest happens, sometimes the easiest thing to do is look for the smoking…or cocked…gun.
Coffee’s history is curious, to say the least. Caught up in the textbook scandal in 2007, he was forced to sit four games in the latter part of the season. He was among a small group of players suspended for improper use of textbook privileges.
Then, after returning for a strong if not dominate 2008 season, where he led the Tide in rushing to a 12-2 finish and a return to prominence, Coffee declared for the ’09 NFL draft. Many thought the move was premature (including this writer), but Coffee found a home with the San Francisco 49ers, enjoying a steady rookie season. Coffee was the second leading rusher for the 49ers with 226 yards that season, but looked to step into a more prominent role this year.
Then, unexpectedly, last August, Coffee announced his retirement saying that he felt God wanted him to stop playing football.
Whispers and mutterings encircled DJ Hall as one of the troubled spots for the new Nick Saban regime. Toward the end of the troubled 2007 season, which included consecutive losses to LSU, Mississippi State, Louisiana-Monroe and Auburn, internet message boards lit up with chatter about an alleged altercation with former Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson, and a lack of leadership and work ethic on the practice field. Hall seemed to cast a shadow on the Alabama program, and not a favorable one.
In his Monday presser following the La.Monroe game…otherwise known as the Crimson Declaration of Independence from Mediocrity (distinction mine)…Alabama head coach Nick Saban mentioned repeatedly references to players not buying in and doing things the right way.
Another player from this era, Jimmy Johns, is now doing time for cocaine possession and distribution.
No doubt, one can see a marked difference between Saban’s first team in 2007 and the squads of 2008, 2009 and 2010. The difference? Was it character issues? Was it players being lazy and not buying in?
Whatever it was, the legacy of that 2007 team seems to be players not being willing to do the right things, and teams of the last three years being willing to do those things.
2008-2010? 31-2 and dominance of the college football landscape.
The message? Do it your way and end up achieving little and continuing on a road that throws your life away.
Do it the right way and achieve more than you ever imagined.
I hope for Coffee’s sake it was a misunderstanding; I’m a man of faith and own a gun (licensed) that I’ve carried…and admittedly right now I’m not sure if I have insurance info in my car. But you can bet I’m going to check after Coffee’s story.
But Hall, Johns and even Coffee (and others) from that troubled 2007 team may prove that there was indeed a core of sorriness that needed to be flushed from the program in order to move forward…once it was determined they weren’t buying in and willing to change. Everybody deserves a chance, but only to the point they prove they are willing to adapt and contribute, not detract and suck the life out of everyone around them.
It’s true in business; it’s true in any community or organization. And these events may suggest that it was also the case at the University of Alabama.
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