E xcessively rough football. That was the one of the first volleys fired against Alabama by the Atlanta sportswriters concerned about how dominate Alabama had become in the land of Southern football.
Alabama’s tough coach wasn’t up to the panty-wearing, progressive thinking of the New South’s newspaper of record and its libel-writing sports reporter Furman Bisher. So, what better way to punish Alabama than to criticize one of the best college football coaches? The Atlanta sportswriters began a wholesale war on Alabama over what Bisher described as “brutal” football.
Bryant believed the Atlanta media was out to destroy him, and according to Bryant biographer Allen Barra, “As for the Atlanta writers trying to destroy him, future events would indicate that Bryant was not entirely paranoid,” (The Last Coach, p. 254).
Atlanta Journal sportswriter Bisher’s fingerprints were all over the Saturday Evening Post’s smear that accused Paul W. “Bear” Bryant and Wally Butts of fixing the Alabama-Georgia game. Bryant was quoted as saying, “the story was so wrong, so filled with errors…” (SOURCE: SI). One of the most damning comments about Bisher as a journalist was this, according to Bryant, “Of course, neither Bisher or anybody else ever came around to ask me about all this stuff beforehand.”
Ouch. So much for any journalistic ethics or getting the other side of the story. How could the Atlanta Journal-Constitution continue to employ Furman Bisher after he wrecked the Saturday Evening Post by working on the libelous anti-Bryant campaign? Was there an agenda at play at the AJC?
As Bisher demonstrated, never let the truth get in the way of a good smear against Alabama or Bear Bryant.
The latest attack on the Alabama Crimson Tide and Coach Nick Saban is eerily similar to past Atlanta smears on Alabama. Anyone reading the recruiting dispatches of Atlanta sportswriter Michael Carvell should note the similarity to the infamous Furman Bisher’s smears on legendary Alabama coach Paul W. “Bear” Bryant.
Bisher alleged Bryant “discarded athletes” and would call these players “riff raff” when they were no longer of any use to the Alabama coach (Source: The Last Coach, p. 266).
Carvell has a definite anti-Saban and anti-Alabama bias that demonstrates itself in his recruiting coverage. Carvell attempted to turn the Darius Philon and Justin Taylor grayshirt offers into a “Grayshirt scandal.” According to Carvell, Alabama’s Nick Saban didn’t need these guys who were injured once Alabama “upgraded” at the positions. (SOURCE: AJC).
In other words, Saban is leaving behind a trail of discarded athletes.
The anti-Alabama Birmingham News led by an Auburn-fan publisher and its website al.com were only too happy to contribute to the attack on Nick Saban and Alabama over the grayshirting offers.
But shoddy reporting is nothing new to the pro-Auburn media in this state. Shoddy reporting is nothing new to Atlanta either.
What is new is the extent that newspapers have turned to the Internet to spread their agenda. Using their blogs and column postings the anti-Alabama Birmingham News/Mobile Press-Register/Huntsville Times and the Atlanta Journal Constitution work as an echo chamber shouting their propaganda louder and louder into the Internet’s ether.
Carvell is not as bad as Bisher’s smear attacks, but his actions are transparent. In a reckless attempt to get hits to his website, Carvell will say bad things about Saban in an attempt to agitate both Alabama and Georgia fans. He attacks Saban to get a rise out of Alabama fans, and he intimates that Mark Richt isn’t working hard enough in order to get Georgia fans worried, ie: “Unfortunately for UGA, Mark Richt was not available to meet Foster or the other star-studded recruits in person because he reportedly out of town for family reasons.” (SOURCE: AJC)
Carvell is committed to trying to stop Saban’s raid of the state of Georgia for football talent. Carvell’s feckless attack today was to accuse Saban of trying to “steal” one of UGA’s star commitments while one of Alabama’s commitments continues to “flirt” with UGA’s coaches. (SOURCE: AJC). In other words, that mean old Nick Saban doesn’t respect commitments and will say anything to get them to commit to Alabama.
It didn’t stop “Bear” Bryant in the 1960s and it won’t stop Nick Saban today. Bluntly, the Atlanta newspapers just don’t matter enough to slow down Saban.