Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Alabama, under Nick Saban’s leadership, has experienced an overwhelming amount of success. Whether we’re talking about corporate America or the playing field, the public attributes certain beliefs to organizations that achieve the level of success Saban has created at Alabama. Those beliefs include, but are not limited to, “greed,” “being unethical,” and “breaking the rules.” It’s just not sexy to applaud the incredible work ethic and dedication that goes into building the resume that Saban has built in Tuscaloosa.
The latest gripe that the college football community has with Saban is that he hordes all the assistants and analysts. There’s nothing illegal about building the largest entourage of experts. But that’s about to change if the NCAA Football Oversight Committee has anything to say about it. With Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby leading the way for this committee, the NCAA has its focus set on leveling the playing field when it comes to staff sizes.
When speaking on behalf of the committee, Bowlsby referenced one school that has a football staff of 97 people. Come on, Bob. There’s no need to be cute, coy, or discreet. We all know who Bowlsby was beating around the bush about. Alabama.
If people want to complain about how the NCAA handled the situation involving former Alabama assistant Bo Davis, great, go for it. I agree that the NCAA was lenient with Alabama and Saban. Rules were broken in that situation, but that doesn’t mean that Saban has broken any rules in hiring 97 people as coaches and analysts.
Bowlsby and his committee are taking the stance that too much success is to be punished. Do you want the notion of “too much success” to be quantified? Good luck! It’s completely arbitrary. That’s of no concern to the committee. They’re here to spread the wealth of winning around college football and, for that to happen, Alabama must be targeted.
The scheme of the committee is to create guaranteed success by presenting it as an equalization of opportunity measure. Is there a lot of money flowing through college football? Yes, there is. Is there a lot of money flowing through the Alabama football program? Absolutely. But every Power 5 school in the country could have built what Saban has built at Alabama.
Alabama had some lean years prior to Saban being hired. Significant emphasis should be placed on the word prior. Success doesn’t happen without the right people first being hired. Whoever identified Saban as the top candidate for Alabama, whether that was a search committee or just the A.D., did their job. That homerun hire was one that every Power 5 school with an opening sets out to make. Quality leadership and hiring practices matter.
Bowlsby did acknowledge the difference between the Power 5 schools and the smaller FBS schools. It’s about the size of the budgets. Placing caps on the size of a coaching staff is geared towards leveling the monetary level field. The cold truth of the matter is that some schools will always have more than their competitors. Is that fair? No, it isn’t. And I have no problem with success not being fair given that rules were not broken. What I do have a problem with is enforcing legislation with the purpose of tempering the success of one program in favor of the success of other programs. That, to me, is predatory.
E-mail Seth at seth [dot] merenbloom [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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