Archived Story

Saban, Richt & Miles bring integrity

Published 8:36am Thursday, August 16, 2012

In the world of college football, that often resembles a three-ring-circus, there are still some head coaches who consistently demonstrate how things should be done.
Everyone knows by now about Tyrann Mathieu and his dismissal from the LSU program.
A few weeks back, Mark Richt dismissed running back Isaiah Crowell from the Georgia football program.
These two young men were not just players who made a wrong turn on the road to maturity; they were key players, who made their respective football teams very strong and gave them a chance for greatness.
Some may suggest that Richt and Miles had no choice but to release their players.
Others, the fans who sometimes add to the three-ring circus with their own version of a side-show, believe that athletes with “star-power” are on another level and should be given preferential treatment.
You hear it on the various talk shows, you read about it in the papers and most of all, they blog it on the thousands of football sites circling the internet.
Then you have a head coach like Nick Saban.
When he took over at Alabama, he weeded through the garbage that he was left with and without hesitation; he changed the face of the Alabama football program.
Malcontents, drug users’ and poor character types were cut loose with little fanfare or media coverage.
When is the last time you heard about a football player at Alabama having issues with character, integrity or off the field distractions?
As long as Nick Saban is head coach at Alabama, don’t expect any surprises coming out of Tuscaloosa.
The players and incoming recruits know exactly where the coach stands.
Miles did not do as well with the Jordan Jefferson mess in 2011.
I was upset with how he handled not only Jefferson, but how he shoved aside  quarterback Jarrett Lee, who went undefeated until Jefferson got his first start on November 12th. At that time, LSU had an average winning margin of 27.6 points.
I believe taking the job from Lee at that critical stage in the season added to the uncertain mindset of the LSU players.
Then Alabama gave Jefferson zero chance of success in the SEC championship game. Lee stood and watched a complete beat down of the team he had under his wing.
Miles chose poor character but better athlete over a strong character kid who was not that bad.
With Mark Richt, everyone around the college football scene believes this is the year Georgia must win the SEC for Richt to keep his job.
So his decision to release Crowell had to be a tough call, but a call that needed to be made.
I respect his stand up approach to what he believes is much more important than winning football games.
Two other coaches come to mind: Gene Chizik and Urban Meyer.
I was once a huge Gene Chizik fan.
In fact, I was one of the few who supported his hire when the announcement was made.
Since the Cam Newton scandal and the fact the NCAA did indeed find his father guilty of violating NCAA rules, I had my doubts about Chizik.
If they had not found a loophole so Newton could continue playing, Auburn and Chizik would have been in serious trouble.
I believe the timing of the findings helped Auburn in this case.  It was the week of the SEC championship game.
Chizik did the right thing by standing by his player and his program, but honestly, what was he supposed to do?  He was definitely “all in.”
Coach Chizik was in a tough position and I still think he is a stand up person.
Then you have ex-Florida coach Urban Meyer.  At the time of his second departure, he had no less than 37 arrests which involved players under his watch.
Until next time.
Meyers is a college football columnist.

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