Right decision? It was the only decision

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 5, 2003

While the University of Alabama continues its search for yet another head football coach, with former Crimson Tide quarterback Mike Shula apparently topping the latest list of prospects, many continue to debate whether Alabama President Robert Witt was justified in his firing of former Tide Coach Mike Price.

Let there be no more doubt about this, the termination of Price was not only the right decision for the Capstone, but it was the only decision.

Those that argue otherwise simply do not appear to get it.

It is about more than wins and losses on the football field at this point for the University of Alabama, and although the legendary Crimson Tide gridiron program is a major asset of the storied university, the University's overall reputation, a reputation that has been soiled often by the Tide football program, is infinitely more important at this time.

Witt, who has only been on the job for about two months, has immediately shown that Alabama may finally have a firm leader in charge, one who may finally be able to chip away at the school's "party school" image.

Apparently the majority of the school's board of trustees were in favor of keeping Price, and if this decision would have been made, the school's laughingstock image would have suffered yet another tough blow, one that definitely would have been difficult from which to recover.

Witt, however, was reported to have made his decision to fire Price as early as last Thursday, and stuck to his guns despite possible attempts to sway his decision by the board of trustees, a powerful group that includes Paul Bryant Jr.

Witt was firm and to the point in his remarks explaining his decision to terminate Price, and was equally firm and competent in his replies to questions from the numerous media types in attendance at Saturday's press conference in Tuscaloosa.

While Witt was impressive with his remarks, the same unfortunately cannot be said for Price, who was brave enough to take shots at Witt during his remarks upon being fired, but not brave enough to answer questions following his remarks.

It was a pitiful display seeing Price ramble about second chances when he had been warned numerous times about his off-the-field behavior and then he had the nerve to comment that his firing was a wrong decision, noting "the University of Alabama is bigger and better than this."

No Coach Price, the University of Alabama is bigger and better than to allow its football program, one that has been tarnished significantly by NCAA probation and the incidents involving former coach Mike DuBose to continue to reflect negatively on its overall image.

By most accounts Price is not a bad person, but one who self-admittedly has some personal problems that must be addressed and hopefully he and his family can heal the wounds caused by his recent behavior.

The University of Alabama players are the ones who have truly suffered the most over the past several years, and their pain was obvious in remarks they made during Saturday's surreal day at the Capstone, and although several players made comments which could be considered out-of-line, their remarks were a reflection of raw emotion and hopefully a new coach can also heal their wounds.

Above all, it is time for the University of Alabama to slowly begin healing from various mistakes that have been made by a myriad of people, and fortunately for those who have either attended or support this university, it at least appears that a strong president is now in place to guide the Capstone's journey toward the future.