Posted on: June 16, 2008 11:42 am
Edited on: June 16, 2008 11:44 am
Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: You really don't get it, bud. (Alabama coach Mark) Gottfried is most vulnerable when expectations are high. (With Ron) Steele and (Richard) Hendrix back, even you said it, hey should contend for the SEC West. (But) check the record; that's when (Gottfried) flops. The best thing that can happen to him is for Hendrix to go pro; then he's got an excuse. As far as the fans are concerned, trust me on this, the powers that be in Tuscaloosa could care less about our wishes or about what's right. On the day Steele's double knee surgery was announced, Gottfried should have been fired. He ran an NBA lottery pick into the ground.
I understand Alabama fans have grown impatient with Gottfried after two straight NCAA tournament misses. That's why I wrote the column. But, in his defense (and I made this point in the column), he spent the 2006-07 season playing with an injured Steele and the 2007-08 season playing without Steele completely. That made his job tough, and while I know it comes off as an excuse I'm willing to accept it as a reasonable excuse, at this point.
As for the running-an-NBA-lottery-pick into the ground comment, I can see both sides of it.
Did Steele play hurt?
But I don't remember him ever telling Gottfried he couldn't go and Gottfried making him play. Guys play hurt all the time; we tend to praise them and call them tough. And though in hindsight it seems crazy that Steele kept playing despite the nature of his injuries, I don't recall it being considered ridiculous at the time despite him clearly not being the same player.
Either way, Ron's little brother, Andrew, is set to play for the Crimson Tide next season, and that's worth noting because if the Steele's really thought Gottfried ran their son into the ground do you think they'd willingly send another son his way? I don't. So let's agree to see how this season goes, see whether Gottfried can take a roster that should be talented and make it a winner.
If so, he'll get a raise and contract extension.
If not, well, then his detractors might be too much to overcome.