Monday, January 26, 2009

Has Anyone Made the Mark "Got Fired" Gottfried Joke Yet?

This afternoon, Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried resigned after 11 years at the helm (although some outlets are reporting he was fired). To be honest, it doesn't exactly surprise me. The Tide had a good run a few years back, making it to five straight NCAA tournaments from 2002-2006, even reaching to Elite 8 in '04, but in recent years the program has fallen far below that plateau.

This year, despite having a talented backcourt of Alonzo Gee, Senario Hillman, and Ronald Steele surrounding Mickey D's all-american JaMychal Green, Alabama has sputtered to a 12-7 mark, 2-3 in the SEC, which includes losses to Mercer and Oregon.

Crimson Tide faithful could have seen the end coming last week when Steele left the team. Some reports said the reason for his departure was the plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the muscle that supports the arch of your foot causing pain in your heel (I've had it before, and it f'in hurts).

But Steele has said the reason for his departure was something other than an injury, leading people to believe he was unhappy with Gottfried. From the Birmingham News:

But Steele said Wednesday that it wasn't an injury that forced his decision, that it was something else. And that leaves it open to speculate about the state of Alabama basketball, and Steele's relationship with Gottfried.

It opens up reconsideration of last season, when Steele elected to redshirt and Gottfried never sounded comfortable with that decision. Remember all those postgame press conferences when Gottfried made references to the fact that his "best" player was only playing in practice? Were those comments subtle shots taken at Steele, evidence that Gottfried felt if Steele was well enough to practice, he should have been well enough to play?

And how did hearing Steele referred to as Gottfried's best player make Richard Hendrix, arguably the best player on the floor for Alabama, feel? Did that contribute to Hendrix's decision to leave early?
All in all, it is a shame to see Steele go out like this. As a freshman and sophomore, he was one of the best and most promising PG's in the country. Now, he is a fifth year senior that quit midway through his final season.

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