Tide Seeks Payment From Ex-Assistant

"It's not about the money" usually means it's about the money. But one must wonder at the motivation for Alabama football attempting to collect $57,000 from former Assistant Coach Mike Groh , who left the Crimson Tide last February to take a position with the Chicago Bears.

One would think that Alabama would not think much about $57,000. The football department would probably spend about that much to change out the pieces to the chess boards in the player lounge.

But The University has filed suit in Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court to recover the 20 per cent of Mike Groh's annual salary under the buyout clause of the contract.

Of particular interest was the note in the suit that "The Head Football Coach may waive the liquidated damages to be paid by the Employee..."

The Head Football Coach, of course, is Nick Saban. The complaint adds, "The Head Football Coach elected not to waive the liquidated damages to be paid..."

Groh first game to Alabama in 2009 as a graduate assistant coach after nine years at Virginia, the last three as offensive coordinator. He left Bama to serve as quarterbacks coach at Louisville in 2010 and then returned to Alabama in 2011 as wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.

The suit says that in June, 2012, Groh's contract was amended to extend the term of the contract to Feb. 28, 2014, and to increase his salary to $285,000. The standard contract provided that if the employee terminated the contract without cause (such as taking a job with another employer), that The University would be entitled to damages as outlined in the contract – an amount equal to 20 per cent of the base salary ($57,000).

The suit alleges that Groh " has refused and continues to refuse to pay..."

Saban losing football coaches is not unusual. Although five of his original 2007 Alabama staff of assistants is on the 2014 staff, three of those left and have since returned. Kirby Smart and Burton Burns are the only men who has been with Saban in every season.

One can't help but wonder if all those who left for other jobs before fulfilling their contracts paid the damages. And one also wonders if such payment is necessary why Groh hasn't paid. Finally, if it is not customary to seek such payment, or if it is customary for the head coach to waive the payment, why is the Groh situation different?

At the end of the 2013 season, Alabama lost defensive line coach Chris Rumpf (who was replaced by former Saban assistant Bo Davis), safeties coach Greg Brown (who was replaced by Kevin Steele, another former assistant returning to the field with Steele to coach middle linebackers and Smart moving from that spot to coach safeties), and quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier (replaced by Lane Kiffin).

In his previous seven seasons at Bama, Saban has had a total of 15 different men for the nine assistant coaching spots. In addition to Davis and Steele, outside linebackers coach Lance Thompson also left Bama under Saban and later returned.

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