Something Must Go

The NCAA recently passed a rule limiting all media guides to a maximum of 208 pages for all sports at all participating NCAA institutions.

The page-limit rule is a compromise bylaw that stemmed from a measure that would have brought upon the death of media guides had it passed a year ago. The measure, introduced by the Atlantic Coast Conference, does not put any restrictions on the type or amount of content that can be included in the media guides.

While many football and basketball guides will shrink, one would think other smaller non-revenue sports will feel see the page limit as a minimum instead of a maximum, and push the raise their page tally to the 208 number to keep pace.

Thus, it's doubtful the new rule will prove to be a budget-control, as it was lobbied as to some decision-makers.

For Alabama's former 312-page guide, that will mean something has to go. In relation to its massive tradition and football history, Alabama's guide might already be the most modest in college athletics. But still something will have to go.

Fortunately, the 312-page version will be available in full over the Internet.

The most noticeable subtraction will be the 18-page section recapping each of Alabama's 52 bowl games – something a Johnny-come-Lately doesn't have to worry about.

The 2004 football media guide also contained a 14-page photo spread in a mural-like layout. Photos of Frank Thomas, Wallace Wade, Cornelius Bennett and Derrick Thomas and many more Tide great players and coaches. Those 14 pages are also among the 104 that must go.

Special features each year – last year it was a two-page spread chronicling some of the memorable games in Bryant-Denny Stadium – will be removed. The two-page history of the stadium itself will be condensed into one page.

Other things surrounding Tide football, such as the Million Dollar Band, the Elephant Story and How the Crimson Tide got its Name will remain, but be condensed into a single page with fewer pictures.

Pages of staff bios will be changed into a two-page spread with 40 mug shots of the staff members. Opponents previews – formerly one per page, will be shortened to three per page. Participation charts will be gone and the popular "The Last Time…" section will be sent to the Internet.

On the bright side, it will be easy to compare and decide that Alabama will have pound-for-pound the most impressive 208-page guide in the country because while the NCAA has limited the number of pages in the media guide, it hasn't taken the step of limiting the tradition itself.

The price will remain $15 for cash purchases at the sports information office, and $20 for mail order media guides.

Unfortunately, the new rule will not restrict Florida from using a photo of a crocodile on the cover instead of a gator, like happened two years ago.

But the size limit might hinder the use of a photo like the one UAB sent to opponents in 2003, of a full Legion Field with recreational vehicles parked outside - obviously for an Alabama game – for use in other squads' opponents media guide pages.

Last year, Texas' 500-plus page media guide became the whipping boy for everything that is wrong with the guides, and how unfair it was to have free reign in deciding how big is too big.

Perhaps the supporters of the rules were convinced that the size of the media guide was directly responsible for Texas' recruiting success under Mack Brown.

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