New Media Guide

It has slimmed down, from 312 pages last year to NCAA-mandated 208 this year. The Alabama football media guide could use some more pages because the Crimson Tide has quite a bit more football importance than at most schools, but the media relations staff has done a nice job.

Larry White is the associate athletics director for media relations at Alabama, and was in charge of the guide, which is available to the public for $20 by mail (order from Media Relations, University of Alabama, PO Box 870323, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487).

It was known there were going to be sections deleted and/or reduced. The NCAA wants every school to have the same sized media guide, regardless of all aspects that have made the media guides varying sizes over the years.

Most notable omissions are things like Alabama's game-by-game bowl history, and detailed accounts of last year's games, and Alabama's all-time record when playing ranked teams. A number of items on Crimson Tide tradition had to be deleted.

From a working press standpoint, a victim of the NCAA cut was information on covering the Crimson Tide. The University probably figured that everyone who covers Alabama knows how to get credentials, when the press conferences are held, interview policies, etc.

But that's the bad.

It's mostly very, very good.

Despite the cuts, there is very good documentation of Alabama's fabulous football tradition. The media guide includes all-time and 2004 statistical information, and facts related to the 2005 season, including biographical information on players, signees, coaches, administration, and staff. It has all-time results and lettermen and dozens and dozens of other sections for coverage of the Crimson Tide.

One of the surprising aspects of the guide is that Head Coach Mike Shula's photograph is not on the cover. Not on the front cover, not on the back cover, and not on either of the inside covers (the only pages that can be in color–another NCAA rule). Of course, the biographies of Shula and all the assistants are complete.

The guide has an emphasis–some might say an over-emphasis–on academics, including an excellent section on Bryant Hall, which has been renovated and rededicated as an academics center. An interesting photo alongside that of Athletics Director Mal Moore at this year's dedication is one of Paul W. Bryant at the dedication of the original building as Alabama's athletics dormitory on May 8, 1965.

There's not much done by the NCAA that makes sense, and dictating how much a school can say about its football program ranks among the most nonsensical. The NCAA's wrong-headed approach to fair play simply takes away from the good job done by Alabama football players and coaches over the years, and from the good job that Bama's current media relations staff has proved it can do on producing a complete media guide.

Just about every reason imaginable has been offered by prospects as to why they chose one school over another. It is unlikely the NCAA could find documentation of any prospect choosing a school on the basis of the size of its media guide.

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