That's okay. I understand the feeling. As someone that deals with the players a lot--literally on a daily basis during the season--I'm very angry over what Franchione did as well. He put himself first and the players second. (And don't anyone mention the sop about protecting his family, because at $1.5 mill per year for ten years his family was going to be fine.)
But my anger is directed toward College Station. Not Tuscaloosa.
At BamaMag.com, we believe in being open with our readers, so we post a "contact us" e-mail link in plain view on the website. Several fans take advantage of that avenue, and this morning I got an e-mail from a fan, blasting Athletics Director Mal Moore and everyone presently employed at the Alabama Football Complex.
The writer was angry. He used a lot of capital letters and exclamation points.
"Clean house now!!!" was his sentiment. And his reasoning was that the current administration--the entire kit and kaboodle--was hell-bent on destroying the Crimson Tide football program.
Really. That is what he said.
Here is my reply to him:
"John (not his name), no offense, but where does this animosity come from? And that's an honest question.
"You may or may not think that Mal Moore is the best choice for athletics director. Fine. But where does your animosity come from? What has Coach Moore done to make you angry?
"Last spring Moore took the initiative in offering Franchione a $15 million contract over ten years. At the time Franchione told him those terms were acceptable. For whatever reason (and The University Board of Trustees may well have played a role), the deal didn't get done. But throughout the spring and summer Franchione continued to assure Moore that he would sign. And fans know all about Franchione's equivocations during the recent season.
"Following the Hawaii game, Moore and the BOT essentially met all of Franchione's contract demands. Even during Wednesday's last-ditch meeting with Moore and the BOT, Franchione continued to indicate that he would probably sign but wanted to listen to what A&M had to say. Franchione then flew off to Texas and (thankfully) has not returned.
"Where in any of that do fans find reason for anger toward Coach Moore?
"Let's look at what has happened in the coaching search so far. The Thursday that Franchione left, Moore was contacted by Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer, indicating an interest in the job. This, by the way, was a private contact--no publicity or salary raise was involved. Beamer, of course, had been a top candidate for the Alabama job two times before. And if circumstances had worked out differently, Moore would have hired him ahead of Franchione in December of 2000. After taking two days to consider, Beamer decided it was too late in his career to leave his alma mater, so Alabama moved on.
"Coach Moore then quickly identified and interviewed two candidates: Mike Riley and Jim Leavitt. During the interviews, both men indicated that if offered the job, they would accept. After deliberating overnight, Moore settled on Riley. And based on Riley's previous assurance, Coach Moore did the honorable thing by relaying to Leavitt that Alabama was going in a different direction. Leavitt then negotiated a new deal with South Florida (good for him).
"Over the next 24 hours Coach Moore and the BOT negotiated a deal that was acceptable to Riley (his agent said so). Then at the last minute Thursday afternoon Riley called and said he needed more time to consider. When that happened, Coach Moore essentially gave him 24 hours and then withdrew Alabama's offer.
"Honestly now, where in any of that do fans find reason to be angry at Coach Moore or the Alabama administration? At what point did Coach Moore do something that you think was foolish? Fans may or may not have agreed that Riley was the best choice, but they would have to acknowledge that for tons of Tide supporters he was.
"People are frustrated. Fine, we at BamaMag.com are as well. But where in any of this do fans find evidence that Coach Moore--or anyone else--is incompetent? Was it Moore's fault that Franchione left for A&M? Was it Alabama's fault that Riley got cold feet? Is it now wrong that The University is carefully going through the list of candidates to identify the man that would be the best long-term fit?
"All Tide fans should take a deep breath. Hang in there. This thing will end soon enough.
"And in good time, if fans think changes in the administration are called for, then by all means they should advocate for that. But please pardon me if I now suggest that the groundswell of Crimson anger would be more correctly pointed in a more westward direction.
I fully realize that the writer of that e-mail, including many of you, will dismiss what I say, chalking me up as a Mal Moore apologist. Certainly I've defended Coach Moore in the past, because I have seen first-hand what he means to Alabama's players and coaches. But that's honestly not what I'm doing now.
Again, Coach Moore may or may not be the best man for the job. Changes within the administration may or may not be long overdue. But if fans' criticism is based on how Alabama is handling the current coaching search, I simply do not see it.
If fans are angry with Coach Moore because they view him as being too closely tied to the past, fine.
If fans are angry with him because he was the man that hired Franchione, reasoning that Coach Moore should therefore pay a price, fine.
If fans are angry with Moore because his background is in athletics, not business, fine.
But right now at least, I see a different dynamic at work.
Crimson Tide fans are angry--no, livid--over what has happened to their beloved program over the past several years. And more specifically over what Franchione did to them two weeks ago.
Fans are venting right now, and in their frustration Mal Moore has become a convenient target for their anger.