One Makes Sense, Another Doesn't

Isn't it interesting how Alabama fans have reacted to the news of football quarterback Star Jackson planning to leave Alabama compared to how the news of basketball player Justin Knox leaving?

Even though Alabama fans are, in the majority, football fans, the reaction that Star Jackson plans to leave the team has not resulted in negative feelings. That's because it makes sense.

On the other hand, it was upsetting to Crimson Tide fans when basketball player Justin Knox was revealed to be wanting to transfer to UAB. There were several reasons for the negative reaction, and one of them–admittedly, not necessarily the prime reason–was the honest belief that Knox is making a mistake.

In both cases, their coaches–Football Coach Nick Saban and Basketball Coach Anthony Grant–had nothing but good to say about the young men.

Examining the situations:

First Jackson. At this time last season, most expected Greg McElroy to win the starting job as Alabama's quarterback for 2009, but it wasn't an automatic. Many believed that Star Jackson had the ability to take the job either in fall camp or, if McElroy faltered, during the season.

Not only did Jackson fail to overtake McElroy, late in the 2009 season Saban surrprised almost everyone by saying that if Alabama had to play a back-up quarterback, it would be true freshman A.J. McCarron.

During the spring, it appeared that Jackson–is has been at Alabama two full years and would be a sophomore this fall–was behind not only McCarron, who will be a redshirt freshman, and Phillip Sims, a true freshman.

Alabama barely plays a back-up quarterback. As McElroy's back-up last year, Jackson had the opportunity to throw only 21 passes in five games. It appears that will be the end of his Crimson Tide career.

Rumors of a Jackson transfer had been steady since Saban's announcement that McCarron had passed him. And when the rumors gained some substance this week, it made even more sense. One of Jackson's high school coaches, Anthony Midget, is on the staff of Bill Curry at Georgia State. Georgia State is a first year program and the opportunity for a quarterback with the ability of Jackson to play for the Panthers would be considered good.

Georgia State plays Alabama this year, but no one expects that the transfer of Star Jackson to the Panthers would have an effect on the outcome of the game. Mark Ingram could transfer to Georgia State and it wouldn't affect the result.

Look for Alabama to grant a release to Jackson that enables him to make that transfer if that's what Jackson wants. And he will go–as dozens of messages on the board attest–with the best wishes and the gratitude of Crimson Tide fans.

On the other hand, what is Knox thinking?

In his first two seasons at Alabama he had been a bit player. Last year he was a fulltime player, averaging 20 minutes a game. And his contribution? About six points and three rebounds per game. If he was a tenacious defensive player or an obvious leader, his value would be increased, but there was no demonstration that he is either. He was doing about as well as he could.

Now he thinks in a different system he would be an NBA prospect? And that UAB would be that system?

Too much about the situation stinks.

Justin Knox got more than he gave. He didn't even have the courtesy to tell Grant of his plans, a revelation that might have affected Grant's recruiting strategy. And even if it didn't, it would have been the right thing for Knox to do. Instead, Grant heard the rumors, called Knox in, and got the news.

Alabama would have been well within its rights to tell Knox that he was now on his own, but instead Athletics Director Mal Moore generously said that he would pay for Knox to attend summer school and thus earn his degree, making him immediately eligible to play. Alabama did put conditions on the release, including not releasing him to UAB. Bama was under no obligation to give Knox any release.

Why all the stink? There are hundreds of Division I basketball schools. Surely one other than UAB would showcase Knox's talents.

The problems are several.

Star Jackson was not very likely to play football for Alabama again. Justin Knox would be a returning starter for Alabama's basketball team. That's a huge difference.

Beyond that, almost no one would believe that there has not been improper conversation at some level between representatives of UAB and of Knox.

Also, why wouldn't Knox finish his career in his hometown on the biggest basketball stage in the state of Alabama, which is Coleman Coliseum? Making the reasonable assumption that Knox doesn't have a pro career awaiting him, he would have made a much better decision to finish what he started at The University, leaving with at least one and possible two degrees.

Star Jackson and Justin Knox have both made the decision to leave Alabama. For Jackson, it is the correct decision and he gets a fond farewell. In the Knox departure, there is an unpleasant residue.

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