Price pays a price for moving to the Big Time

What an absolute tragedy. After leaving Pullman following a Rose Bowl appearance by his Washington State Cougars, Mike Price goes on to finish his career at Alabama undefeated. Not even the legendary Bear Bryant did that.

The fact that he had yet to coach a game should be mentioned about now.

Then Price is fired from his job on a morals rap. He made a huge error in judgment, but the reasons for his dismissal from his job are questionable at best. What crime did he commit? What law did he break? Whose conduct is more questionable, his or his former employer's?

I'm sorry, but I have already forgiven him, just as I did Presidents Clinton, Kennedy, Eisenhower and Roosevelt. All men who held a much more important public office than did Mike Price. Well, maybe not in Alabama. But the common thread here is that all of these men were sinners of the flesh and all retained their jobs in spite of their wanderings.

But not Mike Price. He was canned like a Sockeye salmon.

Excuse me while I choke before saying that no other coach in America has ever been to a topless bar. No other coach has ever strayed. No coach has ever been tempted by the flesh.

Get real. I also find it interesting that the legendary Dean Smith of North Carolina was also known for his conquests off the basketball court as much as for wins on it.

These are men, not angels. Bad choice of words there, but hopefully you get my point.

Topless bars are as common as gambling casinos today. There is one in every town, and being a former recruiting coordinator and football coach, I'd wager that a lot of Alabama's current players have been to their local ones a few times. Many school recruiting trips around the country involve such places as destinations. It may not be planned that way by the university, but let's not be naïve. It happens.

They can go there, you can go there, I can go there, but Mike Price can't without losing his job because he is a football coach. That's something, isn't it?

Whose business is it to decide what bars you go to, what movies you watch, which magazines you read, or what your entertainment preferences are?

Alabama quotes a clause in Mike's contract in regards to being the Alabama head football coach that states "…that responsibility includes conducting your personal and professional life in a manner consistent with university policy."

Of course, they are also quick to point out that he hadn't signed the contract, so they won't have to pay him. So basically, he's fired for a vague clause in a contract that he never signed. Uh huh.

Mike Price made some bad judgments, but did he really do enough to get himself fired?

I think Coach Price deserves at least a million dollar buyout. They have ruined the career of a man that took 35 years to build. They have permanently wronged him in public. They have wrecked his reputation and humiliated him besides.

Why? Because he had some lap dances? Because he isn't a closet drinker and likes to mingle with the common guy? Because his players always embrace him and know he makes football fun?

No. It's because he was the Alabama football coach and he made a mistake in judgment which ended up in a mess filled with smut and innuendo – just the kind of crap that makes for front page news. Embarrassing news for an arrogant university that puts winning football games on the same footing as the Arc of the Covenant. The media loves this sort of trash and, immediately, they turned up the heat. The kind of heat that comes when you work at an Alabama, or a Michigan, or a Washington – big-time programs with big-time media coverage – not under the radar screen like you are in Pullman, Corvallis, or Manhattan, Kansas.

Mike chose to step into the limelight and when he did, he became a target that was easily exposed (probably another bad choice of words). Sure it was his fault. Sure it was stupid. Sure it was out of character. Sure it was terrible to do to Joyce, his wife. He paid dearly for his indiscretion and I'm not defending his choices.

But I truly don't believe he should have lost his job because of it.

If President Witt and all the other sanctimonious administrators who are so concerned with moral fiber of their school wanted to do the right thing, they would have forgiven him, offered to help him with this, and gone on with trying to resurrect their football program. Instead, they chose to throw stones on him and ruin his character for good. I really hope that their glass houses doesn't expose bad choices on their part. Mike Price was picked by them to salvage their reputation, and they proceed to ruin his.

Destiny Stahl was doing her job, just the same as thousands of other dancers do every night in America. They tease and turn on guys who, with the help of booze, let their lust meters run. The workplace should have standards, but what you do on company time is your employer's business. Unless you are breaking a law, what you do on your time is none of their business.


Why should a football coach be held to a higher standard than a president? If Alabama is going to draw the line at table dances, common sense would tell us that there are a lot of others in Alabama who should be fired as well. I'd also bet there are a lot of coaches who are cleaning up their credit cards right now.

The players were very supportive of Mike, and that made it even worse. He had obviously made a positive impression with them and they had forgiven him. Too bad the powers that be were not forgiving people who realize their football coach was merely a man. A man who made mistakes, but who will learn from them.

Will Alabama? columnist and KJR 950 Sports Radio personality, Dick Baird.
Dick Baird was an Assistant Coach (Linebackers) and Recruiting Coordinator at the UW from 1985-1998. He has joined the staff as a featured columnist for both the web site and Sports Washington magazine. In addition to his regular editorial columns, Coach Baird will try to provide some of his unique perspective by answering a few of your selected questions online. If you would like to send in your questions, please CLICK HERE.

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