That sound you might hear off in the distance? It could very well be the blood of a certain Crimson & White head coach beginning to boil.
A quarterback battle between Alabama native AJ McCarron and Virginia native Phillip Sims that began in the spring of 2011 and extended into the early part of the regular season ended with McCarron playing a significant role in Alabama’s second BcS title in three years this past January. Seeing the very clear writing on the wall, Sims announced after spring practice this year that he was transferring from the Tide.
In an interview with the Virginian-Pilot shortly after Sims’ transfer decision was confirmed, the player’s former head coach at Oscar Smith High School, Richard Morgan, claimed there was one reason and one reason only why McCarron received the nod over Sims.
“If it’s a close competition between an in-state guy and an out-of-state guy, the in-state guy is getting the job,” he said. “Phillip was in a situation where I thought he was the better quarterback, but he was the out-of-state guy. That’s just the way it works in college
As my six-year-old daughter is wont to say, what a crock of poo. Say what you want about Nick Saban — and I’m quite certain many, many things will be said in the comments section below this post — but his singular focus when it comes to on-field matters is getting the best players into both huddles in order to give his team the best opportunity to win on any given Saturday. It would be literally impossible, I believe, for the three-time BcS champion coach to care less from what city/state/country/continent/planet/universe a player hailed.
If Saban and/or his coaching staff thought Sims gave the Tide the best opportunity for a win, it would’ve been Sims under center when UA’s offense stepped onto the field for the season-opening series against Kent State last September. Or the next week or the week after that or the week after that etc.
Right or wrong, Saban rolled the dice with McCarron — and said roll had nothing to do with the fact that McCarron played his high school football four hours from Tuscaloosa.
Third in the SEC in QB rating and a BcS title in his first year as a starter at the collegiate level? Yeah, I’d say the coaching staff’s decision was more right than wrong, regardless of one outsider’s sour grapes over his former player getting geographically hosed.
The local-boy-makes-good story may be a consideration on a lot of campuses around the country, but not at any place where Saban is in charge, and not at arguably the most important position on the field.
In addition to placing one foot squarely in his mouth on the Tide’s personnel front, Morgan took his other one and crammed it into the same neighborhood when discussing the reason behind Sims’ transfer.
While it seemed obvious to most that the player decided to transfer because he had little chance of supplanting McCarron the next couple of years, Sims said in a parting statement that his decision was “nothing more than a personal matter” and that he “just need[s] to be closer to home to support my family at this time and that needs to be my priority right now.” Such a public statement was likely the precursor to an appeal for a waiver from the NCAA that would allow the quarterback to play immediately, likely in his home state of Virginia with the ACC’s Cavaliers.
According to the coach, the move instead had a lot to do with personnel instead of something personal.
“McCarron still has two years of eligibility,” Morgan said. “If it was the case where (McCarron) was a senior and Phillip had to sit one more year and then have two years, he wouldn’t leave. Let’s face it, they did win the national championship. So you’re not going to bench the quarterback who won the national title. And (Sims) doesn’t want to sit because he feels he’s just as good. So he has to go somewhere where he can play.”
Sims and his new school will have a hard time arguing the hardship angle to the NCAA with public comments like the above from somebody that close to the player.
(Tip O’ the Cap: al.com)