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HS coach: Sims lost Tide QB battle because ‘he was the out-of-state guy’

Phillip Sims, A.J. McCarron AP

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:

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34 Responses to “HS coach: Sims lost Tide QB battle because ‘he was the out-of-state guy’”
  1. cometkazie says: May 1, 2012 8:27 PM

    And so it goes . . .

  2. suprmous says: May 1, 2012 8:39 PM

    Kinda sorta sounds like siblin rivalry at best, geesh Louise.

  3. Casey Robbins says: May 1, 2012 8:47 PM

    So, one of the best coaches in college football (arguably the best) risks a potential (and eventual) national championship season because he wants to play favorites with the in-state guy over the out-of-state guy?

    There is a reason this guy is coaching high school ball and Saban is a proven college coach.

  4. dgbk says: May 1, 2012 9:01 PM

    while i dont believe what he says to be true i am not surprised by it. high school coaches have a lot to gain when their former players, go to college and become stars…. sims never got the shot so he is bitter

  5. kozbee says: May 1, 2012 9:31 PM

    Im not a Bama fan but high school coach Richard Morgan shows hes not so bright as to say Saban is going with an instate QB over sims,just a stupid remark Richard you made.Im not a Bama fan but hey Saban should get credit when its due and imo hes going with the best QB to win a Championship.So now Sims jumps ship to join Virginia a team that got their fannys beat by a SEC team in the last bowl they played in.I believe it was Auburn that ran them over in the Georgia Dome 43-24 last December.I love watching recruits make big mistakes and think their ready to show all lol.Sims you just turned into a crybaby that imo would of never played as well as his coach Morgan ran his mouth. JMO.

  6. dschminck says: May 1, 2012 9:33 PM

    Mr. Taylor,

    Your response is so authoritative that it begs the question: do you personally know Mr. Saban?

    Knowing him personally is vastly different from making his acquaintance or knowing of him through the persception of others.

  7. dschminck says: May 1, 2012 9:34 PM

    Mr. Taylor,

    Your response is so authoritative that it begs the question: do you personally know Mr. Saban?

    Knowing him personally is vastly different from making his acquaintance or knowing of him through the perception of others.

  8. Deb says: May 1, 2012 10:12 PM

    @dschminck …

    Knowing someone personally doesn’t necessarily give you insight into how that individual performs professionally. JT is a sports reporter and a student of the game. Whether it’s Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier in the college game, or Bill Belichick and Jeff Fisher in the pro game, when you’re a student of the game who’s had the opportunity to observe how coaches perform for many years, you develop an understand of how they do their jobs and how they react in certain situations.

    Those of us who’ve observed Nick Saban know he’s a singularly minded, driven, perfectionist who ignores university politics. His sole interest is the team and the performance of the team. So he’s not going to care where a player hails from. Don’t know him personally, but have had that perception confirmed by those who do, including people on his staff.

    All that foolish, attention-seeking high school coach has done is make life more difficult for Phillip Sims in his quest to play for Virginia this season.

  9. thegamecocker says: May 1, 2012 10:51 PM

    This young man is frustrated because he feels he will not play. This is apparent and his explanation about a personal matter is partly true. He cannot come to grips that someone else was selected over him. To him that constitutes a “personal issue”. Mr. Sims should sit out a year before he is able to play. Anything else is nothing more than fraud! I’m tired of some of these players trying to skirt the rules. He needs to understand that running away from competition is not the answer. Seeing things through and being a good team player is equally important. That’s my POV on this matter and people should not be questioning Coach Saban’s judgement. The man is color-blind when making these type decisions.

  10. vincentbojackson says: May 1, 2012 11:28 PM

    We need more high school coaches weighing in on the depth chart decisions made by major college programs.

    And by more, I mean none.

  11. dschminck says: May 1, 2012 11:52 PM


    While Mr. Richard Morgan has a distinct bias, he does have credibility and practical experience as a coach with respect to the deciding between two players of similar ability.

    Mr. Taylor has not questioned the issue of similar ability, nor has Mr. Taylor posted any biographical information that would give him equal status with respect to credibility and practical experience at coaching football and the factors that may affect a coach’s decisions.

    Blogs in general are a forum for commentary, opinion and analysis. I see much commentary, and far too much opinion that mascarades as analysis.

    According to your response, what you see is commentary backed by expert knowledge and analysis. Blogging per se does not confer any expertise in the subject matter being blogged. And opinion, no matter how sensible or agreeable to the masses, is not expertise. So I assume you have sources other than Mr. Taylor’s blogging experience that gives you this insight into Mr. Taylor’s expertise on this matter.

  12. seanb20124 says: May 2, 2012 5:34 AM

    Is it possible that McCarron is the better of the two?

  13. canehouse says: May 2, 2012 6:22 AM

    How can you believe anything that Saban says? He is a prolific liar!!!

  14. teedraper says: May 2, 2012 6:54 AM

    The coach is wrong. Has nothing to do with being from the other state!! NOTHING! Sims & his parents/mentors at fools! You don’t send a black qb to a school like Alabama….PERIOD!

  15. florida727 says: May 2, 2012 7:50 AM

    teedraper says:
    May 2, 2012 6:54 AM
    You don’t send a black qb to a school like Alabama….PERIOD!


    How ironic that in your post you refer to others as “fools”.

  16. blueglaze says: May 2, 2012 8:18 AM

    It’s not Richard anymore… He is officially known as Dick….

  17. dcroz says: May 2, 2012 8:51 AM


    YOU are a blogger. I am a blogger. DEB is a blogger. JT, on the other hand, is a professional sports reporter. While he and Ben may run this blog, they both are paid to follow college football for a living and therefore have knowledge and insights beyond the average fan like us because it is what they do day in, day out, for the whole year.

    Though, I must say, it doesn’t take a professional reporter to see that this coach’s comments are ridiculous. It just requires a little something I like to call “common sense.” Why would Saban go to Virginia to recruit a QB just so he could sit him on the bench for no better reason than he is from out of state? And do I have to remind anyone that the previous two-year starting QB (who also won a BCS title) was from TEXAS…and wasn’t even Saban’s recruit on top of it?

  18. Spencer says: May 2, 2012 9:01 AM

    The coach probably thinks race played a factor somehow and didn’t really want to say it, so instead settled on the less controversial suggestion that it was because Sims was from “out of state”.

  19. bigdinla says: May 2, 2012 10:36 AM

    “teedraper says:
    May 2, 2012 6:54 AM
    The coach is wrong. Has nothing to do with being from the other state!! NOTHING! Sims & his parents/mentors at fools! You don’t send a black qb to a school like Alabama….PERIOD!”

    Yep because Saban has never had black QB’s before. Oh Rohan Davies and Jamarcus Russel say hi!

  20. hootie14 says: May 2, 2012 12:07 PM

    That hs coach is really screwing Simms out of his chances to play right after transfer. When will coaches/parents learn to keep their mouths shut when it comes to matters they can’t change?

  21. mountaineer50415 says: May 2, 2012 12:24 PM

    Has everyone forgotten that Nick Saban is from WV. That is out of state.I believe he graduated from Alabama, however, he was from out of state. Mr Sims could have graduated from Alabama also. He just was not good enough to run the offense, according to the best coach at the moment. Sadly his high school coach talked out of school. If Mr. Sims was even close to being as good as A. J. McCarron he will make Virginia very very happy. Best wishes to him as he had nothing to do with his high school coaches stupidity.

  22. Deb says: May 2, 2012 5:35 PM

    dschminck says …

    According to your response, what you see is commentary backed by expert knowledge and analysis. Blogging per se does not confer any expertise in the subject matter being blogged. … So I assume you have sources other than Mr. Taylor’s blogging experience that gives you this insight into Mr. Taylor’s expertise on this matter.

    As a matter of fact, yes, I’m familiar with JT’s background as a sportswriter prior to taking his job with CFT. That’s why I characterized him as a sports reporter rather than simply as a blogger offering commentary, which is what he’s paid to do now. If you don’t appreciate his commentary, you might find a site where the analysis is more to your liking.

    But this isn’t rocket science. Like I said, any student of the game–including fans who take the game seriously enough to pay attention–knows Saban’s coaching priorities. And Morgan didn’t apply any coaching expertise to distinguish between Sims’s and McCarron’s abilities in making his comments. He simply declared for his own reasons and without substantiation that Saban picked the in-state quarterback. That’s not true. Your assertion that this high school coach was offering a credible analysis of these quarterbacks is absurd. Anything else?

  23. Deb says: May 2, 2012 5:37 PM

    @mountaineer50415 …

    Nick didn’t go to Bama. He went to Kent State in Ohio.

  24. mountaineer50415 says: May 2, 2012 7:02 PM

    Good to know, thanks Deb, guess I thought wrong. That means he was out of state all the way around. Why would he care if Sims was from out of state? What a dumb HS coach.

  25. dschminck says: May 3, 2012 12:25 AM


    (1) Sports reporting is not coaching expertise.
    (2) The epithet “absurd” bespeaks the last refuge of an emotional mind disturbed by the facts.
    (3) Mr. Taylor’s strongest point is that Mr. Morgan’s remarks were biased and undiplomatic: a obvious point that makes the writing of it trivial.
    (4) The future of Sims’ career is in his own hands and rests with his own performance. Mr. Morgan’s remarks are irrelevant to the future performance of Sims.
    (6) Mr. Taylor’s opinion that Mr. Morgan’s remarks would harm the future career of Sims is weak speculation and as irrelevant to the future of Sims’ career as Mr. Morgan’s remarks.

  26. dcroz says: May 3, 2012 7:35 AM


    To build on what Deb said, not only did Saban go to Kent State, he was a freshman there on May 4, 1970, during the “Kent State Massacre” when the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd of students protesting the US invasion of Cambodia, killing 4 and wounding 9 (most of whom were innocent bystanders). Saban has stated that normally he would have been in the area where it occurred at that time of day, but on that particular occasion he and his roommate decided to have lunch and so was not present at the time of the shootings.

  27. dcroz says: May 3, 2012 7:43 AM


    Sims’ HS coach’s remarks are NOT irrelevant. Sims will be applying for a waiver from the rule that he will have to sit out a year for transferring from one FBS school to another, basing it on that he is doing so because of a family hardship instead of a simple lack of playing time. The NCAA can (and has) granted waivers on this basis. Morgan’s remarks, however, cast doubt on this, and is something the NCAA could take into account when considering the request. Remember, this is not a court of law we’re talking about with all kinds of rules of evidence and constitutional rights and all; the NCAA free to consider anything and everything it deems relevant to the issue at hand. Maybe it won’t put any stock in Morgan’s comments…but then again, maybe it will. That’s the harm.

  28. Deb says: May 3, 2012 12:07 PM

    @dschminck …

    Somehow I knew when typing “Anything else?” you’d come up with something else. You’re like a child that keeps asking “Why?” dcroz has explained the waiver issue. No need for me to repeat what you clearly can’t grasp anyway.

    Absurdity is defined as foolish, illogical, and even wildly unreasonable. That seems a perfect characterization of your comments.

    This is a sports blog. The writers post current news in the college football world and offer their commentary. If you’re looking for analyses from NCAA coaches, you’ve come to the wrong place. Bye.

  29. mountaineer50415 says: May 3, 2012 1:27 PM

    Wow, what a story Coach Saban has for his grandchildren. Never knew that. Glad he was not there. What a loss it could have been.
    I am glad that Virginia still took Sims. He seems like a real nice kid. Would not want him to miss out on all he can be. Probably the best move for him. I would not be upset if he did get to play next year. Never understood why everyone couldn’t move and continue playing. After all coaches do it all the time. His leaving does not harm Alabama in any way.

  30. trick321 says: May 4, 2012 3:20 PM


    First, Morgan has no credibility if he calls into question the integrity of the infallible Nick Saban….

    Next, we have to take his word if he calls into question the integrity of the deceitful Phillip Sims…

    and the author is adamant about these facts… cleary NOT biased writing… again, clearly NOT biased writing…

  31. Deb says: May 4, 2012 4:28 PM

    @trick321 …

    The author is a devoted Ohio State fan who regularly takes shots at Nick, whom he refers to as “Woodcock” and Alabama. Not sure why he’d be biased toward Saban or the Tide. But maybe you have some insight the rest of us lack. Care to share? :roll:

  32. trick321 says: May 5, 2012 3:30 AM

    I have no idea why he is wrote a biased article. The fact is, he has formed a one-sided opinion on the matter without a shred of evidence to support it. Taylor declares the half of Morgan’s quote that contradicts his opinion false and the half that supports his opinion true… with no backing other than because he said so. Get it?

    Moreover, if Nick Saban had shown himself to be above reproach over the course of his career, then maybe people would be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, Saban has, on more than one occasion, demonstrated what might charitably be called “the ability to see shades of grey where most see black or white”.

    Finally, the author’s assertion that Alabama won, therefore “the coaching staff’s decision was more right than wrong” is patently absurd. Alabama was an excellent team that won a lot of games. Does that mean that every decision the coaching staff made was the right one? Of course not.

    None of us know one way or the other for sure, but for the author to come down so definitively on one side shows a slight bias, IMO.

  33. Deb says: May 5, 2012 1:25 PM

    @trick321 …

    I have to give credit where it’s due. Florio on PFT often takes positions for the sole purpose of being controversial because he knows it will light up the comment boards. That’s the role of the blogger and he’s a master at it. Taylor tends to be more honest in his posts, even if it means coming down hard on Ohio State.

    But we do know. It doesn’t have anything to do with Saban’s likeability. Coaches at this level–with this kind of money at stake–are going to play the guy that gives them the best chance of winning. With your job on the line, you’re not going to play the lesser QB just because he’s local. That kind of thing has never been an issue at a football-obsessed school like Bama. Taylor certainly knows that.

    As a Bama fan who’s watched the progression of these players, I know A.J. has proved to be the better quarterback. He’s a better quarterback than McElroy, who guided the team to its 2009 championship. He has the potential to be the best quarterback in Alabama’s recent history.

    Sims’s high school coach has never worked with A.J., does not know Saban, hasn’t worked with Phillip in two years, and had no inside information on this QB competition or the Bama program. Nothing he says can hurt Saban or Alabama. Saban has the right to start whomever he chooses for whatever reason. I’m angry because this self-serving clod created a potential problem for Phillip Sims as he pursues a hardship claim that would enable him to play for Virginia this year.

  34. pointclicklive says: Jul 31, 2012 8:58 AM

    I think something else to consider it that Mr. Taylor is rehashing another article. He is not reporting an interview he had with Richard Morgan. Is there a possibility that the HS coach’s comments were taken out of context? If so, who is going to bring that fact to light? No one, because controversy yields web traffic. I hope the transfer and waiver were all legit, no other ACC school has objected. I wish the best for Sims and hope he can have a positive impact on what Coach London is doing in C-ville.

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