Bama job none of Jesse’s business

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Enough with the jokes already!

The wags on talk shows, late-night television shows, the internet and no telling where else have had their fun, and plenty of it, with jests about Mike Price and the escapade that led to his departure as the Alabama football coach.

Some of the quips were even funny. Obviously a lot of bawdiness and cruelty were included.

The jokes should have run their course, but the end is not nearly in sight.

Price is gone from the Crimson Tide and Mike Shula is at the helm, but you can be sure opposing fans will have their fun at games this coming season by calling attention to the Price episode.

With the hiring of another Mike, at least only one name will have to be changed on the athletic department’s stationary and other printed materials.

Larry White and his sports information department at Alabama have to be going through the wringer. With work well under way, prior to the coaching change, on the 2003 football media guide, they are having to re-group, and change biographies, coaches’ quotes and other materials in the guide.

It will be intriguing how they include Price and what, if anything, is said about him in the publication other than a mention of his brief tenure.

Meanwhile, perhaps the biggest joke of all has been Jesse Jackson and his self-intrusion.

Suddenly, he apparently envisioned himself as an expert on college football, adding to his manufactured resume.

Interestingly enough, Jackson’s insistence that Alabama hire a black coach, and then his crying because a white man got the job, were not echoed by several former black players at Alabama.

Virtually to a man, these letter-winners have lauded the choice of Shula, describing him as the type person needed at Tuscaloosa.

Whether that turns out to be correct will be learned over the years, the first few of which will be tough due to the Tide’s NCAA problems, including the loss of scholarships.

Right now, the euphoria is there among Alabama players and fans, despite Jackson’s claim that the hiring of Shula over Sylvester Croom was insulting.

If anything was insulting, it was Jackson’s entrance into a matter far removed from being any of his business.

There are 117 Division 1-A schools and only four of them have minority coaches, so why pick on Alabama?

A main reason, of course, is this state’s background as a civil rights battleground, a legacy that is hard to shed despite remarkable progress since the 1960s in the matter. That background, to people such as Jackson, makes the state an easy target, unfair though it might be.

Whatever. Shula is in the coach’s office, with plenty of catching up to do before South Florida comes calling in Birmingham on Aug. 30.

That’s a serious matter, despite the jibes of recent days.

(Hoyt Harwell is a retired Associated Press Correspondent who covered major sports in Alabama for 26 years. Harwell lives in Hoover. E-mail: