“We’re very disappointed because the Committee missed an excellent opportunity to follow its precedent set in recent cases, the precedent we followed due to the nature of the case.”
Those were the words from Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore on Tuesday upon hearing that the NCAA Appeals Committee had
denied Alabama’s appeal of the vacated wins it received from the textbook scandal.
Back in June of 2009 the NCAA handed down a penalty to sixteen athletic programs at the University of Alabama, all but the rowing team was found at fault for improperly obtaining textbooks from other students.
The basis of Alabama’s appeal was that the penalty given to the teams was not consistent with past penalties handed down by the NCAA from textbook violations. The Crimson Tide received three year probation and the football team was ordered to vacate 21-football wins from 2005-2007. 2005-06 was under Mike Shula as the head coach, and the 2007 team was coached by Nick Saban.
Alabama was not appealing the three year probation it received, but the football wins that were vacated. In no other textbook case had the institution been forced to vacate wins, but the NCAA considers the Crimson Tide a repeat offender due to the probation it was on at the beginning of the decade as well.
Alabama self reported the violations back in 2007 when they found out that football players, Antonie Caldwell, Marlon Davis, Glen Coffee, Marquis Johnson, and Chris Rogers had been obtaining the textbooks improperly. The five players were promptly suspended prior to the 2007 Tennessee game.
The University was hoping the fact that they self reported the violation and suspended the players when they found out what was going on would sway the NCAA into being more lenient. But, the fact that it had been going on since the beginning of the 2005 season made it tough for the NCAA to not give a strict punishment to a team that had as recently as 2002 received probation for violations.
The NCAA was actually somewhat lenient to the Crimson Tide because they self reported and suspended the players when they found out. The University had nothing to do with the players obtaining said textbooks, but they were at fault for not more closely monitoring the situation.
I was not pleased by the NCAA’s decision to deny the appeal made by Alabama, but I can’t say I’m surprised by the decision either. The punishment is not consistent with what the NCAA has given other schools who have had similar violations, but the fact that Alabama was on probation not many years ago made their punishment that much more strict.
The good thing about this is that will not affect the future of the program one bit because Alabama is not going to have to miss bowl games and aren’t losing scholarships due to it, so the future remains really bright.
All 10 wins from 2005 have to be vacated. If you remember back to that season, the Crimson Tide lived on the edge for most of the season. That was a memorable year, which most thought would springboard the team to bigger and better things under then Head Coach Mike Shula, but it didn’t work out.
2005 was the year of the famous Prothro Catch. What a lot of people don’t remember about that play was the fact that the Crimson Tide were losing to Southern Miss 21-10 late in the 1st half and it was 4th and long. They decided to roll the dice, and Tyrone Prothro made a memorable play that in turn completely changed the momentum of the game and led to an Alabama victory. Now, that play is just memorialized in all of our minds and into Daniel Moore paintings, nothing more, because the win was vacated.
That was also the same year that Jamie Christensen was heroic with three game winning field goals over Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. The NCAA says that those three instances don’t count. It doesn’t matter now that Roman Harper knocked the ball out of Tennessee’s Anderson’s hands at the goaline to prevent the Volunteers from scoring and winning the game.
All six wins from 2006 are now vacated, and five out of Alabama’s seven wins from 2007 are now gone, the only two that remain are Alabama’s wins over Tennessee and their Independence Bowl victory over Colorado.
My favorite moment of that season was the Arkansas game on September 15th. Alabama broke out to a 21-0 lead and held a 31-17
advantage heading into the fourth quarter, but Arkansas came storming back with there unanswered touchdowns to take a 38-31 with 8-minutes left in the game. Arkansas RB’s Darren McFadden and Felix Jones had torched the Alabama defense with over 100-yards apiece and had combined for over 300-yards rushing.
Nick Saban made a controversial call with 4:20 remaining in the game for Leigh Tiffin to kick a field goal and make it a four point game, and the decision worked out beautifully for the Crimson Tide. Alabama’s defense would make a stand and get the ball back, and we all remember what happened next. The Crimson Tide drove down the field, and with 8-seconds remaining John Parker Wilson lofted a pass into the endzone and Matt Caddell went up and made a play by catching the pass and winning the game for the Crimson Tide 41-38.
Officially, that game doesn’t count anymore, the win has been taken away. While the NCAA can force Alabama to strike the wins from the record books to make it appear that the win never happened, what they can’t do is strike away the memories that the Tide fans have from those moments. Officially, the wins no longer count for Alabama, but all of us that had the pleasure of seeing those games will always remember what took place and who won the game on the field.