By Jess Nicholas
April 1, 2015
It’s not everyday the story of a player being kicked out of the program shares space with a story about a basketball coaching search, but welcome to April Fool’s Day 2015.
Alabama received word late Wednesday that Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall had turned down Alabama’s coaching offer – believed to have been in excess of $4 million per year – to remain with the Shockers for a lower salary. Sources close to the search believed as late as Wednesday afternoon that Marshall would eventually take the Alabama offer, but that he was having difficulty convincing his family to make the move.
Once Wichita State came reasonably close to matching Alabama’s offer, family concerns provided more than enough incentive to stay put. Somewhat curiously, Alabama athletic director Bill Battle released a statement outlining the process Alabama took with Marshall, which may have been informative but also publicly labeled the next guy as the No. 2 choice for the world to see.
At this time, TideFans.com considers Dayton head coach Archie Miller to be the next name on Alabama’s list, but after that, things get murkier. Murray State head coach Steve Prohm and Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino both have Alabama ties – Prohm as a graduate, Pitino through a connection with former coach C.M. Newton – but neither have the resume to excite the fan base. TideFans has also maintained that Indiana coach Tom Crean is not to be written off, but most of the focus now turns to Miller. Former Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury is not believed to be a candidate, although his name continues to be mentioned by some observers. Louisiana Tech’s Mike White, Buffalo’s Bobby Hurley and VCU’s Shaka Smart have been mentioned with the search, but Smart appears headed to Texas.
While Battle looks for a basketball coach, however, the football program found itself in the news again as the woman DL Jonathan Taylor was accused of assaulting this week in Tuscaloosa not only changed her story, but was arrested on charges of filing a false police report.
And that leads to the following conflict: If Taylor really didn’t do it, why should his Alabama career be over?
Many moons ago, I worked in an emergency room for a couple of summers while I was in college. Several victims of domestic violence passed through our doors in those years.
I saw a lot of domestic violence victims recant, some with and some without obvious injuries. Many who recanted their stories were victims, some probably, others quite obviously. But others who recanted were liars on the front end, getting their significant others in trouble as revenge for some perceived slight.
Others accused, recanted, then explained their flip as some form of, “well, I can’t really afford to lose him because he financially supports me, is the father of my kids,” etc. Victims though they were, the circumstances of their lives demanded they stay in the relationship.
So what of Taylor’s case, and the woman who accused, then recanted? Were her injuries legitimate? And who put the alleged hole the door in her home?
With the former victim now being charged with lying – instead of the case simply being dropped – it seems police now have reason to believe her story had gaps. At the very least, her credibility is now shot. Whether Taylor did or didn’t assault her, the chances he’d ever get prosecuted for an non-aggravated domestic violence charge against this particular woman is pretty much nil going forward, and certainly nil for the purposes of this case.
Having said all that, let’s assume for argument’s sake that she was just a spiteful ol’ thing and made up the whole story because she caught him looking at another woman. Does UA bring Taylor back?
Heck, how can you not?
I’ve got a real problem with false accusations, and if you say you don’t, even when domestic violence is the alleged crime, you should reexamine your stance. If society looks at this case strictly through the lens of the legal process, there’s not a lot of justification for costing Taylor his Alabama career based upon a lie. You can make the argument that Alabama never should have signed him in the first place, but that’s a different argument and doesn’t apply to this case.
The wild card in this is no one knows what (if anything) was said when Alabama officials met with (if they even did meet with) Taylor following the arrest. I know if I had been falsely accused and knew that my career was about to end, someone would have to get me off the top of Denny Chimes, because I’d be up there with a megaphone proclaiming my innocence. I’d have nothing left to lose at that point.
It’s very possible that Nick Saban asked Taylor if he did it and Taylor responded with some version of, “I didn’t do what she said I did, but yeah, we scrapped a little,” and at that point, the answer to the do-you-bring-him-back argument doesn’t depend on the actual facts of the case anymore. Taylor was given the order to stay completely clean, zero tolerance, and couldn’t meet the terms.
But if we find out in the end that this was a total fabrication from the ground up, it’s hard to argue getting rid of the guy once you’ve already decided you could take him in the first place.
As of late Wednesday, Alabama was not planning to bring Taylor back, regardless of whether his accuser was truthful. His Alabama career appears to be over. Taylor’s time at Alabama thus becomes little more than a cautionary tale – either to football coaches considering signing players with past problems, or to young men for whom even the accusation of impropriety turns out to be a career-killer.
Follow Jess Nicholas on Twitter at @TideFansJessN
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