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Bama's Wells pulls a Donovan (or Mason, or Cremins)

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by John, Jun 27, 2007.

  1. John

    John Well-Known Member

  2. Blitz

    Blitz Active Member

    My friend in Anniston will write his version of that story.
  3. Blitz

    Blitz Active Member

    Here's an excellent piece with lots of hard evidence as to why Bama likely talked him in to staying.


    If link won't work, because of password problems, I'll post the whole column.
    It's a good one.
  4. AgatePage

    AgatePage Active Member

    Post it up, please.
  5. Blitz

    Blitz Active Member

    College Sports

    Creg Stephenson:
    Wells moved Tide program to next level 06-23-2007

    It would be overstating the case to say that Jim Wells made Alabama baseball relevant.

    From the time future Hall-of-Famer Joe Sewell wore the crimson and white in the 1910s on through some pretty good teams in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and early 1980s, the Crimson Tide has always fielded contending teams. What Wells did was take Alabama baseball to the next level.

    Wells, who announced his retirement after 13 years on Thursday, took the Crimson Tide to three College World Series, two in his first three seasons on the job. Alabama had been to the CWS just twice — in 1950 and 1983 — before that.

    He won six SEC tournament titles, including in each of his first three seasons. The Crimson Tide won one — also in 1983 — before that.

    Wells never won a national championship — his 1997 team lost in the CWS title game to longtime nemesis LSU — but he accomplished practically everything else possible in his time in Tuscaloosa. Look for the Crimson Tide to name something prominent after him in the coming years, the ultimate honor for an old coach.

    Despite his overwhelming success during his 13 years at Alabama, Wells had his detractors. Particularly early in his tenure, he was accused of not being as careful with pitchers’ arms as he might have been, though he’s hardly the only college coach to suffer that reputation.

    Another criticism of Wells was that, once a player got in his doghouse, it was difficult, though not impossible, to get out and return to the coach’s good graces (Alexandria’s Zac Welch being one prime example). He was also accused of playing favorites, cutting players from his home state of Louisiana more slack than local products.

    He also lost his ace recruiters — assistants Mitch Gaspard and Todd Butler — to head coaching jobs along the way, though Butler returned for a short stint as an assistant before leaving again for Arkansas. Wells wasn’t able to replace that duo with similar salesmen, and it showed up in the lack of overall talent on recent Crimson Tide teams.

    Alabama and LSU dominated the SEC West during Wells’ early days, but the rest of the division caught up with, and passed, those two schools in recent years. Arkansas and Ole Miss finally got serious about baseball and built national powers, while Mississippi State has enjoyed a recent resurgence under long-time coach Ron Polk.

    Whatever his failings as a coach, Wells was excellent at developing pitchers. Taylor Tankersley — now with the Florida Marlins — and Wade LeBlanc — on the fast track to the majors in the San Diego Padres system — honed already blue-chip skills and became big-time pro prospects during their stays at Alabama, to name two.

    But Wells also was able to take marginally talented arms and make them into effective college hurlers. Jeremy Norris and Brent Carter, neither of whom could break 85 with their fastballs, are two recent examples of this latter, far more common, pitcher.

    Perhaps Wells chose one year too late in which to go out, with the 2007 season ending ignominiously after a 31-26 season that saw the Crimson Tide go 2-and-out in the SEC tournament for the first time since the year before Wells arrived. Had Wells left after taking Alabama within two games of the College World Series in 2006, his legacy might have appeared brighter today.

    Wells only hinted at the reason for his departure in a statement released by the school Thursday, saying only that he felt the timing was right and that he wanted to spend more time with his family. Wells is expected to meet with the media some time next week, at which time the always bluntly honest coach will likely give his full reasons for leaving.

    But Wells might be the first coach to use the “spending time with family line” and actually mean it. His mother, who lives in Shreveport, La., has been in declining health in recent years, and Wells is a notoriously devoted son. He might just move back to Louisiana and never look back.

    The list of potential replacements for Wells contains some obvious candidates, names that were already being floated out in the public domain on Thursday afternoon. Troy head coach Bobby Pierce, a former Alabama player and assistant, will probably get the first look.

    Pierce — who told the Dothan Eagle Thursday that he had not been contacted about the Alabama job — has enjoyed a solid tenure at Troy, earning back-to-back NCAA regional berths. His Trojans were the only team in the state to play in the NCAA tournament this season.

    Along with Pierce, the Crimson Tide will almost certainly pursue Kentucky coach John Cohen, a Tuscaloosa native who played at Mississippi State. The Wildcats were a moribund program when Cohen arrived three years ago, but he has quickly made them a contender in the SEC, including a second-place finish in the league in 2006.

    Gaspard (now head coach at Northwestern State in Louisiana) and former Alabama players Dave Magadan (hitting coach of the Boston Red Sox) and Mike Twardoski (head coach at Emory) will probably get a look as well. Pitcher Tommy Hunter — drafted earlier this month by the Texas Rangers — and numerous Crimson Tide signees are no doubt waiting to see who Alabama’s next coach will be before they make their final decisions on whether or not to sign pro contracts.

    But as former athletic director Hootie Ingram did when he hired Wells away from Northwestern State in 1994, current AD Mal Moore would be wise to look outside the obvious. There’s doubtless some up-and-comer at some out-of-the-way school out there who just needs the resources to re-build a national power at Alabama.

    The Crimson Tide found one Jim Wells. It’s going to be difficult, but not impossible, to find another.

    --------------Creg Stephenson covers the University of Alabama for The Star.

    Contact Creg Stephenson:
  6. Rockbottom

    Rockbottom Well-Known Member

    A decent effort.

  7. chazp

    chazp Active Member

    Creg was my SE about six years ago. I only worked for him five months, but he was super SE to work for. He's a good guy and a great writer. Nice job as usual.
  8. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Yeah, Bama baseball ranks rIght up there with Florida hoops!
  9. John

    John Well-Known Member

    Doing a little baiting are ya?
  10. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Tell me, John, how does an unknown (outside of the god-al-fucking-mighty SEC) baseball coach announcing his retirement and then changing his mind equate to the coach of the two-time NCAA basketball team signing a $27 million deal to coach in the NBA, and then reneging on it?
  11. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    You are like my brother, but gotta go with spnited on this. The act is the same, but the impact level isn't. If Bama had made won the NCAA tourney this year, maybe. But ....
  12. dog428

    dog428 Active Member

    I don't think John was equating the two teams, just the decisions.
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