April 14, 2012; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Phillip Sims (14) during the spring game at Bryant Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE
It's rarely a good sign when the former high school coach of a current college player gets his name in the news regarding said player, and that holds true again today, as Phillip Sims' prep coach, Richard Morgan, spoke publicly about his former star's decision to leave Alabama. Some of his comments today regarding the recent transfer of his former quarterback are as follows below, per the Virginia-Pilot:
"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."
So, Sims was actually better than AJ McCarron, or something, it's just that there is some inherent bias against out-of-state players that shows up in the personnel decision making process, and that is why McCarron won the starting job last fall, right? You see such an absurd distinction made like that and instinctively you want to attack it with logic and reason, but frankly it's so ludicrous such that it is not worth the time to recite even a few of the countless examples which poke holes in that patently absurd claim.
Now, regarding the actual competition between McCarron and Sims, clearly this is just nonsense. A starter was not named during spring practice, summer workouts, or fall camp, and the competition was in fact held open into the season. At some point, though, you have to make a final decision on the matter, and when one player has clearly performed better than the other, you simply must give that player the starting job, or otherwise you not only lower the overall performance of your team but as a coach you also risk your legitimacy with the roster by making a clearly erroneous and unsupported personnel decision at the game's most important position.
McCarron had the slight edge coming out of fall camp, and had a better performance in the season opener against Kent State. From there, he solidified his hold on the starting job with a strong showing on the road in hostile environment against Penn State, and by the time he picked up wins over Arkansas and Florida two and three weeks later, respectively, it was fait accompli in Tuscaloosa.
Truth be told, if anything, Nick Saban and company arguably held open the competition longer than they should have, by continuing to split snaps between McCarron and Sims against North Texas even after McCarron helped lead the team to victory in Happy Valley.
Now, if Sims' former coach wants to say that he could have been the better player with more time, or that he has the higher upside, or that the same end result (i.e. a national championship) could have been attained with Sims under center, or that Sims would have won the job had he not reported to campus six months after McCarron, all of that would be fair enough. Admittedly, Sims is a very talented player who likely would have played well had he been forced under center this fall, and for the most part there is no real reason to believe he won't be a quality player at Virginia. But to say he was the better player last year and deserved the job then? Nonsense. Supporting your former player is one thing, but publicly making an imbecile of yourself is another.
Unfortunately for Sims, his former coach didn't stop there, doubling down on the idiocy by adding further:
"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."
That statement may seem innocent enough on its own, especially since it accurately describes the considerations driving the transfer, but consider the context. Sims left Alabama with a carefully-worded public statement which essentially claimed that it was family issues back home necessitating the transfer, and clearly that was a not-so-thinly-veiled attempt to help persuade the NCAA to grant him a waiver to play immediately this fall and not have to sit out a year.
But how can the NCAA even begin to give such allegations a hint of legitimacy when the player's former high school coach comes out publicly days after and details at length how the decision was the result of a lack of playing time? It's Morgan's own prerogative to make himself look bad with some dumb statements to the media, but to prejudice the playing career of a former player with poorly-conceived comments is a far different matter.