Roy Exum: Yes, We’ve Changed

Friday, September 15, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Eli Gold has been the “voice” of the University of Alabama Football Network for the last 29 years and, to put that in proper context, I knew the colorful radio announcer long before then. Earlier this week, in an interview with AL.com’s Mark Helm, he said something all of us grey-heads in the sports reporting business have mourned for a long time.
“The world has changed … it all transitioned when the radio talk shows got desperate to out-do one another and everybody got access to their mobile device,” he said. “Back when I did sports talk in Birmingham, we did something that isn't done any longer. We talked sports," Gold said this week.
"We didn't talk character assassination. We didn't talk player assassination, character-wise. We talked sports.
"When everybody started getting sports talk shows, you had to be more bizarre than the next guy because you want to retain your listeners,” Gold explained. “That started the swing," and he’s right. That’s when the business got mean.
Here’s the case in point: Last Saturday, when the Crimson Tide cruised to an easy 41-10 win over Fresno State, the Alabama quarterback – the brilliant Jalen Hurts – accounted for 282 offensive yards and three touchdowns in the rout. Immediately the nay-sayers pounced on Hurts, questioning his passing ability and wondering all over social media if head coach Nick Saban should not lean more towards the heralded freshman from Hawaii, Tua Tagovailoa.
Hurts connected of 14-of-18 passes for 128 yards last Saturday but the boo birds say he can’t throw the long ball. It’s no longer about winning the game as much as dissecting every player. Eli dismissed such a thought process. "You love the passion. You want a fan base that cares," Gold told his AL.com colleague, “… but I think there is a difference (today.) There are degrees and different fans out there. There are some who understand, and some who know what's going on. Some understand that you are talking about 18-year-old kids.
"(There are) some who just enjoy jumping on people. There are people out there who are not happy unless they are unhappy,” the announcer explained and the faceless tweeters are “emboldened,” if that’s a fair word.
"Reading a text or a tweet or a Facebook post by some guy sitting in his basement who doesn't know if a football is blown up or stuffed, trying to tell me why Brian Daboll is a crappy offensive coordinator, well you didn't have that back in the days when I was doing sports radio."
‘Bama boss Nick Saban wasn’t as kind when a reporter asked him about the No. 1 team in the country’s quarterback situation and if the issue was “over-blown.”
"I think a lot of things (the news media) does are overblown, but I realize why you do it," the coach said. "It's your job to create news. It's our job to try to help our guys play winning football. I think different players play winning football in different ways. If you want to be critical of a guy for rushing for 154 yards and think he should not do that so he can pass more, then that's up to you. You can do that if you want.
“But we did pass for 192 yards (total) and I think that's the kind of balance that we want to create. We're going to continue to try to help our players play to their strengths and work on any weakness that they have so that they can do better on those things,” he added.
"I don't think this is any more overblown than a lot of other things you do, if you want to know the truth about it. But I kind of get it. It's not personal. I don't mind it. It's okay, I get it."
So in the very next press conference, a different reporter asked Saban when he was thinking about subbing Tagovailoa for Hurts in this week’s game against Colorado State (NOTE: Mike Bobo, the former Georgia quarterback, is in his first year at CSU.)
“I have no idea and I wouldn't tell you if I did," he said. "So, I don't mind you asking the question but I don't need to answer it."
Nick paused to sizzle and then added, “But I will call Colorado State and tell them exactly what we want to do as soon as I get out of here," Saban said, knocking his fist on the podium.
"I know Mike Bobo, his dad lives up by my house at the lake. So, I'll just call him up and tell him who we're playing, when, how long, when we're putting them in, tell them the whole thing. Alright? Is that alright with you? So you can call him and find out."
Man oh man. I remember when writers would sit around with coaches and talk about everything. I was great friends with so many Alabama coaches, from Coach Bryant to Mike DuBose, but those days are long gone. Now it’s all adversarial and if there is a better quarterback in the SEC than Jalen Hurts I have yet to see him.
But the Tide’s faithful want to see his long ball, that deep pass, because there are some of those in the “Legion of the Miserable” who doubt last year’s SEC Player of the Year can do it.
How did we ever get here?


Elizabeth Baker Has Been Fighting For Us

My fellow Republicans of District 2, I have good news for you. We have a citizen who has been working for us at local and state levels to protect our county assets (fighting the Gardenhire bill), to ensure our children have opportunities of public education  (fighting for the rights of the students on Waldens Ridge to not be excluded from their county school in Signal Mountain ... (click for more)

Fortunate To Have Greg Martin

The residences of the third district in Hamilton are fortunate to have had Greg Martin as our county commissioner since 2016.  Greg Martin served District 3 as the representative on the Hamilton County School Board from March of 2012 to November of 2016. Greg and his family have attended the schools in third district of Hamilton County and Martin’s wife, Sheila, is a teacher ... (click for more)

Man Killed, Passenger Seriously Injured; Driver Of Other Vehicle Hurt In Accident On Suck Creek Road Saturday Morning

One person was killed and two others injured in a head-on crash on Suck Creek Road on Saturday morning. The accident at 8:45 a.m. at the 2100 block of Suck Creek Road involved a Kia Sedona mini-van and a Hyundai Elantra. Preliminary results indicate that the Hyundai Elantra was traveling southbound on Suck Creek Road and, while negotiating a curve, ... (click for more)

A Jury For 2nd Time Convicts Randall Reed Of Murdering 70-Year-Old Woman In 2011

A jury for the second time has convicted Randall Reed of first-degree murder in the 2011 death of 70-year-old Jane Stokes in East Ridge. The verdict was returned in the courtroom of Judge Tom Greenholtz’s on Friday. The earlier verdict had been thrown out by an appeals court. Reed testified in his own behalf. The victim was murdered in her home during a robbery in 2011. ... (click for more)

Mongar Succeeds Massey As Lady Owls Softball Coach

In an absolute twist of fate, Kerilyn Mongar has taken over the Ooltewah High School girls’ softball program following the resignation of Jon Massey shortly after the 2018 state tournament. Massey has since been named boys’ baseball coach at Silverdale Baptist Academy and Mongar, who coached at East Ridge for three years, now has the task of continuing the Lady Owls’ highly ... (click for more)

UTC Wrestling Coach Heath Eslinger Resigns

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Mark Wharton announced the resignation of wrestling head coach Heath Eslinger today.  Eslinger, who spent nine seasons as head coach of his alma mater, informed Wharton of his decision this morning.  "It was always my hope that Heath Eslinger spend the rest of his career leading our wrestling ... (click for more)