Why Would Gregg Marshall Coach Alabama Basketball?


Just 10 days ago, Anthony Grant was fired. Due to pressure from the fan base and that other school in the state a little east from here, a change was going to be made.

After the firing I looked at potential coaching candidates. The list included Archie Miller from Dayton, Michael White, who has previous SEC ties, Steve Prohm, the Alabama alum currently at Murray State, Tom Crean from Indiana, and Ben Howland who just accepted the Mississippi State job. I immediately eliminated two names from the list, Gregg Marshall and Shaka Smart. Well, I may have been wrong and I’m cooking up a plate of crow right now. Alabama (per reports) is going full court press for Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, who is currently getting ready for the Sweet 16 against Notre Dame.

When news broke that Alabama was going after Marshall and that Marshall would actually listen, there was criticism. Alabama is just a football school, some have said. No one cares about basketball in Alabama. There is no basketball talent in Alabama. There is no program tradition. And my favorite – you can’t win at Alabama.

So I’m going to take on the role of Bill Battle and offer my sales pitch to a top coaching candidate – okay it’s Gregg Marshall. So I guess it’s time to unlock my inner Shark Tank and pull off the million (or should I say 4 million) dollar sales pitch.

Alabama is not just a football school

Okay, so there aren’t a hundred thousand people lining up to watch basketball like football, but that doesn’t mean football is the only interest in Tuscaloosa. The athletics program has won 10 other national championships, including softball, gymnastics and golf.

Gymnastics has always been a power, with six championships dating back to the start of the 1988 season. Softball won it all in 2012 and has been a title contender numerous seasons during Patrick Murphy’s time. Women’s Golf won in 2012, and Men’s Golf has won back-to-back national championships under Jay Seawell.

Other sports such as tennis, baseball and track and field compete regularly for SEC titles and post season play, so it’s not outrageous to believe that basketball can contend for a conference championship at least. The community likes their winners. Alabama ranks among the top in attendance for gymnastics and softball. Basketball finished 35th, averaging 10,754, despite the low support for Anthony Grant and not many wins during conference play the past two years. So I wonder what Coleman Coliseum would be like if a winning and exciting product was on the floor?

There is no basketball tradition in Alabama

The program may not be well known right now, but there are a few players that are. More recently, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe have become top talents in the NBA and were both born in Alabama. The next coach’s job is to keep this kind of talent in the state.

Rookie K.J. McDaniels, role player JaMychal Green, starter DeMarre Carroll,  and journeyman Gerald Wallace are all from Alabama. Other current players such as Alonzo Gee and Mo Williams both attended the school but are not from the state. Some other notable alumni include Latrell Sprewell, Robert Horry and Antonio McDyess.

Recruiting in state should not be a problem and having a winning product on the floor should only make it easier to find top players in the state and the surrounding area.

So how about that whole winning thing? While Alabama doesn’t have a national championship, they do compete. Alabama either won the SEC regular season or post season tournament 11 times, both happened in 1934 and 1987. The program also has eight Sweet 16 appearances and one Elite 8 appearance back in 2004. Mark Gottfried, now the NC State coach, proved you can win at Alabama but after a nasty split and the lackluster performance from Anthony Grant, history is quickly forgotten.

Alabama is only second to Kentucky in wins and conference tournament championships. I’m not bragging about being second, but the program isn’t chopped liver.

So I proved Alabama isn’t just a football school. Yes, football dominates, but the athletics program clearly wants more, investing more money in other sports and seeing results. While most athletic programs struggle to even touch the black, Alabama has 33 million dollars just sitting around. Nick Saban and Bill Battle probably use 100 dollar bills to fan themselves and light their cigars on the beach. Poor Lane Kiffin is probably looking over the fence while sipping on a Lime-A-Rita.

Bottom Line

If the school offers you full power over the program, you now have complete control over an SEC basketball program. If Alabama decides to more than double your salary, going from 1.5 million including incentives to 4 million dollars, that’s going to be hard to turn down. Oh, the beautiful lake front properties that are available right now.

Not only will the salary go up but a potential future coach can also expect a blank check to invest into recruiting, and let’s just go ahead and throw in a plane. See what I’m getting at? You have the full control over a program, a hefty pay increase and an athletics program that is willing to go all in. The love to win is great, but how about the challenge of turning one of the biggest athletic programs around in basketball? Winning at a mid-major can be rewarding, but how about potentially waking up a monster in the SEC? Want more of a challenge? You can prove to yourself you’re among the best on a yearly basis by going up against John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats.

Have I gone full Gump mode now? I think I have. Time to take a rest. Maybe I’ll go read how Forbes has Alabama listed as the 14th most valuable basketball program. Maybe I’ll go dream about where the school could go when they actually have a successful plan in place.

Was the pitch successful? Let me know what you would say in the comment section below or find me on twitter.