Alabama’s Baseball Disgrace

Photo by Sewell Thomas Stadium, Post renovations Date Taken on 20 February 2016, 1995 via Wikipedia Commons

[This entry is cross posted at]

A good friend of mine used to say, “This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”
– Ebby Calvin LaLoosh, 
Bull Durham

Sometimes a private Las Vegas based monitoring firm called U.S. Integrity employed by, among many others, the Southeastern Conference and the Ohio Casino Control Commission, calls their clients to report anomalous betting on Friday April 28’s Alabama v LSU baseball game placed at BetMGM at The Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati and based on that call, Ohio suspends betting on Alabama baseball on Monday May 1, soon followed by Indiana, looking into a suspicious bet of their own, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Kansas. Sometimes it comes out that there is video of the individual who placed both flag-raising Ohio bets talking to Alabama head baseball coach Brad Bohannon on the phone. Sometimes the university you root for fires their head baseball coach and announces more than introduces suddenly former Pitching Coach Jason Jackson as Interim Head Baseball Coach by Thursday.

That’s baseball for you.

We don’t know for certain what information was being transmitted to the gambler by Coach Bo, but we do know that Alabama made a late lineup change. Ace pitcher Luke Holman, currently holding opposing batters to a conference second best .167 average and only allowing a conference second best and national sixth best 5.32 hits per 9.0 innings, was pulled due to back stiffness. His substitute, Hagan Banks, had a few good but inconsistent innings pieced together over the season but had only one start: a 3.1 inning outing in a no decision at Florida allowing 0 runs and 1 hit with 2 strike outs. The start against Florida was back on March 16 and it looks like a pretty good 3.1 innings. Why do you get pulled after 3.1 innings when you’re doing well? Inexperience? I don’t know. I’m betting the guy talking to Coach on that video does, though.

He also probably (I know, but it’s all alleged until it isn’t,) knew that Alabama wasn’t starting its best pitcher when everyone else thought they were. I have no idea how much that information is worth, but I’d imagine it’s in the considerable amount range. Of course, whatever information was passed could have nothing to do with pitching. Were there instructions? Were in-game decisions influenced? I should mention here that David Purdam, who covers sports gambling for ESPN and has done fantastic reporting on this story, writes, “A source familiar with the investigation told ESPN’s Pete Thamel that there’s ‘no reason to believe any student-athletes are involved.’”

It’s not just sub-par quarterback play causing Alabama fans to take a tentative deep breath before checking each morning’s sports feed this year. It just keeps going.

“Alabama Athletics in 2023 has been a reverse Midas touch of misery. Almost everything the Tide has touched has turned to shit. Multiple arrests of recruits and athletes, under-performance in key sports, dilatory administrative responses to PR disasters, one player involved in a capital murder, and on and on and on.”
– Erik Evans, Executive Editor,

I should note for disclosure purposes that, though it’s been a while, I’ve written quite a bit for and am listed as a Trusted Author on the masthead, but I’ve never attempted to hide my fandom on this or any other site. That aired, Evans nailed it.

We began the year with news of the arrest of now-former Alabama basketball player Darius Miles and his friend Michael Lynn Davis for the January 15 capital murder of Jamea Harris and indications that former (because of the NBA draft rather than dismissal from the team) player Brandon Miller was involved by supplying the alleged murder weapon. That Alabama didn’t publicly reprimand Miller, one of the top players in the country, strained talk radio bandwidths with calls for Coach Nate Oats’s, who said in a press conference of Miller, “Wrong spot at the wrong time,” and Director of Athletics Greg Byrne’s heads. People wanted to be heard. Very few calls ended with the customary “Ima hang up ‘n listin’.”

As details came out, it was quickly apparent that Miller had broken no laws. Eventually video, not released to the public but recapped by Tuscaloosa’s Ryan Phillips, reportedly shows that Miller indeed did nothing illegal, that Davis may have acted in self-defense, and leaving unclear what role Miles allegedly played.

None of that matters. Public perception’s mind was made up. Dick Vitale had spoken: “I was shocked by the comments of Nate Oats yesterday, but I am doubly shocked that superstar Brandon Miller is scheduled to play tonight.” It was a disaster from a University PR standpoint.

Basketball wasn’t through. Although formally unsigned, a soon-to-be member of the Tide’s team was caught with guns and drugs in Tuscaloosa. Jaykwon Walton, an enviable transfer from Wichita with a journeyman’s CV that include Georgia and Shelton State with a Mississippi State flirtation, was arrested on the evening of April 22 along with another man for possession of a combined 32 grams of marijuana and three guns. The guns are legal in Alabama, but pot is technically illegal, though you wouldn’t think so judging by the unholy reek inhabiting any pizza place/burger joint/bar/grocery in the state. They face Class-A misdemeanor charges for second degree possession of marijuana and up to a year in prison and $6,000 in fines.

University defenders are right to point out that Walton was not on paper associated with the school, but if you have to say “on paper” you’ve already lost. There’s no doubt the staff wanted his 13.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. The team quickly disassociated or called off the engagement or the engagement to be engaged, but in the public eye he and his arrest are very much associated with the University. Another black eye.

Incoming freshman defensive back Toni Mitchell was arrested in Florida on March 15 doing an eyebrow raising 141 mph in his ubiquitous Dodge Charger, but any grudging admiration for that speed was dashed by reports that police found a handgun, 226 grams of marijuana (showing Jaykwon Walton and his measly 32 grams that we are still a football school), and $7,000 cash. If you have bad stuff, go the speed limit. So stupid. He and his passenger face possession with intent to distribute charges. It’s reported that Mitchell had a permit to carry a handgun, just not the one they were found with. Nonetheless, Mitchell avoided the gun charge while his friend did not. This was probably particularly rough on the Alabama press relations people because in a press conference Coach Saban said of the Mitchell arrest, “There’s no such thing in being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” leading some to speculate that he was publicly reprimanding basketball coach Nate Oats for his comments on Brandon Miller.

To round things out, former Alabama wide receiver standouts Henry Ruggs III and Jameson Williams contributed to the Athletic Department’s press relation workload. Ruggs is expected to plead guilty on May 10 to DUI resulting in death and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, and Williams will serve a six game suspension from the NFL for violating the league’s gambling policy next season.

It’s said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. It’s not, no matter how many times people say it is. In athletics, doing the same thing over and over again is called practice, and the whole reason for repetition is to bring about different results. Quarterbacks repeat the same odd numbered step drops. Shooters learn to replicate perfect free throw form. Swimmers do swimming things, etc.

This year, the Athletic department has had an insane amount of practice trying to control negative stories in the press. By the time Brad Bohannon got caught doing something alleged, the PR squad had been around the block a few times.

“Alabama director of athletics Greg Byrne announced he has initiated the termination process for head baseball coach Brad Bohannon for, among other things, violating the standards, duties, and responsibilities expected of University employees. Bohannon has been relieved of all duties and Jason Jackson will serve as the interim head coach. There will be no further comment at this time pending an ongoing review.”

They didn’t have much choice, but there was no hemming. Meanwhile, I’ve heard that Byrne spent time at the ballfield over the weekend, being sure to be seen in the dugout and on the field before and after games. I wish I had a job that required me to hang out and watch baseball when things went south. Coach Jackson seems to have the team’s respect. All in all, the University’s response has been measured and on point, which is no small feat considering that when the story broke on Monday the PR team was down a man without the services of Alabama Deputy Director of Athletics, Compliance and Support Services Matthew Travis Self as he was still in jail on a mandatory 24 hr. hold following his arrest for domestic violence on Sunday.

I hope that those in a position to do something about cheating in college baseball have the courage to assess this situation and do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Things worked as things were meant to. Someone broke the rules and the precautions put in place were effective. There’s always the urge to do something, but here, it worked. Coach Bo will likely go down as a precautionary tale of what happens when you traffic inside information. Again, from Erik Evans at, “This is bad-bad folks. If true, that’s federal wire fraud, racketeering, criminal conspiracy, and they’ll likely throw a tax evasion charge on there for good measure.” Don’t be like Bo.

There are still a lot of questions to be answered. Who was coach talking to? Is he part of a larger gambling organization? Are more coaches, more schools involved?

A coach apparently sold out his team. In sports, that’s about as bad as it gets.

If, in the end, L’Affair de Coach Bo turns out to be confined to one greedy jackass with no conspirators in the department it may be a private crime with Alabama as the victim, but it still looks bad for a university reeling under bad looks right now. He was caught and once his crime was revealed Alabama did everything right in this situation. The problem with having done everything right in a situation is that there’s nothing left to do. Alabama will just have to ride this one out… even though as a fan of my beloved Crimson Tide I must point out that this has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.

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