Izzy Gould reports that Alabama Head Football Coach addressed the media regarding allegations made against Director of Football Operations Joe Pannunzio and Offensive Line Coach Jeff Stoutland. The allegations were made in the sweeping, explosive Yahoo! Sports story detailing alleged NCAA violations at the University of Miami.
"I know what goes on in this program and I know that we do things correctly.
We do have people in this organization, who worked there (at Miami). Before those people were ever hired here we do an NCAA check to make sure they pass all compliance criteria and that they don't have any red flags relative to compliance history,” Saban said.
"We certainly did that in both of these cases. Now, if any of these people had any wrongdoing, I'm sure the NCAA will investigate it in due time and, if they did anything wrong, I'm sure they will get the appropriate punishment, which we would do if we had any internal problems in our organization. But we're going to continue and control and manage what we do in our organization and do it correctly, and that's basically all we can be concerned about."
For Pannunzio, there was some piling on from Long Beach State University President F. King Alexander (I swear I did not make up that fking name). Alexander says he fired Pannunzio in 2005 over incidents he termed “quite bad.”
"You must understand that in 2005 when I was president at Murray State, I fired our football coach, Joe Pannunzio, because of numerous incidents that occurred in our program under him that were quite bad.
“Well, Pannunzio immediately was hired by Miami, and he's one of the coaches who's been prominently mentioned by [former Miami booster Nevin] Shapiro in the current scandal. He's now the head of football operations at Alabama."
Even taking off the crimson colored glasses, I don’t find FKing Alexander’s statements credible.
First of all, Pannunzio was fired the day after the Murray State Racers football team finished a 2-9 season, going winless in the Ohio Valley Conference and 30-37 over five years. If there were numerous, “quite bad” incidents of cheating, clearly Pannunzio wasn’t very good at it.
Secondly, Pannunzio certainly was not prominently mentioned by Shapiro. In fact, the Yahoo! Sports report on the scandal states that Shapiro refused to talk about Pannunzio at all, while bringing the wood on almost every other member of the UM staff, from President Donna Shalala right on down to the water boy.
But the real deal is this—it may be quite a while before it all comes out in the wash. The first thing the NCAA would do in a scandal this big is put all of the coaches and administrators involved under a gag order. Saban famously refuses to make assistant coaches available to the media, but in this case he would have no choice. Even Athletic Director Mal Moore could be precluded from discussing the matter with Pannunzio until investigators have had a sit down interview with him. Given the breadth and depth of the allegations made against Da U, the 2011 season will probably be over by the time the NCAA gets around to a coach that Shapiro refused to finger in his jailhouse interviews with Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson and Rand Getlin.
Depending on what color glasses you view this through, Pannunzio could either be in a world of hurt or could walk away with clean hands and a clean slate. My guess is that it’s somewhere in the middle.