BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary blog from FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
He coached the men's basketball team at the University of Alabama for six years, and now he's gone. The funny thing is, I never knew him. Part of that is my fault, and some of it is Anthony Grant's fault.
The bottom line? After going 117-85 with two NIT and one NCAA Tournament appearances, Grant has been relieved of his duties as the Alabama basketball coach. Oh, Anthony Grant can coach. He can be passionate, energetic and as competitive as they come- but he never let us into his world, never let us get to know him.
As the lead sports anchor here at Fox6, my job is to get to know as many sports personalities in our state as I can. I'm one of those guys who like to do so by getting those coaches out of their coaching element, showing them to our viewers like they have never seen them. You know, Nick Saban fishing in a dinghy (and Saban coaching up Finebaum in my front lawn ), Bruce Pearl lifting me up in my driveway on live TV to help me dunk a basketball, Charles Barkley eating breakfast with yours truly on live TV. Anthony Grant? He's just not that kind of a guy. Of course just because Grant is not a PT Barnum doesn't mean he's not an exceptional man and great father. I have heard from those who are close to him that he is a very special man.
Still, over the last six years I had trouble breaking the Anthony Grant barrier. He closed all practices to the media (practices at UAB and Auburn are open for a period of time). One-on-one interviews with players? Nope. Long, thoughtful responses at weekly news conferences? I timed one news conference featuring Grant and two players at one minute fifty-seven seconds. Appear on Fox6 to promote his Hoops On The Quad event? "No Thanks." My point? I believe that if there is one area where Grant failed over the last six years it was in marketing his program. Quiet and reserved by nature, Grant is not a Sarah Patterson or a Bruce Pearl, taking every advantage he has to hawk his program and sell tickets. But Grant became so insular during his Bama regime that by extension he may have shut out potential ticket buyers.
The times that I did talk with Anthony Grant during his UA tenure I enjoyed him. But I always had the feeling that he rather have a root canal than to let anyone into his basketball world.
Was that my fault? Could have been, but if it was Grant's fault, here's hoping that a good coach and a fine man soon learns that to succeed as a high profile college coach, you need to let people in, if only during the basketball season.