Finebaum Steals Day in Cottrell Case

Finebaum Steals Day in Cottrell Case

As incredible as it might be to believe that Tennessee graduate Paul Finebaum would ever appear before a friendly crowd so near the epicenter of Alabama football, it happened in Tuscaloosa Circuit Court as the galling Birmingham radio talk show host took the witness stand in the case of Ronnie Cottrell and Ivy Williams against Tom Culpepper and the NCAA on Friday.

Aside from the theatrics, Finebaum provided testimony that in a two-hour telephone conversation with himself, Culpepper and Mike Wood in the summer of 2000.

Finebaum characterized the conversation as Culpepper going through a laundry list of allegations, primarily against Mr. Cottrell accusing him of cheating, something about him leaving his family and a financial link between Cottrell and Logan Young.

On cross examination, Scott took Finebaum meticulously through the deposition he previously gave in the case, where he did not give any specifics of what Culpepper told him, and where he said that Cottrell was "secondary" and that the conversation was primarily about Logan Young.

Finebaum also admitted that "it really is all a blur" and said that he got information from numerous sources about Cottrell.

Finebaum was one of five witnesses to testify for the plaintiffs on day four of the lawsuit seeking $60 in damages. Finebaum drew laughs and gasps during his testimony as he took pot shots at some of the participants in the case.

The theatrics began when plaintiffs' attorney Tommy Gallion asked Finebaum how he came to know Culpepper. Culpepper attorney John Scott objected when Finebaum began to relate something Phillip Fulmer had said to him.

"I apologize for trying to tell the story," Finebaum said on the stand, and later "If I could just tell the story this would go much quicker."

John Falkenberry, saying he was representing Mr. Finebaum, interjected on behalf of Finebaum at one point in all of the back and forth and Scott protested strongly to this.

When Scott asked Finebaum, who was once a defendant in the Cottrell case, about being sued previously, Finebaum quipped, "You should know, you're firm represented me." He later stated that the case against him was thrown out of the Alabama Supreme Court after he obtained a new law firm.

Asked if he called Judge Steve Wilson a hack Finebaum said, "I'm not sure if I used that word but I criticized him for throwing out what this case was all about" which is the NCAA enforcement process.

Proceedings ended shortly before 5 p.m. on Friday with Ivy Williams on the witness stand under direct examination from Charlie Elmer. Williams' testimony will begin on Monday morning.

Preceding Finebaum were recruiting analysts Freddie Kirby and Bruce Parris, both of whom said Culpepper had made disparaging remarks to them about Cottrell.

Freddie Kirby testified that Culpepper bashed Ronnie Cottrell and told lies about him. He alleged that Culpepper tried to convince him that Ronnie was a cheater at a meeting at Logan's Roadhouse where he, Culpepper and Wood were present.

On cross examination, Scott challenged Kirby's recollection of when he came to know Culpepper. Kirby said he'd known him for about 18 years at first, then said he thought he'd known Culpepper since 1990. Scott said Culpepper was in the Air Force in Colorado at that time.

Bruce Parris said he met Culpepper at Media Days in Birmingham and that he was initially impressed by Tom and liked him.

Parris testified that Culpepper made allegations against Cottrell: that he had taken money from Shaun Alexander's charitable foundation, abandoned his family and was caught stealing tapes from Alabama. Parris said Culpepper

Parris said that during one particular conversation Culpepper got "loud, belligerent and angry that I wasn't believing he would say.

On cross examination, Scott attempted to ask him if he was aware of a violation in regards to a loan from Ronnie Cottrell. There was an objection (one of many, although most came from the defense side) and a sidebar (one of many). Scott did not pursue the line of questioning.

Former Alabama fullback Jeremy Walker, a clerk in Gallion's Montgomery law firm, has been present throughout the trial, and today he read Tom Yeager's responses in a trial deposition as Delaine Mountain asked the questions. Those questions and answers stopped when the NCAA objected and the questioning stopped.

Finebaum said, "I wish somebody would let me tell the whole story", and Scott objected to Finebaum's "giving speeches"

On cross, Mr. Scott insisted on re-reading a portion of Finebaum's deposition testimony where he did not relay specifics of allegations Culpepper made against Ronnie in their conversation.

Finebaum said he did not go into detail because he was a defendant in the case and was instructed to be brief and not to volunteer info.

After Finebaum, tensions eased a bit. Forrest Davis testified, then former Alabama player Jeremy Walker, a law clerk for Gallion, took the stand to read from Thomas Yaeger's trial deposition taken previously.

On Monday, Cottrell is expected to testify after Williams is finished. Williams spent Friday afternoon detailing his attempts to seek employment after he was terminated at Alahama. He was not allowed to estimate is own current fair market value, but did say he had gone from a $109,000 job at Alabama to a $46,000 position at Savannah State.

Williams said he sought employment at several schools, and had obtained a head coaching position at Miles college before it was rescinded later.

Williams said he was told by Rich Johanningmeier to attach a letter to any resume he sent out that explained that he was still subject to findings related to the alleged transgression in Memphis.

He also said that when he was hired at Savannah State he was asked to show up for work the following day, but then had to wait seven days before he was allowed to coach.

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