Can’t Get Over Andre

Posted Dec 30, 2008

He’s left the Big Easy and is presumably still back home in Birmingham, but talk of all-star tackle Andre Smith’s suspension, reportedly for some impropriety involving an agent, has continued to dominate events surrounding the Allstate Sugar Bowl set to take place Friday night in New Orleans.

Moreover, the story promises to stay in the headlines because, per the Sugar Bowl’s press availability schedule, Tide Coach Nick Saban has not been available for interviews since the news broke on Monday afternoon. Saban did release a statement from him Monday, but is not scheduled to take questions until after Bama’s Wednesday practice.

The Tuscaloosa News reported Monday that the University had initiated an investigation involving “phone records” and “a family member” of Smith. Beyond that, few factual details have emerged about what caused the suspension, leaving rumor and speculation to fill the void.

On Tuesday, the paper reported that Alabama’s press-savvy attorney general was looking into the matter for possible violations of the state’s athlete agent law. The Alabama Uniform Athlete Agents Act, found in Title 8, Chapter 26A of the Code of Alabama, provides criminal, civil and administrative punishment for agents who violate the law. Among its provisions, the law prohibits agents from giving anything of value to an athlete or someone affiliated with an athlete with the intent to induce the athlete to enter into an agency contract. It also states that an agent:

“may not fail to notify a student-athlete before the student-athlete signs or otherwise authenticates an agency contract for a particular sport that the signing or authentication may make the student-athlete ineligible to participate as a student-athlete in that sport.”

The unfolding Andre Smith saga is not just a media sensation. Instead, it seems to have had an impact on at least some Crimson Tide players. Team captain Rashad Johnson called Monday’s practice, which took place just after the team learned of Smith’s suspension, a “good” one but said “It’s definitely a blow when you lose a great player like that.”

Junior Terrence Cody said the team lost focus in the wake of Smith’s departure.

“I don’t think we practiced with that much tempo yesterday,” Smith said. “We just have to buckle down and get over the loss (of Smith) and get ready for the game.”

Cody said that Saban felt the same way.

“He (Saban) said we were missing our intensity in practice,” Cody said. “We’re going to come out there today and try to turn it around.”

The Tide practiced Tuesday afternoon with no conspicuous absences, but no players or coaches were available for interviews afterwards. There was a press conference with Alabama defensive players Tuesday morning. Tuesday was also the day that both Utah and Alabama teams made the customary hospital visits while in town.

Related Stories
Caldwell Discusses Loss Of Smith
 -by  Dec 29, 2008
Open Letter
 -by  Dec 31, 2008
Reaction to Suspension Rolls In
 -by  Dec 29, 2008

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