Where to begin?
Pat Murphy says he belongs at Alabama. It's where his heart is. That it would be unfair to become LSU's coach, because he wouldn't be totally committed to leading their program. Those are all totally understandable and reasonable reasons for Murphy to remain in Tuscaloosa. No one could blame the guy for staying at the powerhouse program he built. And to be totally objective…going from Alabama to LSU could be considered a lateral jump by many.
There's one big problem. Murphy gave all those reasons AFTER becoming the Lady Tigers' new head coach. AFTER he stood on a podium wearing a purple and gold tie, speaking proudly about his new gig before an absolutely ecstatic gathering of friends, family, fans, fellow LSU faculty and of course…his new players. He said these things AFTER fighting back tears about replacing his legendary mentor Yvette Girouard and "making her proud" by hopefully "winning the first national championship in the history of the SEC." Indeed, Girouard fought so hard to get Murphy the LSU job. She called it "a dream come true" and was so proud her former assistant coach at USL would now take over. She nodded with even more pride and strong agreement during the press conference as LSU athletic director Joe Alleva proclaimed Murphy "Would not only maintain LSU softball…but take it to the next level."
Two days later Murphy took Girouard's ultimate gift and tossed it away like a box of popcorn.
And what can you say about Murphy's top assistant for 13 years Alyson Habetz? The former USL star that played under Girouard and Murphy in Lafayette during the early 90s looked so happy and hopeful in purple at the introductory press conference. Those thick, Cajun, Crowley accents from Habetz's family engulfed the room…"Oh baby, you're home! You're FINALLY coming home!" Indeed, their little girl would be coaching in Louisiana. Habetz hugged all of them one by one. She smiled ear-to-ear. This was passionate, strong, south Louisiana family love. And now, it all seems like a big tortuous tease. To excite all these great people, send their hopes sky-high and then promptly return to the Crimson Tide is a truly selfish act….not by Habetz, but by Murphy. She's not the head coach, she's not the one in charge. Murphy had to know bringing Habetz back to Louisiana, would've created the exact scene it did. And to yank that all away is, simply put…not cool. There's no turning back once you say "yes" in major college athletics (yes, I know there have been a few isolated incidents). Once you step onto that podium, wearing your new colors before those bright lights and cameras…you're committed. You say "No" before this point, not after. Well, apparently not if you're Pat Murphy.
Naturally, a ton of Nick Saban jokes and snide comments are circulating when it comes to Murphy's perceived lack of integrity. Let's get one thing straight….Saban may have lied about jumping from the Miami Dolphins to the Alabama Crimson Tide…but he would NEVER accept a new head coaching job, be introduced at a press conference and then quit two days later. The irony…Saban actually revealed he was in the restroom just before LSU introduced him as their new head football coach in late 1999. He spoke about looking himself in the mirror and having second thoughts. Saban says he felt he could be making a huge mistake and considered walking out the backdoor. Well, he would never do something like that and luckily for the Tigers he didn't.
In defense of Murphy…coaching moves are difficult. You are only given a short period of time to make a huge decision. That choice not only affects the coach, but his/her players, assistants and family as well. It can be understandably gut-wrenching. Especially for a guy like Murphy…who's led Alabama to seven College World Series appearances and obviously has true job security. Or does he?
That's the next question. How does Murphy return to Tuscaloosa without enormous awkwardness? It's not like he can say, "Hey guys, I'm back! Was just kidding y'all, just kidding." Whatever. How do the Alabama players feel about their coaches' incredible and baffling actions? Likewise…how do the fans feel?
When speaking about hiring Murphy at the LSU press conference, Alleva made the parallel to a single guy and a beautiful woman. "If you never ask her out, you'll never get date." The LSU AD proclaimed. "You have to ask." Well, forget about Murphy leaving the Tigers at the altar. This is more like dashing out of the wedding reception, just after the first dance.
Maybe LSU will be better off without Murphy. It's very possible Alleva can hire a coach who can do a better job. Perhaps Murphy was a mistake hire. Well, it's now clear there's no "perhaps."
I had a brief talk with Murphy Friday. I shared with him, that I too was a USL graduate and attended the school at the same time he was an assistant and that Habetz played. We joked about how the fiery LSU/UL-Lafayette rivalry had now intensified some more. I also asked him to attend and participate in my "Celebrity/Sorta Celebrity Softball Game" in July for charity. I told him it would be a great public event to break the ice, meet his new fans and raise money for a wonderful cause.
I guess he's not coming.