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A Quick Look At The Alabama/Brandon Miller Situation

Miller will never fully escape this but Nate Oats is likely to pay a higher price - and should.

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Kentucky v Alabama
TUSCALOOSA, AL - JANUARY 7: head coach Nate Oats gives second half instructions to Brandon Miller #24 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during a timeout against the Kentucky Wildcats at Coleman Coliseum on January 7, 2023 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  
Photo by Brandon Sumrall/Getty Images

If you haven't been following it, the story at Alabama has developed considerably.

To recap: Darius Miles and his friend Michael Davis were driving together when Davis shot and killed 23-year-old Jamea Harris.

We learned this week that Miles texted freshman teammate Brandon Miller to bring him his gun which Davis then allegedly fired at Harris.

Alabama coach Nate Oats knew details sooner than the public of course and made things worse by saying this: “We knew about [Miller’s involvement]. Can’t control everything everybody does outside of practice. Nobody knew that was going to happen. College kids are out. Brandon hasn’t been in any type of trouble, nor is he in any type of trouble in this case. Just in the wrong spot at the wrong time.”

Well, not exactly. He made a conscious if idiotic decision that ultimately cost a young woman her life and left her young child alone in the world.

This didn’t please Harris’s family, and they were really infuriated that Oats played Miller against South Carolina Wednesday where he had a huge game with 41 points, eight rebounds, five steals and a clutch play with 0.9 in regulation to put the game in overtime where the Tide would ultimately win.

You may fully agree that Miller shouldn’t have played but give him credit for this: he stepped into a difficult situation and managed to block it out, including a Gamecock crowd that said some ugly things and still performed at an extraordinary level. Most people could not manage that level of stress and still perform at that level.

It’s unclear how much this has damaged him and by damaged we mean his NBA prospects, which is all anyone seems to care about, unless it’s Oats continuing to play him. Ask yourself this: would Oats have been this gung-ho over a walk-on? Really?

Really?

It’s impossible to know how this is affecting Miller personally, but it can’t be good. Apparently there are no charges to be brought so whatever happens, he’s still a teenager and he has to live with his role in this. You can be a hardass on the court, you can pretend that it doesn’t affect you off the court, but he knows what he did had consequences. If he has any conscience, his role in Harris’s death should haunt him for the rest of his life and perhaps eventually he’ll seek penance and forgiveness.

As of now, it appears that he’ll have a few uncomfortable weeks and then start prepping for the NBA, and numerous NBA types have made clear they don’t much care. Other than however he punishes himself and periodic pointed reminders during his career and possibly a civil suit, for better or worse, this will be behind Miller soon.

That’s probably not going to be the case for Oats, who has made a real ass of himself. Fair or not, he has painted himself as the poster child of amoral coaches for whom nothing other than winning matters.

And there’s no doubt that Oats is a gifted coach. Alabama is a very good team and one that could make a Final Four run. This team could go where Alabama basketball has never been and win a national championship.

But the further they go, the more the questions will dog him. And his previous answers have already painted him into a corner. His reputation may be permanently damaged and that will matter because as well as he has performed at Alabama, that’s not a job most people dream of. The man has bigger ambitions.

We have no idea about his buyout and such, but with jobs like Texas open and others bound to open up, his name would normally be involved. What if UNC and Hubert Davis parted ways? Nate Oats would probably have been on that list.

Well he won’t be now. Syracuse when Jim Boeheim retires? Can’t say for sure, but that would be a tough sell. And if Kentucky opens up, he probably can’t be on that list either.

It’s one thing for Rick Pitino to be rehabbed, as he now appears to be. Chris Beard will eventually be rehabbed after his shocking fall at Texas and rehired somewhere.

But mishandling your program when murder is involved and you show the appalling judgment Oats has shown?

Miller, almost certainly, will ultimately be forgiven, especially if he behaves himself from here on out. But Oats?

He may continue to win a lot of games, he might stay at Alabama for a long time. He may have to though because there are doors that have closed in his face this week that will never, ever open again.

There are a lot of moving pieces to this story so we put several links below that you can peruse at your leisure, including one by Alabama and SEC chauvinist/apologist Paul Finebaum, who will irritate a lot of people with his comments here.

Really, chauvinist and apologist doesn't quite hit the mark here. Finebaum really is the worst sort of jock sniffing toady.