|UAB football at Legion Field
Author Charles J. "Chuck" Dean doesn't exactly say that; in fact, he doesn't actually say much of anything--other than UAB has a medical center, it saves lots of lives, and that's a good thing. That, Chuck declares, is UAB's "true calling." After all, the headline reads: "UAB's true calling isn't football. It's saving lives."
How is that supposed to enlighten anyone in the al.com audience, other than to make it clear that Chuck Dean is a master of the obvious statement? It is one of those vapid articles that seems to have no point other than to generate rage--and lots of digital clicks and comments--among UAB supporters and those who would like to see the Birmingham campus return to its status as an extension center.
The space for Chuck's op-ed might have been put to better use with an article titled "10 ways to shave your genitals while driving a locomotive."
After reading Chuck's article, my instant reaction was, "This might be the single worst piece of horse excrement I've ever read at al.com--and that is saying something." But then I remembered Chuck's May 21 piece about the U.S. Eleventh Circuit's ruling to uphold the convictions in the case of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman. I quickly decided that the UAB football piece might be bad, but it can't top the Siegelman article when it comes to ignorant, lazy journalism.
The headline on Chuck's piece from three weeks ago set a somber tone: "Don Siegelman is staying in prison and that's the right but sad decision." I remember reading that headline and thinking, "Oh boy, this is going to be a meaty piece, with Chuck telling us exactly how the Siegelman court got it right."
But these few paragraphs pretty much sum up Chuck's take on a case that many legal analysts have called perhaps the worst political prosecution in memory:
Former Gov. Don Siegelman will be staying in prison on public corruption charges. And he won't be seeing his sentence reduced either.
That is what a federal appeals court in Atlanta ruled Wednesday sinking Siegelman's hopes for a new trial or at least some time shaved off the remaining two years of his original six and a half year sentence.
When I heard the news my first reaction was a yawn. I think I'm like a lot of you. I was done with the Siegelman thing a long time ago. It's still hard for me to get my head around the fact that this case is now into its second decade.
What do we learn from this? Chuck is bored. In fact, he's so bored that he simply doesn't care that boatloads of facts and law show that a citizen in his state--the former governor, no less--was shipped to federal prison because of a "crime" that does not even exist under the law.
Not only is Chuck bored, he's lazy, too lazy to look up any of the ample meat and potatoes surrounding the Siegelman case--which also involved a former CEO (Richard Scrushy) from one of the best-known corporate entities in Chuck's market. Does Chuck cite anything from the record, or anywhere else, to support his claim that Siegelman and Scrushy went to prison under lawful circumstances? Nope, not a single thing.
Hey Chuck, do you remember Watergate, the case in the 1970s where a few determined reporters and editors brought down the Nixon White House and taught a generation of Americans that you had better keep a close watch on our nation's institutions--and the authority figures who run them? If you don't, Watergate taught us, those authority figures are likely to turn your cherished institutions into playrooms for their own crooked agendas. Do you remember that, Chuck?
You now seem to be saying, "Ah, the hell with it. Let authority figures do whatever they want. It's too much effort to keep an eye on them. If a federal judge--or a group of federal judges--says something is so, it must be so. I'm too bored to question authority, and I hope my readers won't question it either."
That's the kind of thinking that apparently led to today's UAB football article. Again, Chuck doesn't actually say much of anything in the column--but the headline and general tone hint that UAB has a strong medical center, so that should preclude it having a football team, or offering a comprehensive undergraduate experience.
Now, let's consider some of the universities that have major medical centers, and football programs of longstanding, right on their campuses. Let's see . . . we have Florida, UCLA, Ohio State, Utah, Louisville, Arizona, Miami, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Missouri, Washington, Duke, Michigan, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Minnesota . . . well, you get the idea. Lots and lots of universities have football stadiums in the shadows of their medical centers. Some of those universities even are in the vaunted SEC. And quite a few of them are regular contenders for football championships--winning on the gridiron, while also saving lives.
It can be done, and it has been done for years. Chuck, I guess, was too bored to look that up.