Jersey girl booted by Bama

Last week, Harley Barber, a 19-year old from New Jersey, was expelled by the University of Alabama for two posts on an Instagram account in which she repeatedly used the N-word to disparage black people.

It watched the videos. They were deplorable. Sadly, she was acting like many white sorority girls do at Alabama, Ole Miss, Georgia, Florida and other schools in the Deep South. She just was stupid enough to put her rants on social media, thinking she would not get caught. How naive. Once you put something on the Internet, it’st there to stay, no matter how many times you “scrub” it and think you’ve taken care of the cancer.

Here’s a bigger question: how does a young lady from Marlton, New Jersey end up at a university 947 miles from home without a good reason (read: athletic scholarship)?

Certainly there are plenty of good colleges in the Garden State. If she can’t get into Princeton (face it, most people can’t), there’s Rutgers, a pretty good university, the football and men’s basketball teams notwithstanding. Marlton isn’t too far from Philadelphia, which has Villanova, LaSalle, Drexel, Temple and St. Joseph’s (I’m not including Penn, because like Princeton, it’s an Ivy League school, and most of us, myself included, can’t sniff the Ivy League).

I can only think of one reason Ms. Barber wanted to attend school in Tuscaloosa.

Here’s a hint: they play on fall Saturdays in Bryant-Denny Stadium and other venues around the Southeastern Conference. They also are a permanent fixture in the College Football Playoff.

Alabama now has more students from outside the Yellowhammer State than from the 67 counties of the state (I’m guessing very few of those are from Lee County, where Auburn is located). Why? Alabama has the nation’s most dominant college football program.

Robert Witt, the University of Alabama president who hired Nick Saban in 2007, said Saban was a “bargain” and the “best thing I’ve ever done as a university administrator”.

I can’t disagree with Dr. Witt, because Alabama’s enrollment has zoomed past many of its SEC brethren, LSU included. It is now is the second most selective university in the SEC, trailing only Vanderbilt. Many who live in Tuscaloosa and the western part of the state might do better trying to attend Mississippi State or Southern Miss than the “Capstone”. At least there’s Auburn for those elsewhere in the state, along with South Alabama, Jacksonville State, UAB and two historically black colleges, Alabama A&M and Alabama State.

I had dreams of leaving Louisiana when I was growing up. I was seriously thinking about attending Kansas State, which is only a few more miles from New Orleans than Ms. Barber’s hometown is from Tuscaloosa.

However, Herb Vincent, then LSU’s sports information director who is now an associate commissioner with the SEC, convinced me LSU was the right place for a young lad who grew up in New Orleans. Ironically, Herb grew up in Little Rock and was a Razorback fan until he went to LSU and changed his allegiance.

I’m glad I stayed close to home. Lord knows I wasn’t ready to be 1,000 miles away from home in a foreign land, even if my grandfather was an hour and 40 minutes down the road.

If Ms. Barber went to Alabama because she loved the Crimson Tide’s football team, then she was in Tuscaloosa for the wrong reason. She probably could have found what she was looking for at Rutgers and saved her family a lot of money. Heck, if she wanted a school with a powerhouse football team, Penn State is only four hours to the west.

It would have been the same for me had I attended K-State. It wasn’t for Bill Snyder’s football team in my case, but it was to escape Louisiana and stick it to those who bullied me through high school. Those would have been terrible reasons to leave my home state. I certainly found what I was looking for at LSU, and Herb’s connections helped me in so many ways.

I’ve come to accept Alabama is going to be college football’s King Kong until Saban retires, and who’s to say the Tide won’t continue to motor along after he departs? However, I would not want to be the immediate successor to Saban, because the comparisons will be brutal.

Ray Perkins can attest. He went 32-15-1 in four seasons after Bear Bryant retired and died in short order, but it wasn’t good enough for the Alabama boosters, and Perkins bolted for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, by far the worst NFL franchise at the time, in 1987.

Ms. Barber has apologized for her actions. Hopefully she can get her life back together. New Brunswick, home of Rutgers’ main campus, is a pretty good place to pick up her education when she decides it’s time. Just keep your thoughts to yourself, ma’am.

About David

I am a sportswriter for a group of weekly newspapers in small towns across northern Kansas. I grew up in New Orleans, went to college at LSU and wandered in the wilderness until Hurricane Katrina finally put me on the path to my current job.

Posted on January 25, 2018, in College Football, Current Events, Personal and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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