Wilson#039;s absence is Auburn#039;s gain

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Something was noticeably missing from Saturday's Camp QB/WR at Birmingham-Southern College and it wasn't players from Greenville or McKenzie.

It was University of Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson, who was a no-show at the two-day skills camp for high school quarterbacks and wide receivers.

Wilson could have come.

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Wilson should have come.

Wilson didn't come.

But it wasn't, entirely, his fault.

According to an article in The Birmingham News, Alabama Compliance Department Chief Chris King advised Wilson that, by attending, he would be breaking an NCAA rule that prohibits more than one student-athlete from any one Division I institution from working the same camp.

Although King's misinterpretation of the rule has been the source of blame for Wilson's no-show, many members of the media have pointed blame at head coach Nick Saban for his hard-nosed stance in dealing with the media.

Saban has a strict rule about being the only spokesperson for his team in which he rarely allows assistant coaches or players to speak with the media.

Since the camp was widely covered my print and television outlets, many feel Saban kept Wilson out of the camp knowing his quarterback would be questioned by the media.

The camp, which was started three years ago by former head Greenville head coach Bryant Vincent, focuses on teaching players the proper skills on the field and in breaking down film and coverages.

While at the camp, players receive instruction and devotion from current college players and current high school coaches.

Even though Wilson was a no show at Saturday's final day of camp, Auburn University quarterbacks Brandon Cox and Neil Caudle were on hand and the Tigers will reap the benefits of exposure from the camp.

During Saturday's &#8220chalk talk” session, Cox had an opportunity to speak to the players about life in college, on and off the field, and how to be successful.

Campers also had many opportunities to meet and great the college players, getting their pictures made with them and talking with them one-on-one.

Such exposure was not only good for the both the college and high school players, but it was also good for the universities being represented by the collegiate players.

Not only did Wilson miss out on a great opportunity to speak to the young players about football, Alabama and Saban missed out on some positive public relations during a time when they need it the most.

And while Auburn came out looking great by sending players to the camp, Birmingham-Southern, in just its first year of football, came out looking the best by hosting the camp and having head coach Joey Jones available to the players.

While Wilson being a no show at the camp is not the end of the world, it definitely signals a new era and a new way of doing things at Alabama.

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor and can be reached by phone at 334-382-3111 ext. 122, by fax at 334-382-7104 or by e-mail at austin.phillips@greenvilleadvocate.com