We would be remiss if we did not mention the biggest news of the day, the fact “unearthed” by Jerry Tipton, that Billy Clyde has yet to sign a formal contract. Let me first of all say that I dont blame Tipton for “digging up” this story as some around the UK fanbase seem to be doing today. When something is legitimately news, I dont think you shoot the messenger for that news solely because you dont like his general style. There is no doubt in my mind that Tipton is extremely negative in his coverage the majority of the time and is very apt to dig up stories that simply arent news to try and make a splash (think Azubuike’s dad or Rondo’s car). In those cases, Tipton deserves the scorn he gets and his “nattering nabob of negativism” label is entirely appropriate. But here, the fact that Billy Clyde has not yet signed a contract after being on the job for over seven months is worthy of news coverage and raises some interesting issues.
According to the article, Billy Clyde is currently operating under the “Memorandum of Understanding” that was originally agreed upon at the time of his hiring and outlines the general parameters of the deal. But as of now, there has yet to be an agreement on finalized terms that would complete the contract and lead to its signing. The terms in which the parties are apart are unknown at time and could only be determined via speculation. Yet it is worth noting that this is a great deal of time for a coach to go without signing a contract. Nick Saban went 6 months without getting the deal done at Alabama, but then finally put pencil to paper…..as of yet that hasnt happened here.
It is important however for fans not to assume negativity due to the lack of an agreement. Jerry Tipton (bringing out the part of him that is frustrating) mentions that it is a “glaring omission” that there is no morals clause in the Memorandum of Understanding…..however one would never expect to find such a clause in a document like this. If Billy Clyde were to have a serious violation before a clause was agreed upon in the final contract, UK would have just clause to terminate the agreement in any event. The lack of such language at this point says nothing, beyond the obvious hint by Tipton that he personally believes it is needed. We have no idea what the sticking point is in the negotations and I am sure most fans will take the intelligent path and not speculate at this time.
What is likely to occur however is that this story becoming public will prod the parties closer to a deal. This story is now on the front page of ESPN.com and will continue to be asked to Barnhart and Gillispie until a deal is agreed upon. Likely both parties know this and will have extra incentive to make the final agreements necessary to get the deal done. It would not surprise me at all to see a deal finished within the next couple of weeks in order to put this story to bed. But if it drags on longer than that, through the season and in to the offseason, expect rival coaches to use it against UK in recruiting and the questions to linger. Now that this is public and front and center, both parties need to get this off the table. If they dont, and the disagreement is such that both sides are willing to take the public scrutiny and continue to submit to questions on the topic….well, then we may have a story worth following closely.