Monday, November 27, 2006

Shula's gone; now what?

First, a look back. Who was right in the media regarding Shula's demise? Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News and writer and talk show host Paul Finebaum. Who was dead wrong? Paul Gattis of the Huntsville Times, ESPN, and the Birmingham News. Cecil Hurt is the man to listen to the most. He has covered the Tide for twenty years since he reported Tide sports for the student newspaper, The Crimson White. He has shown himself to be remarkably credible, even though he is so close to the situation.

Having said that, based on what I've read and heard, here are the top candidates:

1. Steve Spurrier, Head Coach, South Carolina
2. Nick Saban, Head Coach, Miami Dolphins
3. Bobby Petrino, Head Coach, Louisville
4. Rich Rodriguez, Head Coach, West Virginia
5. Jim Grobe, Head Coach, Wake Forest
6. Paul Johnson, Head Coach, Navy
7. Bobby Johnson, Head Coach, Vanderbilt

I have listed these in the order I think the Mal Moore would. I am going to strike Nick Saban from the list up front. Since the Dolphins have been winning the last few weeks, he probably thinks his job is safe. His season will not be over for several weeks and I do not think the University will wait that long to pull the trigger.

Spurrier has issued one of those non-denial "denials". His friend, former Bama defensive coordinator Bill Oliver thinks that Spurrier would accept a really good offer. Spurrier hungers for championships, a legacy, and control of a major program. Alabama offers that like few other schools, and especially more than South Carolina. But will his ego and his (former) dislike of UA win out?

Petrino has built a powerhouse out of virtually nothing at Louisville. His high powered offense is something that would make any Bama fan salivate. Auburn administrators coveted Petrino a few years ago, but the fans cried foul and the deal was never made. Would Petrino like the opportunity to make more money, improve his chances at recruiting and winning championships, and getting back at Auburn? You would have to think so.

Grobe has taken also-ran Wake Forest to new heights this year and has transformed a smaller school in the past. I have heard that he is friends with Mal Moore. I do not know much about him, but he sounds like a coach with great potential.

The Johnson's have brought sorry programs up, but I am not yet convinced either would have much more to offer than Shula at this point.

Bottom line: Shula was a nice guy. He showed character. He guided Alabama through dark days, not of his own making. He built a decent foundation. He should always be respected and admired by the Alabama family for this as well as his contributions as a star athlete in the 1980's. Nevertheless, Mal Moore has decided that Bama could do better at this point. It's a hard and cold business decision, but he's probably right. He'd better be...


Blogger Unknown said...

Though I disagree with the way this was handled, I have to agree with the decision itself. Mike Shula was simply too nice of a guy to pull the trigger on needed changes. It's sad that in being loyal to a few coaches he cost himself as well as the rest of them jobs.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Mike Wilhelm said...

Good points Tom. I couldn't agree more.

8:55 PM  

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