Thursday, December 28, 2006

Independence Bowl and Jan.1, 2007 Update

Today interim coach Joe Kines leads the Tide against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana at 3:30. In the scheme of things, it may not be the biggest bowl game ever, but it would be nice to see Alabama finish with a winning season. I will post more later.


I won't write too much about the game. Alabama lost 34-31 on a last second field goal by Oklahoma State. To me, though, this game was confirmation that the Tide needed new leadership. Alabama erased a 14 point deficit in the fourth quarter to the tie the game with a few minutes left. That is something that never happened once in the four years under head Coach Mike Shula. Also impressive to me was the improved play calling. Dave Rader did a fine job putting the offense in a position to succeed. Most notable was the lateral to Freshman All-American offensive tackle Andre Smith. After trying (and failing) to run it up the middle twice inside the five, Rader called this play and it worked like a charm. No one will ever know, but I am confident that if Coach Shula had tried plays like this in the "red zone" on just a few occasions, Alabama may have finished 8-5 or even 9-4 and he could have saved his job. We may have beaten Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi State, or Auburn. A victory in even two of those five games would have made a huge difference.


Jan.1, 2007 Update:

That's all history now. The big news today is that Alabama officials are supposedly speaking with Miami Dolphins Head Coach Nick Saban.

For what it is worth (they have been wrong repeatedly): Birmingham News

The most reliable reports have been from Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News

Thursday, December 21, 2006

We Need a Sense of Humour These Days

Being a Bama fan these days definitely requires one to have a sense of humour. I received these photos via email during the past week.

Friday, December 08, 2006

So much for coach Rod....

Breaking news...

Mal Moore has confirmed that Rodriguez is staying at WV.

As Finebaum has stated, Alabama is shooting blanks.

Has it come to this, we are just good for one thing: being used by coaches of other schools to increase their salaries?

Mal Moore must have violated every rule in the book about how to hire a college football coach.

And half of the media in Alabama are a total joke. Even now, after the fact, my radio is telling me that Alabama and Rodriguez have cut a deal. What a bunch of embarassing reporting, inept leadership, and disappointment of mammoth proportions for Alabama fans who deserved so much moore!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

New Coach?

I think it's almost official. Fox 6 and the Birmingham News report that Rich Rodriguez has accepted the Bama job, as of 8:36.

Thursday, 07 Dec 2006, 8:36 PM CST

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC-TV) -- West Virginia head football coach Rich Rodriguez has accepted a job offer from the University of Alabama to become its next head football coach, according to reports.

The Birmingham News reported online Thursday night that, according to sources close to the University of Alabama, Rodriguez accepted -- in principle, the job offer.


Articles from Friday 12/8/06:

Bama Strikes it Rich - Mobile Register 12/8/06

Rodriguez agrees in principle to coach UA - WVVA Bluefield, WV

CBS seeks candidates to replace Rodriguez - CNS News

Tide lands Rodriguez for salary of $2 million - Huntsville Times

Tide's hire points to scoreboard - Huntsville Times

Rodriguez deal expected, Cecil Hurt - Tuscaloosa News

And here is a contradictory article from WV:

Rich, Alabama still talking - Charleston, WV Gazette

Another note: As of 1:10 p.m. WJOX 690 out of Birmingham interviewed a member of the WV media who stated that Alabama has given Rodriguez a 2:00 p.m. CT deadline to either accept or reject the offer. The reporter stated that Coach Rod is meeting with WV officials to discuss a possible counter offer. It was also reported that this afternoon Coach Rod will meet with his team and let them know whether he intends to stay or go. The drama continues. More to come...

Negotiations continue between Rodriguez, WVU Vernon Bailey PublisherWest Virginia University officials continue to work through negotiations with head football coach Rich Rodriguez on Friday morning, according to sources close to the situation.Rodriguez is currently considering an offer from Alabama after the Crimson Tide fired former coach Mike Shula on November 26. Rodriguez has acknowledged meeting with Alabama athletic director Mal Moore Tuesday night in New York City.Reports from various news sources have indicated that Rodriguez has accepted an offer from Alabama but at this point, those reports appear to be premature.The Mountaineers will have a team meeting at 3:00 PM ET today and it is believed that Rodriguez will make his intentions known before that time.For updates on the situation, please visit's Blue Lot message forum. The staff will be on hand throughout the process to bring you the latest available information.

Tide Extends Offer to Rich Rodriguez

"The University of Alabama has extended an offer to West Virginia University’s Rich Rodriguez to become the new head football coach of the Crimson Tide, sources confirmed to The Tuscaloosa News on Thursday. "

From and Cecil Hurt

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Articles about the coach search from this weekend's papers

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More on the coaching search at Bama

Steve Spurrier seems like a longshot, but is still not out of the realm of possibility. Spurrier would be an awesome catch for the Tide. Fox 6 is reporting tonight that Spurrier has agreed to a "face to face" meeting for Alabama to make it's pitch.

If it's not Spurrier, what about Rich Rodriguez?

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...

Mike Shula has been fired

Alabama Crimson Tide football coach Mike Shula has been fired.

Nov. 27, 2006, 3:50AM
Report: Alabama fires coach Mike Shula

BREAKING NEWS: Shula fired as UA head football coach

From the Crimson White:

"Mike Shula has been fired from his position as head coach of the UA football team, according to reports from The Tuscaloosa News.

The Crimson Tide went 6-6 this season, finishing the season with three straight losses.

Shula notified his assistant coaches late Sunday night after UA director of athletics Mal Moore gave him the news, according to the sources, who spoke to The Tuscaloosa News on the condition of anonymity."

Cecil Hurt - Tuscaloosa News

From Cecil:
"Mike Shula has been dismissed as the University of Alabama’s head football coach, multiple sources close to the Crimson Tide football program told The Tuscaloosa News on Sunday night.

Shula notified his assistant coaches late Sunday night after UA director of athletics Mal Moore gave him the news, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Crimson Tide staff and players had a team meeting at the Paul W. Bryant Hall Academic Center on Sunday night, but Shula and the assistant coaches were not aware of their status at that time. The meeting concluded at approximately 9:15 p.m."

Friday, November 24, 2006

Should he stay or should he go?

That has been the question that Alabama fans have been asking about Coach Mike Shula all week since the Tide lost to Auburn for the fifth year in a row. Many have been asking this question throughout the second half of this season.

The Tide was expected to finish around 8-4 this year but instead they have struggled to a 6-6 record. The losses were by an average of 8 points each. Most of the losses were against quality teams and most of those could have and should have been wins.

Some our wins this year were frustrating too. Alabama played terribly against two of the worst teams in college football: Duke and FIU. The worst point of the season to me was when Bama was trailing FIU (which had suspended 18 players from an already terrible team) 3-0 early in the second quarter on Homecoming.

The Tide's defense was decent this year, but not anywhere near as dominating as last year. The one constant has been the anemic offense. Last year the defense was so awesome (2nd in the nation) that the offense could go 15 quarters without scoring a touchdown and Bama still won all four games. This year, as in most, that lack of production results in losses.

One of the biggest concerns has been the play calling. Running up the middle with tailback Ken Darby on second or third and long has killed more drives than I can count. Alabama was in the "Red Zone" more than any other SEC team, but seldom scored touchdowns. Perhaps the worst example was in last Saturday's Iron Bowl. The Tide had the ball first and goal at the Auburn three. They ran up the middle three times in a row and got one yard and had to settle for a field goal. That's poor coaching any way you look at it.

So, what's going on? The University is mum. My gut feeling is that the athletic director is putting out feelers for big name head coaches, such as Steve Spurrier, Rich Rodriguez, ora few others. If none of these caliber coaches are available, then they will give Shula another year.

If Shula does get another year, he will have to make major changes on offense. First and foremost, he will need to give the play calling responsibilities to someone else.

I like what Coach Shula stands for. He has restored some stability to the Alabama program. It is in better shape than it was when he arrived. Having said that, I'm not sure whether he can take us to the next level. The next few days will be very interesting.

It's time for a change in Tuscaloosa:

Buyout might be cheaper than keeping Shula

If Alabama fires Shula, it'll surprise him ... and me

Evaluation under way, Moore says

Could Rodriguez be among favorites for the Alabama job?

Time for Tide to fire Shula

Shula Proposed His Own Changes

Opinions run gamut on what to do about Tide's Shula

COMMENTARY: A week later, still no word on Shula

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Fate of Coach Mike Shula

In the Wake of Alabama's 6-6 season in which they lost their last three games in a row to Mississippi State, LSU, and rival Auburn, rumors are running rampant regarding the status of Head Coach Mike Shula. News outlets are reporting that he has been fired ( and that he will be back next year ( - Huntsville Times sportswriter Paul Gattis).

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Probably the most informed and credible source is Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News. Here is the latest from Cecil:

"The Tuscaloosa News has learned that the review of all aspects of the Crimson Tide football program is “ongoing,” and that no decisions — including any decision concerning the future of head coach Mike Shula or members of his staff — are expected this week, sources close to the University of Alabama athletic department said Tuesday night."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Auburn 22 Alabama 15

David cheers on the Tide

Million Dollar Band

Linemen take the field

Senior FB LeRon McClain

Taking the field

David and Joe in Bryant-Denny

We enjoyed arriving early...

Rob was among many other Auburn fans at the game

David and Joe...notice how early students arrived for good seats

Shula's last Elephant Stomp?

John Parker Wilson and his little brother

John Parker Wilson and family

Kick that tiger!

Auburn Santa

Well put...

Playing on the new plaza

David ready for the catch

Joe on the plaza

Joe getting ready to go deep

On the quad

Future Tide QB hopeful David on the quad

Denny Chimes

The "UMP" out of Huntsville

Fun on the quad

Pregame on the quad

The boys pick up programs at the Bryant Museum



One answer to "fear the thunb"

South side of Bryant Denny

With the boys before their first Iron Bowl

It didn't happen...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Iron Bowl 2006

Looking forward to tomorrow's game...

LSU 28 Alabama 14

I will post more later but this was Alabama's "moral victory" of the year, if there is such a thing. After being embarassed at home by Mississippi state, the Tide went on the road against perhaps the most talented team in the SEC, LSU, which may have played their best game of the year. Alabama also played well and Shula coached well. Unfortunately it wasn't enough and the Tide lost 28-14.

The offense showed signs of life, actually scoring two touchdowns thanks to the passing of John Parker Wilson, who accounted for 292 yards through the air.

Looking forward to the Iron Bowl. Bama fans think we have a chance due to Auburn's struggles against Georgia.

the talk shows, especially Finebaum, are saying that the Iron Bowl tomorrow may make or break Shula's career.


Me: Alabama 16 Auburn 14
David Alabama 21 Auburn 14
Joe: Alabama 10 Auburn 7
Rob: Auburn 20 Alabama 13
Lisa: Auburn 27 Alabama 13

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Mississippi State 24 Alabama 16


COMMENTARY: Bama hits low Tide as LSU, Auburn await

Shula, Tide watch State horror again

Crimson Tide among SEC's worst teams

Bulldogs jump out to big lead, burn Bama

Here is my two cents' worth on the status of the Alabama football program. Let me say up front that I have been optimistic about our prospects under Coach Shula since he was hired. Many fans cannot say that. He came on board under the worst possible circumstances. He had a few weeks to prepare for his first season, with a team that was suffering from probation. That team lost more than they won, but no one in their right mind would have blamed Shula. The following year, 2004, Bama improved but still had a mediocre record, mostly due to probation and injuries. Again, no one in their right mind could have blamed Shula. Last year, despite losing to Auburn for the third year in a row, Bama finished 10-2, won the Cotton Bowl, was proclaimed to be "Back" by Sports Illustrated, and finshed the year ranked 8th in the country, ahead of Auburn. Shula got a contract extension to 2012.

This year started with expectations of an 8-4 record. It is not looking good for them to make it. The Tide, after losing to Mississippi State, is now 6-4 with two games left. Fans are mad at Shula and are calling for heads to Roll; no pun intended, trust me. This is where I stand: First, I am doing my best to wait until the end of the season before making any final conclusions. So come back and read my final thoughts later this month.

As of now, it appears this Bama team, and the program in general, is headed in the wrong direction. Like most fans, my biggest complaint is with the offense (or lack thereof). Despite a blue chip recruit and claims that the O-line was greatly improved, I haven't seen it. John Parker Wilson has had very little pass protection which has gotten worse as the season has gone on. The running game has been almost non-existant all year. The play calling has mostly stunk, to put it mildly. Running the ball with Darby, off tackle, on 2nd an 15, trailing by 8 with 6 minutes to go, when that play usually results in no gain makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. We've seen that all season. Darby is a finesse back who needs blocking to open up some daylight so that he can use his quickness. Why run him into the teeth of the defense over and over.

I am concerned that whoever is calling the plays can't seem to recognize when something fails repeatedly, especially against poor opposition, it needs to be changed. Bama struggled to get 200 total yards against FIU, arguably the worst team in the country, despite the fact that FIU was shorthanded with 18 players serving suspensions. That is downright scary. How much worse could it get? It came as no surprise, then, that the offense was unable to score a touchdown against Mississippi State, one of the worst teams in the conference. As a matter of fact, without excellent skill players like John Parker Wilson, Keith Brown, and DJ Hall, Bama would really be in bad shape. I blame the performance of the offensive line and the play calling.

Who is responsible? Ultimately the responsibility falls on Coach Shula, the head coach. I understand that he calls the offensive plays himself. Can we really blame the offensive coordinator at all then? Most fans I have heard believe that Shula needs to replace offensive coordinator Rader and get a great coordinator and for Shula to take his hands off the offense. That might work, but some fans say that Shula needs to go himself.

I will not decide until after the regular season ends. If (and I mean if) Bama somehow wins the last two games, everything may change. If the Tide finishes 8-4 and defeats LSU and Auburn, why would anyone want to fire a coach who met, or even slightly exceeded expectations?

However, if Bama loses these games, as predicted, Bama will be in crisis mode. Actually, the Tide is crisis mode now. Reports are that there is dissention among fans, the team, and even people close to the program. Athletic Director Mal Moore was quoted today as giving Shula a vote of confidence. Kenny Stabler last night said that the only thing he was certain of is that Shula would be coaching the next two games and then decisions would have to be made.

These are interesting, scary, and embarassing days for the Tide. If you doubt it, just take a look at the AP photo circulating around the internet with students in the stands at the MSU game with bags on their heads. Stay tuned!