Opinion: Shula experiment is over

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 27, 2006

The Mike Shula experiment is over.

And not a moment too soon for this Alabama Crimson Tide fan.

For the past four years I’ve decried Shula as the leader of the Crimson Tide. I never wanted him when Athletic Director Mal Moore hired him and that opinion never wavered in his four years at the helm of the football program with perhaps the greatest tradition in college football.

First, I am one of those who didn’t think Mike Price should have been fired as head coach of Alabama. While I wasn’t sure he was the man for the job, letting him go because of mostly rumor and innuendo seemed wrong.

Then, when he was released, I was a big proponent of Sylvester Croom, the former Crimson Tide star who now heads up the football fortunes of Mississippi State.

As maybe you had an idea, Mal Moore never consulted me and instead brought in a former Alabama quarterback named Mike Shula who had all the right credentials off the field, but none of them on it. He had never done anything to make you think he would succeed and alas he didn’t.

Shula was 10-2 last year, but I still refused to get on the bandwagon. This year as the wheels came off, more and more people joined me in the firm belief that he can’t win at Alabama on a consistent basis.

If you’re going to beat Tennessee, Florida and Auburn on a regular basis, you need better than Mike Shula calling the shots.

Now, as the smoke is still clearing, the Crimson Tide is in the business of finding another football coach to try to lead Bear’s boys back to greatness.

The names I’ve heard don’t excite me either.

Steve Spurrier is almost 62 years old and he’s not exactly the class guy that you want to see roaming the sidelines Bear Bryant and Gene Stallings once controlled.

I’m also no big fan of Nick Saban either, though I think the Miami Dolphins coach certainly is among the best in the game. Rich Rodriguez of West Virginia is also a solid choice, but not a guy that makes you want to run through a wall.

I’m going to take a pass on Navy coach Paul Johnson who I think has done an admirable job, but I’m not sure whether or not he’s the man for the Crimson Tide.

Our publisher, Jeff Findley, disagrees with me vehemently, but the guy I want is Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen, who I think has done a tremendous job in resurrecting a once dormant Terrapin program. He’s absolutely my favorite coach in the college game.

I’d also be satisfied with Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe who is unquestionably one of the candidates for national coach of the year.

Sure, like everyone else, I think Greg Schiano would be a great coach to get, but I just don’t see the Rutgers coach and Alabama making a good marriage. I think he could do the job, but I think he’s probably better suited waiting for Penn State to come calling in a few years.

Whoever the Crimson Tide calls on to take over in Tuscaloosa, I just hope they can begin the work of making Alabama one of the elite programs in the Southeastern Conference again.

I said last week I would forget some names if I thanked everyone and I did.

In addition to everyone else that helped with the Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Tournament, we were blessed to have three people or groups give tremendous renditions of the national anthem. The Laymen Quartet, the Thomas Vinson Quartet and Denise Basnight-White.

Also, I appreciated Jay Conn of Ahoskie Christian School giving our prayer on Tuesday and Murfreesboro Baptist Church Pastor Dr. Lee Canipe doing the same on Thursday.

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks?

You can reach me at thadd.white@r-cnews.com or call me at 332-7211.

Be careful out there and be good sports.