The natives in the ‘Bama football nation are growing restless. Redneck fans, inbred boosters, and an ego-maniacal radio show host have been calling for Coach Mike Shula’s head since the Arkansas game. The carping reached a fever pitch with the Tide’s loss to the downtrodden Mississippi State Bulldogs last Saturday. Now the editorial page of the Mobile Press Register wants AD Mal Moore fired. Fact is, all the negative hoopla is bullshit being spread by people too dumb to appreciate the challenges faced by Shula and Moore.
The Crimson Tide is lucky to be able to field any team today, considering it came within a hair of receiving the NCAA’s death penalty in 2002. The program was hit with draconian penalties which included the loss of 21 scholarships between 2003 and 2005. What that means, in essence, is that the Tide is playing without a full compliment of sophomore, junior, and senior stud football players. These penalties were designed to hurt the program.
They did. Alabama is a very mediocre football team this year. If they were anything more, it would be a fluke, much like last year’s over-achieving team proved to be. Mike Shula and Mal Moore are rebuilding the program, essentially from the ground up. It’s going to take time. Bear Bryant wouldn’t be faring any better on the Capstone today than is Coach Shula. Coaches don’t win games. Big-time, stud recruits do. But the rednecks that comprise the bulk of the Alabama fan base don’t get this. They believe the crimson jerseys are magical and that the quantity and quality of the talent is irrelevant.
It’ll be two more years, minimum, before any realistic appraisal of Mike Shula’s coaching ability can be made. True, Mal Moore has made some stupid hires, but calling for his head now is self-defeating. In another year or two, with the stench of the cheating Alabama is now famous for beginning to abate, a top-flight athletic director, maybe even Ozzie Newsome, can be brought in if needed. I, for one, believe things are more or less on schedule in Tuscaloosa. Coach Shula understands what it takes to win in the SEC, namely defense and a strong running game. That’s what he’s working towards. It’s going to take time, just like it’s supposed to when out-of-control fans have nearly destroyed your program.