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November 18, 2006

Why would Bama Keep Shula?

Five in a Row for Tuberville (image: AP)

I grew up a Bama fan. I want the Tide to do well. Plus, they hate everyone that Georgia hates. Success in the SEC is a zero sum game. There's only so many wins to go around. Their losses and Shula's ineptitude strengthen the programs of Tennessee and Auburn. Strong AU and UT teams cause UGA more problems.

Shula is making their lives very easy. I don't call for UGA coaches to be fired, but I've got no deep emotional ties to Bama anymore. I can stand back and say, "Hey, this guy stinks. Why should they keep him?" And I don't feel bad about asking that.

So, what has Shula really accomplished? He beat Florida 31-0 last year, and he beat Texas Tech. Otherwise, he beat the worst Tennessee team in 25 years. Is that all he really has to show for his tenure?

From an article written before tonight's loss to Auburn we learn the following about Shula (stats updated to reflect AU loss):
    0-4 vs. Auburn
    2-17 vs. AU, ARK, LSU, UT, UF and UGA
    3-16 vs. SEC teams with winning records
    4-14 vs. Ranked teams
    8-20 vs. All Teams with Winning Records
    18-2 vs. Teams with losing records
    0-19 when trailing in the fourth quarter
Why would you keep a guy like that? Is he ever going to be able to manage a game successfully? Are Bama fans forever doomed to watch Shula bumble decisions like whether or not to kick a field goal on 4th and 15 with 5 minutes left and two timeouts. Or whether or not to go for two down 14-9 in the first half.

Can Bama Do Better Than Mike Shula?

Based on the stats can they not? This year Bama is 6-6 against possibly the easiest schedule in the university's history. What is their signature win this year? Hawai'i? Sadly, yes.

Many people look at the difficult time that Bama had in hiring a coach last two times. But those were different times. When they replaced Coach Fran, they were facing probation. Yet, they still landed a coach (Mike Price) who had been to two Rose Bowl games, and he had won in a place no coach in history had won (WSU). Despite his lack of SEC ties and his alleged affection for ugly strippers, he was a good hire at the time.

When they replaced Price, it was a debacle. But who would want to coach at any school entering a brutal probation AND replacing the head coach AFTER Spring Practice? Shula was the best they could do then.

Bama isn't on probation now. They have some talented players; although, not enough. Bama isn't a bad job. It still has the resources and reputation to be very successful.

A $3 million buyout isn't a good reason to keep a guy that's producing these kinds of results. Just because he had one 10 win season isn't enough of a reason to keep him either.

We just gotta get butter

Basically, Mike Shula is Ray Goff...with a better vocabulary. Bama can do better.


Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa Paper weighs in with a similar opinion.


Anonymous said...

Somebody really oughta put Tuberville's picture in the dictionary beside "class," after all he is the epitome of the word and all... just OOZES it, don't he?!

Ludakit said...

I must agree with PWD on this one. If I weren't a die-hard UGA fan, I probably would've been a 'Bama fan.

I hate TT and everything he's "done" at AU (remember mediocrity BEFORE Al Borges). Honestly, I can't wait until another school scoops him up and he hires great ASSistants to make himself look good. Until that time, though, he's done nothing but rule Alabama.

Shula wasn't given a fair shake when he started coaching at 'Bama, but he's had plenty of time to correc that. It's about time the Crimson Tide took the necessary steps to make themselves a part of the SEC West again.

However, the question must be asked, "Who exactly would replace Shula and be a realistic fit for the SEC?"

If you're asking me, I really don't know who would fill the job. That being said, understand there will be a LOT of coaches with experience looking for new locations by the end of this year.

If you're a 'Bama fan; who do you pick?

My suggestion (and this is ONLY a guess based on the style of football relevant to the program): Pat Hill

Pete said...

With all due respect to your typically sound analyses, this one really ignores pretty much every single important issue.

Sure, it's easy to say "Fire Shula" after all, what else is a fan supposed to do? They seem to severely dislike blaming the players... nevertheless...

One group of points that was totally missed: given what he's been given, how much better could he have done, really? His first season was doomed before he took over, his second went down with Brodie Croyle's ACL, his third was a 10-win run that sustained the loss of one of the most exciting playmakers in the country, and this year he's dealing with a level of depth and youth that Alabama hasn't seen in easily a decade... and yet he's managed to keep them in almost every game. You want to see 10 wins this season? Give us last year's Ken Darby and take some pressure off of JP Wilson who could do a little better at handling the pressure without throwing a pic.

Second group of points: if Shula's fired now, it sends a horrible message to prospective coaches (you've got three seasons to get to and stay at 9+ wins, or you're gone) AND who the hell would replace him? I simply do not believe any experienced, big-name coach is going to come to Tuscaloosa based on what's happened over the past 7ish years until a little more stability is added to the program, and knowing that the standards are so incredibly high, who'd want to take that job?

Shula simply HAS TO be given at least one more year, there's no other reasonable option. If the Tide doesn't put up a more even showing in '07, show Shula the door.

Firing a coach who takes a program that is on its knees and gets them to three bowl games in four years including a 10-win season is not going to endear you to any potential coaches.

I don't like losing to those fools any more than anyone else does, but it seems naive and short-sighted to call for a coach's head so quickly because your #1 rival has your number.

Anonymous said...

Pete, as to your 2nd point..

If you believe like I do that the Alabama job is and should continue to be one of the top 10 jobs in America, then surely it's easy to see that many up-and-coming coaches would jump at the chance to coach the Tide. As you said, they'd know coming in that they need to sustain 9+ win seasons. What hotshot coach wouldn't want to take on that type of challenge at a football-crazy school?

I like the aforementioned suggestion of Pat Hill. I'd also add Greg Schiano, Bobby Petrino, and Joe Novak to the short list.

Fact is that Shula is a deer in headlights right now, and another year in T-Town most likely won't change that.

Anonymous said...

Just thought it might be relevant. Heard a radio interview with a guy who is supposedly the Bobby Lowder of Bama, and he was saying that Shula should get more time, not because he was doing great, but because he had inherited a really bad situation and then he went on to explain he had to come in late to the job when Coach Mike went partying, having no time to really recruit, having limitations on scholarships for some years, etc. Just thought it would help to know that a mover-shaker of some kind was in Shula's camp.

Anonymous said...

Pete, didn't some of Shula's wonderful coaching in part lead to Croyles injury? ...or at least making it a lot worse anyway, something about a blowout against the Dawgs, the 2nd half and Odell Thurman talking about a "gas bag" sound, lol. Not making fun of the injury, just the goofy comment, but yeah, don't remember many other specifics, just that most thought it was dumb to have an already injured BC in the game at that point or something.

Anonymous said...

This is starting to sound a lot like our hoops situation with Felton. On one hand you've got the "he inherited a terrible situation and needs a little more time" crowd, on the other you've got the ever increasing portion of fans who think he's had quite enough time to show serious improvement and hasn't. THIS is the year Felton must show significant strides since we finally have a little inside depth IMO, and next season should be Shula's make or break year, if he can even last that long in that crazy state.

Anonymous said...

The reason I advocate dumping Shula is because of a lack of in season progress. I know he inherited a bitch of a situation in '03 (and no Bama fan holds that year against him), but there has been no in-season progress over the last two years and that's what's so terrifying about his return. Seeing a team get worse the more they play two years in a row doesn't fill you with confidence.

Anonymous said...

Poor coaching lost that game last night, not talent or depth.

I had respected him but, his performance last night based on a series of bad judgements, might be the worst performance ever in a winnable big game for an SEC coach.

Anonymous said...

Pete - Georgia fired a coach that averaged 8 wins a season and took his team bowling 4 seasons in a row. He inherited probation, and he turned us around and made us better than when he found the job.

We fired him anyway.

We got Mark Richt. We promptly won 3 SEC East and 2 SECC titles while averaging 10.4 wins per season over the next 5 years. This year, if we win our final 2 games, we'll still be averaging 10+ wins per season.

GREAT coaches aren't scared of great expectations.


Anonymous said...

Yes You guys have some nerve talking class when the classless fans of Alabama threw crap at our players hitting David Irons. Let me tell you ALABAMA FANS PUT THE ASS IN CLASS.And what about class?

Anonymous said...

The main question that you have to ask when evaluating Shula is whether or not he adds to, or takes away from, the talent on the field.

For example, has Shula ever done anything to win a game that the Tide wouldn't have won otherwise? Do they make halftime adjustments to match their opponents? Does he make tough decisions to give his team the best opportunity to WIN? Does he have the team disciplined and motivated to play every game?

Unless you aren't paying attention, you should have answered "No" to each of those.

Yes, Shula had 10 wins last season, but how many of those wins came against quality opponents? Florida was OK, Arkansas was down, and Tennessee stunk.

Please don't get the Rutgers coach. Yes, he's had a great year this year, but be careful of getting coaches too quickly after their first good season (see Les Miles). My personal fav is the Wake Forest coach, who has done a tremendous job at a school with enrollment of about 5,000 students in a state with 4 ACC schools...

Anonymous said...

When Tommy Tubberville ripped of pieces of the hedges after the 4th and 1 Jasper Sanks debacle I lost all repsect for the man. We may have destroyed them a year earlier, but they are ours, and we can do that. It is the sole reason I hope he dies of gonorrhea and rots in hell. Would you like a cookie?

Anonymous said...

I've tried to block Ray Goff out of my mind but the Shula comparision was right on. Goff was beaten by every quality coach and some that were not. He was totally out of his element as a SEC head coach and so is Shula. I still can't stand to hear Goff on the radio.

Anonymous said...

Shula is out of his league. I am a 'Bama fan who has been supportive but the team makes no progress. As has been pointed out this team goes backward every year. They are making the same mistakes and failing in the same areas they were in the first games of the year. The best win this year is Hawaii. Shula needs to go and Bama needs an SEC caliber coach now. Shula has had time and I would have been supportive if we would have had an 8 win season and beaten somebody decent, but we did neither.

Anonymous said...

I think that the rest of the coaching community realizes that Shula is a moron, so firing him after four years wouldn't be a deterrent to hiring a good coach. Plus, look at all the talent Alabama returns on offense. Wilson will be a great QB, and Nikita Stover last night cemented himself as an equal receiver with Hall and Brown...probably will be the best trio of receivers in the SEC.

Here's how stupid Shula was yesterday. 1st and goal from the 2, and after three dives up the gut, it's 4th and 1. Again, as usual, he refuses to go for it and takes the FG. But because of the stupid 2 pt attempts later in the game, he basically throws away the FG he insisted on taking. Auburn had three TDs and Bama had 2 TDs and the FG, but at the end of the game they were still a full TD behind. It's exactly the same result as if they'd gone for the TD on 4th down.

Fast forward to the first 2 pt attempt. He only did it because the penalty game him the conversion from the 1.5 yard he figures it's worth a chance. Maybe he's right there. But the play he calls, a pass to the endzone, is the same sort of play you'd run from the three. So, if you don't have a play that you know can get you 1.5 yards, if you're only going to run the same play you'd run from the three, why go for 2?

Pete said...

Some of you anonymous posters who are talking about Shula's "poor decisions" shoud never, ever coach.

Shula's 2-point tries in the Iron Bowl were standard, by-the-book two point tries because kicking the PAT would've made no difference. There's so little difference in being down by 1 or 2 that if six points puts you up by one point, you go for two. Period.

Shula has not, in his tenure at Alabama, made a mistake that caused an injury. Croyle was injured on the first possession of the Georgia game. Prothro was injured in the first possession of the second half.

I don't believe that Alabama is one of the top 10 coaching jobs right now for several reasons:

1. Strength of the SEC
2. Weakness of Alabama
3. Turbulence caused by too many coaching changes in too few years PLUS probation
4. The hype machine that makes the ACC/Mid-Majors more attractive... show up at one of those schools, go undefeated in a weak conference, and you end up being the talk of college football for half of the year despite the fact that you couldn't have won six games at an SEC school.

If you go back and look at the games objecively, take out something small... say, pretend that the freshman QB isn't making freshman QB mistakes... and you see that the record most likely improves to 8 or 9 wins. (Hell, just give us kicking in the arkansas game... what do you get?)

It's easy to ignore player mistakes or blame them on the coach, but graduation decimated Alabama last year. Alabama is underperforming in terms of win/loss by ONE GAME, two tops.

Another point that should be made... prospective coaches are going to be hesitant to take jobs where the coach was doing okay but was being assaulted on every front by fans (and smear reporters like Finebaum) for not winning 10 games (or whatever it was that fans wanted this year).

If you wait until things either self-destruct or, at the very least, don't improve it shows prospective coaches that you're going to give them a chance to win football games and not string them up the first bad season they have.

I'm not sure what people expected out of Alabama this year, but this is not a "self-destruct" situation.

Shula put these kids in a position to win at least three of the games that they didn't win (Arkansas, Tennessee, Auburn) but execution and poor on-the-field decisions screwed it up.

If the Tide isnt' in the running for the SEC West next year, I'll jump on your band wagon, but this is a rebuilding year (and has been since day one), and that's what's going on. If you don't think progress hsa been made throughout the season, you need to go watch the games again.

About the only decision so far this year that I really question has been Shula's decision to keep looking to Darby to carry the running game. It's been pretty clear since mid-season that he's not that guy this year, but one coaching decision (which might very well have a legitimate reason) is hardly a reason to call for someone's head.

This isn't the same team from 20-30 years ago, and in order to get back there the program is either going to need 1) a little time or 2) an out-and-out superstar coach.

Of the names listed in this thread so far, Petrino is the only one that I would even want on my LONG list, and, frankly, I don't think Petrino has what it takes to make it in a real conference. (I guarantee you that Hill and Novak don't -- they're barely making it in THEIR OWN conferences)

Anonymous said...

Let's see... Georgia plays at Bama next year... Yes! Keep Shula!

Anonymous said...

Anyone thinks that this team is headed in the right direction, LensCrafters is having a sale on Shortsighted correction.

Let's Recap, for fun, shall we:

0-20 when trailing in the 4th.
0-4 vs. LSU
0-4 vs. the Barn
1-4 against UT (And that was on a fluky fumble against a UT teram in a tailspin)

We beat ONE team with a winning record this season, and thank God we opened with them, because they'd kick our asses now.

Hawaii is 9-2. The rest of the pitiful teams we beat? 9-45. We trailed DUKE at the half. We had to go to OT to beat a horrid Ole Miss team. Oh, and, don't forget that STELLAR performance against Mississippi State. Their lone conference win, I might add.

3 plays up the middle from the 2 yard line. Repeatedly. Jumbo package, my ass.

The only book that the first two point try against Auburn was from was "Football for complete morons." Ridiculous.

Sends the field goal unit out when down by 4. Wastes timeout. Generally looks confused as hell.

Refuses to fix the Capps/Swinging Gate/'OLE!/ right side of OL problem. Hell even refuses to ADMIT there is one. Until, of course, Capps allows two clean AU shots on JPW. Which, by the way, led to two fumbles and two TD's. No Crapps after that. But, the ballgame was over at that point.

Won't tell JPW to roll out to buy time and get away from the pressure.

Special teams can't kick the ball into the endzone.

And can't cover punts. Or Kickoffs. Field goals are a crapshoot, which is sad, since that's all we seem to think we need to score.

"Twinkletoes" Darby left in the game, or worse, inserted in the game AFTER Jimmy Johns has ripped through the opposing teams.

On the other thand, the Two toss sweeps to Johns that we ran all SEASON, sure did work well. Ditto the five drag routes to the TE.

Those of us in the Bama Nation who have to pay to watch this crap, which ALSO hasn't just started this season, are Mad, disheartened, disappointed, and embarrassed. And we're out of patience.

It's time this University opens up it's damn checkbook and gets a good head coach. There's enough talent and prestige at Bama that there are a bunch of 'em out there that would kill to be here.

Or, we can keep Captain Futility and watch him continue to mindlessly flail away at the same horse that's long dead.

And soon, have a program that's in the same place.


Anonymous said...

Bama should go after a Pro Coach,they need to forget the 'good ole boy', 'he's one of us' mentality. It's about one thing, winning, hire the smartest coach they can afford.

Anonymous said...

I never thought about it until reading this Blog but I guess UGA fans and Bama fans really do have a few things in common. You guys (like UA) hate Aubarners and we (like UGA) hate UT. Suddenly I have a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Roll Tide Go Dawgs

Anonymous said...

Bama should go after RC Slocum. Maybe he can get the ball rolling. You remember the last 2 head coaches from A&M won big at Bama. They were Bear Bryant and Gene Stallings. RC is a great master mind and can recruit with best of them. Also he has alot of pull with people. Maybe he could get Bob Davie to come coach defense.

Anonymous said...

we don't need a DC, joe kines is the best in the business. shula has hidden behind the recruiting excuse his whole tenure at the capstone, yet last year's graduating class (recruited during the low point of my school's history) was probably the best to play at bryant-denny in the last 20 years. there is no lack of talent at the university of alabama, and there never will be. just a lack of leadership.

Anonymous said...

mike shula has done a terrible job at the university. as a die hard bama fan i can tell you that every game i went to this year was painful. squeaking one out against ole miss, hawaii, and vandy...are u joking. i like mike and i wasnt the first person on his case by any means, but come on do we really need to call a timeout every time a decision needs to be made.

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