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MONDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2006
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Coach-less Tide gets Independence bid

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com· 340-2460

With developments expected this week in its football coaching search, Alabama accepted a bid to play in the Independence Bowl against Oklahoma State.

The game is set for Dec. 28 at 3:30 p.m. at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, La.

“We’re looking forward to the game,” Alabama interim coach Joe Kines said in a teleconference Sunday evening. “It’s just one more chance to get your team better.”

The game marks the first time that Alabama (6-6, 2-6 SEC) and Oklahoma State (6-6, 3-5 Big 12) have played against one another.

It was a sigh of relief for the Tide, which had to sweat until the final day, not knowing whether it was going bowling. With its .500 record, Alabama landed the final bowl slot among the SEC tie-ins.

The Cowboys are ranked 16th in the country in total offense but 92nd in total defense. They are also ranked eighth in rushing offense with 208.08 yards a game.

“We have a great challenge on our hands,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said.

Meanwhile, Alabama athletics director Mal Moore arrived in New York City on Sunday for various university-related functions as well as the College Football Hall of Fame inductions.

West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez is also in New York. One of his players, Jay Henry, was up for the Draddy Award, which is given to the nation’s top scholar athlete.

Rodriguez is one of Alabama’s top targets for the head coaching job, which came open when Mike Shula was fired Nov. 26.

According to sources close to the search, an announcement could come this week, possibly as soon as today. Alabama officials are confident that the Tide will get a coach that it will be happy with.

Friends of Rodriguez and industry insiders indicate that he could leave West Virginia for Tuscaloosa if offered.

The Mountaineers accepted a bid to play in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1 against Georgia Tech.

A couple of Alabama coaching candidates will face each other in the Orange Bowl, when Bobby Petrino and Big East champion Louisville face ACC winners Wake Forest and Jim Grobe.

Paul Johnson and Navy accepted a bid to play in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 30 in Charlotte, N.C.

Alabama will start its bowl practice next Saturday at 10:30 a.m. It could do so without backup quarterback Jimmy Barnes, who suffered a knee injury in practice on Saturday. The extent of Barnes’ injury will be known after an MRI today.

Alabama running back Jimmy Johns was seen at practice with a cast on his hand, but Kines refused to comment on the injury.

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