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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2006
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Rodriguez surprises local Tide supporters

By Michael Wetzel
mwetzel@decaturdaily.com 340-2462

Rich Rodriguez's decision to stay at West Virginia caught the Tide Nation by surprise and even raises more questions about the Alabama administration in charge of managing the hirings and firings.

Rodriguez's spurning Alabama's reported six-year, $12 million offer to coach the Crimson Tide football team shocked two local supporters.

"I just think we got caught with our pants down on this one," said Decatur's Benny Perrin, a former defensive back for the Tide. "I guess our administration is assuming they can make a phone call and get a Rodriguez or (Nick) Saban. But now I'm not so sure.

"A program of this caliber that can't land a big name coach has got some problems with the administration. Maybe they ought to take a hard look at the folks there and why things aren't panning out with the coaches."

Perrin, who played in the NFL for four years, added that he thought the last-minute decision hurt Rodriguez, too.

"I think that is his last chance at going to a big-time program," Perrin said. "He's stranded at West Virginia now. That was his big chance. The next time a big school needs a coach, I doubt he'll get a call."

Morgan County Alabama Alumni Association President Mike Ferguson also said he was disappointed in Rodriguez's decision not to leave Morgantown.

"He's here, and now he's not," Ferguson said. "The speculation kills me. We're just getting a lot of coaches some nice pay raises.

"I was surprised when (Mike) Shula was let go. I thought he'd get at least one more year to work with the kids he recruited."

Perrin said he would like to see his former defensive coordinator at Alabama, Bill Oliver, get a crack at the job.

Oliver, 67, is retired and living on Lake Martin, Perrin said.

"I talked to Bill last week, and he said he would be interested, if contacted," Perrin said.

Oliver was a defensive assistant for Alabama during its last three national championship teams.

There also has been Internet talk of former Alabama coach Gene Stallings taking the reins for a couple of years on an interim basis.

While Perrin likes the idea, Ferguson thought otherwise.

"We don't need an interim; we need a head coach," Ferguson said.

"And regardless of who we get, we've got to get better and better. Bringing in somebody for a couple of years would be unfair to the kids and would hurt recruiting. We need some stability down there."

Where do the two local Tide
supporters think the school should look now?

"Maybe we ought to swallow our pride and call Mike (Shula) back," Perrin said.

"I'd be fine with a (Joe) Kines, Stallings or Oliver."

Kines served as Shula's defensive coordinator in all four of his seasons at Alabama. He is the interim head coach.

Ferguson said taking a chance on Boise State first-year coach Chris Petersen might be worth consideration.

"I don't know who is available," Ferguson said.

"All the good ones already have jobs, and I don't know if we need one without a job. That person is out of a job for a reason.

"I know (Athletics Director) Mal (Moore) has said the school will hire a proven head coach with a winning record. Maybe we ought to start looking at some assistants who might make a good head coach."

Alabama State (2-4) at No. 4 Alabama (7-1)

Tipoff: Today at 6 p.m. at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa.

TV: CSS will televise the game.

Alabama lineup: F Alonzo Gee, 6-6, So., 16.0 ppg., 5.4 rpg.; F Richard Hendrix, 6-8, So., 12.4 ppg., 8.4 rpg.; C Jermareo Davidson, 6-10, Sr., 14.9 ppg., 10.6 rpg.; G Mykal Riley, 6-6, So., 12.6 ppg., 6.3 rpg.; G Ronald Steele, 6-3, Jr.,12.7 ppg., 5.0 assists.

Alabama State lineup: G Dustin Richmond, 5-10, Sr., 9.7 ppg., 2.8 assists; F Moses Edun, 6-5, Sr., 9.3 ppg., 4.5 rpg.; F Andrew Hayles, 6-5, So., 14.2 ppg., 3.7 rpg.; F Joel Bosh, 6-6, Jr., 7.7 ppg., 5.5 rpg.; F Richard Lott, 6-7, Jr., 5.0 ppg., 5.2 rpg.

Noteworthy: Alabama leads the series 6-0. ... Alabama sophomore guard Brandon Hollinger and Alabama State sophomore forward Andrew Hayles were teammates at Mobile's LeFlore High. ... Alabama's Alonzo Gee has scored 20 or more points in three of eight games, including 24 at Notre Dame on Thursday.

Mark Edwards, Daily Sports Editor

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