Crimson Tide puts focus on the field
With coaching search ongoing, team thinks of Independence Bowl
By Josh Cooper
TUSCALOOSA — As Alabama hit the football practice field Saturday for its second formal workout since the Nov. 18 Iron Bowl, only two thoughts mattered to interim head coach Joe Kines.
His players going to school, and the Crimson Tide stopping Oklahoma State’s offense.
“If it’s not the option, and it’s not going to class, I don’t worry about it much,” Joe Kines said regarding Alabama’s search for a head football coach. “The only thing I’ve been approached about is two guys who missed study hall.”
That marked the extent of Kines’ thoughts about the search for a replacement for Mike Shula, who was fired Nov. 26.
Everything else concerned Oklahoma State and how the Tide might slow its run-based offense when the two teams meet in the Independence Bowl. Shreveport, La., will host the game Dec. 28 at 3:30 p.m.
Media relations officials allowed Alabama players to speak with reporters after practice for the first time since Nov. 27.
Some of the players said they received news about the Tide’s coaching search from TV, including West Virginia’s Rich Rodriguez turning down the job Friday. Others said they heard about it from Kines during a team meeting Friday.
“There were a thousand speculations,” defensive end Wallace Gilberry said. “It may sound typical, but it’s the truth. We’re totally all Oklahoma State. We’re planning on doing some difficult things to them.”
Some players even pushed for Kines to become the next head coach. They said that practice seemed more “intense” and that Kines had them moving at a quicker pace than Shula did.
“He’s getting on everybody,” running back Kenneth Darby said. “If you get stuck in the backfield, he’ll let you know. You want to go back out there after he gets onto you.”
With Alabama’s coaching search hitting a crossroads after Rodriguez didn’t take the job, sources close to the search said that Alabama is taking a step back in order to re-evaluate its options.
Any kind of movement could come Monday, although athletics director Mal Moore has emphasized from the start that he has no timetable.
“We last only four or five years around here,” said linebacker Juwan Simpson, a senior who graduated from Austin. “You expect the coach to be here for a long time. I don’t think we have much say-so.”
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