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MONDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2006
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Majority in survey disapprove of Shula firing
Nearly half lack confidence in Moore conducting a successful search

MOBILE (AP) — A majority of Crimson Tide fans in survey disapproved of Mike Shula’s firing and nearly half of them lacked confidence in Athletics Director Mal Moore to conduct a successful search for a new head coach.

The Press-Register/University of South Alabama poll released Sunday was conducted last week before West Virginia’s Rich Rodriguez rejected a $2 million-a-year offer to succeed Shula.

The survey screened for people who identified themselves as Crimson Tide fans. The telephone survey included the responses of 400 Alabama adults, and the results carry a margin of error of 5 percentage points.

“While fans lack confidence in the hiring process, there is also still a significant majority who are disappointed in the firing of Mike Shula,” said USA political scientist Keith Nicholls, who conducted the poll. “That will all be forgotten if the next coach comes along and achieves the kind of success fans expect. But if that’s not the case, there is a chance for a lot of finger pointing.”

Fifty-six percent of the fans surveyed said they disapproved of the decision to fire Shula. Moore announced the firing Nov. 27 and said Alabama was beginning a national search for a new coach.

More than three out of four fans surveyed described the Alabama job as somewhat attractive or very attractive compared with other major NCAA football programs. But Nicholls thinks those numbers may be misleading.

“Only 41 percent say the position is very attractive,” Nicholls said. “Compare that to just 14 years ago (when Alabama last won a national championship), when that number would have been at least 90 or 95 percent. That’s less than half of what it was then. The decision by Rodriguez might confirm that.”

The poll was conducted after Rodriguez had emerged as a leading candidate to replace Shula but before published reports Thursday night that his agent, Mike Brown, had agreed in principle to a deal that would bring Rodriguez to Tuscaloosa. On Friday, Rodriguez met with his administration in West Virginia, then announced he would remain with the Mountaineers.

When given a choice between Jim Grobe of Wake Forest, interim Alabama head coach Joe Kines, Rodriguez, Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban or South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, 43 percent of those polled preferred Spurrier. Rodriguez was next at 17 percent.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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