News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Alabama/Auburn Notes


SHREVEPORT, La. — You have to wonder if Joe Kines practices his post-game quotes beforehand.

After the 34-31 loss to Oklahoma State in the Independence Bowl, the interim Alabama head coach used a stirring biblical reference to thank athletics director Mal Moore and University President Robert Witt for letting him lead the team.

“You know, Moses wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, and he never made it to the promised land,” Kines said. “But God did make him get up on the mountain and see it.”

Kines is a candidate for the Alabama job.

“I would give anything to be the head coach at Alabama,” Kines said. “This isn’t an election. I don’t know where to go from here. This is the greatest job in America, and I hope to stay in some capacity.”

Moore speaks, sort of: Mal Moore released a statement before the game, praising the work of Kines and his assistants in their bowl preparation.

“I can’t say enough about the job that interim coach Joe Kines has done leading our team in the month leading up to this bowl game,” Moore said. “Our coaching staff and their families have done a tremendous job representing Alabama football.”

Alabama’s trick play: Alabama revealed a good gimmicky play late in the game. With the Crimson Tide facing second-and-goal at Oklahoma State’s 2-yard line late, offensive coordinator Dave Rader opened his bag of tricks and had John Parker Wilson lateral to lineman Andre Smith.

According to Rader, the play was not his design. Special teams coach Dave Ungerer had seen Cal coach Jeff Tedford run the play. “Jeff Tedford has the copyright,” Rader joked after the game.

Darby’s difficulties continue: Alabama running back Kenneth Darby did not get the 257 yards necessary to break Shaun Alexander’s all-time Alabama rushing record.

Darby had 15 yards on 10 carries to finish his career with 3,326 yards.

“I know I could have done better,” Darby said. “It’s not time for me to be sad. For all the things I have accomplished at this university, I’m happy for the younger guys. There are exciting things ahead.”

Soul singin’: The Temptations sang the national anthem. It might have been the highest profile musical guest that the Tide has had all season to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” — well, maybe besides Yankees first baseman Andy Phillips, who sang the tune before the Tide’s game against Florida International. Phillips played at Alabama.

Rader in the press box: Alabama offensive coordinator Dave Rader was in the press box. No, he wasn’t calling plays with reporters all around him.

Instead there was a plaque of Rader in the box, signifying his contributions as quarterback of the 1976 Tulsa team, which lost to McNeese State 20-16 in that year’s Independence Bowl.

Josh Cooper,
Daily Sports Writer


DALLAS ? Auburn’s football program transcends the boundaries of the Southeast with the help of bowl appearances and regular-season contests against the likes of Southern California and Washington State.

So you might find it odd that only one player on the Tigers’ bowl roster is from Texas, a state chock full of football talent. Even crazier is that the one player, Josh Hebert, is a walk-on.

Whereas the Capital One Bowl a year ago and the Sugar Bowl two years ago served Auburn well in recruiting, Monday’s Cotton Bowl won’t be big for scouting talent, head coach Tommy Tuberville said.

“We don’t recruit in this area a whole lot,” Tuberville said. “We would spot recruit Texas. We don’t go much further west than the Mississippi River.”

Yet, there is one aspect of playing in the Cotton Bowl that will help Auburn in getting future signees. “Obviously, being on national television gives you a shot in the arm for recruiting,” Tuberville said. “All these kids in the high schools coming up want to go to bowl games, so that’s another plus.”

Tag, you’re it: On Wednesday, the Tigers’ football team had a chance to relax and play some laser tag.

“Awesome. I lost once and won once,” senior linebacker Will Herring said. “Joe Cope gets the leadership award. He was undefeated and was 3-0. I lost the first game and changed up to his side the second game and went from there.”

Not everyone had a chance to play. Junior defensive end Quentin Groves got a lesson in relationships instead.

“I was playing Texas Hold ’Em the whole time,” Groves said. “And then I had to get back to the hotel with my wife because she wanted to go shopping.”

He added, “She liked it. She bought a little bracelet, shoes. I just sat down in the food court and told her to go on, I’ll be there. You learn fast. Once you take a woman shopping, you’re going to be there for a while.”

Groves overcomes Muschamp: Groves is second on Auburn’s all-time sack list with 23. He is seventh on the team with 37 tackles, of which 12 were for lost yardage.

And according to defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, Groves is doing all that in spite of his coaching.

“You love game-changers,” Muschamp said. “Guys that are going to make plays. I call it overcoming coaching, and he overcomes coaching a lot.”

However, Groves gives his coach credit for putting him in position to be successful.

“He did a lot of things to fit the way we’re made and built,” Groves said. “In most teams, I’m on outside linebacker. But at Auburn, we’ve got so much speed that I’m a defensive end.”

Bradley Handwerger,
Daily Sports Writer

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