December 15, 2006

Tide coaches uncertain of future

The Crimson Tide coaches met with the media Tuesday to talk about the upcoming Independence Bowl matchup with Oklahoma State. Anything beyond that December 28th bowl game remains uncertain for the remaining Tide staff as they wait to find out who will be named the next head coach at Alabama and whether that man will decide to retain or replace the current Tide staff.

"I really haven't spent a whole lot of time thinking about it," said defensive coordinator and interim head coach Joe Kines. "My little ole' brain won't handle much and by the time I'm done handling everything we've got to do here there's not a lot left over. My wife has asked several times what we're going to do but it will all work out. The Bible said we don't have the promise of tomorrow. I may get hit by a truck going home tonight. If I do, you can have my golf clubs. Why worry about tomorrow? Just do as good a job as you can do today."

"We can either mope around and feel sorry for ourselves or we can get to work and be positive and make this as good a situation as we can," said special teams coach Dave Ungerer.

"It's beyond my control. It's not worth worrying about because it will drive you crazy. That's why all of us, all us coaches have just focused on giving these kids our best effort to make this an experience they can remember and set a foundation to teach these kids how to fight through adversity. I wouldn't be the man I am if all of a sudden I was distracted and not giving them my best."

The bowl game and the preparations for it have provided a much-needed distraction both for the players and coaches as they try and pass the time in an unbearable waiting game.

"It's been a godsend," said Kines. "The players have really done a good job of focusing on practice. Exams are about to be over and grades will be posted on Tuesday so we'll know then how we came out of that. Practice has gone well. We've really tried to focus mainly on fundamentals."

"If you watch youngsters out on the playground, the world changes for them. If you get athletes doing anything competitive, it gets your mind off whatever else is going on. The fact that we have something to take pride in means we have something that really takes our mind off everything else going on."

While the bowl game has helped take the players' minds off the uncertainty surrounding the program, it's a whole different matter for the coaching staff whose careers could be hanging in the balance of Mal Moore's decision.

"I've got kids and bills like anybody else," Ungerer said. "But right now I've got Oklahoma State to worry about and I've got some top guys recruiting wise that I'm trying to keep from panicking. It's a lot to deal with but I've got a lot of people supporting me. I just want to give these kids the best opportunity to win this bowl game."

Some coaches have even begun to take a look at opportunities elsewhere, with defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt accepting a job at Nebraska.

"Obviously we lost Buddy yesterday and the reality does set in on you," Kines said. "Wives are strange creatures, especially around Christmas. They're real conscious of bills to be paid and children to be educated and fed. All those things begin to take a bearing on these men. My hat's been off to them at this point. This is a good staff and there would be some of them we might lose on a normal year because it's such a good staff."

"We've made several calls on behalf of several coaches and we've received several calls about some of our guys. It's a good staff, people are interested in them. The credit should be going to the staff for doing the job they've done with theses players and in recruiting."

Cowboys offense presents challenge for Tide

While the soap opera continues off the practice field, the Tide continues to prepare for a versatile and dangerous Oklahoma State offense, led by mobile quarterback Bobby Reid.

"Oklahoma State is a really young but very talented football team," Kines said. "They had some transfers who came in and really made a big difference for them. We've got a day's work in front of us but we're looking forward to it."

"They're offense is a multiple set offense like most folks have now but their base personnel group has a tight end, one running back and three receivers. They run the option and run the zone and spread the field out and they really do a nice job of the play action passes. He's a really physical quarterback and he's got great athleticism."

Kines believes his team will be well-prepared both physically and mentally for the challenge the Cowboys will present and feels the team is in the best shape it has been in since the preseason.

"I noticed yesterday that for the first time we really had some jump about us. It looked like we had some fresh legs and that we were excited to be out there. I think the break has really helped everybody including the wide receivers (DJ Hall and Keith Brown). It has given us some time to heal up a little bit. Injury wise we're as good as we've been all year long."

Kines proud to be part of Tide legacy

Near the end of his press conference Friday, Kines expressed his pride in being a part of the legacy of Crimson Tide football.

"There's just a couple of programs across the country that really sit at that level. You've got no clue how proud we are to be here in this program. This program was founded on the backs of guys who are legends in this business. You look at all the old players that played here and the effort and sweat they put into it to make this program great. It's a humbling experience to stand in this position when you look back over that history. My vocabulary is too little to explain it."

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