Update on the coaching search

With the coaching search barely four days old, Alabama officials hope to move quickly to identify and name a new head.

To this point in the process Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore and university president Robert Witt have interviewed three candidates: Green Bay Packers running backs coach Sylvester Croom, Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach Mike Shula and Carolina Panthers receivers coach Richard Williamson.

In a statement released by The University yesterday, Witt's role in the process was clarified. "Athletics Director Mal Moore and UA President Robert E. Witt are conducting the search. Normally, the athletics director would conduct initial interviews followed by interviews with the president. To expedite the process, both Moore and Witt are conducting interviews simultaneously." The statement added that Coach Moore would hire the new coach with the approval of president Witt.

Shula was interviewed in Florida on Sunday, while Croom and Williamson interviewed with Moore and Witt in Atlanta on Monday. All three men are former players and alumni of The University.

Croom played center for Alabama (‘72-'74) and also served as an assistant coach for the Tide from 1976 through 1986. Since then he's coached running backs for Tampa Bay, San Diego and Green Bay. He also served a stint as offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions.

President Witt

The son of Don Shula, the NFL's all-time coaching leader in terms of victories, Mike Shula played quarterback for Alabama from 1983 to 1986. So far he's spent his entire coaching career in the NFL. Shula served as offensive assistant, quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator with Tampa Bay. He is now working as quarterbacks coach for the Dolphins.

Williamson played wide receiver at Alabama in '61 and '62. On the college level he has served two stints as assistant coach at Alabama and one at Arkansas. He was also head coach at Memphis State from 1975-1980. Since then Williamson has worked in the NFL, coaching with the Chiefs, Buccaneers and Bengals, before joining his present team the Carolina Panthers.

Sources tell BamaMag.com that all three interviews went well, but that was especially true for Croom and Williamson.

Interestingly, Coach Moore indicated to reporters Monday that his list included four "and possibly one more" name.

All three of the known candidates have indicated they would accept the job if offered. Contrary to reports on talk radio, Coach Moore did not attend the SEC Athletics Directors conference in Orlando yesterday, but rather he spent the day working in his office. Especially given Bama's recent history, thorough background checks are being conducted on all candidates before an offer is made.

Alabama definitely plans to hire a new head coach as soon as possible. That decision could come as early as today or tomorrow, but if another candidate is interviewed then it could be delayed a bit. Coach Moore has given a strong signal that he would prefer to have a new head coach on board before the players finish final exams, which end this Friday.

Coach Moore and president Witt are scheduled to meet this morning, and it's possible to make several guesses about the purpose of that meeting. The two could discuss the results of background checks and then decide on the hire. They could also decide to interview other candidates, and if so, how many.

Former Boston College and NFL coach Tom Coughlin has expressed interest in the job. Les Miles of Oklahoma State also expressed strong interest in the Alabama job during the previous search.

For now Eric Price and his brother Aaron are still on the job.

Given the timing of this job search, it would be difficult to hire a college coach away from another program. But if the coach himself indicates a strong interest, that would be a possibility.

As of Wednesday night, no sitting college coach had been officially contacted by Alabama. Coughlin has also told reporters that he has had no contact with Coach Moore.

Contrary to some reports, BamaMag.com is confident that no candidate has been offered the job.

Some media outlets, especially radio and TV, have described Mike Shula as being by far the leading candidate. BamaMag.com's sources indicate that Shula may indeed end up with the job offer, but at this point it would not at all be accurate to describe him as a frontrunner.

Notes

  • There was initially some confusion on this subject, but both Eric and Aaron Price are now saying they would like to interview with the new coach to stay on staff.
  • Alabama assistant coaches have a clause in their contracts that pays them six month's salary if the head coach leaves.
  • At this point all members of Price's former staff are still employed at Alabama. Coach Moore has said he would recommend them to the new coach, but Moore has also made clear that the new coach will have complete authority to assemble his own staff.
  • It's important to note that any assistant that resigns would forfeit his right to any severance package.
  • The University acknowledged yesterday that civil rights activist Jesse Jackson had talked with president Witt regarding the coaching search. Witt confirmed to Jackson that Alabama is giving strong consideration to minority candidates.

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