The Game Will Go On

Alabama's scheduled Saturday football game against Southern Mississippi will be played. While a number of athletics events have been cancelled in connection with the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon in Washington and the World Trade Center in New York, the Southeastern Conference announced Wednesday that all athletics events, including football games, would be played this weekend.

In a statement the conference office said that each game would include an "appropriate ceremony." The member institutions of the SEC will donate $1 million from its gate receipts and television fees to funds which will assist the victims. In addition, fans at each event will be encouraged to make donations to these charities.

The Alabama pre-game ceremony will include both teams being on the field for the national anthem, followed by a moment of silence.

Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore said the SEC Athletics Directors voted unanimously to play the games "and support the administration." He said he was not willing to go forward with the games until the government issued the directive to resume normal life as soon as possible. I felt we had to wait and follow the lead of the government, and I still do. And it's possible that between now and Saturday circumstances will change." He said it was also the decision of the conference that if Saturday had been declared a national day of mourning that the games would not be played. However, the day of mourning will be Friday. He said that Southern Mississippi Athletics Director Richard Giannini was in agreement to play the game. (Southern Miss is a member of Conference USA, which has elected not to play games this weekend, although Southern Miss as the visiting team of a school electing to play will participate.)

Alabama and Southern Miss will play at 4:45 p.m. CDT Saturday at Legion Field in Birmingham with television coverage by ESPN2.

Ordinarily, both Alabama and Southern Miss would work out at Legion Field on Friday. For security reasons, that may not be possible. In that event, Alabama has offered the use of its facilities to Southern Miss on Friday. There will be some changes in security at Legion Field Saturday, including parking restrictions, the use of trained dogs to search the stadium, etc.

Alabama Head Coach Dennis Franchione said he made out two practice plans for the rest of the week, one for it the game was to be played and one in the event it was postponed or cancelled. He said, "Whatever decision is made, some people will disagree. They told me we are playing and it's my responsibility to get the team ready."

Franchione announced that tailback Brandon Miree, who had missed practice Tuesday and Wednesday, has left the team. Miree, a 6-2, 220-pound sophomore from Cincinnati, had been billed as another Shaun Alexander. He was redshirted in 1999, then saw action in every game last year, picking up 445 yards and six touchdowns on 94 carries. However, in the spring he was unable to pass Ahmaad Galloway. Then this fall newcomer Ray Hudson, who converted from cornerback, moved into the number two tailback spot. Miree had three carries for two yards against UCLA, then did not play last Saturday against Vanderbilt. He told Franchione Monday he was leaving for "personal and family reasons." Miree is expected to transfer to Pittsburgh.

Ironically, there have been rumors for several weeks that Santonio Beard, the number four tailback who now moves up to number three, was going to transfer. Galloway, Hudson and Beard are the only healthy, eligible scholarshipped tailbacks as freshman Marquez Dupree is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery and expected to be redshirted and Shaud Williams, a transfer from Texas Tech, is sitting out his transfer year.

Franchione said that "Santonio is improving. He's getting a little better. We need to get him in a game. He's got ability, and he's beginning to get more consistent."

Franchione called Wednesday's practice a good one, but said, "We've still got to get better tackling."

He said that fullback Donnie Lowe is back practicing after having suffered a concussion prior to the UCLA game. Franchione said, "We need to see him show us in practice that he is capable of doing the job and we need to get him in the game Saturday if we can. In his position, the first game he plays this year will be his first college game." Lowe was a back-up linebacker as a freshman last year, made the switch to fullback in the spring, and was number one before his injury. Franchione said Marvin Brown would probably be the starting fullback Saturday.

Franchione has had nothing but good to say about Southern Miss and its head coach, Jeff Bower. He said his players and coaches have great respect for the Golden Eagles. Franchione noted that last December, when he was preparing for his TCU team to play Southern Miss in the Mobile bowl, he was breaking down Southern Miss tapes when he first received a telephone call from Mal Moore regarding the football coaching job at Alabama.

Franchione said that Alabama would be on the west side of the stadium in Birmingham Saturday. He said that since the Tide plays just a couple of games in Legion Field that he decided to experiment. "Everything we do is what is best for the team," he said. "I like to be on the side where I can see the chains."

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