Sunday afternoon, the Tide was out in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts with the varsity working for about two hours and those players who have seen little or no game action during the season remaining out for another half hour to get special attention from the coaching staff.
Alabama Head Coach Dennis Franchione said it was a good practice, particularly considering the players have been away from the practice field for over a week while having final examinations. "I was pleased with the way we worked, but I want them to raise the intensity in practices Monday and Tuesday," Franchione said. He said Sunday's practice was the start of putting in the game plan and he wants it all in before the final practice in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday.
"I thought we practiced with a purpose," Franchione said. "And I want the level of intensity to go up when we get to Shreveport." The team will reassemble in Shreveport on Saturday to complete preparations. Franchione, who compared the four practices on campus this week to "two Tuesday and two Wednesday" practices in a normal week, said that it works out well that Bama will have four practice days in Shreveport, the equivalent of a normal Tuesday-Friday schedule during the season.
The coach said, "We don't want the post-season to be drudgery. We want them to have fun." And, he said, he thinks the players have "learned to work hard in practice and still have fun, which is hard, because practice can be a grind."
He said the bowl trip would be fun for the players. He said there will be a curfew, but that it will be "lenient." In something of a change from his past policy, Franchione consented to the players' request that they be allowed to get to Shreveport on their own, and thus get the mileage money permitted by the NCAA. "We want to do everything we can to benefit the players within NCAA rules, and this allows them a little money," Franchione said. Players are expected to get an average of about $800 each by traveling on their own.
Franchione said, "The goal is to go to a bowl and win, not just go. I think this group will have that purpose."
He said he thought a victory would be particularly meaningful to the seniors. "I think it would give them a good feeling, that they left things headed in the right direction with four straight victories." Alabama finished regular season play at 6-5, but with three consecutive victories.
In another installment of the Franchione-as-coach-candidate story, the subject of Notre Dame's bizarre opening came up following Sunday's practice. Franchione, who expressed sympathy for George O'Leary, who was forced to resign the position after only five days on the job following disclosure of falsification of his resume, said that he has become accustomed to having his name come up for every major college head coaching opening. "It's frustrating, but there's nothing I can do about it," he said. He added that he could say with "absolute certainty" he would be at Alabama next year. "The only place I'm going is Shreveport, and I'm fired up about that.," he added.