"But I am going to get them ready to play. If they do what they're supposed to do, then they're going to be fine."
Alabama will practice again Wednesday morning at 11 am, before dispersing for a quick break. The squad will reassemble Saturday (the 22nd) in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Tide will play Iowa State in this year's Independence Bowl in Shreveport. The game will kick off at 6:30 p.m. CST Thursday, December 27. ESPN will televise the contest to a nationwide audience.
"Today wasn't quite as good as yesterday," Franchione said following Tuesday's practice. "But it was the third practice in a row, and I wasn't disappointed. It probably wasn't as snappy as the first two days. But I certainly didn't feel bad about it. We got some good team work in. We competed well against each other. We did more situation work: third-and-short, red zone. Tomorrow we'll have some more areas that we haven't yet covered."
In his press conference Monday, Franchione revealed that several players could possibly be academically ineligible for the bowl game. Without revealing any names, he said that a few might be a part of the two-deep roster and possibly one was a starter. Today he said "hopefully, maybe tomorrow we can announce that information. As soon as all the grades are in."
In a departure from last season where access to TCU's bowl practices was tightly controlled, Franchione plans to allow the public in for the Tide's first two sessions in Shreveport. The Alabama public, that is. "We're going to be open to Alabama fans," Franchione said. "Not Cyclone fans. We're going to have somebody at the gate to let them come in the first couple of days--Sunday and Monday's practice. But then after that we probably will close (practice)."
Alabama will be able to make that change in policy, chiefly because the Iowa State plan will be complete before the squad leaves Tuscaloosa. Franchione explained; "The game plan will be installed before we get there. We'll spend our time in Shreveport refining and just fine tuning. We may have a few little things that we'll work on, but the game plan is pretty much in place."
"We'll put in a bunch of trick plays so the fans can tell Iowa State that we have them," he added with a laugh.
In his teleconference today, Iowa State Head Coach Dan McCarney had high praise for the Alabama coach, calling Franchione and his wife Kim "some of the real class acts in college football."
Franchione returned the compliment. "I have a lot of respect for Dan, because he took a program that was very down and had the perseverance to continue. Iowa State continued to believe in him, and he's gotten things turned around and going the right way. He's done a great job. I have a lot of admiration for the job he's done. It'll be a friendly relationship between Margie and Kim and Dan and I."
The two coaches' shared experience in turning around football programs provides plenty of common ground. "I admire anybody that's had to take over a down program," Franchione said. "I'm sure Dan and I can visit about some of the pains of going through some of those things. It's always good to see how other people have done things."
In preparing for bowl games, many college coaches struggle with how to balance fun and work. But Franchione isn't concerned. "Our teams have done a good job of that in the past," he said. "I emphasize to the kids that when it's time to work we work and when it's time to play we play. Let's not forget the purpose that we're going for. That's the game. But enjoy the events.
"I believe that a bowl is a reward. I don't believe it should be drudgery. And yet as coaches we have a keen interest in our team doing well and getting better. And in our younger players improving and winning the game."
"In the past our guys--and I think we're on a good pace with these guys--have practiced and met and done what it takes. They get that out of the way and over with, and then it's time for them to do what they want to do and have fun."
Franchione ended by pointing out that the current Bama squad has an extra incentive for playing hard. "Having not been a part of a bowl win during their tenure, our seniors would like to have a bowl win to go out on. All the players and coaches realize the positives of being able to get a win in this game as we go into 2002. I think the key is whether or not we win, we will not let the game tarnish what we've gotten accomplished."