Shula Welcomes Bowl Reps

Executive Director of the Music City Bowl Scott Ramsey and committee member Joe Kelly were on hand to exchange pleasantries and <I>officially</I> extend its bowl invite to Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula and Athletics Director Mal Moore Friday in Tuscaloosa.

"As an Alabama alumn and former player at Alabama for Coach Bryant, unofficially, I'm confident Alabama is going to win this game and, unofficially, I'm rooting for you," Kelly said. "There's a certain air about the city and the Music City Bowl that hasn't been there in a while."

Kelly also told Shula, "The last time I was in this room here was when you were introduced as the coach here, and it was a good day. I think it's proving to be more so every day."

Alabama (6-5) will face Minnesota on New Year's Eve at 11 a.m. in Nashville's Coliseum, home of the Tennessee Titans.

"As a former alumn and a player that has participated in bowls myself I know what it feels like. It's exciting," Shula said. "I know as a coach that's coached in that stadium before it's a great atmosphere."

Kelly said that the bowl ahead of pace to set a Music City Bowl attendance record, which came in 1999 when almost 60,000 watched Syracuse and Kentucky. Kelly said tickets sales were brisk, and currently in the low- to mid-50,000 range.

Alabama will resume practice on Friday, December 17th in Tuscaloosa and continue through the 23rd before breaking. Plans are for the team to meet in Nashville on Dec. 26 to resume the bowl preparations.

Shula said he might conduct two-a-day practices on Friday and Saturday.

"We'll have two two-a-days at most," Shula said. "We want to get a lot of work in when we first get going."

"We've got to get ready for Minnesota, that's the number one job," he said. "It's my first time coaching in a bowl game and I do understand that we can take advantage of working some younger players."

Shula said he expects his squad's injury situation to be much improved from the Tide's season finale game against Auburn. He said he wasn't 100 percent sure if David Cavan would play but all signs were positive. Of the players that were hampered by non-season-ending injuries, Shula said Clint Johnston is the only one not expected to play.

Shula said that quarterback Marc Guillon was "feeling much, much better. When we start practice we'll see how he's doing and evaluate him." He also said he expects Brodie Croyle to be healthy for spring practice, but was more doubtful about a spring return for Tim Castille.

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