Baumhower: Ship is Being Righted

At a gathering at the Alabama Sports Writer's Association, former Alabama and Miami Dolphins star Bob Bomhower took time to discuss the state of Alabama football, something he will be doing extensively with Alabama coaches fans during his "Cruising with the Tide" fundraiser June 18-25.

Baumhower said Head Coach Mike Shula has done a wonderful job "righting the ship" of the Alabama football program after the storm of NCAA sanctions, coaching changes and bad publicity that has been well-documented over the past several years.

"'Frustrating' has probably been the best word for it I think," Baumhower said. "What was really tough for me was to see the kids go through it. My nephew was there for five years."

Baumhower remembered Shula always around the Miami Dolphins program as an "intense" young kid when his father Don Shula was head coach of the Dolphins.

"It's in his blood," Baumhower said. "The first thing he did when he got to Alabama is he brought back the lower gym, that gave me chills."

Scores of former Alabama players remember the ‘lower gym' in Coleman Coliseum where the off-season winter conditioning workouts took place.

"That's what made us," Baumhower said.

Shula, of course, took over after Mike Price was fired for his improper conduct. Price's firing was the last in a line of setbacks including 21 scholarship reductions for alleged NCAA infractions under Mike DuBose and the under-cover-of-night exit to Texas A&M by Dennis Franchione.

"I think (Price) was a good pick - the guy can coach. Look what he did this past year (taking Texas-El Paso to a bowl game). He was a good coach but it was just a different culture," Baumhower said.

Baumhower is excited about the prospects for the Crimson Tide in 2005. Like most observers, he think the result in replacing three starters will be a key to the season.

"Coach Bryant used to always say you need a couple of surprises to get where you need to be. That's what it looks like they need on the line. Everything else looks like they have a really good shot," Baumhower said.

Baumhower has played an active role in organizing the "Cruising with the Tide" cruise as a fundraiser for the athletic department. He said 400 people will be going on the cruise out of Cape Canaveral this weekend.

"We've been trying to get this off the ground for a while. Florida State has been doing something like this for 19 years," he said. "We have an hour and a half reception the first night, and on sea days Coach Rader and Coach Kines will do 1-2 hour seminars."

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