Tider Dismissed

What a difference a year makes. In last year's Music City Bowl, Aaron Johns was the starting Alabama halfback because of injuries to Ray Hudson and Kenneth Darby. This year Johns was dismissed from the Crimson Tide as Bama completed Cotton Bowl preparation in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama Coach Mike Shula announced following a brief Friday morning workout that Aaron Johns, who had not played this season, was dismissed from the team "for violating team policy." Johns will not have an opportunity to return.

The 5-10, 188-pound sophomore from Thomasville missed an opportunity over last off season to challenge for the number one running back position when he performed poorly in off-season workouts. As a freshman he had 53 carries for 200 yards.

That was the only negative news as the Crimson Tide broke camp for a brief Christmas holiday. Tide players will reassemble in Dallas by 7 p.m. Monday for a meeting. Practice for the Cotton Bowl will begin Tuesday.

Alabama, 9-2, will take on Texas Tech, also 9-2, in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Monday, January 2. Kickoff will be at 10 a.m. CST with national television coverage by Fox.

The first to depart will be Tank Conerly, Alabama's equipment manager, and his assistant, Red Leonard. A trailer truck clearly marked as the Alabama Cotton Bowl equipment truck, listing national championships, web sites, etc., is to pull out from Tuscaloosa Christmas afternoon.

Shula said that Friday's workout, akin to a Thursday practice during regular season play, "was a really good practice. The focus was good." The Tide was out in full gear for about an hour and a half.

"We started early, which will help get us prepared for an early kickoff," Shula said.

Shula said that this Alabama team "handles good things and negative things well. Each guy know he has to do his job and be accountable. One of the things I've known since I was here as a player is that everyone who comes here puts the team first. That's why Alabama has had such great success."

The coach said that "Everyone is in good shape. (Wide receiver) Keith Brown practiced again today and had a good practice. Bobby Greenwood didn't practice, but we think he will Tuesday." Brown had missed a few practices with a sore hamstring. Greenwood had surgery earlier this week after breaking his hand in Tuesday's practice.

A tradition of something less than two decades is Alabama seniors being given "rides" from the practice field following their final practice at the Thomas Field practice facility. Those carrying the likes of Brandon Brooks had it pretty easy, but Rudy Griffin was a load. In fact, two men carrying him gave up the task a few years from the sidelines of the practice field. Shula told Griffin that Shula would finish the task "if we win the game and you get two sacks."

Afterwards Shula said that when he was a senior at Alabama at the end of the 1986 season that the seniors did not get those piggy back rides from the field. "And," he added, "I'm glad."

"The only player who got a ride off the field when I was here was Van Tiffin," Shula said, a reference to the triumphant ride given Tiffin after his 52-yard field goal to beat Auburn, 25-23, as time expired in 1985.

Shula said the seniors were talking about it being the last practice for them in Tuscaloosa. "But," he said, "we've still got a week of practice to go, and we're going to need their leadership."

Alabama practices in Dallas will be at SMU. The practices will not be open to the public.

Shula said the Tide will "fine tune the game plan, tweak it if necessary, and do our research on the best way to win the game."


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