Torbush: "I've never seen tradition like this

With more than 25 years of coaching experience to his credit, including two stints as head coach, Carl Torbush brought an impressive resume' with him to Tuscaloosa. The Tide Defensive Coordinator's career has included stops at Baylor, Ole Miss and North Carolina--among others. <br><br>But while he carries fond memories of every school he's worked for, Alabama is special. "It's like no place I've ever been," Torbush said.

He explained, "When you've got 40,000+ people that attend your spring game two years in a row. When you've got 2,000 people at your weight-lifting Night of Champions. I've never seen tradition like this."

Far more than most, Torbush's background prepared him for the pressure-packed expectations of coaching the Crimson Tide. After growing up playing sports in Knoxville, Tennessee, Torbush was a two-sport star at Carson-Newman. He was a tough, driven linebacker on the football field, but baseball was probably his best sport. He spent one season playing professional baseball for the Kansas City Royals, and then Torbush moved into the coaching ranks.

Last season under Torbush's tutelage, both Saleem Rasheed and Brooks Daniels totaled more than 100 tackles, only the second time in school history that has happened.

For the next 20 years he gained extensive coaching experience, holding virtually every position possible on the defensive side of the football. Stops included Baylor, Southeast Louisiana, Louisiana Tech, Ole Miss, Louisiana Tech again, and then the North Carolina Tar Heels. During that time he participated in plenty of rivalry games.

But nothing could prepare him for the frenzy and excitement that is Alabama versus Auburn.

"I thought I understood the importance of Alabama/Auburn from being in the Ole Miss/Mississippi State game and playing in the North Carolina/North Carolina State game," he acknowledged. "But I'm not sure anybody can actually understand the intensity and importance of Alabama/Auburn until you've actually been there."

Interestingly, it was Auburn fans last season that were predicting dire results for Dennis Franchione and his new coaching staff. And one of their main points was their lack of experience in the showdown contest. Of course in the game itself, Alabama and its defense turned in probably its best all around performance of the season, dismantling the Tigers, 31-7.

Torbush relishes the victory, but he learned something about the outsized expectations associated with Alabama/Auburn. "Why do I say that? Because I saw fallout from (losing) on the Auburn side after the game."

Despite being "friends" with the Auburn head coach, both Tiger coordinators were fired following the season. And it's no secret that embarrassment over losing the Alabama game so decisively at home was a major factor in their dismissal.

Torbush credits Head Coach Dennis Franchione with developing a team atmosphere that has minimized damage from the NCAA sanctions.

"(The game) is good and bad," Torbush said. "The importance of it is great, but the microscope that you're under is pretty tough. It's good for us now, because we won handily. But I'd hate to think about being on the other side of it."

When it comes to reputations, Torbush's talent for assembling and coordinating defenses is known nationwide. And while his recent stint as head coach at North Carolina was personally disappointing, as his rebuilding job at Alabama progresses, there is little doubt Torbush will have opportunities to be a head coach again.

But right now he can't imagine a more ideal situation. "I enjoy Alabama not just because of football, but I enjoy this town," Torbush said. "I like the Southern people. I like the friendliness. I like that it's big enough that you have everything you want, but it's still small enough that you can get around without the traffic. I enjoy the lake. I enjoy the outdoors.

"To me this is the ideal town."

For Torbush the city of Tuscaloosa and the Alabama campus make for a perfect setting to raise a family, while pursuing his passion for coaching. And while outside "experts" continue to predict trouble for a Tide program facing severe NCAA sanctions, Torbush sees a different reality.

He explained, "A program that's not tight, that's not team- and family-oriented would have some (players) get out of here. Or you'd see guys graduating early, quitting or something else. But right now this whole scenario with the NCAA has actually pulled this football staff and this team closer together."


BamaMag Top Stories