Evaluating Shula

Was Mike Shula making his final face-to-face meeting with the media following Saturday's 22-15 loss to Auburn? Shula was very late to the post-game press conference after talking to his team about the difficult loss and the road ahead. He spoke generally about evaluations,

but dodged the issue of an evaluation of himself.

"We've got to do things to get better," Shula said following his fourth season, a 6-6 year that may or may not be over. Alabama is bowl eligible, but may come up short as many teams have better bowl credentials.

"We're going to evaluate everything we're doing," Shula said. "Offense, defense, how we recruit. We're going to find out how we can do things better."

But The Tide head coach diffused talk of specifics with the reasonable explanation that specifics have not yet been determined. He completely failed to address the specific addressed to him and about him: whether Athletics Director Mal Moore and University President Dr. Robert E. Witt might also have an evaluation process. That would be at the level of evaluation the head coach.

As for being satisfied with himself, he said, "I'm not satisfied with the record. I'm not sure you're ever satisfied unless you win them all. I'm not satisfied at 6-6. We're going to work hard to win them all. That's what's going through my mind and the players' minds.

"The expectation level is high when you come to Alabama."

He said, "We've got to figure out how to get better. You have to pick yourself up when you get knocked down."

The coach said, "Who knows what the season would have been like if we had done just a few different things? But we didn't. There's a lot of accountability. It starts with the head coach, then the assistant coaches, then the players."

Shula said he had talked to the players "about how tough this one is and how tough it's going to be." He said turnovers "and a couple of plays" were the difference in winning and losing against Auburn. And he mused about how the season might have been different with some better results on plays against Arkansas and Florida and Tennessee.

Alabama finished the season 2-6 against Southeastern Conference competition.

"This wasn't the script we had for the season, the script we had for our seniors," Shula said. He pointed out how the senior class is important to him. "Our seniors came in when a lot of people didn't want to come here," he said. "They could have taken the easy way. But they came in and worked their tails off.

"It's going to be tough now, but we've got to work through it."

He pointed out that Alabama remains a young football team and said he is excited about the quality and quantity of players returning. "We have to give them experience as fast as we can," Shula said. "No one wants it more than the players."

Asked how he deals with the criticism, Shula said, "The same way I tell our players to deal with it. The only way to not be criticized is to win football games."

Shula said, "We didn't win some games we had a chance to win. We had some young guys who played well. We hate that we didn't win much for them and for our seniors."

Shula said he had not given thought to a bowl game. "I hope so," he said. He said he had been focused on the Auburn game but would meet with the team Sunday afternoon.

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