Players Face Questions About Staff's Future

Until Athletics Director Mal Moore and/or President Robert E. Witt comes forward with a definitive statement about the future of the Alabama football team and Head Coach Mike Shula, those with interest in the University of Alabama football team - they surely number in the millions – will be watching vigilantly for other signs about the future of the program.

After Saturday's loss to Auburn, the drumbeat of those questions began.

Senior fullback Tim Castille has been outspoken throughout the season and the most openly critical (some would say realistic) about the team's performance throughout the season. The same could be said about Castille Saturday night.

"Right now, from the way it's looking we're not going forward," Castille said. "And if you're not going forward, you're going backwards. We come in and give y'all the same excuses every game. We're just not getting the job done."

Castille nodded in agreement as Birmingham News columnist and radio personality Ray Melick asked about problems with plays being relayed from the sideline to the huddle on time.

"Part of it is trying to figure out what we're going to run," Castille said, "and part of it is us getting in the huddle faster so we can get the play. It's frustrating. I'm there looking at the clock just like you are and saying we've got to hurry."

Saturday night, after Bama's disheartening 22-15 loss to Auburn, Alabama players generally expressed support and confidence in their coaches after a 6-6 finish to the regular season, however.

"I think we've got the right leadership in place," Alabama sophomore quarterback John Parker Wilson said when asked about Shula. "With his leadership we're heading in the right direction. We're all behind him."

Bama linebacker Matt Collins said the players are to blame as much as coaches for failing to execute, and echoed recent team sentiments that practices had been going well leading into the Auburn game and before.

"Our coaches got us ready to play this game," Collins said. "It's up to us to go out and perform. I stand behind my coaches, Coach Shula and Coach Kines. It takes a real man to try keep his head up after something like this. We've got to keep marching on."

Collins said, Finger pointing is the easy way out in a game like this. We're like a family. It's like the saying goes, a house divided against itself cannot stand."

Junior defensive end Wallace Gilberry, who had two sacks of Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox, also defended Shula from the podium after the game.

"Coach Shula, he does a great job with us on and off the field. We just have to make the plays," Gilberry said.

Sophomore Antoine Caldwell was asked to speculate on the future of offensive line coach Bob Connelly. Caldwell, one of the more outspoken Crimson Tide players, said he hopes Connelly stays.

"I'll be hoping and praying he doesn't leave because I feel like we have a bond with him," Caldwell said. "That's not my job, but I just pray to God it's not him. We just didn't get the breaks this year."


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