No Worries

Although Alabama football players have been preparing for final examinations which begin this week; and although the Crimson Tide has had a couple of practices and a little bit of film work for its bowl game, Bama players are aware there is a search going on. But they aren't obsessing over it.

"I haven't worried about it," said junior defensive end Wallace Gilberry following Alabama's second bowl practice Saturday. "I'll let the guys upstairs take care of that."

Gilberry said the players were informed in a meeting Friday that Rich Rodriguez, who had been rumored as Alabama's next coach, would be staying at West Virginia instead of moving to Tuscaloosa. "It was water off our shoulders," Gilberry said. "I wasn't shocked or surprised or anything. It's not my worry. Not at all. I'm satisfied with Coach Kines."

Joe Kines, Alabama's defensive coordinator and assistant head coach under Mike Shula, was elevated to interim head coach by Athletics Director Mal Moore after Moore dismissed Shula following Bama's 6-6 season.

"I'd be very comfortable with Coach Kines," Gilberry said. "If we end up sticking with him, that will be fine with me. He's great. He has a great attitude and he gets you pushed up. We haven't had a dull moment out here. He knows his stuff.

"I think Coach Kines is the guy for it right now. He's a wonderful guy. I love him. I'm loyal to him and the entire coaching staff."

Gilberry is aware of Alabama's recent record of instability in the position of head football coach. "You have to think about the guys who were here before us," Gilberry said. "They went through four head coaches. Compared to that, this is nothing."

Gilberry was the first person signed by that fourth head coach when Shula arrived at Bama in May, 2003. Prior to that in this decade the Tide had Mike DuBose (finishing up his four-year career in 2000), Dennis Franchione (2001-02, before bolting in the pre-dawn hours for Texas A&M), and Mike Price (for spring training 2003 before being fired after inappropriate behavior).

"We can't sit here and worry about all that stuff," Gilberry said. "We have to stay focused and move forward. It's an honor for a football player to be in a bowl game.

"We're just getting a little taste of Oklahoma State. They have a great offense. We have to be totally focused on that."

Alabama will play in its national record 54th bowl game and be seeing to add to its national record 30 bowl victories when the Crimson Tide meets Oklahoma State in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport on December 28.

Alabama will resume practice Friday.

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