Coaching Search: A Look Back

Alabama Coaching Search, Take 2: Lessons Learned and Pages Turned.

Sounds like a movie title, but no, it's real life with high drama and huge stakes.

Think of the spoiled sound bytes, inconsequential ink and the aimless airfare spent on the fruitless pursuit of Rich Rodriguez.

There have been lots of angry outbursts by Bama fans since Rodriguez pulled the plug on the offer from Alabama one week ago, and lots of finger pointing.

The cross hairs of the populace centered on, in various turns with varying volume levels:

- Alabama athletics director Mal Moore
- The various "sources close to the search"
- The University's Board of Trustees
- An aggressive and sometimes reckless media mob
- Psuedo media types
- Internet chat boards
- Radio talk show hosts like Paul Finebaum, who posted a picture of the Rodriguez family on his website, and gave anonymous callers the opportunity to ridicule the hairstyle of the coach's wife, Rita Rodriguez.

I suggest everybody with an interest in this search, particularly the mayhem-happy Internet posters, take a look in the mirror. The rumor-mongering, accusation-leveling, childish name-calling and general mischief-causing sprouts from an overabundance of passion from within us all.

That's a wrap on the soapbox.

OK, what Moore should have known from his research on Rodriguez: As a West Virginia native, Rodriguez was going to be very difficult to pluck away from his alma mater. Plus, he already had a history of leaving suitors at the altar.

Seven years ago, Rodriguez interviewed twice at Texas Tech and was on the cusp of being introduced as the successor to Spike Dykes. On his second visit to Lubbock, Rodriguez brought Rita and the pair toured residential areas around town.

Less than 48 hours before Rodriguez was to be offered the job he withdrew his name.

Texas Tech athletics director Gerald Myers handled the withdrawal well, telling the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, "We'll go on, and we've got some other candidates who are going to be outstanding."

Myers' words proved prophetic. He eventually landed Mike Leach, then the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, whose innovative offense has led Texas Tech to new heights. Might Moore strike gold of his own after another Rodriguez retreat?

And might Leach, ironically, be in the cut of the next wave of candidates at Alabama?

This week has clearly been one of reassessment for Moore. His hired consultants, Neinas Sports Services of Boulder, Colorado, continue to work on identifying and researching candidates.

While sources across the spectrum of college football maintain Alabama will still try to attract Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban, a short list of viable candidates must be ready and waiting.

Saban's Dolphins have three games remaining, and there is little chance any progress could be made with him until after Miami wraps up its regular season on Dec. 31.

Most of the Crimson Tide's other viable candidates are about to enter the serious stages of bowl preparation, so the search is likely to cool off publicly while Moore formulates a plan of action.

In the meantime, Alabama fans should try to relax and enjoy the Holidays.

And keep their most poisonous thoughts to themselves.

Thomas Murphy is the Alabama beat writer for the Mobile Press-Register. He writes a weekly column for

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