"Right now, I guess that's right," he acknowledged with a wry laugh. "At least I'm trying to." ">
"Right now, I guess that's right," he acknowledged with a wry laugh. "At least I'm trying to." ">

Who's minding the store?

With virtually the entire previous staff departed for Texas--and Athletics Director Mal Moore otherwise occupied, the question of "Who's minding the store?" has temporarily fallen to Randy Ross. <br><br>"Right now, I guess that's right," he acknowledged with a wry laugh. "At least I'm trying to."

Ross' official title remains Director of High School Relations, but temporarily at least he's Bama's jack of all trades.

Normally the day-to-day responsibilities of keeping track of 150-odd players is a group effort. The Director of Football Operations runs the management end, with the various position coaches staying in contact with the players themselves. But Coach Moore turned to Ross as a man he could trust to handle much of those duties. "I've been getting the kids presently on the team checked out for the semester," Ross said yesterday. "It's important to see that the players are all taken care of and that all their needs are met. They're our players right now."

Finals ended last weekend, and most of the Tide players have now gone home for Christmas. But Ross' workload has hardly decreased at all. He explained, "At the same time we're trying to make sure we contact the kids that we're still recruiting to let them know that we haven't forgotten them. I'm trying to help on both ends. I'm doing what I can to notify the recruits about what is going on."

Transitions are never easy. And unfortunately this is the second staff changeover that Alabama has gone through recently. Two years ago when Mike DuBose left Bama recruiting was in disarray. Many key high school players had been left to dangle on the vine, and when the new staff came in they had to start virtually from scratch, evaluating their needs and getting back in on recruits.

This time around, Ross is determined things will be different. "Right now we have all the information ready for the new staff," he said. "All the individual film is ready broken down. If the new guys want to look at (the film) as an offensive staff, they can take those tapes already prepared.

"Some coaches prefer to break down film by position, so the running backs tapes, etc. are there separate."

Ross was added to the Tide staff back in 1990 by then Head Coach Gene Stallings.

A carefully arranged row of video tapes lines the wall of Ross' office, testimony to his words. And a detailed depth chart of the current team also awaits the new coaches. He explained, "I've got everything broken down for them as far as numbers. How many seniors, juniors, sophomores, true freshmen and redshirt freshmen we have coming back. They can basically look down the list and check depth by position.

"Different offensive and defensive sets require different numbers. The new coaches may decide that they need to sign an extra player at a position. It's broken down for them."

In terms of recruiting, there really is no good time to switch head coaches. But Ross and the staff at the Football Complex are doing everything they can to smooth the changeover.

"The full list is ready to hand over," Ross explained. "I think our numbers are okay. Mary Spybey, who is the administrative assistant for recruiting, keeps all that information on computer. She can print out all the lists. We've got every piece of information ready to basically hand it to them.

"It will hopefully be an easy transition."

Ross quickly points out that he's not completely alone in the work. Graduate Assistants Paul Hogan, Woodrow Lowe and Rick LaFavers are still on hand. And of course the rest of the Football Complex staff is available if needed. But though he's hoping to arrange for Hogan and Lowe to help with some of the phone calls, frankly most of that work has fallen to him.

Having worked at Alabama since May of 1990, Ross has earned the trust of the Tide AD. "Until Coach Moore hires somebody and I can set down with them and get all this transferred over to the new staff, I'm going to continue to call," Ross said.

"Maybe I do need to negotiate on a (salary bonus)," he joked. "It does sometimes seem like I'm doing four or five different jobs. But that's okay. It's got to get done one way or another. Everybody is willing to help and chip in."

EDITOR'S NOTE: If the coaching search doesn't overwhelm the front page tomorrow, we'll pass along Coach Ross' thoughts on Alabama recruiting.

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