This time, the Price was right

Who is the only active college coach in the state of Alabama to have coached his team into a BCS Bowl? <br><br>If numerous media reports are accurate it is Mike Price, who is being reported as having accepted the job as head football coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Price, the head football coach at Washington State for the past 14 years, has just coached the Cougars to their second consecutive 10-2 season, including a PAC-10 championship and a spot in the January 1 Rose Bowl against Oklahoma.

The Alabama job had been vacant for nearly two weeks since Dennis Franchione bolted for Texas A&M.

As of mid-evening Tuesday we had no confirmation of the agreement from Alabama officials, but there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of reports in Seattle and Pullman that Price had accepted the offer of Bama Athletics Director Mal Moore. There were also reports that Price had met with his team to give them the news face-to-face. Franchione has received much national criticism for leaving that task to one of his assistant coaches when he went to Texas A&M.

It is likely that a press conference will be held Wednesday. It will likely remain until then for several questions to be answered. For instance:

Which, if any, of Price's assistant coaches will join him in Tuscaloosa?

Mike Riley, the assistant head coach of the New Orleans Saints, first accepted the job late last week, then backed out of the deal when Moore refused to give Riley more time "to think about it." Will Price command the salary that had been offered Riley, a reported $1.5 million per year? And how long a contract will the 56-year-old Price sign? Riley, a decade younger, had been offered an eight-year contract.

Alabama, which had a 10-3 record this year, is not in a bowl game because of NCAA sanctions. Will Alabama permit Price to coach his Washington State team in the Rose Bowl? Will Washington State want that? In 2000 TCU had qualified for the Mobile Bowl and Franchione had been expected to coach the Horned Frogs in that bowl, but TCU officials opted to have Franchione's successor coach that game.

Although a laundry lists of candidates have been named by media outlets and on talk radio and internet sites, it appears that Moore had serious discussions with four men for the job. In addition to Riley and Price, it is believed Moore called Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer to see if he would be interested in discussing the position (Beamer was not) and interviewed South Florida Coach Jim Leavitt, who was never offered the job. Alabama opens the 2003 football season against Leavitt's South Florida team on August 30 at Legion Field in Birmingham.

South Florida gave Leavitt a nice new contract after Alabama showed interest. It appears that at least one other coach, Les Miles at Oklahoma State, may have parlayed nothing more than rumors into a new contract as head coach of the Cowboys.

Even though Carl Torbush, former head coach at North Carolina and defensive coordinator for Bama under Franchione, campaigned for the Crimson Tide job, he was not considered a serious candidate. There has been speculation, though, that Torbush might be interested in returning to Alabama as defensive coordinator under Price. Historically, Alabama's assistant coaches have been chosen by the head coach, and Moore is expected to allow Price full latitude in that area.


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