A case can be made that Price should have cut ties with Washington State immediately upon taking the job as Alabama's 25th head coach. While Washington State can be proud of its Pac-10 championship and Rose Bowl berth and 10-3 record, the Cougars were never in the game with Oklahoma after the Sooners got two quick touchdowns late in the second quarter.
Oklahoma took a 34-14 win in Pasadena on New Year's Day.
Smith, who spent much of his coaching career in the West, notably at UCLA where he coached in four Rose Bowl games, didn't have a hard time putting his finger on what went wrong for Washington State.
"I know that Oklahoma has better athletes...everyone in coaching knows that Oklahoma has better athletes," Smith said. "I was sorry that the Washington State quarterback (Jason Gesser) was not at full speed. He has been an exceptional performer through the year."
On the plus side, Smith said, "After the two quick touchdowns by Oklahoma in the second quarter, I thought the Washington State team fought valiantly to get back into the game. They never really did threaten Oklahoma, but they did score twice."
Oklahoma led by only 3-0 late in the second quarter when Washington State tried a 51-yard field goal, which was partially blocked and short. Moments later the Sooners hit a long pass and a face-mask penalty on the play set the Sooners up for a short touchdown. A few minutes later a Washington State punt was returned for a score and the Sooners went to intermission with a 17-0 lead.
Smith said, "When Mike Price and his staff lay out the offensive plan, the offensive players are going to like it. It was a plan that beat USC. I don't know how you do that at Washington State. It was a remarkable accomplishment by Mike Price."
Smith also said, "Considering what he has been through for most of his career, Mike Price is the ideal man for guiding Alabama through what may be a difficult period."
Smith doesn't expect any more NCAA problems for the Tide. "I don't think there will be any violation of rules while he's conducting things," Smith said. "He's known as a straight arrow in coaching."
Smith says he knows Price "about like everyone else who has coached in the West. I went to one of his clinics when he was at Weber State. I know him well enough to know he's a great guy, a real solid, straight-forward kind of guy, and an excellent football coach."
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