Kines on board with the Tide

With the arrival today of Joe Kines, Alabama's new defensive coordinator, the Tide staff is now close to complete. Two defensive positions remain to be filled, and Kines is expected to be consult closely with Head Coach Mike Price on both those hires.

Understandably, Kines declined to speak specifically about which coaches would likely be added. "We've had several discussions on that," was all he'd offer on the subject. But at least one of the remaining positions is expected to be filled by a former Alabama player.

Joe Kines will be involved with the linebackers. But beyond that he and Head Coach Mike Price have several options. At Washington State, Price utilized one linebackers coach and had two men working with the defensive line. On the other hand, when Kines last coached at Alabama, in addition to his coordinator duties, he had a separate assistant to help with the backers.

Shown playing for the Atlanta Falcons, Cornelius Bennett was coached by Coach Kines his final two seasons at Alabama. (GettyImages)

Having announced at his press conference that he planned to hire an Alabama high school coach, Price has a second criterion to satisfy. But it's entirely possible that one person could satisfy both requirements. Shannon Brown, Tim Bowens and Joey Jones, all former Tide players currently coaching in high school, have interviewed with Price. And former Tide All-America linebacker Woodrow Lowe, now coaching at UAB, interviewed last week. Brown played defensive tackle in college, while Bowens and Jones were wide receivers.

Kines will devote most of his time and energy between now and National Signing Day (February 5) to recruiting. In his conversation with BamaMag.com, he noted that "recruiting remains the heart and soul of college football." Several key Tide defensive recruits remain undecided, including linebackers Mitchell Thomas and Daniel Brooks; and linemen Andraus Grace, Andre Fluellen and Michael Hill.

Tuesday on his way back to Tallahassee, Kines met up with Coach Price and other Tide assistants to visit personally with Fluellen at his school.

During Kines' tenure at Alabama, he had a hand in coaching an extraordinarily talented group of linebackers. Joe Godwin (84-86), Randy Rockwell (84-87), Wayne Davis (83-86), Vantreise Davis (86-89), Phillip Brown (83-87), Willie Sheppard (85-89), Greg Gilbert (85-88) and George Bethune (86-88) were among the backers Kines worked with. Wayne Davis, Brown, Gilbert and Bethune were all drafted by the NFL.

"I think we've got us a great defensive coordinator," Rockwell said of his former position coach. "He had come to Alabama from Florida, and they had some great teams before he got to Alabama. Coach Kines was one of the best motivators I've ever played for."

One of the greatest linebackers in the history of football, Derrick Thomas was recruited and coached by Coach Kines at Alabama. (GettyImages)

And of course Alabama fans will never forget Kines' two most famous pupils. Cornelius Bennett (83-86) and Derrick Thomas (85-88) both benefited from his coaching, with both achieving All-America and All-Pro status. Cornelius Bennett, Derrick Thomas and that crowd--I tell you, what. I've been blessed in my career," Kines commented. During his college days, Kines played linebacker for Jacksonville State. "But you can't put me in that ‘great' department with those guys though, I promise you that," he said laughing.

Given the events of the last two months, right now the Tide players need stability as much as anything else. "I think Coach Kines will be there as long as he needs to be," Rockwell said. "He has a reputation for loyalty. He's the type guy that could work anywhere he wants in America, and I'm glad he's picking us again."

A veteran of almost 30 years in the coaching profession, Kines learned a long time ago that schemes should fit the personnel--not the other way around. "Right now I'd rather not get into details about what schemes we'll run until we get the staff together," Kines explained. "Your particular scheme, 3-4 or 4-3, does make a lot of difference. But we'll make those decisions later after the whole staff has been assembled and we've had a chance to review our personnel."

Coincidentally, Kines has already seen plenty of Alabama From his time in the Florida State film room. The Seminoles played Iowa State early this season, who just happened to be Bama's bowl opponent in the 2001 Independence Bowl. And FSU's bowl opponent this season, the Georgia Bulldogs, eked out a close win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa. "The only thing is that during those times we were looking more at Alabama's offense and how they attacked the other team's defense than we were Alabama's personnel on defense," Kines explained. "But having coached at Alabama before, I always enjoyed watching and following Alabama on TV."

Other than specific schemes, Kines and Price have a very clear view of what fans will see from next year's defense. "Sound, aggressive," Kines said. "The first thing you've got to do is be fundamentally sound. When you watched Alabama play defense in the past, they've always been fundamentally sound.

"But besides that, we'll be aggressive in attacking offenses."

Former Tide linebacker Randy Rockwell describes Kines as "the best motivator I ever played for." (Associated Press)

In addition to his tenure at The Capstone, Kines coached at three other SEC schools--Florida, Arkansas and Georgia--before joining his friend Mickey Andrews on the Florida State defensive staff. That experience coaching in the Deep South was a factor in Price's decision. "I grew up in Piedmont, Alabama, and I'm looking forward to getting on board and seeing if I can contribute," Kines said. "I've been in the conference for awhile. My family is looking forward to being there again."

As the long-time Defensive Coordinator at Florida State, Andrews knows a little bit about defensive coaching. And he's convinced his friend is up to the job. "We've coached together three different times," Andrews said. "We were even next-door neighbors at Clemson. We've worked together and had a great relationship. He's always been a great coach.

"He's not just a great coach. He's a great man and a friend."

Having worked at Alabama before, Kines is fully prepared for the demands placed on a Crimson Tide coach. "The good that goes with coaching at Alabama--the pressure that goes with it--all of those things don't really matter when that kicker's foot hits the football at kickoff," he explained. "As far as expectations go, nobody wants to be average.

"And there is nothing average about Alabama."


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