Joe Kines defenses over his 30 years in coaching, and rarely has it been done in complimentary fashion."> Joe Kines defenses over his 30 years in coaching, and rarely has it been done in complimentary fashion.">

Kines Returns With The Tide

FAYETTEVILLE -- The "bend, don't break" label has been hung on a few of <!--Default NodeId For Joe Kines is 1438115,2004--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:1438115]>Joe Kines</A> defenses over his 30 years in coaching, and rarely has it been done in complimentary fashion.

Alabama free safety Roman Harper put it a little differently.

"His philosophy is stepping on toes and hitting people in the mouth," Harper said. "That's what he says a lot."

Kines, 60, is in Fayetteville for Saturday's Arkansas-Alabama matchup as a coach for the first time since 1994. That was his last year as defensive coordinator at Arkansas after joining Jack Crowe's staff in 1991 and taking over as interim head coach for 10 games following the season-opening loss to The Citadel in 1992.

Kines is in the second year of his second stint with the Crimson Tide after joining Mike Shula's staff last year following the abrupt Mike Price firing in Tuscaloosa.

He has coached for seven college programs and one NFL team since 1974, and through it all, Kines has maintained the admiration of his peers and his players with a passion for the game and a down-to-earth style he keeps fresh in the 21st century.

"He's the best person you'll ever know on the face of the earth," said Arkansas director of football operations Louis Campbell, who was the defensive backs coach at Arkansas from 1990-97 and coached with Kines for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1989.

"He's been through all kinds of adversity in terms of coaching and coaching changes. He's left everywhere he's ever been with the highest of dignity and respect of the people he was with.

"There's not a better football coach -- not a better person -- on the face of the earth, anywhere."

Kines was the defensive coordinator at Alabama from 1985-86 in Shula's last two seasons as the Tide quarterback and was a natural selection when Shula took the job just 115 days before the 2003 season-opener.

"One of the best decisions (Shula) could have ever made," said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, who worked with Kines from 1991-92 as the Razorbacks' receivers coach. "Experience, attitude. Just awesome. When he took over here as head coach, that was a hard job to keep the boat together."

Just as he helped Arkansas adjust to its first year in the Southeastern Conference in 1992 -- telling Nutt, "these people will slit your throat and drink your blood" -- he assisted the 38-year-old Shula in his transition to his first head coaching job.

"He's been great since Day 1 when I got here on the job," Shula said. "He's one of our leaders on the team. I think our defense is swarming the football more than it did at any point last year.

"The best thing about our defense is we have 11 guys doing their job better."

Turning It Around

After being the subject of fan finger-pointing last season, Kines has earned kudos this year as Alabama boasts the SEC's top-rated defense, allowing just 216 yards per game.

The Tide is giving up a meager 8 points a game and a conference-low 73 yards rushing.

"Everything is so much more well-tuned," Harper said. "We're like a well-oiled machine now. We're not trying to learn a new defense every week."

The Alabama defense will have its hands full Saturday against the SEC's top-rated offense and do-everything quarterback Matt Jones, who Kines said is playing the position as well or better than anyone in the country.

Kines has had to deal with the veer, the wishbone and the evolution of the forward pass over the years and he said Jones is just the latest piece of a never-ending defensive puzzle.

"The thing about defense, you don't get to say what you're going to run against," Kines said. "You have no choice. It's kind of like my wife's cooking.

"You have to eat what she cooks."

Kines had his Alabama critics at in the 1980s -- he was fired along with Ray Perkins' staff after a 10-3 season -- and during the 4-9 season last year.

He had them at Arkansas and at Georgia, where he served as defensive coordinator to Jim Donnan from 1995-99 before joining Florida State's staff in 2000 as the linebackers coach.

None of it bothered Kines, said Campbell, who pointed to Kines' decision after the 1992 season to stay at Arkansas when Athletic Director Frank Broyles promoted Danny Ford from consultant to head coach, relieving Kines of his first -- and only -- head coaching job.

The Razorbacks were 3-6-1 under Kines in their first season in the Southeastern Conference, beating LSU, tying Auburn and earning the only win in Arkansas history at Tennessee.

Ford had been brought in by Kines during the 1992 season. Despite being passed over, Kines stuck it out for two more seasons as the defensive coordinator.

The Razorbacks were 6-4-1 in 1993 and Kines' defense held 14 of 22 opponents to 17 points or less in Ford's first two years.

Campbell had a tough time believing Kines was around for any of it.

"It's unheard of for a guy to not get the job and then stay," Campbell said. "He did.

"That's Joe Kines."

Double-Edged Sword
Kines views criticism and praise the same way.

He avoids both.

"Criticism and praise are the double edge of a sword," Kines said. "If you look up to pay attention when people criticize, if you look up and pay attention when people praise you, you're going to miss the job."

Alabama strong safety Charlie Peprah felt bad about fans and reporters coming down on Kines last year after games like the Tide's 34-31 double-overtime loss against Arkansas when Alabama blew a 21-point second-half lead.

Then there was the five-overtime loss against Tennessee.

Both came at home and inspired the particular ire of Tide fans, who seem to detest Tennessee with an unrivaled passion and are so incapable of accepting losses to the likes of Arkansas that one irate father took a pot shot at his son soon after the Razorbacks' win.

"Coach Kines just had a smile on his face," Peprah said. "He knows the game. He knows what it's all about. That didn't bother him one bit."

Peprah said the explanation for the turnaround in 2004 is simple: The Tide is more complicated.

"Coach Kines is doing some things we couldn't try last year because we couldn't even run our base stuff correctly without screwing it up," he said. "Now that we've got our base packages in, we can try more things. If he likes it, we'll use it."

Keeping It Light
Kines, who still calls his players "young 'uns", has endeared himself to the next generation as much for his tried and true one-liners as for his knowledge of the game.

"He has the older sayings that older people say," Harper said. "You know young kids, we laugh at him all the time. He has these little sayings you'd hear from your granddad, your dad or your uncle.

"He's just a funny guy."

Peprah said one of Alabama's graduate assistants is compiling a list of the best Kines lines and it grows every day.

Peprah's favorite was basically unprintable, but had something to do with the pointlessness of urinating in a boat.

"He has so many," Harper said. "My favorite one personally, whenever we make a good hit on defense, he says, 'It's a perfect fit, kind of like your finger with your nose.' That's my favorite one.

"He's a really funny guy. I really enjoy him."

It's not all laughs with Kines, who has a gift for feeling the pulse of a team and whose speaking ability serves him equally well in pep talks, at coaching clinics or in Sunday school classes.

He takes an active interest in his players that lets them know he cares and keeps him in love with the game.

"We understand what he wants," Peprah said. "He knows his players even better.

"I don't think coach Shula really knew my name last year. People don't realize how huge those things help. I think that's what's happening here."

Though offenses have changed over the years, Kines said the players haven't.

"Young people amaze me," Kines said. "They will do what you ask them to do. They really will. Ninety-nine percent of them are good kids. They want to get an education, they want to play well and represent their team and family. They want to do good on Saturdays.

"Just to get to be a part of that is a great thrill for me."

Back To The Hill
Kines didn't leave Arkansas with hard feelings.

"I enjoyed every day I spent up there," he said. "I don't think there was a day that I was there and I didn't enjoy it. I respect the people in the program, in the state. Such good people and such a good, solid program."

Kines did say he was "probably sad for a day" when he didn't get the head coaching job at Arkansas, but he handled it with an easy aplomb.

"I always say there were three things that happened, and two of them were good for the school," he said. "They made it through, they got a good coach, and the decision was made. As far as I was concerned, it didn't work out exactly like I would have wanted it to.

"But that's life. That's the way things go."

Kines never wants it to be about him, especially when it comes to his players.

"The main thing to do is get the job done for these young'uns," he said. "These players are too important for me to get in the way."

Broyles called Kines the "ultimate competitor," a team player and an outstanding coach.

"Everyone that knows him would tell you he's an asset to the coaching profession," Broyles said. "It's more than obvious that players respect him and consider him their friend.

"He gets the most out of them everywhere he's ever coached."

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