"I want to make it perfectly clear that I have no animosity toward Coach (Mike) Shula. (However) to say I was not disappointed would be lying. Otherwise, if I had known about it previously, I would probably not have even answered the question. But, to answer it honestly, I was disappointed. But, that is the head coach's prerogative. Now that I have gotten over my initial shock of it, we move on. The reality of it is the name of awards change year in and year out. I understand that. The important thing to me is that what the University of Alabama meant to me will always mean that to me. The important thing is the guys that I played with, the guys that I played against, they know how I played the game and how much I cared about them. And I feel they cared about me the same way. And they know how much pride I took in wearing that uniform. Nothing will ever change that."
How did you find out about the decision?
"When I was asked a question out here at practice Tuesday evening."
The award was named after you the player, not the coach.
"The spring awards, even though the the public wasn't award of them, have always meant a great deal to all the players. I remember when I was playing they had the Billy Nabors Most Improved Offensive Lineman Award. I wanted it every spring because it was named after a great player there. To get any kind of recognition from Coach Bryant and his staff meant a great deal to us as players. I idolized those guys when I was there. To have an award like that named after me, yeah, it meant a great deal to me. It means that the efforts that I put in trying to be a team player in what I contributed there was noticed by the coaching staff and the other people that were involved in putting my name on that. It meant a lot to me when I was playing and means a lot to me now. The greatest honor that I have gotten or will even get was being voted captain my senior year. Nothing can ever surpass that for me, because it came from the players and the men that I played with."
Don't you wish they had given you a courteous heads up?
"I would have liked to have known because I would have had a better answer to that question when he came to me (laugh). We could have avoided all of this (laugh)."
Have you spoken to any of the Alabama people since this has happened?
"I have talked to some people. I had a call today from Mal Moore at about the middle of the day. He called to say that they had changed some awards. He and I talked about it. Just like I told you, when I was asked the question, I was caught off guard. To have answered it any other way would have been an out and out lie. I had to answer the question as truthful as I possibly could."
Why do you think they removed your name from the award?
"The only thing that I have heard is that they felt like it was not good having an award named after an opposing head coach. My feeling is the award was named after a former player, not after an opposing head coach."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.