MIKE PRICE has spent 22 years as a player, assistant coach and head coach trying to do one thing: Win a Rose Bowl for Washington State. Just 15 days from potentially fulfilling that dream, CF.C has confirmed that the long-time Cougar has decided to pull up stakes and head to what he terms "the premier coaching job in America" at the University of Alabama.

Reliable sources in Tuscaloosa confirmed Price's selection late today and said he will be on Paul Bryant Jr.'s private plane tonight so he can be introduced tomorrow.

WSU's sports information department wouldn't confirm the move but said it is planning to call a press conference tomorrow morning at 10:30, possibly to introduce an interim or permanent new coach.

Price's move raises a plethora of questions:

* Will Alabama and WSU allow him to coach the Cougars in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1? Price has called victory in Pasadena "a vision I've had forever." KING-5 TV in Seattle reports that defensive coordinator Bill Doba will be the interim coach in Pasadena.

* Will Cougar athletic director Jim Sterk elevate one of Price's assistants to the head job or look outside the family for a new leader? And how many of Price's assistants will go with him?

* What impact will it all have on WSU's upcoming class of recruits, which is largely complete?

* And will Price, who has a .210 winning percentage against arch-rival Washington, be able to keep the Tide job after red zone meltdowns against Auburn in successive seasons?

Leading internal candidates for the Cougar job would likely be defensive coordinator Bill Doba, offensive coordinator Mike Levenselller and possibly assistant head coach/running backs coach Kasey Dunn.

Price was quoted in The Birmingham News on Tuesday as saying the Cougar program is in great shape no matter what. "We really have some good football players in this (WSU) program. It's going to sustain itself with or without me here. I can tell you that. They can keep on winning without me."

In 14 seasons as WSU's head coach Price compiled a record of 83-77, including three 10-win seasons. He guided the Cougars to five bowl games -- an unprecedented two of them in Pasadena.

At Alabama Price's deal is believed to be similar to the 8-year, $12 million package that was offered to Mike Riley a week ago.

Price will be stepping into football hotbed that has produced 12 national titles and 21 Southeast Conference championships. It's a place where no expectation is too high.

Since the legendary Bryant retired in 1982, the Crimson Tide have cycled through five coaches, with an average tenure of four years. Indeed, Bill Curry departed in 1989 after three seasons because winning "only" 72 percent of his games didn't seem to satiate the powers that be.

Price succeeds Dennis Franchione who left 'Bama after two seasons to take the head job at Texas A&M.

It has been reported that Alabama first offered the job to Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech and Riley, the former Oregon State head coach and current assistant with the New Orleans Saints.

A Crimson Tide booster who asked not to be identified said Price will have no honeymoon. "For one, he's not from Alabama or even the south. Beyond that, this guy has never had two winning seasons in a row until this season. Blood will be in the water after his first loss."

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