Croom interviews for Alabama job

Packers running backs coach Sylvester Croom was in Atlanta Monday to interview for the vacant job of head coach for the University of Alabama. Athletics Director Mal Moore is expected to name a new coach for the Crimson Tide this week to replace Mike Price, who was fired Saturday because of conduct deemed inappropriate while attending a function in Florida last month.<p>

Moore and university president Robert Witt have already interviewed three candidates for the job and may name a new coach as early as Wednesday. Former Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach Mike Shula interviewed Sunday; Croom and Carolina Panthers receivers coach Richard Williamson interviewed Monday, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. All three are former Crimson Tide players.

Croom, 48, is in his third year as Packers running backs coach. He previously was offensive coordinator with the Detroit Lions for four years, but has never been a head coach at any level. A native of Tuscaloosa, Croom was Alabama's starting center on its 1973 national-title team and and made the All-America team under coach Paul "Bear" Bryant in 1974. He spent one season in 1976 as a graduate assistant coach and 10 years from 1977 to '86 as the Tide's linebackers coach.

Prior to Price's hiring last December, Croom was regarded as a possible candidate for the Alabama job. If he is hired by Alabama, Croom would be the first black head coach in Southeastern Conference football history.

Shula, 37, was an all-SEC quarterback under coach Ray Perkins in the mid-1980s. He has never been a head coach but was offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-99. Shula is the youngest son of former Dolphins coach Don Shula.

Williamson, 62, was a teammate of Moore's on Bryant's first national championship team in 1961. He was an assistant under Bryant from 1964-71 and was head coach of the Buccaneers during two seasons, 1990-91. Williamson also coached Memphis State from 1975-80.

Alabama was 10-3 last year. And although Bama was not eligible for a bowl game (and will not be eligible again this year), the Crimson Tide finished ranked 11th in the nation.

Moore said he hopes to hire a coach quickly. Alabama is seeking its third coach in five months; Dennis Franchione left for Texas A&M in December. Price was fired for his off-field behavior. He spent a night in a topless bar in Pensacola, Fla., in April, then allowed a woman to order $1,000 in room service and have it charged to his hotel bill.

"I'm looking for who I think is the best for this situation and who could come in with this very awkward time frame," Moore told reporters on Monday.

Alabama has completed spring practice. Its season begins Aug. 30.


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