Alabama has dismissed Mike Shula after only 4 years. Shula took over after a particularly fine sequence of events:
Shula took over the proud but troubled program less than four months before the 2003 season after Mike Price was fired following spring practice for his off-the-field behavior — specifically a night of drinking at a Pensacola, Fla., strip club. Price got the job after Dennis Franchione bolted for Texas A&M.
Before that, Mike DuBose was fired/resigned after some sort of affair, as I recall. Yay! Musical coaches!
Shula’s firing would mean Alabama is looking for a head coach for the fourth time since 2000. The Tide has had seven coaches in the 24 years since Paul “Bear” Bryant’s last season in 1982. Bryant had directed the Alabama program for 25 years.
The seven: Ray Perkins (1983-1986), Bill Curry (1987-1989), Gene Stallings (1990-1996; national championship in 1992), Mike DuBose (1997-2000), Dennis Franchione (2001-2002), Mike Price (2002-2003; did not coach any games), and Shula (2003-2006). If memory serves, only Curry and Stallings left of their own accord (though it’s fair to say that Curry was pushed).
Shula hasn’t been consistent (’03: 4-9; ’04: 6-6; ’05: 10-2; ’06: 6-6), but he’s young and this is his first head coach job. Alabama is still feeling the effects of its sanctions, and lost its star quarterback after last year (not to mention an unknown number of other starters like receiver Tyrone Prothro, who’s still out from a broken leg suffered in 2005). Offensive production has been weak, even in the 10-2 season, but is that enough to send a young guy like this packing? Maybe this is the right plan, and maybe it isn’t, but at some point shouldn’t they get a coach and keep him more than a few years to see what he can really do? Review the dates above and you’ll see that no coach has stayed at UA more than 4 years since Stallings. This endless game of musical coaches can’t be good for the program.