Shula fired at Alabama

Monday, November 27th 2006, 6:07 am
By: News On 6

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama has fired coach Mike Shula, whose Tide struggled to a 6-6 regular season finish in his fourth year, athletics director Mal Moore announced Monday.

He said defensive coordinator Joe Kines would serve as interim head coach.

Alabama is bowl-eligible but it has not been deterimed if the Tide will receive an invitation to a post-season game.

The university said Moore would hold a news conference in the football office at 2 p.m. CT.

Shula, 41, a former Alabama quarterback, was winless in four tries against Auburn, his team's biggest rival. The Tigers beat the Crimson Tide 22-15 on Nov. 18, leaving Shula to answer questions about his job security.

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.

The firing of Shula means Alabama is looking for a head coach for the fourth time since 2000. The Tide has had seven coaches in the 24 years since legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's last season in 1982. Bryant had directed the Alabama program for 25 years.

Shula, son of Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Don Shula, spent 15 years as an NFL assistant before he took the Alabama job, but had no experience as a head coach or on a college staff.

He received a new six-year contract in May worth $1.55 million per year. The deal extended his contract two years through early 2012, with a raise of $650,000 plus a $200,000 signing bonus.

Shula led Alabama to a 10-2 record and a Cotton Bowl victory in his third season. He has a 26-23 record in four seasons with the Crimson Tide.

He became the first Tide coach to lose four consecutive games to Auburn, including two at Bryant-Denny Stadium. But he came under considerable fire two weeks before that, when Alabama was stunned by Mississippi State -- and former Tide All-American Sylvester Croom, the runner-up to Shula for the Tuscaloosa job in 2003.

Shula inherited a program weakened by NCAA sanctions and further embarrassed by the two abrupt coaching changes in 2003.