Mike, it's time to go. On TV, you seem like a really nice guy and that you're really trying to make things work at the Capstone, but the reality of it is that you just aren't getting it done. In soccer, you will sometimes see coaches resign when they know they aren't getting it done and aren't a good fit for the team they're coaching. Instead of repeatedly trying to jam a square peg into a round hole and expecting it to fit, they pack up and move on to a place where their talents are a better fit. That's a noble thing to do and I think it would be better than a firing since I like you as a person (from what I can tell) and don't want to see you get fired.
Nobody holds 2003 against you, they really don't. Hardly anyone on earth could've come in and salvaged that season. You came in under some of the wildest circumstances I've ever seen a coach have to deal with and you handled them as well as could've been expected, especially for a first time head coach. Not only that, you restored a lot of much needed dignity to a proud program that was seeing itself mired in scandal, both football and non-football related.
2004 wasn't pretty either, but it looked like things were getting better. The program was still reeling from sanctions, but the team was bowl eligible. Though they struggled against the better teams in the league, they beat the teams they should've beaten quite soundly.
2005, the jewel in your coaching crown. The team got off to a 9-0 start. You showed you could win close games (three games being won off of last second field goals), took LSU to overtime and only the loss to Auburn was an embarrassment (though it was an incredible embarrassment.) The team was flying by the seat of its pants that season, but it was a nice flight.
Some of the team's problems this year were talent related. You don't lose DeMeco Ryans, Freddie Roach, Roman Harper, Anthony Madison, Brodie Croyle, etc. and be just as good as you were the year before. However, the one thing we didn't see out of this team is progress (and the same could be said for '05.) Teams should get better as the year goes along, not worse...and that gets laid at your feet and the feet of the rest of the staff. Arkansas '06 is a great example of a team progressing. They got shellacked by USC in their opener, but have improved greatly week to week and are now in the SEC Championship game and have an outside shot at the BCS title game. I don't expect Alabama to immediately bounce back after the years of sanctions, but I think we fans should feel like progress is being made...at least during the course of a season (and year to year, though there's bound to be down years), but I just don't get that feeling.
Your insistence on doing the same things that aren't working again and again and again and expecting different results isn't helping your case:
- Darby up the middle aka "refusing to make adjustments"
- Chris Capps at right tackle
- The jumbo package in the redzone aka "three times up the gut"
- Insisting that there isn't a problem
Once again, Mike, you seem like a really good guy, the kind of guy you'd want for a neighbor level-of-nice, but I don't think Alabama will be competitive again in the SEC West unless there are some massive changes made.
Now, assuming you stay for a fifth season, we fans feel the following changes are the bare minimum required to get the program back on course:
- Fire Dave Rader
- Turn the playcalling responsibilities over to the new OC.
- Fire offensive line coach Bob Connelly. It is incredible how many times Bama's QB has been sacked in the last two years. Even if they aren't getting sacked, they're running for the their lives almost every passing play (which begs the question, why don't we use the shotgun more?)