The Case Against Shula

Many people think that giving Shula another year is the right thing to do.  Based on what, I ask?  On the fact that he's a nice guy?  That we just don't want to have to find another coach again?  That he won 10 games last year against what turned out to be lesser opponents (Fla and Tenn)?

I really shouldn't have to say this, but given the highly charged atmosphere, I feel like I need to preface this essay by saying that I am not a "Shula hater".  Mike Shula has shown that he is a classy, intelligent guy who seems to care a lot for the students under his charge.  

That being said, I think the University should part ways with him sooner rather than later.

First, let's look back to the circumstances that led to the hiring of Coach Shula:  The program was scandalized by the Mike Dubose affair and NCAA investigation into the Albert Means allegations.  Having no real "Bama Boys" to choose from, we looked outside the club to find a new head coach, and brought in Dennis "Coach Fran" Francione who had put together quite a ball club at TCU.

Things were going pretty well in T-Town despite the severity of the sanctions laid down by the NCAA.  And yet, Fran was unwilling to do what he had asked the players to do: ride it out.  After bolting for A&M, we had to start the coaching search over; this time smack in the middle of scholarship reductions.

Turns out we were able to land a good coach...who, unfortunately, was unready or unable to handle the spotlight in the Bama Nation.  Although he has done well since leaving us, it seemed the right decision at the time to ask Mike Price to depart; to say that although the program was in a bit of a pinch, we were going to take the high road.

After two bad turns with non-Bama coaches, I knew that there was considerable pressure to bring in a home-body.  I thought that was a mistake, but understood the thinking.  Two candidates were reported at the top of the list: Sylvester Croom and Mike Shula.

Let's be honest.  How many of us did not think "Mike Shula???" when we heard that.  Although he has an impressive pedigree (including his time as QB at Bama), he had not been a HC at any level, and was currently not even a coordinator (being QB coach with the 'Fins).

Sadly, Coach Croom isn't doing much better at MSU, so I won't say that Shula was the worse choice.  He's certainly kept the program clean and above reproach.  Thank you, Mike, for leaving the team in better shape than you found it.

But here's why I believe the time has come to find someone else to take the reins:

1)Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes: I was very disturbed when it was announced that Shula was bringing back the coaching staff from his playing days.  Why not bring in some fresh talent?  Despite having a ridiculously bad offense last year (post UF game) and again all of this year, Shula continues to maintain that major changes aren't what's called for.

2)Motivation: Under Shula, we have done an excellent job of being prepared for the big games.  Whether it was Oklahoma or Florida, we've generally been ready for the games we knew were going to be touch (exception: Auburn last year).  But how many times have we had to scratch and claw against the 2nd and 3rd tier teams of the SEC and league as a whole?  It doesn't take a special coach to convince the kids to give it their all against Tennessee.  It does take good coaching to get fired up to play Duke.

3)Execution & Discipline: Is there any true Bama fan who needs to have this one explained?  Whether it was Juwan Simpson's light suspension to letting Jimmy Johns go off on MSU prior to the game, where's the high standards?  The class?  And how do we let a team take the field when they aren't coached in the basics, like blocking and tackling?

4)Game-day decisions: I'm not going to nit-pick on any specific decision, because I know that the difference is often based on luck.  However, let me ask this:  How many time have you felt like we lost a game or a game was too close because of gametime decisions (like being too conservative)?  How often have you felt like we won a game (maybe that we might not have otherwise) because of excellent gametime coaching?  My answer is that there's a lot more of the former than the latter.  And a coach that we want to keep for the long term needs to be able to at least give us that edge some of the time.

I don't think Coach Shula is a bad coach.  I just don't think he's a good coach (as in, above average).  And I haven't seen any signs or flashes of brilliance that would give an indication that he is maturing into one.  

Rather, it seems as though the staff is sticking their head in the sand and blaming losses on everything but game prep and play calling.  Even after a loss to MSU coming off what Shula called the best week of practice yet, there are no major changes planned.

If not now, when?  

Many people think that giving Shula another year is the right thing to do.  Based on what, I ask?  On the fact that he's a nice guy?  That we just don't want to have to find another coach again?  That he won 10 games last year against what turned out to be lesser opponents (Fla and Tenn)?

Maybe at other schools they're OK with that.  Chuck Amato can win a big game once a year against FSU or Clemson to keep his job.  But that's not what I believe our University needs.  We are not a program that accepts mediocrity.  We demand excellence.  It's time we bite the bullet and do what needs to be done.

FanPosts are just that; posts created by the fans. They are in no way indicative of the opinions of SBN and the authors of Roll Bama Roll.