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Crimson Tide Links and Such: 01/04/08

For all of you itching to see seniors Wallace Gilberry, Simeon Castille, and DJ Hall in action one more time before the NFL Draft, all three will play in the Senior Bowl on January 26th. That gives the Tide 203 all-time Senior Bowl Selections, more than any other program in history.

Ron Middleton, the Tide's Special Teams/TEs coach, is expected to assume the same duties with David Cutcliffe at Duke:

Middleton served as Cutcliffe's special teams coordinator at Ole Miss from 1999-03. Cutcliffe, Tennessee's offensive coordinator the past two seasons, has made an effort to reassemble much of his former Rebels staff, and was reportedly given a purse in the $2 million range to do it.

Middleton is a significant loss for Alabama's staff. The Tide did not allow a special teams touchdown this season under his direction. He was also popular among the players.

Saban is expected to immediately begin searching for a replacement and will likely pursue a minority hire, according to one source. Middleton was one of three African-American coaches on Alabama's on-field staff.

Topping the list of names being mentioned is former Michigan State head coach Bobby Williams, who coached under Saban at MSU, LSU and with the NFL's Miami Dolphins.

Other possibilities are former Virginia Tech and Oakland Raiders assistant Lorenzo Ward, a Tide player in the late 1980s, and former South Carolina head coach and Alabama running backs coach Sparky Woods, who still resides in Tuscaloosa and interviewed with Saban during the coaching transition after Mike Shula was fired.

If Duke follows through with the hire, they will have to pay a $46,000 buyout to Alabama.

An official announcement of an opening weekend match with Clemson in Atlanta's Georgia Dome is expected this afternoon:

The Atlanta committee which organized the Chick-fil-A Bowl is expected to announce final plans on Friday for Clemson and Alabama to open the 2008 season in the Georgia Dome.

Atlanta Sports Council officials have been in negotiations with the schools for months to play the neutral-site game in Atlanta on Aug. 30, with tickets distributed evenly between the schools.

Chick-fil-A Bowl president Gary Stokan said last week plans for the game were put on hold while the committee focused on the bowl game, but he said talks would resume this week. A news conference has been scheduled for Friday afternoon.

And speaking of, the Tide basketball team looks to regroup from their humiliating defeat this week against the basketball Tigers:

No one denies that there were reasons for coach Mark Gottfried to proclaim that he is, "completely, 100 percent embarrassed."

But when Alabama (10-4) hosts independent Chicago State (5-12) today at 7 p.m., the goal is for the team to move on. This is the final game before the Southeastern Conference season begins at home Tuesday at 8 p.m. against defending, two-time national champion Florida in an ESPN game. During the past two days, the Crimson Tide has attempted to push the stumble against Clemson to the background.

"You can't live in it," Gottfried said. "We addressed it, we talked about it, but then we're going to move on from it. I think our guys responded well. We had a very sharp, very enthusiastic practice (Thursday) and that's the way I wanted to be."

In a sad, sullen locker room on Tuesday night, Hollinger quieted down his teammates and delivered a message.

Remember that the team had recently been on a six-game winning streak, he told them. Remember the improvement that had been made. Remember the way the team played during the game's first 25 minutes.

"Don't dwell on that," Hollinger said. "We can't let this make us go on a three-game losing streak. Go to the next game and go back on our winning streak."

Some heartening news for Tide basketball fans: Ronald Steele is back practicing with the team:

"I'm just glad to see him out there practicing," Crimson Tide coach Mark Gottfried said. "I think it's helped his psyche just being out there. He feels a lot better about things. His conditioning is pretty far behind, which is expected. He's just taking a little more time to get in shape and all those type things, but it's been good from him, and I think for our team. The rest of the guys feel good about seeing him out there practicing."

I can't wait to see this again next season.

What is it with Texas and Auburn DCs?

And finally, we'd like to welcome Uncommon Sportsman to SBN. They'll be covering the kind of sports you might find in "Obscure Sport Quarterly," so go check it out for some head scratching fun.