clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Alabama Football: Remembering 2006 - The End of the Dark Ages

New, 29 comments

On the tenth year anniversary of RollBamaRoll.com, we look back on the 2006 football season.

John Parker Wilson looks for answers.
John Parker Wilson looks for answers.
Marc Serota/Getty Images

As Nick Saban enters his tenth season at the helm of the Crimson Tide football program, so too does RollBamaRoll.com add another candle to the cake. It was ten years ago that a couple of guys with a passion for the Crimson Tide and music banded together to birth this site you now traverse. It has taken on many changes over the years but so has our beloved football program.

It is so easy to forget (or maybe it is not easy for some) the Dark Ages that Tide fans suffered through since Gene Stallings hung up his whistle and clipboard.

Mike Shula

Ten years ago, the Capstone was languishing in mediocrity under (bless his heart) an in-over-his-head Mike Shula at head coach. Alabama was coming off a ten win season that had been marred by losses to LSU and Auburn to wrap the regular season. A tight 13-10 Cotton Bowl win over Texas Tech won by a 45-yard field goal by Jamie Christensen as time ran out was small consolation.

COACHES

David Rader, Offensive Coordinator
Joe Kines, Defensive Coordinator

Chris Ball (S), Bob Connelly (OL), Charlie Harbison (WR), David Turner (DE), Dave Ungerer (ST/TE), Sparky Woods (RB), Buddy Wyatt (DL), Randy Ross (DFO), Tim Bowens (ADFO).

PLAYERS

The Brodie Croyle era was ending and John Parker Wilson was beginning to make his mark. The Tide lost some immense talent from the defense including Mark Anderson, DeMeco Ryans, Anthony Madison, Roman Harper, and Charlie Peprah. The defense had Jeremy Clark, Wallace Gilberry, Juwan Simpson, and Ramzee Robinson returning to the fold. The secondary, however, had some big holes to fill.

A few other names who emerged that season were Tyrone Prothro, Roy Upchurch, Leigh Tiffin , P.J. Fitzgerald, the Castille brothers Tim & Simeon, DJ Hall, Le’Ron McClain, Kenneth Darby, Rashad Johnson, Antoine Caldwell, Mike Johnson, Preston Dial, Keith Brown, Brandon Deaderick, and Jeremy Clark.

andre smith

CROOTIN'

You may recall that ten years ago, Shula was recruiting for his life. He thought for sure he could secure a pledge from a hotshot quarterback from Ponte Vedra, Florida. Alas, Tim Tebow signed with the Gators. The consolation was getting 5-star and future All-American LT Andre Smith, 5-star running back Mike Ford, and 4-star DB Justin Woodall. Sadly, Ford failed to academically qualify and Woodall was okay but nothing great.

Shula also managed to pluck fan favorites Javier Arenas and Greg McElroy out of obscurity. The rest of that class was a list of names that some fans may remember but many who are likely a mystery to most.

Name Pos Location
Andre Smith OL Birmingham, AL
Mike Ford RB Chatham, VA
Terry Grant RB Lumberton, MS
Nikita Stover WR Fulton, MS
Taylor Pharr OL Irondale, AL
Marquis Johnson DB Sarasota, FL
David Ross OL Homewood, AL
Alex Stadler OL Bealeton, VA
Mike McCoy WR Brandon, MS
Justin Woodall DB Oxford, MS
Earl Alexander ATH Phenix City, AL
Marcus Udell DB Tallahassee, FL
Andy Davis DB Birmingham, AL
Charlie Higgenbotham LB Mountain Brook, AL
Tremayne Coger DB Columbia, TN
Brian Motley OL Autaugaville, AL
Preston Dial TE Mobile, AL
Charlie Kirschman LB Ponte Vedra, FL
LaBronski Hutchins LB Alexander City, AL
Jake Jones DB Mountian Brook, AL
Greg McElroy QB Southlake, TX
Javier Arenas ATH Tampa, FL
Milton Talbert DE Hattiesburg, MS

THE SEASON

The season started off well enough against some cupcakes, but two of the scores were a little too close for comfort.

Alabama 25 Hawaii 17, TUSCALOOSA - June Jones' squad gave the Tide a scare behind the passing of Colt Brennan but John Parker Wilson was a little better, throwing for 253 yards and a touchdown in his first career start. Keith Brown caught 6 passes for 132 yards, 1 TD.

Alabama 13 Vanderbilt 10, TUSCALOOSA - Thank the good Lord for Leigh Tiffin. His 47-yard fourth quarter field goal won the game against a 'Dores team that would finish 4-8. Simeon Castille had two interceptions.

Alabama 41 Louisiana-Monroe 7, TUSCALOOSA - The Tide rolled up 444 yards of total offense on the overmatched Warhawks.

Arkansas 24 Alabama 23, FAYETTEVILLE, AR - Leigh Tiffin had an awful day. Alabama took the eventual SEC West champs to overtime in which the Hogs were intercepted on their first possession. Tiffin missed at 37-yard game winning field goal and then an extra point in the second OT. Better days lay ahead for young Tiffin.

Florida 28 Alabama 13, GAINESVILLE, FL - Bama jumped out to a 10-0 lead and trailed only 14-13 in the fourth quarter before the eventual BCS Champs finally wore down the Tide.

Alabama 30 Duke 14, TUSCALOOSA - An absolutely dreadful Duke team (0-12) actually led this game 14-10 at the half. A Bama TD with 4 minutes to go, followed by a pick-six by the Crimson Tide's Lionel Mitchell on the next possession made it look worse than it was.

Alabama 26 Ole Miss 23, TUSCALOOSA - Yet another too close for comfort win against a Rebs team that would finish 4-8 was not winning Shula any fans. A two yard TD reception by Le'Ron McClain would clinch the win. Kenneth Darby ran 25 times for 162 yards

Tennessee 16 Alabama 13, KNOXVILLE, TN - The Vols tried with all their might to give this game away throwing three interceptions - two picked by Castille, one by Mitchell. However, a sputtering Bama offense (Jimmy Johns leading rusher 3 rushes for 37 yds) and a tired defense who could not hold off ten fourth quarter UT points spelled doom for the men in crimson and white.

Alabama 38. Florida International 3, TUSCALOOSA - The Panthers (0-12) in their fifth year of existence did not put up much of a fight. Javier Arenas would return a punt 65 yards for a score - the first of his Alabama career but by far not the last. [Side note: FIU coach Don Strock would be fired after the season and current Alabama OL coach Mario Cristobal would replace him.]

Mississippi State 24 Alabama 16, TUSCALOOSA - Despite the Bulldogs being shut out in the second half, it was enough to hand the Tide their fourth loss. JPW was 19 for 39 with two interceptions, one for a score in the opposite direction. Alabama's Jeffrey Dukes had a pick-six of his own. This would be the sole SEC win for Sylvester Croom's squad (3-9, 1-7) on the season.

LSU 28 Alabama 14, BATON ROUGE, LA - The Tigers jumped out to a 14-0 lead and never looked back. To add insult to injury, the opposing quarterback was Mobile native Jamarcus Russell (18-21-0-207) who Shula had not bothered to recruit.

Auburn 22 Alabama 15, TUSCALOOSA - In a game that saw four lead changes and 623 yards of combined offense, Alabama came up a touchdown short as the Tide fell to 6-6 overall and 2-6 in the conference. Bama was plagued by three lost fumbles. Shula subsequently fired on November 27 after four years with the program and a 0-4 record against Auburn.

Oklahoma State 34 Alabama 31 - There is no better place to spend your Christmas vacation than at the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. With Joe Kines as interim coach, the Cowboys would kick a 27-yard, game-winning field goal with 8 seconds left to close the book on this ugly chapter.

THE UGLINESS

The loss to Tennessee was the tenth in 12 seasons.

Alabama lost the Iron Bowl for the fifth time in a row.

Don Shula would harshly criticize the University for the firing of his son. Some misguided sports reporters chimed in as well.

Jimmy Johns who had become the Kenyan Drake of those last two Shula teams, was secretly getting caught up in drug use and distribution. He would be arrested in June 2008 for selling coke in the parking lot of UA's Mal Moore Athletic Facility. He would serve a year in prison.

No Alabama players were selected in the 2008 NFL Draft.

In October 2007, the athletic department discovered a potential NCAA-violations present throughout the athletics program. The violations stemmed from athletes from several sports, including football, receiving improper benefits as a result of a failure in the distribution system of textbooks to student athletes from the university. After a prolonged investigation, in June 2009 the NCAA ruled all athletes that received improper benefits related to the textbook distribution system were deemed ineligible. As such, as part of the penalties imposed on the football program, all victories which those included in the inquiry participated, were officially vacated from the all-time record. The penalty to vacate victories does not result in a loss (or forfeiture) of the affected contests or award a victory to the opponent. As such, all six victories from the 2006 season (Hawaii, Vanderbilt, Louisiana–Monroe, Duke, Ole Miss and Florida International) were vacated making the official record for the season zero wins and seven losses (0–7).

[ED. NOTE: For the record, you will never see any acknowledgement of any vacated wins from CB969. Any records noted in his articles will included wins on the field. RTR]

OTHER TIDE SPORTS

Men's Basketball finished 18–13 (10–6) under Mark Gottfried, winning the first round of the NCAA Tournament upsetting 7-seed Marquette. That was the last time Alabama won a Big Dance game.

The softball team (54–11, 25–4 SEC) was the SEC Champion. They made it to the Women's College World Series but lost their first two games and were eliminated [We can somehow blame this on Shula, right?]

Ashley Miles led the tumblers to a third place finish in the NCAA Gymnastics championship. Miles won her third vault championship and came in third in the floor exercise. Terin Humphrey was third on the balance beam.

Manager Jim Wells led the 2006 SEC Champions to a Super Regional as the No. 4 seed. However, they lost a heartbreaker to eventual World Series runner-up North Carolina. The Tide was led by a pitching staff of Tommy Hunter (currently with the Indians), David Robertson (White Sox), and Wade LeBlanc (7 seasons in the majors and is currently pitching in AAA after a stint in Japan). In the field was Alex Avila (currently with the White Sox) and Matt Downs (Giants and Astros before retiring).

2006 was Mic Potter's first year as women's golf coach.

2012 Celebration

THE GOOD

Shula's replacement turned out to be pretty good.

2006 was the last time the Crimson Tide football team went down in defeat to the Volunteers.

The Walk of Champions off University Boulevard was completed.

Simeon Castille was named to the Coaches' All-SEC First Team.

D. J. Hall and Antoine Caldwell were named to the Coaches' All-SEC Second Team.

Andre Smith, Prince Hall and punter P. J. Fitzgerald were named to the 2006 Freshman All-SEC Team.

Le'Ron McClain was a fourth round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2007, making the Pro Bowl in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Mike Shula - Returned to the NFL from whence he came and has had a nice career as a quarterbacks coach at Jacksonville Jaguars (2007–2010) and Carolina Panthers (2011–2012), being promoted to Offensive Coordinator at Carolina in 2013.

Sparky Woods - After coaching VMI to a 17–62 record over seven seasons, he was fired and is currently an assistant at Richmond.

Wallace Gilberry - Recently signed with the Lions to begin his tenth NFL season.

Juwan Simpson - Just completed his eighth season with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL where he was a member of Grey Cup-winning teams in 2008 and 2014. However, he is currently a free agent after being released this off-season.

Andre Smith - Signed with the Vikings after seven seasons in Cincinnati.

Le'Ron McClain - Released after the 2013 season. Arrested November 2014 on a felony charge of trafficking 122 grams of synthetic marijuana.

John Parker Wilson - After a short stint in the NFL, the former QB is back in Birmingham working as a financial advisor.

Kenneth Darby - After two seasons on practice squads, he had three decent years with the Rams (2008-10).

Ramzee Robinson - Mr. Irrelevant of the 2007 Draft managed to stay on various NFL rosters for six seasons followed by two years in the CFL.

Tim Tebow - Did a lot in college but not so much in the Pros. Now works on the SEC Network, while he waits for that phone call that is never going to come.

Tommy Tuberville - Tubby shocked Auburn by resigning after a 5-7 campaign and a 36-0 beat down by Nick Saban in the Iron Bowl to coach Texas Tech. After three years, he left for Cincinnati where he currently mires in mediocrity.

Phil Fulmer - After secretly squealing to the NCAA, he was fired after a similar 5-7 season in 2008 in which Saban pummeled his team in Neyland Stadium 29-9. He has never coached another game.

Mike Ford - Transferred to South Florida, rushed for 1,502 yards and 23 touchdowns during his three seasons with USF, and later dismissed for his senior season for the dreaded "violation of team rules." He never played in the NFL and his whereabouts are unknown.

The Alabama Crimson Tide Football Program - Very well, thank you.