Sports Outside the Beltway

Alabama Coaching Search Kicks into High Gear

Now that the college regular season has ended, Alabama’s search to replace Mike Shula can kick into high gear. The Huntsville TimesPaul Gattis reports on the latest buzz:

With the college football regular season now over, Alabama’s search for a new football coach shifts into a new gear today. And even though the NFL regular season still has a month to go, the Tide is expected to look into the pro ranks, too. Alabama is expected to interview Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban this week as well as West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez, according to multiple sources. But sources also caution that the search is fluid, changing at times on an hourly basis.

It appears, though, that Alabama is ready to make its push for Saban – who has been considered at the top of the list. Sources have also indicated that luring Saban away from his job with the Dolphins won’t be easy. Meanwhile, West Virginia concluded its season Saturday night against Rutgers – clearing the way for Alabama to talk to Rodriguez.

Saban and Rodriguez looked to be the favorites to replace Mike Shula. Other candidates believed to be on the Tide’s radar include Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe, Navy coach Paul Johnson and possibly Arkansas coach Houston Nutt and Louisville coach Bobby Petrino.

I continue to maintain that the Alabama job would be a step down for Saban, who has a much better situation at Miami and, indeed, the LSU gig that he left for the Dolphins. The program just isn’t what it once was and yet the expectations are ridiculously high.

All the other candidates, though, except Nutt are plausible. The Alabama job would be a clear improvement for all of them in prestige and pay and they’re all fine candidates. Nutt’s continuing appearance on these lists is baffling, though, because he has not done all that much at Arkansas and would not be an obvious improvement over Shula. Indeed, I’d prefer giving defensive coordinator Joe Kines a shot over Nutt.

The Mobile Register‘s Neal McCready reports that the serious talk is centering on Rodriguez.

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