TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama coach Mike Shula was fired after a 6-6 season that ended with three straight losses, including a defeat by state rival Auburn.
Athletic director Mal Moore said Monday that defensive coordinator Joe Kines would serve as interim head coach. A news conference was set for Monday afternoon. Shula was to meet with players late Monday morning.
The firing was first reported by The Tuscaloosa News on its Web site. The newspaper said Shula told his assistant coaches late Sunday night of the dismissal.
Shula, a former Alabama quarterback, led the Crimson Tide to a 10-2 season last year and a Cotton Bowl victory. But his teams were winless in four tries against Auburn. The Tigers beat the Crimson Tide 22-15 on Nov. 18.
Shula's firing means Alabama is looking for a head coach for the fourth time since 2000. The Tide has had seven coaches in the 24 years since Paul "Bear" Bryant's last season in 1982. Bryant had directed the Alabama program for 25 years.
Shula took over the proud but troubled program less than four months before the 2003 season after Mike Price was fired following spring practice for his off-the-field behavior -- specifically a night of drinking at a strip club in Pensacola, Fla. Price got the job after Dennis Franchione bolted for Texas A&M.
"Mike and his staff took over our program during a trying period four years ago, and in a number of ways Mike has been an excellent representative of our program," Moore said in a statement. "He personally has displayed impeccable character."
Moore praised Shula for providing "stability for our program through four years of NCAA probation" that end Feb. 1, 2007.
"However, we did not make progress on the field this season and have not been able to maintain the positive momentum necessary to return Alabama football to a place among college football's elite programs," Moore said.
Shula, son of Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Don Shula, spent 15 years as an NFL assistant before he took the Alabama job, but had no experience as a head coach or on a college staff.
He received a new six-year contract in May worth $1.55 million annually. The deal extended his contract two years through early 2012, with a raise of $650,000 plus a $200,000 signing bonus.
The 41-year-old Shula had a 26-23 record in four seasons with the Crimson Tide.
But he is the only Tide coach to lose four consecutive games to Auburn. He came under considerable fire earlier this month when Alabama was stunned by Mississippi State -- and former Tide All-American Sylvester Croom, the runner-up to Shula for the Tuscaloosa job in 2003.
Radio station here in Tampa is reporting that 'Bama is looking heavily at USF coach Jim Leavitt. He was courted heavily by K State last year and has had big wins at USF beating Lou at home last year and WVU at Morgantown this year.
Here's what I heard from a friend in Tuscaloosa on Sunday. Apparently Nick Saban was in town. He didn't visit with University officals (as was stated by the AD on Monday when he said that they hadn't met with anybody) but he did meet with Bear Bryant's son who is not in anyway affiliated with the University but from what I understand he is more powerful than the University President. It sounds like they're making a strong push for Saban.
Rumors also have Spurrier in the mix, as well as the standard Rich Rodriguez and Bobby Petrino rumblings.
My question is, what does everybody think of the Alabama job? Too much pressure and not enough talent to succeed? Or with Shula's let down year will there be some time off from high expectations? And also, who realistically gets this job?