Alabama football is safe in the arms of Nick Saban, and so we have the luxury of thinking back on less fortunate times. Alabama has had their fair share lackluster coaching. Some coaches ran away, some weren’t disciplinarians and some were just downright awful.
While we can all probably concede that “Ears” Whitworth was the all-time worst Crimson Tide coach, who do you think is the worst Alabama head football coach of the modern era?
Shula was brought in after the coaching debacle that was Mike Price in 2003. The program was still under sanction from the NCAA when he arrived, and as a young coach and former star quarterback for the Tide, fans were excited about the hire. In his first season Alabama went a crippling 4-9. In 2004, they went 6-6 and lost to Minnesota in the Music City Bowl. The 2005 season was better but this was the season Alabama lost Prothro to a horrible injury and Alabama lost the Iron Bowl for the third season in a row. The final straw came in 2006 when Alabama lost to Auburn a fourth time and Alabama offered to pay Mike Shula the $4 million dollars left on his contract and fired him. Shula was known as a passive-aggressive coach that frustrated Alabama players to no end. We may put up with a lot, but losing four in a row to Auburn means you gotta go.
Franchione came to Alabama in 2001 from TCU. At first, it seemed that things were looking up for the Tide. They had been doing miserably and in 2001, they won the Independence Bowl which was their first bowl win in five seasons. Had Alabama not been under probation in 2002, they would have played for the SEC Championship game. Alabama offered Franchione a 10-year contract worth $15 million, but Franchione didn’t sign. As soon as Alabama beat the University of Hawaii and the head coach of Texas A&M was dismissed, Franchione hightailed it out of Alabama to become an Aggie, despite publicly stating he wouldn’t leave. What put the icing on the cake was that Coach Fran didn’t even return after his interview; he told his players via a video teleconference and never came back.
Curry had a decent record, won the SEC title in 1989 and took the Tide to a No. 2 ranking. He even won SEC Coach of the Year and Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award. So why is he on the list? First and foremost, he wasn’t “family.” He also got a bit too nasty with Prince Wembley when he grabbed him by the jersey, lectured him and grabbed his face mask on national television. Three losses to Auburn was icing on the cake. When he got his contract in 1990, his power to hire and fire people was revoked. Instead of renegotiating or taking the contract, he left immediately to coach at the University of Kentucky. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much success you have. If you leave people with a bitter taste in their mouths, that’s all they are going to remember.
Mike DuBose stepped into the big shoes of Gene Stallings in 1996, as the fan favorite to succeed the coach that had brought Alabama its first championship since the Bryant era. DuBose didn’t have a perfect coaching style and his sloth-like demeanor made me angry, but he did manage an SEC title while he was there. It all started going south in 2000 when Alabama barely beat Vanderbilt, and then lost by three touchdowns to Southern Mississippi. DuBose tried to resign then, but Mal Moore asked him not to. The Tide lost to Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State and worst of all, Central Florida. His admission of an affair with a subordinate (sound familiar) help lead to his dismissal. He didn’t just leave a rotten season, he was part of the reason Alabama was crippled by NCAA sanctions because of the recruitment of Albert Means. I don’t miss him at all.
Is there someone worse than these? Was Mike Price around long enough to count? Ray Perkins had a rough time as the Bear’s successor, but left abruptly. Anybody else get your vote? Let us know.
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