Bama fans finally have something to smile about

By Staff
Mike Self, Sports Editor
There's an old saying that the sun doesn't shine on the same dog's, umm, hindquarters everyday, but Alabama fans have been long overdue for a ray of light since the turn of the century.
Think about the heartache Tide fans have suffered at the hands of coaches over the past few years, beginning with the Mike Dubose debacle back in 2000. Dubose was fired after setting the program back both on and off the field, and Dennis Franchione was hired as his replacement.
Franchione quickly incurred the wrath of Tide fans, bolting for Texas A&M before he even had a chance to get comfortable in Tuscaloosa.
Coach Fran's two-year tenure was Paterno-esque, however, when compared to that of his replacement, Mike Price. Price hadn't even signed his contract yet when he went on a well-documented strippers-and-booze binge at a pro-am golf tournament-with the University credit card, no less.
Price was quickly sent packing, but not before his "Coaches Gone Wild" behavior made Dubose look like a saint and made every Alabama fan cringe just a bit when they shouted 'Roll Tide!"
Then came the hiring of former Tide quarterback Mike Shula. Shula's integrity as a man was never called into question. Unfortunately, his abilities as a coach were under constant fire.
He lasted four seasons (only one of which ended with a winning record) before being dismissed this past November, after the Tide lost to rival Auburn for a fifth straight year.
For those of you scoring at home, that's four head coaches, two scandals, and three losing seasons in seven years for one of the most storied programs in all of college football.
The sun finally broke through the clouds on Wednesday morning when Nick Saban announced after two days of deliberation that he was leaving the Miami Dolphins and accepting Alabama's offer to replace Shula as head coach of the Crimson Tide.
When Shula was fired, Saban and Steve Spurrier were the two names almost immediately mentioned as potential candidates. Spurrier was content to remain at South Carolina, and Saban likewise denied interest in coming to Tuscaloosa.
Alabama officially offered the job to West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez in December. After initially accepting the offer, Rodriguez reversed course and decided to stay in Morgantown.
When Saban hedged on his original deadline of Tuesday and asked for more time to ponder Alabama's offer, Tide fans had to fear the worst. Already spurned by Rodriguez, a public rejection by Saban would have been even tougher to swallow.
Members of the national media were already having a field day at Bama's expense, suggesting that athletic director Mal Moore and the board of trustees needed to get their heads out of the clouds and accept the fact that a high-profile, successful coach like Saban was not going to come to Alabama.
When Saban accepted the offer on Wednesday, the collective exhale of Alabama fans could be heard clear across the country.
Saban is a proven winner in college, having led LSU to two SEC championships and one national title in his five years in Baton Rouge. He developed a well-deserved reputation as a great recruiter and an outstanding defensive coach.
The Dolphins went just 15-17 in Saban's two years, and his wife apparently hated living in south Florida. (Ironically, Franchione's wife hated living in Tuscaloosa, a factor that no doubt played a major role in his decision to head for College Station.)
The bottom line is this: Alabama got its man, though it may have taken a little longer than expected. Moore and company made the best hire possible, and Tide fans finally have something to smile about.

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