Though Moore is soft-spoken and cautious, he made one decisive move after another last week. With younger players talking of transferring after DuBose's dismissal, Moore called a team meeting last Thursday to reassure them. "Remember why you came here," he said, alluding to the players' desire to revive the Tide's tradition of success. Moore also vowed to hire the right coach, which by his definition is an experienced winner.
If Alabama needs to pay a coach seven figures, Moore says, so be it. That's yet another sign of the changing times. ' Bama has used its tradition as a substitute for money. DuBose's remuneration of $381,000 this season ranks 11th among the 12 SEC coaches. (His original contract called for him to earn $525,000—which also would have ranked 11th in the conference—but his package was reduced in 1999 to settle a sexual harassment complaint filed against DuBose.) Moore has approval from university president Andrew Sorensen to dip into an additional $2 million of athletic department revenues to hire a top coach. Of candidates mentioned prominently in Tuscaloosa last week, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said he isn't interested and Clemson's Tommy Bowden, who's already under contract through 2004, is poised to sign a new deal with the Tigers that will reportedly pay him $1.2 million per year.
Maybe Moore's job isn't as tough as it looks: Simply hire a coach with a winning record. Alabama hasn't done that since it brought in Bryant 43 years ago.
Northwestern Does It Again
Gutsy Wildcats Refuse to Quit
After Northwestern beat Michigan in a manner that tested credulity, not to mention defense, it was difficult to find anyone in the Chicago area who hadn't gone gaga over the Wildcats. One guy, however, remained unimpressed. "I never get too excited about things," Northwestern quarterback Zak Kustok said on Sunday, as if he were discussing a term paper, not the improbable 54-51 win that propelled the Wildcats atop the Big Ten with Purdue.
One week after beating Minnesota 41-35 on a 45-yard Hail Mary on the final play and six weeks after a 47-44 double-overtime defeat of Wisconsin, Northwestern provided another Hollywood ending. The Wildcats had blown two late chances to go ahead and trailed 51-46 when cornerback Raheem Covington recovered a fumble at the Wolverine 30 with 46 seconds to play. "I thought we were going to get the ball back—I just had that faith," said Kustok, who threw an 11-yard scoring pass to Sam Simmons with 20 seconds left. Tailback Damien Anderson also concluded that a higher power was at work. "I guess the Big Guy is a Northwestern fan," he said.
Anderson and Kustok are the linchpins of the no-huddle spread offense that the Wildcats run with uncanny precision, which coach Randy Walker says is attributable in part to his players' intelligence. "You can teach pretty complex concepts to these guys," he says. Too complex, in fact, for Michigan. The Wolverines had shut out their previous two opponents and had two weeks to prepare for the spread, yet they yielded 654 yards of offense, including 268 rushing yards by Anderson, 67 more yards than anyone had ever run for against Michigan.
Unlike the Northwestern team of 1995, which embraced the storybook component of its run to the Rose Bowl, these Wildcats have had enough of people being surprised at their success. They mimic the attitude of Walker, 46, a former Miami of Ohio fullback. "I'm a big believer in evidence," he says. "Don't tell me how good you want to be. Give me evidence."
So here's the evidence—a team that went 3-8 a year ago is 7-2 and ranked No. 12 after thrice pulling out victories in most dramatic fashion. "If you don't think like a winner, you're not going to be a winner," Kustok says. "We expected to contend for the Big Ten. We expect to go to a bowl."
Florida State's Defense
Seminoles More Than Offense