After leading Alabama's football team to a 10-1 record and its first Sugar Bowl appearance since 1980, coach Bill Curry figured to have quieted those Crimson Tide fanatics who have ripped him constantly since he was hired from Georgia Tech three years ago. Instead, in the wake of Alabama's 30-20 loss to archrival Auburn on Dec. 2, the embattled Curry is wondering anew about his job security.
The anti-Curry faction is suddenly arguing that Alabama's schedule this season was easy, that the Tide was lucky to beat Penn State and that Curry put quarterback Gary Hollingsworth and tailback Siran Stacy into the lineup only when injuries to others forced him to do so. Curry has even been blamed in advance for star junior linebacker Keith McCants's anticipated decision to forgo his last year of eligibility and turn pro.
Insiders say that if the Tide had beaten Auburn, Curry would have been offered the extension he has sought on his original five-year contract. But since the defeat, new Tide athletic director Hootie Ingram has dodged the issue and has created the impression that he's unhappy with Curry. Ingram, a former Alabama player with strong ties to the inner circle of the late Tide coach Bear Bryant, replaced Steve Sloan, a Curry backer who resigned under pressure in August.
Some observers close to Curry feel that he is getting so annoyed with the situation that he may look for opportunities elsewhere. One possibility is scandal-plagued Florida, which desperately needs a Mr. Clean coach and could turn to Curry if Gator alumnus Steve Spurrier takes another job or stays at Duke. If, as expected, Spurrier takes the Florida job, Curry could return to Atlanta as the coach of the Falcons, who are looking for a replacement for the retired Marion Campbell.
To many Alabama fans it seems to make no difference that Curry is a man of integrity who strives to teach his players to be students and gentlemen. Or that he has done a terrific job of coaching this season. One suspects that Bryant himself would have stood up for Curry, whose record for his first three years at Alabama (25-9) compares favorably with the Bear's (20-7-5) at the same stage.
COULD YOU REPEAT THAT?
Folks at the University of Texas are worried that Bevo XIII, their school's 1,500-pound longhorn mascot, may be going deaf from attending football games. During two years on the sidelines, Bevo XIII has been subjected to scores of celebratory blasts from a cannon that's shot off whenever the Long-horns score a touchdown or make some other big play.
No one is sure how much—or even if—Bevo's hearing has actually been damaged by the cannon's 120-decibel booms; bovine hearing tests aren't very precise. But disc jockey Mike Butts of local station KBTS-FM raised the issue on the air last month after watching a Texas- Texas Tech game, and the university's speech and hearing clinic took his concern seriously. Soon the campus was abuzz with talk of saving poor Bevo's tender eardrums.
A hearing-aid company offered to donate custom-made foam earplugs if the school could make impressions of Bevo's ear canals. But as graduate student Krista Blaesing, who works in the speech and hearing clinic, puts it, "Bevo's not that docile an animal. And he's got big horns. You would have to sedate him to make the impressions of his canals, sedate him to put the plugs in and sedate him again to take them out. You would have a pretty drugged-out mascot." Someone suggested leaving the earplugs in permanently once they were made, but that could lead to infection. Besides, the plugs would render Bevo, for all practical purposes, deaf.