Friday, May 09, 2003
|Coach Mike Shula|
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. --- Former Alabama quarterback Mike Shula came full circle today when he was named by athletics director Mal Moore as the Tide's 26th head football coach.
"It is with a great deal of pleasure that I announce that we have selected Mike Shula as our new head football coach," Moore said. "Mike brings a mixture of youth and experience to our program, while at the same time, a 15-year career in the NFL has prepared him for the step he is taking today.
"It was that mix of enthusiasm, experience and ties to The University of Alabama that made Mike the perfect fit for this job. We talked with Mike Wednesday night and he was able to reach a decision quickly. We are obviously excited to have Mike on board." Shula has agreed to a six-year contract worth $900,000 per year.
"I am obviously excited about this job," Shula said. "There is a bright future ahead for Alabama, especially with the new construction plans for the addition to the Football Building, the new weight room and the renovation of Bryant Hall. These new facilities will all be great recruiting tools for this staff. I am thrilled to once again be a part of Alabama football."
Moore began the head coach selection process with a fairly long list of possible candidates and then developed a shorter list of candidates who were interviewed. Both lists included minority candidates and experienced assistant and head football coaches.
At 37-years old, Shula is the youngest head football coach in Alabama's modern era of football since the hiring of Wallace Wade in 1923 at the age of 31 and Frank Thomas in 1931 at 33 years old. Both Wade and Thomas went on to win national championships. Wade won two national titles before turning 37. Coach Thomas was 36 when the 1934 title was claimed. Alabama's most famous coach, Paul W. Bryant, was 32 years old when he accepted his first head football coaching position at the University of Maryland. Shula is also currently the youngest head football coach in the Southeastern Conference.
Shula spent the last two seasons as quarterback coach for the Miami Dolphins, after being named to that position by head coach Dave Wannstedt on Feb. 7, 2000. It marked Shula's second stint with the Dolphins after serving as a coaches' assistant from 1991-92. It was also his second stint with Wannstedt after working as tight ends coach with the Chicago Bears from 1993-95.
In Shula's two seasons as quarterbacks coach, Jay Fiedler led the Dolphins to a 21-10 record as a starter. Last year, he completed 60.7% of his passes, and threw for 3,290 yards and 20 touchdowns. He became just the second quarterback in club history to surpass the 3,000-yard passing mark in a season and the third to tally 20 touchdown passes. His completion percentage was the highest by a Dolphin (min. 75 completions) since 1995.
Shula re-joined the Dolphins organization after spending the previous four years (1996-99) as offensive coordinator with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs qualified for the playoffs in two of Shula's four seasons,and in 1999 won the NFC Central Division and reached the NFC Championship game. Shula got his initial NFL coaching post in 1988 with the Bucs as an offensive assistant. He was promoted to quarterbacks coach in 1990, and spent one year in that post.
Shula was a four-year letterman (1983-86) as a quarterback for the Crimson Tide, and finished his career with a 32-15-1 record, all under Ray Perkins. He was a starter in each of his final three seasons. Shula finished his Tide career completing 313 of 578 passes for 4,069 yards, 35 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.
He is best remembered for leading the Tide to a 20-16 win over Georgia in Athens on Sept. 2, 1985. It was the opening game of the season and the night game was carried nationally by ABC-TV. Down 16-13 with just 50 seconds remaining in the game, Shula marched the Tide 71 yards in five plays for the winning touchdown. Shula threw 17-yards to flanker Al Bell for the score, his second TD pass of the evening.
Perhaps his biggest wins were against Southern Cal (24-3) in the 1985 Aloha Bowl, Ohio State (16-10) in the Kickoff Classic, Notre Dame (28-10) and Washington (28-6) in the Sun Bowl, all in the 1986 season. The win over Notre Dame is the Tide's only win over the Fighting Irish.
He was an All-SEC selection as a junior and led the Crimson Tide to victories in the Aloha Bowl and Sun Bowl in his final two seasons. As a junior, he became only the second Alabama quarterback ever to throw for more than 2,000 yards in a season.
He earned his bachelor's degree in labor relations from Alabama. Shula was a 12th-round draft choice of Tampa Bay in 1987 and was on the Bucs' roster for part of the '87 season.
A native of Miami, Shula is the son of former Dolphins head coach Don Shula (1970-95), the winningest coach in NFL history and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mike prepped at Miami's Columbus High School where he was an all-state performer his senior season when he led the school to the state championship game. He also earned all-state accolades as a senior.
He was born on June 3, 1965, in Baltimore, Md.
Shula and his wife, Shari, have a daughter, Samantha and are expecting their second child this fall.