Tide still nursing wounded bowl hopes
By John Zenor - AP Writer
November 25, 2007
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Nick Saban and his Alabama players were already
looking to the future. The present was far more painful to ponder.
Rolando McClain (25) runs back an interception from Saturday night against Auburn.
All the Crimson Tide could do after the final and most painful defeat
of a disheartening season was wait and hope a bowl bid will be
forthcoming. It's anything but a sure thing following Saturday night's
17-10 loss at No. 23 Auburn that completed a four-game swoon to end
the regular season.
Some Tide players were far more optimistic about the distant future
and the prospects for Saban's rebuilding job than about the chances
of landing a bowl invitation after their sixth consecutive Iron Bowl
"The way it's looking right now, I don't think we will," senior
defensive end Wallace Gilberry said.
Saban wasn't wildly optimistic either. He is holding out hope, though.
"I don't know anything about the bowl situation," he said. "I would
love for our players to have the opportunity to go to a bowl game.
"Most of the circumstances that occurred this weekend probably would
not be beneficial to our situation."
The Tide's best hope now might be the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn.,
or the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. Alabama (4-4 SEC) and
South Carolina (3-5) are both bowl-eligible at 6-6 while eight other
SEC teams have better records.
Even if the SEC matched last season's nine bowl bids, either Alabama
or South Carolina would likely be left out. The league has never
sent 10 teams to the postseason.
"I think we deserve to go to a bowl game, but that is not my
decision," senior wide receiver DJ Hall said. "We have worked hard
all year and hopefully we will get the chance to play one more game."
It seemed an unlikely concern for the Tide a few weeks ago after
beating Tennessee and taking No. 5 LSU down to the wire. Alabama was
still contending for a league title before the LSU loss.
"We were 6-2 at one point and we felt like things were going pretty
well, but then it just seemed like things stopped working,"
quarterback John Parker Wilson said. "It is something that we are all
going to have to work on for next year. We are going to have to get
better in every aspect of the game."
Especially offensively. The Tide converted just 19-of-64 third-down
tries (30 percent) in the last four games. The numbers were even
worse in the fourth quarter of the last three games at a combined
Alabama's offense produced just three touchdowns in the last three
The latest poor offensive performance against Auburn came despite
the return of two offensive linemen and tailback Glen Coffee from
suspension. Leading rusher Terry Grant was held out with a hip
"We lost some players for various reasons and got some guys beat
up and nicked up and we didn't overcome it," Saban said. "Therefore
we did not finish the way we would like to finish. We are looking
forward to the future here, developing the players that we have
and doing the best we can to recruit the best players that we can
that represent the University of Alabama. We are looking forward
to the challenges of the future."
And, he promised, "We're going to get it right."