Tide faces Colorado in matchup with `intrigue'
By Ian Rapaport - Birmingham News
December 3, 2007
TUSCALOOSA - Nick Saban returns to the state of Louisiana to coach
a college game for the first time since he left LSU.
The PetroSun Independence Bowl chose Alabama (6-6) Sunday to play
Colorado (6-6) on Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. in Shreveport, La. The game,
which will be televised by ESPN, marks the NCAA-record 55th bowl
appearance for UA.
It also means that Saban, who won a national title with LSU, will
return to the state he once ruled as the Tigers' coach from 2000
He shrugged off that storyline.
"It's not really about me," said Saban, who also coached the Miami
Dolphins against the New Orleans Saints in Baton Rouge following
Hurricane Katrina. "We come back to Louisiana quite often to visit
friends. We are looking forward to coming to this game because it's
a great experience for our team and our players. It's positive in
With its 6-6 record, Alabama was not guaranteed a bowl bid. But the
Independence Bowl committee chose the Crimson Tide over South
Carolina (6-6) for the Southeastern Conference's final spot. Bowl
Chairman Joe Darwin credited the Crimson Tide's tradition and
proximity as reasons why.
"Obviously, there was a tradition with Alabama that was very
appealing locally," Darwin said. "Then looking at Colorado, not
only on the field, but from a standpoint of in the stands and on
TV, we felt it was a matchup with some intrigue that we had to
Alabama returns to Shreveport for the second consecutive season.
After firing coach Mike Shula, the Tide and interim coach Joe
Kines lost 34-31 to Oklahoma State in 2006. It was not a perfect
experience, especially with a disgruntled fan base that bought
only 9,000 tickets of the allotment of 12,000.
Darwin was clear that this is not last season.
"Completely different team, completely different regime," he said.
"The fans are much more excited, while last year, the simmering
discontent was evident."
Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore thanked the committee for,
among other things, the confidence it displayed.
"Our players and staff had a great experience in Shreveport last
season," Moore said in a statement, "and we are looking forward
to a return trip."
In Colorado, Alabama finds a team that apparently went through a
"A little up and down," is how CU coach Dan Hawkins described it.
The Buffaloes of the Big 12 had wins over then-No. 3 Oklahoma and
Texas Tech. They also had a loss to lowly Iowa State and a 45-point
drubbing at the hands of Missouri. The season ended by scoring 65
points in a win over Nebraska.
The only common opponent - Florida State - defeated both Alabama
"We're fired up about coming (to the bowl game)," Hawkins said.
"Obviously, we're playing one of the greatest programs in the
history of college football with one of the best coaches in the
country. It's a huge test."
Saban was in the Shreveport-based bowl game as a first-year coach
at Michigan State and said he has great memories of that game,
which was a loss to LSU. With the 2007 team finishing the regular
season with four straight losses, he'll use the game as a final
opportunity to end what has been a disappointing season on a
"We didn't do a great job of overcoming adversity, and it's a real
challenge for us to be positive and upbeat about the opportunity
that we have," Saban said. "To play a nationally recognized team
like Colorado, it should be a game that has a lot of interest."