December 28, 2006

No storybook finish for Kines, Crimson Tide

SHREVEPORT, La. -- Despite a coaching search to the contrary, the Alabama Crimson Tide had a few things to play for in Thursday's Independence Bowl matchup with Oklahoma State.

A winning record. Extending the nation's leading bowl win total to 31. Themselves.

Perhaps more than any of those things, though, the 122 Alabama players who made the trip to Reno East wanted to win for the gravel-voiced guy who has served as the program's inspirational leader since 2003: Joe Kines.

And that's why this team's latest loss stung a bit more than others. Whatever you think about Kines as a coach, know that he's respected -- not just liked -- by his players.

Though it seems a decade ago, a month has passed since Kines was asked to step in for Mike Shula. While the announcement made it official, you got the feeling that this wasn't the first time he's been heavily involved in keeping things together.

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