Bama two broken legs from national crown

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

When Alabama wide receiver Tyrone Prothro was lost for the season with a broken leg, I said that the Crimson Tide would not be the same.

That statement was proven true, but over the course of the next few games Alabama found a way to pull out the victory without Prothro.

But one wonders now if the biggest loss to Alabama's offense wasn't Prothro, but senior center JB Closner. Closner suffered the same fate as Prothro with a broken leg against Mississippi State.

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Without Closner, the Crimson Tide's offensive line looked lost against LSU and certainly against Auburn.

Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle still is having nightmares of Tiger defensive linemen Stanley McClover, Quentin Groves and Tommy Jackson who combined for 11 sacks last week.

Now the Alabama faithful aren't just wondering what happened, but what will the future entail for the Crimson Tide post Brodie.

While the Tide have seemingly put all their eggs into one basket this recruiting year to try to attract all-world quarterback Tim Tebow from Nease High in Florida, there hasn't been much said of Alabama's recruitment of offensive linemen.

Something tells me after last Saturday that Tide coach Mike Shula sent a memo to Randy Ross, director of football operations, to step up the recruiting process for offensive linemen.

In last year's recruiting class Alabama, six of the Tide's 32 signees were offensive linemen. Don't be surprised if half of the Alabama's class are offensive linemen this year.

Meanwhile, Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville continues to stockpile talent for another run at an SEC Championship. Should the Tigers come away with a Capital One Bowl victory over the likes of an Ohio State, then Auburn will enter next season as a Top 5 team in the nation and possible national championship contender.

Shula, meanwhile, will be entering his fourth season at Alabama with a plush contract extension that will bring him into the $2 million club and starring down the barrel of mediocrity again.

At some point Bama faithful will grow tired of making excuses that probation has decimated this football program and begin to point the finger of blame where it needs to go and that's to Shula and his coaching staff.

There's no doubt that Alabama's defense kept the Tide's SEC and national title hopes alive this season, but I don't think it was because of a masterful job done by Joe Kines. Kines just so happened to be working with some of the best and more experienced athletes on the team this year and he and Shula reaped the benefits.

When this season is over though, there is no doubt that Alabama was two broken legs away from a SEC and national championship.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. E-mail him at or call (334) 382-3111 ext. 122.