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Famous coach pulling for son

From Wire Reports

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) ? Mike Shula lacks his father's singular profile, the glare that buckles knees, the jutting jaw that looks good on a statue.

But that last name looks good on a resume. And thanks in part to his impeccable pedigree, Shula might be the front-runner to fill the head coaching vacancy at his alma mater, Alabama.

Shula has spent 15 years as an NFL coach, including the past three as the Miami Dolphins' quarterbacks coach. He has no experience as a head coach or on a college staff, but his bloodlines and ties to the Crimson Tide thrust him into contention for the job that came open Saturday when the school fired Mike Price for what it deemed inappropriate behavior.

Alabama has reportedly interviewed Shula, Carolina Panthers assistant Richard Williamson and Green Bay Packers assistant Sylvester Croom ? all former Crimson Tide players. Athletic director Mal Moore didn't interview anyone Tuesday, and no one has been offered the job, school spokesman Larry White said.

University president Robert Witt assured the Rev. Jesse Jackson on Tuesday that he is considering minority candidates. The Southeastern Conference has never had a black head football coach.

Shula is white, and he's only 37. That has ?Bama boosters wondering whether he's ready for his first head job.

"When Carroll Rosenbloom asked me that same question right before he hired me, I was 33," Don Shula said Tuesday.

Rosenbloom was the owner of the Baltimore Colts, who were to make the Super Bowl under Shula before he became one of the league's greatest coaches with the Dolphins.

"He said, ?Do you feel like you're ready to be a head coach?' I said, ?Carroll, the only way you're going to find out is if you hire me.' He liked that answer," Shula recalled.

Mike Shula's father went on to NFL record 347 coaching victories, including 17 when the Dolphins achieved the league's only perfect season in 1972. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.

This week, the elder Shula's job is serving as Mike's biggest, most biased booster. He isn't bothered by the prospect of his son being under pressure by leading the program brought to prominence by Bear Bryant.

"When you're in coaching, you always do what you think is best for you and your family and move as far ahead in the profession as you can," Don Shula said. "The minute you're satisfied with the status quo, you lose the great initiative or energy to be as good as you can be."

Mike Shula tried to make Tuesday seem like just another day. He took the practice field for an offseason team workout in a Dolphins cap, giving no hint that Alabama was on his mind.

He agreed to only one interview, with an Alabama TV station, and repeated what he had said Monday: He loves Alabama and has great memories of playing there.

The younger Shula was a three-year starter and two-time All-Southeastern Conference quarterback for the Crimson Tide in 1984-86. Then he began to climb the coaching ladder, with stops at Tampa Bay, Miami, Chicago, Tampa Bay again and Miami again.

Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt is rooting for Shula to switch jobs once more.

"He's an excellent coach," Wannstedt said. "He has coached a lot of different positions. He has a very broad knowledge of the entire game."

Quarterback Jay Fiedler, 29-13 as a starter working under Shula's tutelage, also offered an endorsement.

"I think he'd be an excellent head coach," Fiedler said. "He relates with the players around here very well. I don't think he'd have a problem translating that to the college level.

"He obviously has a lot of familiarity with Alabama football, being there as a player. And I'm sure he's got a pretty good pipeline to get some players out of Florida."

Recruiting challenges aside, Shula knows the risks. While his father has a bust in Canton, brother David was a bust in Cincinnati.

David became the youngest head coach in the modern NFL era when he took over the Bengals at age 32, and in five seasons went 19-52 before being fired. He's now president of the family's steakhouse chain.

David Shula wasn't ready for a head job.

Don Shula was.

Is Mike Shula ready?

"The only way you find out, is if you're given the opportunity," Don Shula said.