Crimson Tide rolling
with NCAA’s punches

Preview of Hawaii opponents
TWELFTH of 13 parts

Chang's broken pinkie passes first test

By Dave Reardon

Don't believe all that nonsense about no postseason play for Alabama this year. The Crimson Tide are the first to have their "bowl game" all set up -- it's against Hawaii at Aloha Stadium on Nov. 30.

Alabama agreed to the game after Washington State pulled out of its Hawaii date last spring.

What better way to end the season than in paradise? Obviously, the Tide can think of at least one -- playing for the national championship in the Fiesta Bowl. But the NCAA probably isn't going to allow that.

Alabama is one of those schools where anything less than a conference championship is considered a failed season. So UA officials aren't giving up yet; the school presented an 86-page document to the NCAA appealing two bowl bans and six scholarship reductions slapped on UA for recruiting violations. Alabama tried to sentence itself by reducing its scholarships by 15.

Coach Dennis Franchione and his staff have done a good job of keeping the Tide players focused on what they can control. With the cloud cast by the previous administration already looming last year, Alabama went 7-5 (4-4 SEC West) -- mediocre by Bear Bryant standards, but decent considering the circumstances.

The Tide should be better this year, with experience all over, especially on the offensive line.

Wesley Britt (6-foot-8, 304 pounds), Justin Smiley (6-3, 292), Alonzo Ephraim (6-4, 295), Marico Portis (6-3, 308) and Evan Mathis (6-5, 288) line up left to right. Starting tailback Ahmaad Galloway (6-1, 228) is back off an 881-yard, six-TD season.

At quarterback, oft-injured senior Tyler Watts (6-3, 217) and highly recruited freshman Brodie Croyle (6-2, 198) are battling for the starting spot. Freddie Milons is gone, but the winner will still have Antonio Carter (5-9, 195) and five other returning lettermen receivers to throw to downfield.

On defense, junior rover Brooks Daniels (6-2, 204) is back after making 102 tackles last year.

The Tide expect to be huge up front with Nautyn McKay-Loescher (6-4, 248), Jarrett Johnson (6-4, 281), Kenny King (6-5, 277) and Kindal Moorehead (6-4, 293).

Corners Gerald Dixon (5-11, 182) and Hirchel Bolden (6-0, 196) and strong safety Waine Bacon (5-10, 195) return to the secondary.

Franchione's team finds out how good it is Sept. 7 at Oklahoma. It learns how focused it is the week prior, in the opener against Middle Tennessee.

"My biggest juggling act is to push them, get good workouts and be productive, but at the same time not push them to the point that we are not ready physically for the first game on Aug. 31," Franchione said after Monday's practice.



All-time record: 744-281-43

Against Hawaii: 0-0

Now you know: Alabama coach Dennis Franchione and Hawaii coach June Jones have a spirited rivalry built up from 1999 when Franchione was the coach at Texas Christian. TCU beat UH 34-14, and Jones took exception to legal -- but, according to some coaches, unethical -- "chop" blocking.

UH Athletics

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