11 Days Away From Bama Kickoff: Mike Shula
Each day counting down to Alabama's Week 1 matchup with Utah State, I will highlight a former player whose jersey number coincides with the amount of days until the game. The Tide takes the field in just 11 days, so let's take a look back at a player who later led the team as a coach, Mike Shula.
Mike Shula suited up as the Crimson Tide's quarterback from 1984-86 and led the team to back-to-back bowl victories in his final two seasons. He later became the youngest head coach in the country at just 38-years old when he took over as the leader of his alma mater.
Shula joined the Crimson Tide just a season after the retirement and subsequent passing of legendary coach Paul Bryant while the program was reeling. Though Ray Perkins, who took over in 1983, put together a respectable 8-4 record in his first season as head coach, the next year saw the Tide finish just 5-6.
Shula turned things around in 1985 with his gutsy play, leading the team to a 9-2-1 record and a victory in the Aloha Bowl over powerhouse USC. He became known for his late game heroics when he mounted multiple game winning drives against some of the Tide's biggest rivals like Auburn and Georgia.
In his final year in Tuscaloosa, Shula led the team to a 10-3 record, culminating with a second consecutive bowl victory, this time over Washington in the Sun Bowl.
Across three seasons as starter, he compiled just over 4,000 passing yards and 35 touchdowns. After his collegiate career, Shula was drafted in the 12th round of the 1987 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but spent just a single season in the NFL.
Immediately following the end of his playing days, Shula's coaching career began. First, he spent time in the NFL as both a position coach and a coordinator, then, in 2003, Shula was hired to replace Mike Price as the head coach of the Crimson Tide.
He spent three seasons as the leader of his alma mater, amassing just a 26-23 record which was later adjusted to a 10-23 record due to NCAA violations.
After his brief stint as head coach, Shula returned to the NFL where he remains to this day as an assistant. He has spent time with the Jaguars, Panthers, Giants and Broncos, and is now on staff with the Buffalo Bills as a senior offensive assistant.