Originally created 04/15/04

Shula's decision didn't create much buzz among players



TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Roman Harper didn't get caught up in the fuss over the decision of Alabama coach Mike Shula to rename a spring award honoring Sylvester Croom.

That doesn't mean the Crimson Tide defensive back didn't have an opinion.

"Once I heard about it - my opinion doesn't count, really - I kind of disapproved of it," Harper said. "When they changed it (back), I was kind of happy. He worked hard to get where he is. I don't think we should take anything from him. I wish him the best of luck except when he plays us."

Shula tried to defuse the controversy last week, restoring the Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence Award a week after changing it to honor Bart Starr instead. Croom, now head coach at Mississippi State, is a former Tide All-American and was a finalist for job at his alma mater last May.

"Our thought was, 'Do we want to have an award named after another competing coach in the SEC?"' Shula said Tuesday. "It was not intended to be anything else other than that - a competitive thing. It wasn't the right decision."

Shula said he made the decision without consulting Alabama athletic director Mal Moore.

"I just feel bad that we made a mistake where it became an issue," he said.

Moore called Croom after the award's name was changed, but would not say when he heard about the decision or his reaction to it.

"We've apologized and recognized it was a mistake," he said. "We'd rather just let it go."

Harper found out about the name change after going home for spring break.

"I don't think half of us even knew about it," he said. "I went home and my mom was saying something to me about it and I was like, 'What are you talking about?' The players didn't even notice. I think it was more for the A-Club and the older people."