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The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

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Spurrier to USC players: "You're stuck with me"; Alabama fans: "Still suspicious".

While Michigan State, Iowa State and, probably most happily, North Carolina have wrapped up the highly qualified men charged with turning various states of disarray into success upon which to step to greater riches in sunnier recruiting magnets - or else be unceremoniouslly dumped prior to a disappointing appearance in the Tire Barn, Inc. Tulsa Bowl in three years - impatience grows elsewhere in the increasing sense of social chaos threatened by coachless flux, locales under potential siege by directionless players and restless message boarders with no representative shoulders on which to place their passionate visions of grandeur.

In Tuscaloosa, though, they're not getting desperate or anything:

Bama's selling their soul for this guy, and I think it may be a good thing.

The Bear, of course, had no time for souls (heartbeats, perhaps, but no souls). Mike Shula: more a soul-y kind of guy. Souls are cheap, and Steve Spurrier - great white whale in question in T-Town - ain't cheap. The soul of a university and greater part of an entire state is just an incentive for winning the first of dozens of SEC titles. Which is why the mega-deal was actually done back in September, during USC's off week, the day Florida sealed Mike Shula's fate by handling the Tide in Gainesville, and why a good friend who told a commenter he spoke with a friend who works as a local sportswriter in South Carolina said the latest offer `Bama put on the Ball Coach's table would make him the highest paid coach in the country, Alabama AD on his retirement and arbiter of the salaries for each member of his staff. The planes are contemporary oracle bones of certain truth. The welcome wagon has rolled. And has anyone thought of checking where Ozzie Newsome's been the past week?

No press conference yet, so, obligatory Rich Rodriguez rumors swirling as they must, it remains pining for the diabolical Spurrier, for anything up to and incuding a soul if necessary, that continues to carry the day. Which, means, of course, it's Mike Sherman.


Insiderz know the deal is done with `Bama's old nemesis. Unless it's with its other old nemesis. Or at least Tommy Tuberville's old nemesis.

Elsewhere:

Arizona State: ASU prez Lisa Love echoes another former hard-partying chief exec: "I can't give you a timetable." Super secret SMQ insiderz say peppy ex-Cardinals Dave McGinnis is a serious name, but the People's Republic has taken other steps into the NFL, contacting Norm Chow, apparently unbeknownst to his current employer, Jeff Fisher, which is far outside of the Geneva Convention of coaching searches on part of TPRASU if it's the case.

Miami: The 'Canes are looking for "leadership, knowledge of the game, discipline, recruiting ability, organization and being able to `pull a good staff together,'" as well as "people who will do well on radio and television," according to AD Paul Dee. UM currently has "a strong interest" in defensive coordinator Randy Shannon, but possibly only until it can get to former assistant Greg Schiano after Rutgers' attempt to allay the post-defeat rage of Pat Slaton Saturday in Morgantown.  Mike Leach? Hurricanes, perhaps, will surface as his 2007 offseason topic of interest, but not for professional reasons. But the reader can go ahead and throw Spurrier and Rodriguez into the mix here, too. What the hell. SMQ knows a guy who works with the brother of a guy whose step-niece says Donna Shalala: not hot.

NC State: Who's not going to the Pack: Bill Cowher, a linebacker at NCSU in the seventies (though the Super Bowl winner did express "great admiration and respect" for Chuck Amato's leadership in, chiefly, the Pack's run to the 2003 Gator Bowl). Outside of that "heck of a coach and a special guy," AD Lee Fowler may have to listen to David Cutcliffe, who said Wednesday, "Obviously, I would be very interested if they are interested in me." This time of year, in  this dank corner of this sport, nothing is exactly "obvious," coach.

Cincinnati: Having bid "sayonara" to the rest of the coaching staff, the Bearcats have less than a week to tell interim head coach Pat Narduzzi whether he's the new man before he joins departed Mark Dantonio as defensive coordinator at Michigan State. Whoever does get the job could get the million-plus turned down by Dantonio on his way out, according to president Nancy Zimpher. SMQ's hat is officially in the ring for half that salary. How much pressure can there be to win at Cincinnati? If it doesn't work out after a year or two, he will accept a buyout of the remainder of his contract, no questions asked. He awaits Zimpher's call.