Bill Oliver has resurfaced again, this time in a Sunday Birmingham News feature story. The thought of Oliver still sends cold chills down my spine. For me, the 1998 season still stands as the worst in my 37 years of life.
Who can forget the 1-5 start and sudden firing or resignation (you be the judge) of Terry Bowden. Do you remember all the questions and allegations? Did Oliver really tape record meetings with Bowden so that he could turn them over to Bobby Lowder?
Oliver says in the article that he did tape the conversations but only so he could let his wife listen to them. Yeah, and I've been nominated for a Pulitzer prize for this blog.
I never liked Bill Oliver. I never trusted him. He was an excellent defensive mind. I'll even say he bordered on genius. But I never had a good feeling about him. Was it because he came from Tuscaloosa? No. Pat Dye came from there and I felt good about him from day one.
I guess the reason I didn't like him was because of the way he did Alabama. Yeah, that's what I said. I'm not defending Bama. But how can someone who supposedly bled crimson and white leave in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve to join its arch rival?
It made me feel uncomfortable. Sure, I was thrilled at the time, but something still didn't feel right. Was there anything sacred with this guy?
Further, why would you leave when your dream job was about to be given to you? I know the relationship with Gene Stallings soured. I know about the salary and the retirement from the state of Alabama. But it still felt kind of weird.
In the end, my heart and head were right. Did Oliver really play a role in getting rid of Terry Bowden? I doubt it. Did Oliver want him gone? My gut still tells me yes although Oliver says no.
The article (see link below) brings up a lot of bad memories. It also makes one realize how far Auburn has come in such a short time. We should all thank David Housel for going after Tommy Tuberville (even if he did try to run him off later). Oliver admits to having had an interest in the job.
How would things have been with Coach Oliver? I don't think we'd be celebrating a 13-0 season and talking about lofty expectations for this year. Let's all breath a sigh of relief and thank the man upstairs for Tommy Tuberville.
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