LISTEN: Gene Stallings on the Opening Kickoff
MOBILE, AL (WNSP) — The Crimson Tide and the Gators will play for the SEC title, and former Alabama head coach Gene Stallings knows a thing or two about that.
Stallings joined the Opening Kickoff Thursday morning to talk about Saturday’s SEC Championship game between Alabama and Florida, as well as the coaching carousel in Texas.
The former Texas A&M coach and Dallas Cowboys assistant coach said new Texas head coach Tom Herman’s best quality was his record against ranked teams. He said Herman was their guy “from day one.”
“I know most good athletic directors have three or four prospects in mind, but they never mentioned anybody (else) to my knowledge, other than Herman,” Stallings said. “He was the only one that they had talked about.”
Stallings also said that Herman was interested in LSU, but that the school was committed to Ed Orgeron.
“My opinion on that is any time you fire a head coach and you hire an assistant coach, if the assistant coach had done his job, maybe the head coach wouldn’t have gotten fired,” he said.
Stallings said that he’s “not a fan” of what Lane Kiffin did to Tennessee, but that “as long as Alabama has Nick Saban, they’ll be okay.”
When the Tide takes the field in Atlanta, the two teams will have had as many appearances in the championship as the next five combined, and the two have played each other eight times so far. Each team is responsible for the other’s four losses in the game—only Alabama has ever beaten Florida, and vice versa.
Coach Stallings said he thinks the game is as one-sided as it appears.
“I think Alabama is by far a better team,” he said. “For example, when they played Auburn, Auburn was playing pretty good, but Alabama made 26 first downs. Auburn had seven. Alabama was 8-of-16 on third downs, and Auburn was 2-of-12.
“Alabama kept the ball for 40 minutes, and Auburn kept it 20. I just think that right now, Alabama is the best team.”
The first two games were held at Legion Field before moving to its current location, the Georgia Dome. The Gators appeared in the first five championships, and Alabama appeared in four.
Coach Stallings was in charge of the Tide for all of those matchups, and Steve Spurrier stood on the opposing sideline each time. Those two will once again stand on opposing sides on Saturday, but only for the coin toss.
“I’ve always loved competing against Coach Spurrier,” he said. “Steve Spurrier did a better job with the quarterbacks in the passing game than the rest of us did.”
Listen to the full interview below.
For more, check out Opening Kickoff with Mark and Lee every weekday morning from 6 to 9 a.m.