Former SEC coach of the year to lead Div. III Millsaps

Updated: February 8, 2006, 5:11 PM ET
Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. -- How's this for a strange twist to a coaching search: Mike DuBose was carrying his son's furniture down a stairwell when he became a college head coach again.

The former Southeastern Conference coach of the year was helping his son move from South Carolina to Virginia last week when his bosses at Division III Millsaps called his cell phone and promoted him from defensive coordinator.

"I'm walking down three flights of stairs carrying furniture, trying to talk on the phone about the job," DuBose said Wednesday. "I've never been involved in one that was done exactly that way."

Six years after being forced from his dream job at Alabama -- and after a series of job changes across the country -- the 53-year-old protege of Bear Bryant is again in charge of a college team.

"A lot of things had to fall into place," DuBose said.

The chain of events began last month when the Green Bay Packers fired coach Mike Sherman. New coach Mike McCarthy fired six assistants and two staff members, then hired Shawn Slocum from Ole Miss as a special teams assistant.

Millsaps coach David Saunders was hired to replace Slocum, and he then recommended to officials at the school that DuBose take over the program.

Ten months earlier, Saunders urged DuBose to join the Millsaps staff and return to coaching college football.

"Without David Saunders, it would never have happened," he said.

DuBose, who played for Bryant in the 1970s, took over for Gene Stallings at Alabama in 1997 and went 24-23 in four seasons. He was the SEC's coach of the year in 1999 -- when the Crimson Tide won the league title and played in the Orange Bowl -- but was forced out a year later amid a sexual harassment complaint, an NCAA investigation and a losing season.

He was out of football in 2001 and coached at the high school level in Alabama from 2002-2004 until Saunders made him Millsaps' defensive coordinator last year.

DuBose says he wants to avoid one mistake that haunted him nearly a decade ago when he took over the Crimson Tide.

"I never really sat down with Gene Stallings and talked about the program and the things he went through, and gleaned from that knowledge," DuBose said. "I'm not going to make that mistake again. ... There are some things that are common to all jobs, and some are unique to each situation, and those are things I want to sit down with David and talk about."

Millsaps was 2-7 last season with the worst total defense in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, allowing an average of 389.4 yards.

It's unrealistic to expect DuBose to transform the tiny Methodist college into 'Bama West, though he does want to build a competitive football program while maintaining the school's high academic standards.

"This is a unique place. Division III is obviously different from Division I," he said. "There's a bigger separation between academics and athletics, and I want to make sure that remains very important in the process. ... There's a high price to pay academically -- the demands are great, but the rewards are great."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press