For Alabama's Mike DuBose, the dream is now reality. "You always hear that you shouldn't be afraid to dream," DuBose once told a Birmingham sports writer. "When I was growing up, I dreamed of playing football for Alabama, and I got that opportunity. Then when my playing career ended, I dreamed of being head coach here. ... This is the job of all jobs."
Born on Jan. 5, 1953, in Opp, Ala., the dream began when he fell in love with Crimson Tide football. After all, that's where his hero -- Alabama great Lee Roy Jordan - played. And Jordan's success was well known in and around Opp since Jordan was from the town of Excel, only about 40 miles away. The Tide also had a new coach at the helm as the 1950s were coming to a close, a fellow by the name of Bear Bryant who was an Alabama alumnus and former player, too.
DuBose knew what he wanted and he worked hard at the game to get it. It paid off. During his senior year at Opp High School, he was named the football team's captain. And rightly so -- when he graduated, he had played a major role on a team that had finished with a sterling 30-8-3 record.
College? Heck, he was now good enough to go just about anywhere, but there was only one choice: the Crimson Tide. He came to Tuscaloosa in 1972 and was promptly assigned No. 57, a setback considering he had his heart set on wearing No. 54 just like Jordan. But when it came to numbers, the Bear could be a bear. His response was something along the lines like, yes, you can have that number Mr. DuBose, but only if you prove yourself worthy. A daunting task for many, but not for Mike DuBose. By the time his junior year rolled around, he was proudly wearing No. 54.
"I was stunned when Coach Bryant gave me that number," DuBose said. "And I worked extremely hard to keep it."
He played defensive line and linebacker. During his career, from 1972-74, the Tide posted an overall record of 32-4, won one national title and three SEC crowns. And he was a huge factor in all those wins. Consider:
* He amassed 129 tackles, 71 assists and 26 stops behind the line.
* In 1972 and again in 1973, he was named SEC Lineman of the Week.
* He finished tied for fifth for the all-time record of Most Career Tackles Behind the Line in a season (11 in 1973).
* He owns the Most Fumbles Caused -- both in a season and during a career -- with four (in 1972) and eight, respectively.
* He is tied for second in Most Career Fumbles Recovered in a career (six).
* Mission accomplished on Step 1 of The Dream. Now it was on to Step 2.
After graduating, DuBose decided he would follow in Bryant's footsteps and become a coach. He was with Alabama in 1975 as a graduate assistant, and the following year he became an assistant at Fairhope High School. In 1978, he moved on to Prattville High, where he was the Athletics Director and head football coach.
He moved into the college ranks as a defensive line coach with the UTC Mocs in 1980 when Bill Oliver, who had been an assistant under Bryant, offered him the job. One year later, he moved up to the big-time, taking a similar position at Southern Miss. Bryant used to tell people that the reason he left the state of Texas to take over at Alabama was because "mama came calling." Mama's call for DuBose came in 1983, and he spent the next three years there as a defensive line coach under coach Ray Perkins, who now had the difficult job of replacing Bryant. He left the Tide briefly -- from 1987 to 1989 -- for a stint in the NFL as the defensive line coordinator for the Tampa Bay Bucs. In 1990, however, he returned to Tuscaloosa as first the defensive line coach (1990-96), then as defensive coordinator (1996) before being named as Gene Stallings' replacement in 1997.
Stallings announced he was stepping down as head coach on Nov. 24, 1996, after the Tide's 24-23 victory over Auburn, saying, "I just had a feeling it was time for me to sort of close this particular chapter and I'm going to step aside and let someone else coach. I really don't know why, other than I just think it's time."
On Dec. 9, 1996, the school announced it had given DuBose the job. But it was not for sentimental reasons. Like winning No. 54, he had earned it: Since DuBose returned to Alabama in 1990, the Tide's defense has been ranked eighth or better in rushing defense a total of four times, including the nation's best in 1992. "It was overwhelming, the support for me," DuBose said in an interview after being named head coach. "A great deal was for the idea of what the fans wanted. I know that. I just happened to be the right guy at the right time."
The Dream was now reality. DuBose and his wife, Polly Ann, have two children -- Juli Ann and Michael Jr. He holds a bachelor's degree in physical education and a master's degree in industrial arts. Some other facts about DuBose follow.
Bowl participation DuBose was on the teams that played in the 1973 Cotton Bowl, then the next season (also 1973) in the Sugar Bowl. He also was in the 1975 Orange Bowl. As a coach, DuBose has been in the 1983 Sun Bowl, 1985 Aloha Bowl, 1986 Sun Bowl, the 1991 Fiesta Bowl, the 1991 Blockbuster Bowl, the 1993 Sugar Bowl, the 1993 Gator Bowl and the 1995 Citrus Bowl. His teams won all but one of those games -- the Fiesta in 1991. Championships
The Tide teams that DuBose played on in 1972, 1973 and 1974 all won the SEC crown. The 1973 team also won the national championship.
While coaching at Alabama, DuBose and the Tide were the SEC Western Division champs from 1992-96. The Tide was also the outright SEC champion in 1992, as well as the national champion that year. During that 1992 campaign, double's defense allowed only five rushing touchdowns and led the nation in total defense and in rushing defense.