Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stallings Looks Ahead to Home on the Range

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stallings Looks Ahead to Home on the Range

Article excerpt

People who visit Alabama coach Gene Stallings' office hardly ever leave without seeing the latest pictures of his 800-acre ranch in Paris, Texas.

It's the coach's way of saying he knows there is more to life than football.

When he announced his retirement Saturday in Birmingham, Ala., Stallings, 61, said he planned to move to the ranch in his hometown. He said he was satisfied with his 39-year coaching career, the highlight of which was his seven years at Alabama, where he coached in the shadow of the man who taught him, Bear Bryant. He said he wasn't quitting because of the pressure of coaching in one of the country's most tradition-laden programs, where criticism runs heavy even when the team is winning. "There's pressure at any level, there's pressure on the local high school coach, all the way up," Stallings said. Stallings' 69-15-1 record gives him an .817 winning percentage, second only to Bryant in the 102-year history of the program. He also won a national championship in 1992 and four Southeastern Conference West titles, including the one the Tide clinched Saturday with a 24-23 win over Auburn. With the bulk of his offense and a good chunk of his defense coming back next year, Stallings said he feels he's leaving the program on sound footing. "The cupboard is in pretty good shape," he said. "I wouldn't leave it any other way." He said he was beginning to feel like part of the old guard at the school. There are new people in the office of the president, athletic director and many of the key positions in the athletic department. Many of the changes came about because of the Antonio Langham eligibility case that resulted in two years' probation for Alabama. "I'm basically all we have left from the old regime," he said. "Sometimes, for whatever reason, you find it's a good time to step aside." It's unlikely that life without football will get old for Stallings, who frequently regales sportswriters with tales of his offseason motorcycle rides and the troubles he has had corralling a racoon that was staking out territory at his Texas ranch. …

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