Alabama hires Bill Battle as athletic director

Bill Battle gestures during a news conference after being introduced as the new athletic director at the University of Alabama Friday March 22, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.  (AP Photo/The Tuscaloosa News, Robert Sutton)

Bill Battle gestures during a news conference after being introduced as the new athletic director at the University of Alabama Friday March 22, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/The Tuscaloosa News, Robert Sutton)

University of Alabama President Judy Bonner introduces Bill Battle as the schools new athletic director during a news conferenceat the University of Alabama Friday March 22, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.  (AP Photo/The Tuscaloosa News, Robert Sutton)

University of Alabama President Judy Bonner introduces Bill Battle as the schools new athletic director during a news conferenceat the University of Alabama Friday March 22, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/The Tuscaloosa News, Robert Sutton)

Bill Battle speaks during a news conference after being introduced as the new athletic director at the University of Alabama Friday March 22, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.  (AP Photo/The Tuscaloosa News, Robert Sutton) MANDATORY CREDIT

Bill Battle speaks during a news conference after being introduced as the new athletic director at the University of Alabama Friday March 22, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/The Tuscaloosa News, Robert Sutton) MANDATORY CREDIT

Bill Battle gestures during a news conference after being introduced as the new athletic director at the University of Alabama Friday March 22, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.  (AP Photo/The Tuscaloosa News, Robert Sutton)

Bill Battle gestures during a news conference after being introduced as the new athletic director at the University of Alabama Friday March 22, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/The Tuscaloosa News, Robert Sutton)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Bill Battle was cutting trees downed in a recent storm on his suburban Atlanta farm when alma mater Alabama called a couple of weeks ago.

Now, the former Crimson Tide football player has ditched a comfortable semi-retirement of charity work and consulting to run a flourishing athletic department that had a $133 million budget in 2011-12 and has a football program enjoying a new heyday.

The reason sounds awfully similar to his old coach Bear Bryant's explanation when he returned to 'Bama from Texas A&M: "Momma called, and when momma calls you have to run."

"It dawned on me when some trustees and leaders of the university said, 'We really want you to do this. This is a special time at the university,'" Battle said at his introductory news conference on Friday. "I thought to myself, if I didn't do this, I would regret it for the rest of my life. Because it's an opportunity to pay back the university, if I can, a great debt that I owed the university. If I don't do it, it would be a big mistake.

"I'm here as a labor of love to try to help any way I can. I know I have time. I'm rested, I'm not tired. I look forward to this challenge."

If Battle didn't necessarily run to the job, the silver-haired 71-year-old ultimately agreed to replace former Tide teammate Mal Moore, who is moving to a job as special assistant to President Judy Bonner because of health problems.

Trustees, including Paul Bryant Jr., lined seats next to the podium while football coach Nick Saban and wife Terry sat in the front row. Saban was the only coach to take a turn at the podium.

It wasn't just symbolic, either.

Saban has led the Tide to three of the last four BCS titles and the program hasn't given signs of retreating from regular national title contention any time soon.

Battle can appreciate that level of sustained success since he spent seven mostly successful seasons as Tennessee's head coach in the 1970s and is the son of a coach and athletic director who grew up less than an hour away in Birmingham. He and Moore were part of Paul "Bear" Bryant's 1961 national championship team.

"Coach Saban is important," Battle said. "What he's done in football, not many people have done in college sports. He's gotten ahead of the field. We want to be supportive as we can be to his needs and his team's needs, give him the best chance to give his players the best chance to compete as we want to do with all of our coaches. That's a critical relationship, but at the same time I want to learn from that guy. He's good. He's really good. There's a lot of lessons that he teaches in his program that could be applicable to all of our lives and certainly to our athletic department."

Battle said he had only had brief conversations with Saban before sitting down with him in recent weeks.

Saban called him an "outstanding choice" and then invited him to attend practice, something he noted Moore and Bryant have often done.

"He's been a very successful player here, he was a very successful coach, he's been a very successful leader in the business world," Saban said. "Certainly a first-class individual who is well respected by just about everybody that you ever can meet that know him. I was able to spend a significant amount of time with Bill in this process and in my experience here at the University of Alabama over the last six years.

"Even though we lost a valuable statesman for the university in Mal Moore, he will continue to be with us a part of the university. But we've also added a gentleman that is going to be a first class person and a leader in our community as well as our university and our athletic department."

Battle founded Collegiate Licensing Company in 1981 and spent 21 years as president and CEO before selling the company in 2007.

He said the company employed some 150 people and generated more than $1 billion in revenue for universities over 26 years. Battle said he plans to spend his first six weeks on the job on "a listening tour" learning the task of overseeing the department, a job he acknowledged is out of his comfort zone.

Battle said one athletic director friend, who's not in the Southeastern Conference, said there are more cons than pros to the job.

"It's a difficult job. I didn't take it to have fun," he said. "That isn't why I'm here. It's fun when you are in Miami and on the field celebrating the BCS championship. The fun is seeing people like (former Tide center) Barrett Jones and people like those merit scholars and the products of this university. But the job is never-ending and difficult."

Battle inherits the program at a time when college football is preparing to switch to a four-team playoff, though he cites regular season attendance levels as evidence basketball's regular season needs a boost. He said he's a supporter of the BCS but thinks the new method of choosing football national champions will work, too.

"There's nothing in the United States sports that's more important than the regular season of college football," Battle said. "That has gotten to be a whole lot less of a situation in basketball. The NCAA tournament is magnificent. It's one of the great sports tournaments in the world, but the regular season needs help. "

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Comments » 65

D60 writes:

Congrats Coach Battle

RedBoilingSpringsVol writes:

I don't blame Coach Battle for the North Texas State loss. I blame Billy Arbo. Sears Woods juked him so bad on the TD kickoff return for the win that to this day before home games you can still see Arbo searching for his jock around the 50 yard line.

FearTheVols1252 writes:

They lose someone who was 73 and replace him with someone who's 71?!

Ok.

stevefrommemphis writes:

Saban says it's against the rules for Battle to coach. Ha, ha -- apparently it was also against the rules for Battle to coach when he held the head coaching job at Tennessee. Hiring Battle was the worst mistake in Tennessee football history. Let's hope he makes a mess of Alabama athletics the same way he did Tennessee football.

TNACBOY36 writes:

I think Kiffin was the worst mistake! We still haven't recovered!

DalTexVol writes:

Again, congratulations to Bill Battle. GBO!

stevefrommemphis writes:

in response to TNACBOY36:

I think Kiffin was the worst mistake! We still haven't recovered!

Well, it remains to be seen. We're just in year 4 of the Kiffin recovery. It took about 8 years to recover from Bill Battle.

MikeNPS writes:

in response to stevefrommemphis:

Saban says it's against the rules for Battle to coach. Ha, ha -- apparently it was also against the rules for Battle to coach when he held the head coaching job at Tennessee. Hiring Battle was the worst mistake in Tennessee football history. Let's hope he makes a mess of Alabama athletics the same way he did Tennessee football.

Your comment is ridiculous. Lane Kiffin was the worst mistake in Tennessee football history. Hiring Hamilton as AD was the worst decision in UT sports history.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to MikeNPS:

Your comment is ridiculous. Lane Kiffin was the worst mistake in Tennessee football history. Hiring Hamilton as AD was the worst decision in UT sports history.

Now,now MikeNPS.Why is steve's opinion rediculous and your's isn't? You need to learn to respect opinions other than your own. That only makes you look like the idiot that you surely are.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to stevefrommemphis:

Well, it remains to be seen. We're just in year 4 of the Kiffin recovery. It took about 8 years to recover from Bill Battle.

plus about 15 more years to recover from Johnny ball. Then along came Phillip and coached himself into the H.O.F.Hopefully Lones will do the same.

tovolny writes:

Bill Battle is a great guy...who can deny that? Probably would have developed into a good enough coach to beat Alabama and Auburn had he stayed at Tennessee. But the Battle hire should have been the Johnny Majors hire. Majors was young, energetic, and the scholarship situation was better then. I think he would have taken Tennessee to a higher level starting at that time rather than proving he could coach at Pittsburgh. You know, I often think about Bill Majors, whom I believe would have been the coach had he not been in that tragic wreck. However, I know some of the Battle era players and they think very highly of the man.

Battle has all the money he will ever need and then some. Alabama, other than the Bear, and Wallace Wade have had success with Alabama people. And Saban (West Virginia) is making his mark. But Wallace Wade was a Tennessee native. My point here is that I would like to see more native Tennesseans, and UT graduates in the leadership roles at the University of Tennessee.

Johnny Majors, Phil Fulmer, Wallace Wade, Tommy Protho, Steve Spurrier, Bobby Dodd, Floyd Carr, John Cooper, Mack Brown, and a few more Tennesseans are coaches of legionary proportions. If this doesn't make my point, well shinola on you.

LovinMyVols writes:

I wonder if Bama fans will park a moving van outside his house when the time comes.

I would, however, take Battle's teams, versus what we have seen the last few years, in a heart beat.

Congrats CBB, can't say I wish you success however.

pingkr62 writes:

in response to MikeNPS:

Your comment is ridiculous. Lane Kiffin was the worst mistake in Tennessee football history. Hiring Hamilton as AD was the worst decision in UT sports history.

I agree with you regarding Lame Kiffin. In my humble opinion, the mistake U.T. made when they hired Bill Battle was passing up Johnny Majors. But I am happy for coach Battle just the same. G.B.O.!!!

RedBoilingSpringsVol writes:

Hope Coach Battle does well except against the Vols.

pingkr62 writes:

in response to tovolny:

Bill Battle is a great guy...who can deny that? Probably would have developed into a good enough coach to beat Alabama and Auburn had he stayed at Tennessee. But the Battle hire should have been the Johnny Majors hire. Majors was young, energetic, and the scholarship situation was better then. I think he would have taken Tennessee to a higher level starting at that time rather than proving he could coach at Pittsburgh. You know, I often think about Bill Majors, whom I believe would have been the coach had he not been in that tragic wreck. However, I know some of the Battle era players and they think very highly of the man.

Battle has all the money he will ever need and then some. Alabama, other than the Bear, and Wallace Wade have had success with Alabama people. And Saban (West Virginia) is making his mark. But Wallace Wade was a Tennessee native. My point here is that I would like to see more native Tennesseans, and UT graduates in the leadership roles at the University of Tennessee.

Johnny Majors, Phil Fulmer, Wallace Wade, Tommy Protho, Steve Spurrier, Bobby Dodd, Floyd Carr, John Cooper, Mack Brown, and a few more Tennesseans are coaches of legionary proportions. If this doesn't make my point, well shinola on you.

Another potentially great coach that played for U.T. was Rex Dockery. He was head coach at Memphis State when he was killed in a plane crash near Pulaski Tn. in the early 1980's. In my opinion, if Rex Dockery had not perished, He would have taken M.S.U. to heights that program had never known, and would likely be coaching Tennessee today. G.B.O.!!!

cheetah-vol writes:

Thinking about the Bill Battle coaching era when I was a student at UT gives me flashbacks...and I don't mean memories.

frblalack writes:

For all those who comment negatively about Bill Battle, you're probably some of those who wanted to fire Coach Fulmer. Battle was a damn good football coach; check his winning percentage.

This website has quite a few ignorant idiots who would complain about anything!

Anyway, good luck to all our former coaches!!!

All Vols - All the Time - Tennessee First!!!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to cheetah-vol:

Thinking about the Bill Battle coaching era when I was a student at UT gives me flashbacks...and I don't mean memories.

I liked Bill Battle, but anyone in the free world (besides Bob Woodruff) knew Johnny Majors should have taken over after Dickey fled to Florida. That Sugar Bowl win against Air Force was strictly from leftover talent from the Dickey years. That old Tulane stadium was mighty cold and a miserable place to watch the Sugar Bowl IMA..

abnermc writes:

"It's a great opportunity to pay back the University..a great debt that I owe the University.."
See Bama was paying players even in the sixties.

JohnnyU writes:

I am really glad for Bill Battle. I was 15 when he became head coach at UT, and his first few teams are some of my fondest memories. It hurt to see him go downhill like he did and have to leave. I was always happy he had made it big in business, but now he has a chance to succeed again in athletics. Good for him.

cheetah-vol writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

I liked Bill Battle, but anyone in the free world (besides Bob Woodruff) knew Johnny Majors should have taken over after Dickey fled to Florida. That Sugar Bowl win against Air Force was strictly from leftover talent from the Dickey years. That old Tulane stadium was mighty cold and a miserable place to watch the Sugar Bowl IMA..

LOL! Beare, my post was meant as a humorous attempt (albeit a poor one and poorly written) to reference how I occasionally spent my free time as a student back then. Not as a diss of Coach Battle. I, for one, will always be grateful that he brought one of the most fun and exciting quaterbacks to play for the Vols being Condredge Holloway. Memories of him playing are much better for me than these darn flashbacks.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to cheetah-vol:

LOL! Beare, my post was meant as a humorous attempt (albeit a poor one and poorly written) to reference how I occasionally spent my free time as a student back then. Not as a diss of Coach Battle. I, for one, will always be grateful that he brought one of the most fun and exciting quaterbacks to play for the Vols being Condredge Holloway. Memories of him playing are much better for me than these darn flashbacks.

Gotcha, I met Bill Battle at a luncheon the week of the Liberty Bowl against Maryland. He signed my UT pennant and was very nice to all the Vol fans at the Hyatt Regency hotel. It certainly broke my Mother's heart when he got the ax.

cheetah-vol writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Gotcha, I met Bill Battle at a luncheon the week of the Liberty Bowl against Maryland. He signed my UT pennant and was very nice to all the Vol fans at the Hyatt Regency hotel. It certainly broke my Mother's heart when he got the ax.

Yeah. My momma had a little crush on him, too. I began my undergraduate years at Memphis St. before transferring back to The Hill. The Vols won the Liberty Bowl against Arkansas, and that is one of my favorite bowl victories ever. My friends who were Arky fans were so mad about the fumble. I mean, if a guy under the pile threatens to break your leg, you give him th ball right? Hah! Fun times.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

There were really some great games for Tennessee in the early years of Bill Battle's tenure in K town. That '73 Georgia game was the undoing of it all for him though. Especially, with the lead and All-American Neil Clabo available to punt the ball. UGA only attempted 4 passes all day and completed just one............but the Vols couldn't stop the Dawgs running attack.

Question? Will the resident troll, Wilted Flowers, be having a book signing for his soon to be announced new book? It will titled "The people I hate" by Flowers.

His book will feature all his hate for people who
irritated him, these people who were all he never could be. There will be plenty of space reserved for Karl Kremser, Glenn Ford, Dooley, Dave Hart, Johnny Majors, ..................anyone this clown can whine about.

Some day, the epitaph displayed for Wilted Flowers will sound like:

"here lies the biggest all-time whiner ever associated with the University of Tennessee."

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to cheetah-vol:

Yeah. My momma had a little crush on him, too. I began my undergraduate years at Memphis St. before transferring back to The Hill. The Vols won the Liberty Bowl against Arkansas, and that is one of my favorite bowl victories ever. My friends who were Arky fans were so mad about the fumble. I mean, if a guy under the pile threatens to break your leg, you give him th ball right? Hah! Fun times.

Remember that game well..As we were leaving the LB some Arky clod in a plastic hog hat made the mistake of throwing his drink on my dad. My father was more closely related to Silver-back apes than modern day humans. So, you can imagine the kind of beating that Arky fan received. The funny part was Memphis police arrested the Arky fan as he laid in a pool of his own blood..I would always reflect back to that day whenever my dad seemed angry..lol

Vol43 writes:

I met Coach Battle on an plane. It was 1980. I was taking a flight from Atlanta to Louisville. It was about 9:00 est. Late flight. My ticket showed me sitting next to this guy who I recognised to be a sports figure. I sat right next to him trying to figure out who he was. The plane took off and I looked down at an tubular mailing with the name Bill Battle. Can you even imagine how happy I was sitting next to Bill Battle? I had the pleasure of talking to him for the time it took to fly from Atlanta to Louisville. This was the time where he made it RICH. He loved Tennessee and he was all orange. Shame how things work out I recken.

cheetah-vol writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Remember that game well..As we were leaving the LB some Arky clod in a plastic hog hat made the mistake of throwing his drink on my dad. My father was more closely related to Silver-back apes than modern day humans. So, you can imagine the kind of beating that Arky fan received. The funny part was Memphis police arrested the Arky fan as he laid in a pool of his own blood..I would always reflect back to that day whenever my dad seemed angry..lol

That's a great story. People still do stupid things like that during and after games. Glad your dad was on our side. Do you still have the pennant Coach Battle signed for you?

CoverOrange writes:

Somewhere in my basement I have an orange and white football signed by Battle and few of the players from the '75 team. My dad gave it to me, not sure how he got it. Never played with it, it's been in its box for 38 years. The later Battle years is just when I was becoming aware of UT football. Cherished memory but held at a distance at the same time.

cheetah-vol writes:

in response to Vol43:

I met Coach Battle on an plane. It was 1980. I was taking a flight from Atlanta to Louisville. It was about 9:00 est. Late flight. My ticket showed me sitting next to this guy who I recognised to be a sports figure. I sat right next to him trying to figure out who he was. The plane took off and I looked down at an tubular mailing with the name Bill Battle. Can you even imagine how happy I was sitting next to Bill Battle? I had the pleasure of talking to him for the time it took to fly from Atlanta to Louisville. This was the time where he made it RICH. He loved Tennessee and he was all orange. Shame how things work out I recken.

That's a cool story. I think I might've asked him for a job since he was doing so well.

Vol43 writes:

in response to cheetah-vol:

That's a great story. People still do stupid things like that during and after games. Glad your dad was on our side. Do you still have the pennant Coach Battle signed for you?

Me thinks BB is a chip off the ole block and that's why I like him.

Vol43 writes:

in response to cheetah-vol:

That's a cool story. I think I might've asked him for a job since he was doing so well.

The thought has crossed my mind, believe me.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to cheetah-vol:

That's a great story. People still do stupid things like that during and after games. Glad your dad was on our side. Do you still have the pennant Coach Battle signed for you?

Yes I do, it's the same pennant my father had signed by General Neyland and Bowden Wyatt..It has long since been framed and sits proudly displayed over the mantle in the study..

cheetah-vol writes:

A lotta people who disliked Coach Battle are probably laughing at us taking a trip down Amnesia Lane being he's now the AD at Bama. But, that's ok. Life's fickle. Just like fans.

cheetah-vol writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Yes I do, it's the same pennant my father had signed by General Neyland and Bowden Wyatt..It has long since been framed and sits proudly displayed over the mantle in the study..

That's awesome. sir.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Vol43:

I met Coach Battle on an plane. It was 1980. I was taking a flight from Atlanta to Louisville. It was about 9:00 est. Late flight. My ticket showed me sitting next to this guy who I recognised to be a sports figure. I sat right next to him trying to figure out who he was. The plane took off and I looked down at an tubular mailing with the name Bill Battle. Can you even imagine how happy I was sitting next to Bill Battle? I had the pleasure of talking to him for the time it took to fly from Atlanta to Louisville. This was the time where he made it RICH. He loved Tennessee and he was all orange. Shame how things work out I recken.

Wassup 43?? Nice story and I concur, BB is one fine man, just wasn't ready to be a HC yet..

Vol43 writes:

in response to cheetah-vol:

That's awesome. sir.

Cheetah, you're OK

Vol43 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Wassup 43?? Nice story and I concur, BB is one fine man, just wasn't ready to be a HC yet..

I guess. He was a lot to like especially in person. Talk about a class act and a lot to love. Bill Battle is a wonderful person and Alabama is agetting a jewel and they know it.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to cheetah-vol:

That's awesome. sir.

Yeah it is..Our good friend Harold Johnson (member of UT's 51 championship squad) has attempted to buy that pennant from our family for years. I've got another one with Johnny Majors and Phil Fulmer on it, but that's from the 90's and not the classic raised felt letters like that pennant from the 50's has..

cheetah-vol writes:

in response to Vol43:

Cheetah, you're OK

Thanks, Vol43. Very kind of you. Anybody who can share a memory about a Vol experience outside of a game is ok to me, too.

cheetah-vol writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Yeah it is..Our good friend Harold Johnson (member of UT's 51 championship squad) has attempted to buy that pennant from our family for years. I've got another one with Johnny Majors and Phil Fulmer on it, but that's from the 90's and not the classic raised felt letters like that pennant from the 50's has..

I still have a pennant like that. From 1956, I think. My dad had above his dresser, and I got it when he died. Not signed, but cool nonetheless.

Vol43 writes:

in response to cheetah-vol:

Thanks, Vol43. Very kind of you. Anybody who can share a memory about a Vol experience outside of a game is ok to me, too.

You're very welcome.

Snapshot writes:

in response to Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You really have a thing for Hart, don't you Bama Jeff? Why not find you a team you CAN cheer for?

stevefrommemphis writes:

in response to frblalack:

For all those who comment negatively about Bill Battle, you're probably some of those who wanted to fire Coach Fulmer. Battle was a damn good football coach; check his winning percentage.

This website has quite a few ignorant idiots who would complain about anything!

Anyway, good luck to all our former coaches!!!

All Vols - All the Time - Tennessee First!!!

Not me. I supported Johnny Majors and I supported Phil Fulmer. When I was 15 years old I wrote Battle a letter which began: "Congratulations on destroying 50 years of Tennessee football tradition." And I still believe that statement nearly 40 years later.

If Battle was such a great football coach, why did his record never improve from one year to the next? Why could he not beat Vanderbilt or Kentucky by the time he left? The 31-5 record his first three years just shows what an incredible program Doug Dickey left for Battle to ruin.

Battle's last two years, 1975 and 1976, were very similar to Dooley's last two years -- eerily similar.

Snapshot writes:

I wonder what rtrchatt thinks about a former UT coach being hired as the bammers AD? What was that he posted about replacing one legend with another...well not so much in this case. Right chatterbox? LOL

Henley-Street-Bridge writes:

Finally an Athletics Director with more Cash and Class than Nick Saban. GO VOLS (Condredge Holloway for Assistant AD @ Alabama)

Jakevol writes:

I've always admired and liked Bill.

stovepipedrinker writes:

For all of you folks that have posted "the worst mistake in Tennessee football history, I have but one question for you. WHERE IN THE *@&& HAVE YOU BEEN FOR THE LAST 3 YEARS? Congrats Coach Battle.

Sir_Spanky writes:

Well, he'll need to shorten his hair on the top and sides, and then let it grow out about 6 inches in the back to fit in. If you know what I mean.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to Johnny_Aint_No_Del_Shofner:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The Vols have a fireman to put out that dumpster fire. Coach Butch Jones !!

wallingdad writes:

It is amazing to see how time has sofened the heart (and brain). Battle all but killed a mighty and powerful program at UT. Intentionally or not he did. It took years to undo his damage. When he took the reins we were battling for championships. when he finally left we were happy to beat anybody. Check the record book.

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