NEW ORLEANS -- Alabama coach Gene Stallings said yesterday that the school is investigating an allegation by former Crimson Tide running back Gene Jelks that a businessman in his hometown co-signed a $13,000 loan during his senior season.
In a published report Saturday, Jelks also said Harold Simmons, a businessman from Gadsden, Ala., paid two other ex-Alabama players, Stacy Harrison and Clyde Goode, to appear as grand marshals in a 1991 Christmas parade.
Those are Jelks' first allegations of wrongdoing involving Alabama players since the arrival of Stallings and his staff at Alabama in 1990.
Last month, Jelks, 26, said after he enrolled at Alabama in 1985 he received a signing bonus of $2,100 and cash to help make car payments.
The NCAA is trying to determine whether the Exchange Bank followed procedures in issuing the loan and is trying to clarify Simmons' relationship to the Alabama program.
"I don't even know Gene Jelks," Stallings said. "If I was doing the investigating, I would ask the players involved. That's what I plan on doing. But I know the school is investigating the allegations, and I think athletic director Hootie Ingram is on top of everything.
"The whole thing is more distracting to me than to the players. It bothers me. It's like raising children. You raise them and hope that they don't get involved with the wrong crowd. But you can't follow them around every minute. I sure can't follow around the 146 players involved in our program."
A change by accident
Alabama sophomore linebacker Mario Morris will replace starter and second-leading tackler Michael Rogers, who was injured in a car accident on Christmas Eve.
Morris, 6 feet 2, 220 pounds, started the first game of the season, but was replaced by Rogers, who teamed with senior Derrick Oden at inside linebacker.
"I talked to Mike this morning, and he's making progress," Stallings said. "But any time you lose your second-leading tackler, your defense is not the same."
With the exception of Rogers, No. 2 Alabama and No. 1 Miami are expected to be at full strength for the USF&G Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day.
It's news to him
Each year Miami coach Dennis Erickson is rumored to be taking another job, but this year Erickson said the rumors were a bit much.
An Alabama newspaper reported Erickson to be a candidate for the Auburn job, and one of the reasons reportedly was that Erickson's daughter was unhappy in Miami.
"I don't know how these things get started," Erickson said. "I don't even have a daughter. Now where's the credibility in that report?"
It's better to have danced . . .
Despite playing and coaching under the late Bear Bryant, Stallings, 58, says he is a modern coach. Erickson says he is one, too.
At one time, both had disdain for touchdown celebrations. Now, they go with the flow.
"We're not as bad as we used to be," Erickson said. "There's a perception out there about us that some people won't let go because they are jealous of us winning so much. But there are 100 teams worse than we are. Maybe we got a little carried away in the Cotton Bowl a few years ago, but I like for players to have fun. I even get into it myself now. And I'm having the most fun of my life."
Stallings said: "Times change. Sometimes you've got to give a little to get a little. I don't like the celebrations, never did, but I'd prefer it over getting stopped at the 1-yard line. What I'd really like is for the kid to hand the referee the ball like he's going to be doing it a lot today."