It didn't take long for word of the stiff penalties to spread through Tuscaloosa and around campus.
The mood in Tuscaloosa mirrors that of the administration. Most students are surprised at the severity of the penalty. They're angry, and they say they'll stick by the Tide no matter what. But they admit, fall is going to be different at the Capstone.
The NCAA's decision was very much on Alabama student's minds. The campus was a ghost town at lunch. Everyone was watching the press conference on television or talking about it over a meal. The early reviews --not good.
Student Jason Cromes says, "I didn't expect it to be that strong of a penalty that they would put on us. I didn't think it would be that strong at all. I figured we'd lose a few scholarships, possibly go without a bowl for next year, but I never figured it'd be that bad."
The harsh penalty hit like a linebacker covering a crossing pattern. The loss of scholarships probably sets up at least one or two average or losing seasons. And no bowls means no New Year's social event. The impact will be felt on tailgate Saturdays.
Student Ben Clark says, "During the fall, there's definitely a lot going on with football and everything. I mean, we'll still have games but they won't be as significant."
Students are holding out hope about Alabama's upcoming appeal. Coach Dennis Franchione is calling for them to hang tough even if the appeal is unsuccessful. Most die- hards say they will. "The students here, they're going to stick it out. I mean, we've had bad football teams in the past and we all go to games. We all show up and I don't think it's going to change the excitement and the tradition and all that," says student Lori Cottingham.
Alabama has 15 days to file an appeal of the penalties with the NCAA's Appeals Committee. Students on campus say they're going to wait until that final process before they let their spirits fall too low. They say, even then, it's still Alabama football. They plan to hang in there even if the appeal fails.