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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
TAMPA - The oral commitments of Plant quarterback Robert Marve and Middleton defensive back Sherod Murdock to Alabama became iffy propositions Monday morning when they got the news coach Mike Shula had been fired.
"It was kind of a shock," said Marve, who committed to the Tide several months ago. "I wish that hadn't happened but I understand these things happen in (major college football). ...
"But right now, really, it's not a big deal. I have two weeks of high school football to play and that's where the focus is. Dec. 10 (the day after the Class 4A state championship in Miami) is when I'll start looking at all that (college recruiting) stuff."
For Murdock, it also is a situation of wait and see what happens, according to coach Harry Hubbard.
"I talked with (Murdock) briefly and he said he was going to see how this played out and where (Shula) ended up and then he would make a decision based on those things," Hubbard said. "He was surprised by the (firing) because it seemed Alabama was moving in a positive direction. I would say, though, that Sherod was pretty calm about it."
Murdock, who was practicing Monday night for Saturday's Hillsborough County all-star game, could not be reached.
On Friday, Marve, who this season has passed for almost 4,000 yards and a county-record 43 touchdown passes (three off the state record set by Ponte Vedra Beach Nease's Tim Tebow in 2004), leads the 13-0 Panthers into a state semifinal vs. visiting Miami Booker T. Washington.
"Seriously, (the state semifinal) is all he's worried about right now," Plant coach Bob Weiner said. "He's still in a great position as far as (college recruiting) goes. His stock has dramatically risen this year, and really, at this point all that (college recruiting) will take care of itself."
Shula, 41, leaves after guiding the Tide to a 6-6 record this season and a 26-23 record in his four seasons. Alabama lost its last three games this season.