A confident Mike DuBose opened Alabama's season on Sunday, warmly greeting his incoming freshmen and showing no signs of stress in the wake of the school settling a sexual harassment claim against him.
The third-year Alabama coach, who also was celebrating his 24th wedding anniversary, admitted Thursday to lying to school officials and the public about his personal life. The admission came only after the school paid $350,000 to another employee to settle claims against DuBose.
DuBose, arguably the most recognized public official in the state, had stayed low-key since the announcement, but finally made himself available to answer questions.
"We made some mistakes, we've admitted those and moved forward," he said. "It's my anniversary today, we've been married 24 years and she's a very strong lady and I'm a strong man. Things are good."
And as he welcomed 24 scholarship freshmen and two invited walk-ons to campus, it almost seemed like things at Alabama were back to normal.
This year's highly anticipated class, considered DuBose's strongest, seemed eager to talk only about football.
"People make mistakes and I don't think his is even relevant to football," freshman fullback Jeremy Walker said.
"I have prayed for coach DuBose and I know that what he did won't affect the team," freshman receiver Brandon Greer said. "It just needs to be let go because he knows he did wrong."
DuBose said he would discuss the situation in a team meeting when the varsity players report on Tuesday because "they deserve to have it addressed."
Alabama assistant coach Ronnie Cottrell said 10 "prominent" seniors stopped by the football offices on Friday to show their support for DuBose, and said he had yet to hear a player voice any negativity toward the coach.
"Someone said to me this situation will either pull us together or tear us apart," Cottrell said. "I think it has already started to pull us together."
MISSISSIPPI STATE: Quarterback Wayne Madkin isn't taking the role of defending SEC West champion lightly. He thinks about the crowd, the turf and the "electric atmosphere" of the SEC Championship Game in December at the Georgia Dome.
"Seeing all of that puts something in your soul and makes you want to get back there," said Madkin, who became a starter last year in the third game of his redshirt freshman season. "After I left that field, I thought, "I'm getting back here.'
"That's my goal. And I think that's the goal of everybody on the team."
If the Bulldogs succeed, Madkin likely will be the reason. He is one of only two returning offensive starters from an 8-5 team that won its last three regular-season games against Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss, and led national-champion-to-be Tennessee 14-10 with less than seven minutes to play in the SEC Championship Game.
Despite significant losses, the offense is not without promise. Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack, a returning starter at tackle, is "as good as any lineman as I've been around," coach Jackie Sherrill said. The offensive line will average 320 pounds.
Behind them could be the SEC's next star running back, Dontae Walker, a 210-pound tailback with 4.4-second speed for 40 yards. Walker and redshirt freshman fullback Justin Griffith, who was outstanding in spring drills, could be the Bulldogs' starting running backs.
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Florida released its 1999-2000 schedule. Road games against national champion Purdue on Nov. 26 and and Southeastern Conference champion Tennessee on Feb. 13 are the highlights.