66 Days Away from Bama Kickoff: Roger Shultz
Each day counting down to Alabama's Week 1 matchup with Utah State, I will highlight one former player whose jersey number coincides with the amount of days until the game. It's back to the center position today as we look at one of the best to ever do it at Alabama, Roger Shultz.
Roger Shultz played for the Crimson Tide from 1986-1990, suiting up for three different head coaches during a tumultuous time in program history. A highly touted center out of Peachtree High School in Atlanta, GA, Shultz was recruited by then-Alabama coach Ray Perkins.
Perkins, who left the Crimson Tide after Shultz's freshman season, noticed the 6-foot-2, 250 lb. center while actually on a recruiting visit for another prospect who also played at Alabama, quarterback Billy Ray.
In an interview with Tim Gayle of The Montgomery Independent in 2021, Shultz spoke on his recruitment, saying, "Billy Ray was a big-time recruit at nearby [Dunwoody High School]," Shultz continued, "I think it was like, you can come see Billy at 10:30 and the coach would get there at 9:45 and say ‘I’ll just hop over here to Peachtree.’ I kind of think that’s how it happened, [Perkins] had to kill time before he had to see Billy Ray and he just started liking me."
After Shultz's redshirt freshman season with the Tide, Alabama brought in Bill Curry as its next head coach, ushering in what at times looked to be another dominant dynasty. Shultz took over as the starting center for three seasons under Curry, but contract disputes between the coach and the university brought his tenure to a halt, leaving the program without a head coach once more.
Heading into 1990, Shultz's final season at Alabama, the Tide hired Gene Stallings as the next leader of the program, and the senior three-year starter would have to earn his job once again.
In the same interview with The Montgomery Independent in 2021, Shultz also spoke on having a brand new coach his final year, saying, "You think with time, you get a little break from being so intense, but now Coach Stallings came in and you have to prove yourself to him. You want that new coach to think you’re that guy.”
As a senior, Shultz retained his role as starter and left Crimson Tide fans with a lasting memory that will never be forgotten.
Going into the Tide's annual showdown with Tennessee, Alabama was a lowly 2-3 team traveling to Neyland Stadium to take on an undefeated, third-ranked Volunteer squad.
Though Alabama had won the last four meetings, the 1990 team did not look up to par with Tennessee's high powered offense and suffocating defense. The Volunteers averaged over 40 points per game and allowed just 20, while the Tide had three losses already, coming to Southern Miss, Georgia and Florida.
Despite the deck stacked against them, Stallings' team prevailed in a massive upset victory, increasing the win streak to five straight.
Following the game, Shultz was found by reporters and offered up what is, to this day, one of the most quoted lines in Alabama history. In a smoke-filled locker room surrounded by his celebrating teammates, Shultz said, emphatically, “We ought to have to pay property taxes on Neyland Stadium, because we own it.”
After his time with the Crimson Tide as a player, Shultz spent a few seasons under Stallings as a graduate assistant coach and was a member of the 1992 national championship staff.
The Atlanta native then moved onto a career in sports radio, where he found a lot of success, hosting several popular shows across the southeast in cities like Montgomery, Columbus, GA and even Tuscaloosa.
Shultz eventually left sports radio behind, moving on to work in athletics administration at Troy University and Jacksonville State. In 2008, the former Alabama center appeared on NBC's hit show, "The Biggest Loser," where he lost nearly 175 lbs. in five months and finished in second place.
Now, Shultz resides in Mobile, AL with his wife Paige, an Auburn graduate. Shultz's son, Ivan, plays on the offensive line at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas.