Kurt Crain was known for his intensity as an All-America linebacker at Auburn, and he has carried that approach with him as the linebackers coach for South Alabama.
But recently Crain had appeared more subdued, not because he lost his passion for the game or because he has intentionally dialed down his intensity level, but because he had developed cure prostatitis.
"It's amazing," he said. "You go through your life -- and I've never been sick, never taken pills for anything -- and then all of a sudden you get something like this and it knocks you down where you can't even function.
"It's an infection of the prostate and they treat it with oral antibiotics and hope that it can get to the prostate. It's a wait-and-see deal. They were hoping (the antibiotics were) going to work, and I was still going to practice and doing those things, and it got worse and worse and worse and finally they put me in the hospital."
Crain eventually had two procedures within a two-week period that required a couple of hospital stays. He missed the North Carolina State game for one, and for the other he was taken straight to the emergency room after the team plane landed in Mobile after the Kent State game.
"I still have it, but I'm a lot better than I was. People say I smile sometimes now," he joked. "I had this for 2½ months. I would say -- I'm 47 years old -- and anyone who even thinks they have an issue with it, they need to go get it checked. Maybe talking about this will help somebody else."
When the condition was at its worst, Crain said he would go to the morning practice, then head to his office, close the door, turn out the lights, try to relax and hope the pain would go away. Following afternoon meetings and practices, he went home and went straight to bed.
After a few weeks of antibiotic treatments that didn't alleviate the pain, he visited urologist Dr. Lorie Fleck, who diagnosed his problem and handled his treatment. Dr. Brian Bettencourt, one of the team's physicians, has also assisted in Crain's treatment and recovery.
"I lost 32 pounds in the process," he said. "I've got a lot of (my weight) back and I've got my strength back now. My family has been absolutely wonderful for me. You can tell somebody how much you hurt but it's hard for them to understand sometimes. It knocked me down, buddy. And coach (Joey) Jones and the defensive staff, when I was gone, took care of my guys. We're such a family around here."
The toughest time for Crain, he said, was missing the N.C. State game.
"I get on the cell phone with one of the coaches during the game, and that lasted probably about five minutes because the more stress you have the worse this thing is," he said. "When you're talking on the phone and something happens and you're not there to fix it or try and fix it, it's stressful. So my wife took my cell phone away. They wouldn't even let me listen to the game in the hospital. I'd never missed a practice as a coach or as a player in my life."
Most of his prostate has been removed, Crain said, and all of the infection. Originally, doctors feared he might have prostate cancer, which his father had. "Thank God it wasn't cancer," he said.
At practice, Crain is easing back into his usual demeanor.
"I'm an intense coach on the field and I practice very seriously," he said. "Off the field, I want the guys to know I care about them and love them, and feeling better, that's come back in my life."