Kernel error on startup after trying to backup with Time Machine

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Hi there,
So last night I was using time machine to back up my macbook hard drive to my external hard drive. As this was happening, my machine was slowing down and such which I attributed it to having a couple of programs running at the same time as backing up. A little bit into this, I got the spinning pinwheel that would not stop or go away so I decided to let it go all night because maybe it would go away as usual. This morning it was still spinning so I shut down the computer. I didn't know if Time machine had finished or not. I tried restarting it an I got a kernel error. I tried to reset the PRAM and the NVRAM but I still got Kernel errors. I would try to do an archive and install of Leopard, but I left my disc in my dorm and I won't be able to get to it until next month. I do however have my Tiger start up disc that came with the MacBook when I first got it. Now I was thinking of doing an archive and install downgrade to Tiger just until I could reinstall Leopard next month. I don't know if that would be a good idea or not. I just want to make sure my data is ok by hopefully reinstalling Tiger to copy my data to my external HD. Is there a way to do this and not mess anything up? I don't think it's my hard drive because I already replaced it once to a non-Apple hard drive. Is there anything I haven't tried yet or should try again to try and get things going again?
Thanks so much.
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