I am a 'Bama guy, however, and I do have opinions. So perhaps I can at least keep myself amused, even if it doesn't count in the grand Roundtable scheme.
With no more adieu ...
1) Will the new offense and Offensive Coordinator be a positive change for John Parker Wilson? If so, how much? If not, what concerns you?
John Parker is a senior, which is probably the most important point in the whole discussion of the offense. He's faced some of the fiercest pass rushes in all of college football (and has the lumps to show for it), and shouldn't be rattled by much of anything he sees. The real question, to me, is how much of the offense they'll actually put on his shoulders -- supposedly, Saban didn't trust Applewhite enough in '07 to let him run his own offense. That shouldn't be a problem with McElwain, who's much more of a veteran presence as an OC.
The biggest issues with a changes in a coordinator spot is the subtle things. Similar plays may have completely different names -- the 3 back under one guy may be called a 2 in the new offense. One story that comes to mind is Gary Hollingsworth's adjustment from Homer Smith -- who basically let Hollingsworth call all the plays himself -- to Stallings and Mal Moore in 1990 -- their system involved basically no checks whatsoever. JPW's adjustment likely won't be that dramatic, however, but it will take some time.
2) We’ve all felt the excitement of landing this studly freshmen class on signing day, but what expectations should we have once they all land in Tuscaloosa?
High expectations are part of the deal when you play football at Alabama. These freshmen carry an extra weight, if only because of all the fan and media attention slathered on them since the moment the last seconds ticked off the clock in Shreveport.
As for what expectations fans should have? Tough to say. My old high school head coach used to say that for every 10th-grader (a rookie in high-school terms) you start, that's a loss on your schedule. I've a feeling several people in this group are going to be expected to compete for starting spots.
3) What were your initial thoughts of the somewhat split job of Defensive Coordinator? Have they changed since then, or are they still the same?
A moot point. Saban runs the defense and pretty much everyone knows it. One needs only to watch him on the sidelines furiously giving out signals to know it's his show when the other team has the ball.
4) In your eyes, who needs to step up the most in a position of depth concern?
I actually discussed this right after the Auburn loss in November: the biggest issue for Alabama, bigger than the offense, bigger than the secondary, is toughness up front defensively. Auburn imposed its will on Alabama with its front -- and I'll reiterate what I said in that LJ post: whether it's offseason training, replacing personnel or merely a change in attitude, Alabama simply must be better at stopping the run. Otherwise, prepare to be average for another season.
5) We’ve all heard the talk of this possibly being Mal Moore’s last season as Athletic Director. What will his legacy be when it is all said and done?
I'm obviously no expert at running an athletic department, and so find it difficult to say whether he's done a good or bad job in the near decade he's been at the helm. It's also worth noting that an athletic director is in charge of the entire department, and not just the football program (something Finebaum and his ilk have never seemed to understand, just as they've never comprehended that a university president isn't president of the football team ... but now I'm getting off-topic ... Finebaum sucks, by the way).
Anyway, Mal's legacy, ultimately, will be Saban, for better or worse. Essentially, that $32 million was Mal's version of pushing his chips to the center of the table and going all-in. Sink or swim, that's what we'll remember about his tenure 30 years from now.
(More interesting, to me, is that his legacy could have been Sly Croom, a hire he came close to making back in May 2003. It probably all worked out for the best, I suppose.)
6) Other than Georgia, what non-Alabama SEC team impresses you the most? (because everyone would normally answer UGA)Honestly, the team I fear the most is Auburn. That sounds strange, of course, but the situation at Auburn right now is exactly the sort Tuberville likes -- his team is basically being ignored by media both nationally and in-state, they have enough talent to dominate people on defense ... and no one has any idea what they'll look like in the fall because of the coordinator changes. Also, the schedule sets up for them nicely: two weak non-conference games before a trip to Starkville and then coming home to face LSU ( and the final score there could be 2-0).
Of course, if Tony Franklin's offense struggles out of the gate, this could all play out very differently. At the moment, the War Eagles are the team that terrifies me most. Other than Georgia, of course.