Saturday, June 28, 2008
Without further adieu ...
1. what team will be the biggest surprise in the sec in ’08?? the biggest disappointment??
I'm curious about Bobby Petrino's Arkansas team -- they're always more talented than I give them credit for, plus you never know what you're getting in a new system. Not to mention, all their biggest games -- save their trip to Auburn on Oct. 11 -- are in the state of Arkansas. And as we've learned over the years, weird things happen in the state of Arkansas.
For a disappointment, I pick Mark Richt's Georgia team, and I only mean "disappointment" in the "won't win the national championship" sense. Too tough a schedule, guys, and everybody's gunning for you. Sorry.
2. we appear to know who our qb is going to be for the season barring something crazy, but not all offensive skill positions are so certain. as the season progresses, who do you see stepping up to be this squad's most productive rb?? and wr??
I wouldn't be surprised to see Roy Upchurch stepping into the role of every-down running back -- he's got all the tools, and you could see him having a breakout game in a "Shaun Alexander in '96" role. At receiver, my pick is Earl Alexander, possibly because I have a soft spot for all rangy receivers from Phenix City.
3. obviously "the saban" is lord and savior, and created the heavens and the earth, but if you were forced to trade saban for another active coach, who would it be and why??
I'm partial to guys like Mack Brown and Mark Richt, if only because they seem like genuinely nice people who also can coach good football. Richt's offensive philosophy appeals to me inparticular, if only because his "every 6 or 7 plays, we're throwing the ball deep and good luck stopping us" philosophy close resembles my own style on NCAA '08. Also, Richt forsook his personality as a "nice guy" at the end of last year, as evidenced by the famed "rush the field" incident against Florida and the black jerseys against Auburn -- basically, he told his guys to turn up the thug. Does that dissuade me, even a little?
Yeah, a little. We don't need any more lawlessness around Tuscaloosa.
4. some people view bama fans as insane. while "insane" is an awfully strong word, many bama fans have a disturbing obsession with their team. what is the most significant/unique/valuable/weird piece of bama paraphernalia you have and why??
My own mementos are quite ordinary: souvenir cups, scorecards, shakers from various road games that turned into big wins.
One I'm particularly proud of: before the 2001 Auburn game, the AU students received all-orange shakers (part of the relentlessly nauseating "All Auburn, All Orange" promotion). I retrieved one and brought it back with me to Tuscaloosa. I still keep it around -- it's fairly obnoxious, but a nice reminder of the day.
(Of course, I'd trade all of it to get some new ones. Please? Pretty please?)
Thursday, June 26, 2008
A question for all the Island fanatics out there -- feel free to comment: does this scene tell us any more or less about Charlotte, knowing now what we know about her history?
Just a thought.
(Note: for the record, I don't be-grudge any of the bloggers from the other side taking their shots -- I'd probably do the same thing if this were happening at Tennessee, LSU or even Auburn. What goes around comes around, I get it. Just know that the biggest tragedy here, to me, is a young man who's basically thrown away his life. Taht should transcend school allegiance. It doesn't, but it should. And one more for the record, the funniest take on this entire saga came from G4H, one of our very own.)
Here goes ...
-- OTS does what OTS does: an analysis of the '08 rules changes. I do like the spirit behind trying to speed up the games. But I don't think anything's going to change until someone stands up to the TV networks and tells them they can't dictate the breaks anymore.
-- WEA has a solid story about the disparity between conferences, mostly the fact that many of the bigger conferences still don't have a championship game.
This, by the way, is the biggest reason the BCS -- if we're going to stick with this outlandish system -- should dump the idea of "automatic" bids, and just take the best teams each year. Who cares if three SEC teams make it, or the conference champ from the lame ACC has to settle for the Gator Bowl? Bowl-game participants should be determined by the bowl reps themselves based on one overriding principle: what's the most attractive matchup available? Does anyone really care, for example, about the "traditional" Big 10-Pac 10 matchup in the Rose Bowl, particularly when that matchup includes freaking Illinois? Wouldn't you rather see USC pitted against a team that might actually give them a competitive game (like, say, UGA)?
Which reminds me: for a quick history of the BCS, check out BCS guru -- you forget how easy things were the first two seasons, before 2000 came along.
-- CC has the skinny on Richard Hendrix's draft situation, which was apparently favorable enough that Hendrix stayed in the draft and hired an agent. Hendrix, it seems, is a better pro prospect than my man Erwin Dudley, who's still toiling away in Turkey somewhere.
-- Images of football season, courtesy EDSBS.
-- Finally, Terry Bowden pokes his head out of the ground to discuss the Johns situation with Ray Melick.
Dammit. We almost made it all the way through.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Anyway, today's column on (what else?) the Johns situation is the best perspective anyone's offered thus far. Thus, here it is in its entirety ...
Trouble was always brewing for Jimmy Johns
Cecil Hurt Sports editor
For three years, almost everyone involved has been trying to write a happy ending to The Jimmy Johns Story.
The saga had the right start: A talented recruit, a former “Mr. Football” in Mississippi who spurned his home-state schools to come to Alabama. But every time Johns’ career came to a crossroads, he would go down the path with a dead end.
There were dreams of making him a quarterback, but those were never more than dreams. In his brief stints at that position in Crimson Tide practices, he never displayed an SEC-caliber throwing arm. That doesn’t even begin to touch on his capacity to make quarterback-level decisions.
The next solution was to try Johns at running back. He played more there than anywhere else in his Alabama career, although he wasn’t a natural at the position. He appeared stiff, blessed with strength but not vision or elusiveness. So there was another move, this time to linebacker. Would that move have worked? There is no way of knowing, but we can guess.
From the start of his career until the end, which came to a crashing close Tuesday morning when he was arrested on serious drug-dealing charges, Johns never once displayed the mental discipline needed to play team sports. His (rare) moments of brilliance always came with a price tag. Every one of the multitude of chances he received, on or off the field, was squandered.
The on-the-field examples are well-known, typified by the fourth-quarter fumble in last November’s UA loss to Louisiana-Monroe. Johns, who had seen his playing time at running back dwindle to nothing as the 2007 season progressed, was pressed back into service by Alabama’s extreme injury situation in the backfield. It was an opportunity that turned into a disaster when Johns fumbled the ball away deep in ULM territory.
It would be easy enough to dismiss that as an excusable mistake, if it hadn’t been part of an obvious pattern — penalties, poor decisions, terrible timing — that marked Johns’ career.
Off the field, it was the same. Even in the small glimpses that Alabama’s privacy policies allowed, trouble was always brewing for Johns. There was only one game suspension (in 2006), but there were numerous attitude adjustments and spring demotions for transgressions ranging from poor class attendance to missed meetings to “undisclosed.”
Johns kept getting chances. So did he get one chance too many?
I’m not going to second-guess UA head coach Nick Saban here. I certainly don’t subscribe to the theory that Saban “knew” about Johns’ extracurricular entrepreneurial adventures. If Saban had known that Johns was dealing dope, he’d have dismissed him on the spot.
On the other hand, the coach knew that Johns was a problem child. He knew that the risk/reward ratio with keeping Johns on the team was high, far higher than it was, for example, in the case of senior Rashad Johnson. Saban stood behind Johnson when he was arrested in the spring and was right to do so. I generally support coaches giving second chances, and not just at Alabama.
Furthermore, I don’t think that even if Saban had adopted the draconian line and tossed Johnson off the team for a misdemeanor, it would have made a bit of difference to Johns. If you are determined to sell cocaine, you are not going to stop selling it just because your coach got tough with a teammate. (If a potential lengthy prison sentence isn’t going to deter someone, why would potentially losing a football scholarship have any effect?)
I also don’t think Johns was saved simply by his athletic ability. Saban saw the Crimson Tide games last season. Johns wasn’t a huge contributor, except (arguably) on special teams. The move to defense wasn’t going to make him a contributor. I honestly think that Saban’s prime motivation — one that is shared by a lot of football coaches — was to give Johns an opportunity to turn around on the road to disaster that he was taking.
But, to repeat the question, did Johns get one chance (or even several chances) too many? Even if Saban had the best motives in the world, he can’t have had high hopes for success on this reclamation project. The coach was asked about Johns fairly frequently in the off-season — Alabama fans never did lose their infatuation with Johns. Saban’s answers were usually exasperated rather than optimistic.
No one is saying that Saban should have a crystal ball, or that he will be able to prevent every possible future transgression with a pre-emptive strike. Only Saban and Johns know the conditions under which the player was allowed to remain on the team, and it is the right of every head coach to make that sort of decision for his team. I am not second-guessing that, and I am not implying that anyone knew that Johns was out at night committing felonies.
However, Saban had to know that Johns was a risk in terms of public perception and team morale. Johns’ career history suggested that risk, strongly. And it was probably more of a risk than Saban should — or will — run again.
Cecil Hurt is sports editor of The Tuscaloosa News. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0225.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
This situation runs the gamut of emotions. It puts the current linebacking situation at even greater peril for 2008. It's embarrassing for Alabama, mostly because it's going to re-invigorate the ridiculous cries that always come with stuff like this -- that Nick Saban's program lacks discipline, that Alabama players are all thugs and crooks, that stupid "Pa-role Tide, Pa-role" thing that keeps coming up, and, of course, EDSBS' Fulmer Cup, which Alabama will no doubt dominate before the season's out.
But it makes me angry for a different, more philosophical reason. Being a sports fan, my favorite teams and players matter more to me than they should. It's always been that way.
Look, I don't know Jimmy Johns, and Jimmy Johns certainly doesn't know me. He has no reason to be loyal to me, ever. And I have no place telling him how to live his life.
Following a college team -- particularly when you're an alum -- is a different kind of fan experience. The university matters a great deal to me personally, and as such, the football team does as well. I never got to wear the crimson -- amazingly, they weren't interested in a 6-2, 175-lb offensive lineman -- but, when I was 18, I would've definitely murdered several people, possibly my own friends, if I were offered that chance.
Because of those things, I follow the team a little too closely. I refer to the players by their first names. In a weird way, I feel like fans of college teams get a chance to watch their players grow up -- they follow them from age 18 until age 23, one of those periods in life where we probably experience more growth and self-discovery than any other. We don't know them, not really, but we feel like we do.
With Johns, it was that way. Alabama fans took it very personally when we heard that Sylvester Croom famously told him he'd never play quarterback at Alabama; Alabama fans cheered Johns when he angrily told a reporter, "We play hard, we play like champions" prior to playing State in '06; and Alabama fans wondered aloud what Johns must be doing wrong in '07, when he barely saw the field.
Now we know the answer. And to be honest, it feels a little like betrayal, like finding out one of your cousins has been stealing money from your 80-year-old grandmother.
Like I said, it shouldn't feel this way. Wearing the crimson jersey likely never meant that much to Johns, and probably doesn't mean that much to most of the guys on the roster -- it's a means to an end, whether that end is the pros, some business networking or just the feeling of being a BMOC.
But it does feel this way to people who bleed for Alabama. And that's just the way it is.
12 minutes ago
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama linebacker Jimmy Johns has been arrested on drug charges.
Authorities said he was arrested Tuesday in Tuscaloosa and taken to the county jail. He was charged with selling cocaine and possessing ecstasy pills found at his home. Undercover investigators allegedly bought drugs from the Crimson Tide senior.
Police did not immediately return a call and it wasn't known if Johns had a lawyer. There was no immediate comment from Alabama coach Nick Saban.
Johns played running back and receiver last season and he moved to linebacker in the spring.
The Associated Press
And we didn't know Tom Cruise was crazy the whole time?
Moving on ...
-- I've neglected to tout the virtues of a brand-new site in the 'Bama universe: Creg Stephenson's Crimson Confidential, which has only existed for a few weeks and is quickly becoming my go-to site for all things Tide (and not just because I know Creg from college and his days in Anniston). Seriously, he's a one-man wrecking crew.
-- Finebaum totally rips off the idea I've advanced on this site more than once with today's column, even though he has no idea who I am. The gist ...
What's interesting is whenever Alabama has had a coaching change, the national media has tended to blast away at the fan base. They say fans here continue to live in the past and nobody can compare to Paul Bryant.
I think the opposite is true. The Alabama fans have gotten so tired of losing they tend to prop up everyone — including Shula — whether it's deserved or not.
If that sounds familiar, it's because we've discussed here before, as well as in other places I can't recall.
In fact, I actually advanced the notion last offseason -- and I can't find the evidence, but it did happen, I promise -- that all the good Mike Shula did during his four years at Alabama -- keeping the program together at its lowest possible point, giving 'Bama fans a cuddly, we-like-rooting-for-that-guy rallying point, winning 10 games in 2005, etc., would get swept under the rug once Saban starts winning and winning big.
And it's happening. Read more than one 'Bama blog, and you'll note the repeated references to Alabama being "a program in disarray." In fact, in a recent interview on CC, Danny Sheridan repeated took jabs at Shula, saying things like, "they have a real coach now," and so forth, and basically making Saban's predecessor out to be Elmer Fudd. Which I did, as well, so maybe I should shut up.
The more I think about it, maybe Mike Shula was, for Alabama football, a rebound guy. We needed him to help us get back on our feet, make us feel better about ourselves, get us sober again ... but still, we weren't ever really looking for anything long-term with him. So while we're thankful that he was there during that period, we know we couldn't have stayed with him. I think we'll both be OK with that, in time. And, at least in some small part, we'll always quietly be rooting for one another to be truly happy with somebody else.
Did that make any sense? Maybe not.
-- Gump checks in with alternate covers for NCAA 2009. As always with G4H, it's excellent. I need this guy to follow me around on a daily basis and write my jokes.
-- Some notes on the Auburn recruiting front: Joe Cribbs has some questions of his own. Specifically, why the rush to offer the guys so early? And why are so many of them so short?
-- Druid has a political rant.
-- Pat Forde goes way out on a limb, saying an SEC coach won't be there by next year.
The league's coaching ranks have become too crowded with A-listers for everyone to survive. Five guys have won national titles: LSU's Les Miles, Florida's Urban Meyer, Alabama's Nick Saban, Tennessee's Phil Fulmer and South Carolina's Steve Spurrier. A sixth (Auburn's Tommy Tuberville) has a 13-0 record on his résumé. Three more (Georgia's Mark Richt, Arkansas' Bobby Petrino and Mississippi's Houston Nutt) have at least one 10-win season. One guy (Kentucky's Rich Brooks) has taken a team to the Rose Bowl. And we haven't even mentioned the league's reigning coach of the year (Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom). That leaves one school -- Vanderbilt, natch -- without a coach who has some big-time bragging rights on his résumé.-- Finally, Ken Tremendous takes on another Joe Morgan chat. I swear, this is like the highlight of baseball season for me.
Problem is, not all the big winners can win big. And when this season is over, the guess here is that someone will decide (or be convinced) that it's time to get out of the sausage factory. Leading candidates: Fulmer and Spurrier.
Monday, June 23, 2008
And with that, we're off.
-- Roundtable roundup: 3rd Saturday in Blogtober is there. Worth noting: of the blogs that participated this time around, nearly all of them wished for Derrick Thomas to come back. And with good reason.
-- Some Clemson-related links:
- SMQ examines the Tommy Bowden Phenomenon. Are his teams underachievers? Overachievers? And is this the year they finally -- finally -- live up to the potential "the media" set for them?
- Up State Today has a list of questions Clemson must answer. Incidentally, the S-O-N in Clemson stands for "Chivalry, Honor and Knowledge." That's a joke, see, because ... never mind.
- Caps has the skinny on the game itself. His verdict: tough, but winnable, which describes 8 of the 12 games on the schedule, but I digress. Scroll down to the commentary section and you'll note Cappy has attracted the attention of a few 14-year-old Auburn fans who have nothing to do with school being out. Part of the gig, dude -- garbage attracts flies.
-- Finally, and I normally don't tout my own stuff through this site, but here's my column from Sunday, an attempt to delineate the ridiculous perception of media bias over everything.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Interesting tidbit: the Ohio St. defender who couldn't keep up with Sherman on the play -- Mike Vrabel, the same guy who's been part of the Patriots' recent NFL dominance. This doesn't mean anything -- just something I found interesting.
Only 10 weeks away ...
Friday, June 20, 2008
The debate about who is Jacob, why his cabin keeps moving around and exactly what he wants continues to rage around "Lost" nerd circles on the Web.
Can we answer this question? Of course not. But here's what we DO know ...
- We know that the location of Jacob's cabin is static. Ben walks right up to it without any trouble in Season 3, Hurley stumbles on it at the beginning of Season 4 ... but Locke needs directions to it to find it later that same season (and even then, Jacob's not actually there -- Locke meets two of Jacob's representatives instead).
- We know that Jacob seems to enlist other dead people to represent him around the Island. In fact, in one earlier column, the writers from EW pointed out that each of the Oceanic 6 appears to have his own personal ghosts from the Island haunting him: Jack has his dad (who shows up in multiple places), Kate and Aaron have Claire, Hurley has Charlie (and apparently Mr. Eko?). The other two, we're not sure of just yet -- Sun seems haunted by Jin (who may not actually be dead), and Sayid's haunted by Ben (again, not dead). In other instances, Christian shows up to tell Michael, "you can go now" right before the barge blows up; Christian and Claire (dad and daughter, it turns out) give Locke his marching orders to save the Island. Also, there's that weird-o DHARMA dude Locke meets, whose ghost appears to be moving on a running loop.
- We know we've heard Jacob say only one line in the show.
Do we know what any of it means? We don't.
Anyway, I'm short of time this week, but I'm more than open to theories in the comments section. Thanks in advance.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
As always, I offer the following disclaimer: I'm participating despite my steadfast refusal to label myself a 'Bama blog. And my answers should be taken as such. Also, I welcome vitriolic commentary. I always have.
Onward, then, with Roundtable IV. Thanks to this week's host — Third Saturday in Blogtober, themselves a site with diverse interests.
1) Thanks to Roy Kramer legacy scheduling, Bama is in its “road year” when most of the great games will be on the road and season tickets basically are buy one (Iron Bowl) get seven free. You get to swap one home game for one road game. What’s your call?Is it too late to move the Auburn game back to a neutral site? Maybe we can't have it in Birmingham anymore — what with the crime and all — but what about trying somewhere unconventional like Talladega? The possibilities here are endless, aren't they?
But that's not the question. To wit, I'll trade Western Kentucky — also my response for #2 — and bring Arkansas back to campus. I don't like going to Fayetteville — not only is it located in East Jesus, some really wacky things (and I mean, REALLY wacky, like the offense getting to play with 12 men on the most important down of the game, or your very reliable kicker suddenly turning into a mental basketcase) happen when you go to Fayetteville.
2) After Clemson, our Non-Con schedule is pretty weak. You are able to trade any one them for any BCS team in the country. Who and why?I'm a sucker for old rivalries, so we'll ditch Western Kentucky for Georgia Tech. Two trips to Atlanta in the same year (with the possibility of a third)? It's win-win, baby! Also, 'Bama fans get to witness one of the weirder football traditions in the country, shown below:
3) You can bring back one player from Alabama history to play in his college condition. Who do you want?Ummmmm ... Paul Bryant? The one who played on a broken leg? Can we bring him back?
(Sorry -- I'm fulfilling a stereotype when I do that, I know. I couldn't help myself.)
For players from recent history who should be brought back in their original collegiate condition, I'll say Freddie Kitchens. And the following rules are in place:
• He's not allowed to play baseball.
• He's required to come eat with our dietician twice a day.
• We're going to hypnotize him into thinking he's playing Auburn every game.
(I skipped question 4 out of protest.)
5) Since we would never wish injury upon another player, let’s say the President calls and says you can send one player from an opponent’s team to Guantanamo Bay before the game. Who do you pick and why?I've said this before, but Tray Blackmon scares the life out of me. And not just in a football sense — that dude is just generally scary. Besides, he's about two more arrests from actually being sent to Guantanamo, I think, making this the most logical answer for all of us.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
A bevy of interesting links are included at the bottom of this entry, including a list of Alabama stereotypes, an account of Jay Barker's wedding and even a re-living of my lowest point as an Tide fan (back when I could still BE a Tide fan).
But -- and I'm trying to avoid sounding like one of those awful radio-show hosts when I do this -- we'll get to all that in a moment. Right now, I feel the need to rant about Dan Brown.
Dan Brown, for those who aren't sure, has written several novels -- the two most popular are "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons," one of which has already been made into a mediocre movie starring Tom Hanks (and the other is in the process of it). The two novels have remarkably similar storylines: a murder in a European country; a random American professor brought in to help with the investigation for whatever reason (Robert Langdon, in both cases); the corpse's attractive relative getting involved; and a bunch of history lessons that may or may not be factual (since you're already engrossed in the story, it becomes difficult to stop and reference each point for its basis in fact or even legend).
I became bored with "Code" pretty quickly, possibly because I'd already seen the movie (I always believe in seeing the movie first, but that's neither here nor there) and possibly because -- beyond its "explosive/controversial/heretical" subject matter -- the plot is absurd and hokey. Apparently, Robert Langdon isn't like any professor I ever had in college: he can dodge copious amounts of bullets, drive like Mario Andretti and unlock centuries-old mysteries of theology, all while wearing a tweed sport coat and engaging his company with historical tidbits. Also, he never sleeps, goes to the bathroom or hurts himself. He's like a cross between Indiana Jones, Jack Bauer and one of those "experts" you see on a History Channel special.
In any case, I was promised I'd get a better story in "Angels and Demons." And frankly, the first two-thirds of the book are immaculate. Without spoiling it for those who want to read it, each of the central characters is dealing with a number of different issues; each has a traumatic moment in his past that's shaped who they are; each is working against time and unspeakable evil. There's some good history in there (again, I assume most it's at least loosely based on history), some good action, one incredible villain (the Hassassin, a terrifying cold-blooded debaucher), all set against the backdrop of the Pope's death and the conclave to elect a new one.
And then the whole thing falls apart.
Like I said, I don't want to spoil it for those who wish to read it for themselves (and I encourage you to do so), but the story basically plays out like the last season of "24" or the seventh "Harry Potter" installment: apparently, the writers in all those cases woke up one day, looked at what they had so far, realized they'd written themselves too deep into a hole ... and decided, rather than overhaul the story, they'd just come up with a way to neatly wrap it up inside of 30 pages.
I can't speak for the reading public, but I can speak for myself: C'mon, man. Give me a break. An intricately-conceived plot deserves a better ending. Just saying.
With that, the links ...
-- Much like Alabama fans preparing talking themselves into Nick Saban, UCLA fans are already preparing themselves to struggle in the first season of Rick Neuheisel. Of course, I'm one of the same people, given that I argued relentlessly that the 2007 Alabama team (7-6) was much better than the 2006 Alabama team (6-7) and that if Mike Shula had coached the same bunch in '07, he'd probably have won 5 games and we'd be employing Mike Sherman or somebody of that ilk.
-- For the ladies: Jay Barker weds Sara Evans. All told, they have seven children now -- and supposedly, Sara wants another one. Lucky for Jay. Does that mean it's time for the Jay Barker youtube? I think it is ...
-- Something I missed from last week: EDSBS hosted 'Bama bloggers on their site, to give outsiders a clearer picture of the actual Alabama fan.
-- Speaking of which, Picture Me Rollin' has been on a (no pun intended but pretty much unavoidable) roll lately with posts, including his series about the worst losses he's ever seen in person (vaguely similar to last summer's "13 Levels of Alabama"). His most recent entry? Auburn's 9-0 win over 'Bama in 2000. A couple thoughts on this loss, as this is already slated to go as one of the longest non-football season blog posts of all-time:
One: what color is your season? In other words, please explain the metaphorical state of your program through the metaphor of color:
Not to be too obvious here, but how about crimson? Isaiah 1:18 states “Come now let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool.” Can you name another SEC program in more need of redemption right now? Didn’t think so.
- On a personal note, I was a sophomore in Tuscaloosa at the time, was dating an Auburn girl and not in possession of a jacket. And I stayed the whole game. Somehow, I avoided dying of exposure. You figure it out.
- As it turned out, this season was the beginning of the winter of discontent for 'Bama, with this game symbolizing everything that went wrong. Conversely, this game and this season signaled a turn in Auburn's fortunes with the changing of the centuries -- Auburn's record in the '90s against Alabama: 3-7; starting in 2000: 7-1. I'd say that's a pretty significant difference. There were mitigating factors: probation in Tuscaloosa, a steady stream of scandals and coaching changes, the fact that Tuberville unwittingly stumbled into a handful of future NFL first-rounders, and so forth. But the 2000 season changed everything. Let there be no doubt.
-- Finally, in celebration of Bill Curry's hiring at Ga. State, Finebaum sticks his head out of his cave to write about the possible jinx Alabama has on coaches. To quote Oddball from Kelly's Heroes, "Always with the negative waves, man ... always with the negative waves."
Monday, June 16, 2008
If you can dry your eyes, I do have some links for today (Monday) to make up for it.
— Basketball-related stuff, specifically the draft: Hendrix staying (in the draft), Steele staying (at Alabama). Frankly, I'm surprised; I thought it would've been the other way around, with Steele going and Hendrix staying. Shows what I know, I guess. I have a hard time believing Ronald would want anything to do with Gottfried after what (allegedly) happened last season (Steele playing hurt, Gottfried refusing to pull the plug, Steele ultimately having to take a year off to rehab, which wouldn't have happened, except his parents actually stepped in and mandated he sit down). But then again, his brother's also coming to Tuscaloosa, so maybe it's all a rumor.
— More basketball stuff, via Bama Hoops: the Decatur paper talks to Rico Pickett. It's reg-required, and quite frankly, I didn't read it. But you can, if you want to.
— Via Capstone: al.com examines the best athletic programs in the SEC, overall. The formula loves Florida, and probably for the right reasons.
— Capstone also has the skinny on JPW being named to the Unitas Watch List. We'll see, I guess.
— Finally, Picture Me Rollin rounds up the latest C&W Roundtable. He and I, it seems, are kindred spirits when it comes to Special K.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
And with that, we're off with this week's version of the C&W Roundtable. The third edition comes courtesy of Picture Me Rollin. As always, I'm answering these questions for fun, despite the fact that I'm not a 'Bama blogger. Just saying.
1. Other than the contest against Little Brother, what do you think is a “must-win” for Alabama this season?
Here's what makes that question so hard to answer: at Alabama, every game is a must-win. At this time last year, we were all sitting around wondering if Week 2 at Vandy was a must-win. Of COURSE it is! There's a story one of the bloggers -- and I can't remember which one -- told about going to a random Kentucky basketball game like last year, and wearing an Alabama hat (without really thinking about the implications). And what happened to him? More than one UK fan took the opportunity to heckle him ... about Kentucky's overtime win over 'Bama in 1997. The point, simply, is that every game is must-win in Tuscaloosa. It's the best and worst part about the job.
As for this season, let's go with Mississippi State. I recall being a freshman in 1999, and people wondering if Alabama was ready to get over the hump -- specifically, could they beat Tennessee (a four-year losing streak then). And Mike DuBose, in a rare moment of prescience, pointed out that 'Bama hadn't beaten Mississippi State or Arkansas since '96. You have to walk before you can run.
Well, the Tide is back here -- losing to Mississippi State, whether Bulldog fans like it or not, simply isn't acceptable for a team playing at a championship level.
2. Every year there seems to be a player that no one is really talking about pre-season that garners accolades by the end of the year. Who will that be for Alabama this year?
Does John Parker qualify here? Pretty much everyone is discussing him, but as a liability more than anything else -- most fans are basically crossing their fingers that he doesn't screw up the season, instead of hoping he'll actually win the game.
There's a historical precedent here: Jason Campbell at Auburn. Going into his senior season (2004), most Auburn fans saw Campbell as a liability, after Hugh Nall's "everybody get open" offense pretty much destroyed his confidence. So he got an actual OC (Al Borges), played the season of his life and wound up a first-round NFL draft pick.
JPW doesn't possess the raw ability of Campbell (not even close), but the fans' attitude towards him is eerily reminiscent. I'm not sure I can see him on any All-American list, but he could play his way onto the all-conference team.
(Did I just jinx him? We'll see.)
3. In your opinion, how many true freshmen will start against Clemson? How many will start against Little Brother?
Will start? I have no idea. Will play? A lot. And they'll have to grow up in a hurry, too.
4. Pick one player on offense and one on defense and give a match up with an opponent that you are really looking forward to watching this season.
It's difficult to say you're looking forward to a matchup between linemen because it's so hard to focus on linemen and still watch the rest of the action. That said, I'm looking forward to seeing how Alabama's front matches up against opposing offensive lines. As Joe Kines proved in 2004 and 2005, a solid front can make up for a number of glaring deficiencies elsewhere.
Offensively, weirdly, I'm looking forward to the coaching chess match as much as anything else -- I'm interested to see what manner of personnel groups McElwain and company put on the field, and how they come up with ways to get them the ball with a chance to create something. Yes, I'm a geek. But you knew that already.
5. What, if any, SEC school’s head coach will be out after this season?
Either Spurrier or Rich Brooks are my picks. Brooks is one of the more entertaining figures annually at SEC Media Days, if only because his job's been in jeopardy the last two or three years and he seems to be pretty jocular about the situation. My guess, without his hoss, he'll suffer a number of frustratingly-close losses (a la Vanderbilt) and decide he's too old to keep doing this.
And the same thing goes for Spurrier. He's never been terribly interested in working 20 hours (like Saban or Urban Meyer), and it seems his "Evil Genius" moniker is morphing into "Crazy Uncle Stevie." Also, you don't realize this about Spurrier -- because he looks very much the same as he always has -- but he's in his 60s, has made a ton of money and seems bored by the whole thing. I think even he's realizing, slowly, that South Carolina won't ever be anything more than ... well, South Carolina.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Bill Curry will be Georgia St.'s first football coach
Former Georgia Tech and Alabama coach Bill Curry has been chosen to start the football program at Georgia State and will be introduced Thursday as head coach at a 1:30 p.m. press conference, a school official has confirmed.In honor of Curry, here's a great moment from his tenure at Alabama ...
Georgia State will play its first season in 2010, competing at the level formerly known as Division I-AA. The Panthers will continue to play in the Colonial Athletic Association and will play their home games at the Georgia Dome.
The decision to hire Curry, who has been a college football analyst at ESPN since 1997, is expected to energize the Georgia State fan base and stir interest in the program.
Curry's arrival enhances the school's athletic ramp-up begun by GSU Athletics Director Mary McElroy, who a year ago hired Rod Barnes as men's basketball coach.
Curry will soon begin the process of hiring assistant coaches. The Panthers will begin recruiting its first class of players in the fall and will have spring practice in 2009. School officials are currently looking for possible sites for a downtown-area practice facility.
Curry, 65, grew up in College Park and played at Georgia Tech, where he graduated in 1965 with a degree in industrial management. Curry played in the NFL from 1965-74 with Green Bay, Houston, Baltimore and Los Angeles. He was an all-pro center with the Colts in 1971 and 1972. He spent three seasons as an assistant at Green Bay under Bart Starr.
Curry spent 17 years as a head coach in college, starting with Georgia Tech from 1980-86, where his record was 31-43-4 and he was ACC Coach of the Year in 1985 after a 9-2-1 season. Curry was 26-10 during his three-year stint at Alabama (1987-89), won the SEC championship in 1989 and was named National Coach of the Year in 1989. He moved on to Kentucky from 1990-96, where his teams went 26-52.
Curry also served as chief operating officer at the National Consortium of Academics and Sports, which helps athletes earn their college degrees.
Curry was a finalist last year for the vacant athletics director job at Georgia Tech, which eventually went to Dan Radakovich.
Here's hoping Georgia St. never plays Auburn.
First, apparently, Jeff van Gundy actually mis-identifies Vanessa Minillo in the crowd for Alyssa Milano (not). Second, I love the shot of Sly sitting next to Eddie Murphy, then trying to imagine what the two of them talked about the whole night ("hey, we used to make movies people liked, remember?"). But I think my favorite part was the shot of the dude from "The Green Mile," who looked like he was yelling at either an official or a Celtic.
Let's just say, games like that don't happen in Leeds.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
First, from "Little Big League" — and yes, this is definitely a balk (you can't fake a throw to first base, ever).
Sadly, I couldn't find Henry Rowengartner and the Cubs fooling the poor New York Met with an intentional walk and the hidden ball trick seen in yesterday's post, and since I haven't seen the movie in so long, I can't remember if that was a legal play or not. I'm leaning towards not, but it's probably unwise to nit-pick a movie in which a 12-year-old breaks his arm and suddenly throws 100 mph fastballs.
In any case, I'm supposed to be working here, so I'll toss out some links and move on.
— Haven't seen this one anywhere around the 'Sphere just yet, but here's a solid interview with Ian Rapaport. It's candid, slightly revealing and very fun to read.
— Speaking of cool interviews, here are parts one, two and three of an interview conducted by Capstone with Homer Smith. Sweet.
— What's up at Texas A&M? SMQ has more. Honestly, I'm prepared to root for the Aggies again ... now that there's no one named "Fran" on their sideline. I wish that dude nothing but the worst in life.
— Finally, some thoughts about Nick Saban's generous scholarship donation, from Cecil and Finebaum.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Two interesting things about this ...
-- The guy looked safe.
-- If I'm not mistaken, it's still an illegal play, no? Maybe Maguire can weigh in here.
Anyway, Monday morning links for your viewing pleasure.
-- Sad news: Kenny Stabler gets another DUI. Snake, bro ... seriously, get a driver. Coach Bryant had one, remember (Billy Varner)? You can afford one. It's time.
-- The Spin has a recap of last night's Game 2. As someone who has a) loved the Celtics since my youth and b) always thought the Lakers got games handed to them repeatedly by the officiating crew, I can say with some confidence that the refs really hurt the Lakers last night. We'll see if they get homecourt back this week.
-- Maybe the most bizarre story of the weekend: a completely healthy Big Brown failing to finish the Belmont. Pat Forde writes the column pretty much everybody knew was coming. I have to admit, when I first saw it, the first thought that crossed my mind was probably the same as everybody else's: "There you go, guys ... you ran this horse too hard, didn't scratch him when he got hurt, and now you've killed him." Then it came out that there was nothing wrong with him ... which, even in my limited horse-racing experience, I've never even heard of. Thoroughbreds want to run, right? So why would he pull him up if he wasn't hurt?
My guess: the jockey (Kent Desormeaux) had the injury in the back of his mind going into the race, and had his mind made up to jump ship the second he thought something was wrong. And he did just that. Of course, there's another possibility, suggested by my wife (a horse owner and lover, someone who thought the same as me and swore violently when it happened): the horse was frustrated after some early mishaps and pulled himself up. Hey, I don't know anything about horses, so I can't argue too much.
-- Druid takes us inside Tony Franklin's America.
-- The Wiz has the skinny on the new online playbooking in football.
-- Finally, EDSBS' weekend corrections. Always, always, always worth the read.
Monday’s lead story reported that Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was instrumental in the weekend capture of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. A US government spokeswoman informed us late last night that while Mr. Tebow has been an active participant in the manhunt, he has aligned himself with numerous federal agencies in a strictly advisory capacity. As of this posting, bin Laden remains at large. We regret the error.wlh
Friday, June 6, 2008
'Nother note: Spoilers. Stop. Ach.
One of the earliest episodes in the first season of the show was entitled "All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues," an episode centered around Jack and the difficulty in his life that has his pa (Christian Shepherd) at its root. The episode ended with Jack finding his dad's casket -- Jack was in Australia in the first place to locate Christian's body and bring it back to be buried -- and burying it.
Or maybe not. Christian won't stop popping up in all sorts of unexpected places, conversing with Locke (telling him to move the Island), haunting Jack in his post-Island days, even showing up on the freighter to tell Michael, "You can go now." It's uncanny.
Christian's just the tip of the iceberg, however. Throughout the course of the show, we've learned that nearly every character on the show has some sort of "daddy issue," and a sordid family history. Here's a brief overview:
Jack: Mentioned above. Basically, Christian ruined Jack's life by belittling him and giving him that tired, "You don't have what it takes" routine.
Locke: Wow. Where do you start? His dad was an accomplished con artist who actually located him as an adult, spent a few months building a relationship with him, then stole his kidney (one of the lousiest things ever). And then he came back long enough to ruin his potential marriage -- after he'd faked his own death -- before ultimately throwing his son out the window, paralyzing him. Thanks a lot, Dad.
Sawyer: Also had his life ruined by Locke's dad, who conned his mother out of some money, inspiring Sawyer's own father to shoot and kill himself and his wife. Though Sawyer eventually found salvation.
Sun & Jin: Well, Jin pretended his dad was dead, to spare him the ignominy of having to meet Sun's extraordinarily wealthy family. And we all know about Sun's issues with her dad, who was prescient to send people after them before they boarded Oceanic 815 -- Mr. Paik is also friends with Chuckie Widmore, we know now, and is a scary, scary cat.
Claire: Never knew her father, her baby's father abandoned her. Although, as we know now, she was apparently the illegitimate child of (drumroll please) ... Christian Shepherd. Of course she is. Between Christian and Anthony Cooper, half the Island is related.
Kate: Yikes. Kate also never knew her biological father, and her adoptive father ... well, Kate blew him up. That's ... um, well ... that's not what most of us call well-adjusted.
Charlie: Raised an altar boy. Dad didn't like his career choice. Seems like small potatoes, comparatively speaking.
Boone & Shannon: Hey, these guys! Yeah, I'd forgotten about them, too. I don't know they necessarily had "daddy issues," although it was likely pretty difficult on them to become siblings at age 10. That counts, no?
Ben: One of the biggest daddy complexes of the entire cast -- Ben was raised by his abusive DHARMA Initiative dad, who reminded his son often that he'd killed his mother (who died in childbirth). Eventually, Ben killed him with poison gas. Which is healthy, I think.
This actually led to Ben becoming a lousy father in his own right, shielding his daughter from her mother for most of her life, then refusing to sacrifice himself for her life.
I'm sure I'm leaving out something. The real question is what it all means -- to quote Dr. Charlie Hannah, the "so what" factor.
And the answer to that is ... actually, I have no idea what the answer is. A number of characters also have "mom issues," as detailed here on Lostpedia. It seems like the father stuff is slightly more pervasive, however.
As always, we're open to commentary here. And, since I have nothing else to add, here's George Michael singing a song that has nothing to do with this discussion whatsoever.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
1. We have a poll up at RBR about what was the biggest SEC upset from last season. What is your pick and why?
The easy answer, of course, is Kentucky over LSU. And it's easy because it's correct. There's no way on God's flat earth that Kentucky had any business being anywhere in LSU's stratosphere — unfortunately, LSU was aware of that as well, and let Kentucky hang around, until suddenly the game was tied and we were in the second overtime. Even the UK radio guys are so shocked when the game ends, they barely know what to say.
That was also the game that revealed a) LSU's ugly side (they have a very nasty streak of dirty, borderline-cowardly hitting) and b) Les Miles' bizarre tendency to make winning harder for his team than it actually should be. I'm telling you, the best thing that could've happened to the rest of the SEC West happened when he announced he wasn't going to Michigan. National championship coach be damned.
2. Looking ahead to this season's schedule, what games do you see as being the deciding factors in who will win the SEC?
Tennessee's visit to Georgia in the middle of October has a chance to be a huge, HUGE game with major title implications. For Georgia, this season has the chance to be similar to a journey through the NCAA basketball tournament -- the longer you survive undefeated, the bigger each game gets. Remember: the Dogs were on top of the world back in '04, after throttling LSU at home. Then Tennessee came to town the next week and basically let the air out of the balloon. If they don't take care of business against Tennessee on October 11, the Florida game won't matter.
As for the West, it should take shape after Sept. 20. That's the day when LSU visits Auburn and Alabama travels to Arkansas. The West has almost always taken its shape from those two games.
3. Phil Steele and Athlon have Florida ranked #1 in the country with UGA coming in at #9 and #5, respectively, while Lindy's likes the Dawgs at #1 and Florida at #6. Obviously both teams can't represent the East in Atlanta, so which team do you think will wind up playing for the title and a berth in the Sugar Bowl (or National Championship Game), or do you think it's possible neither team will be there at the end of the season?
I don't see an SEC team winning a national title this fall. The 12 are going to do way too much beating up on one another for it to happen. Sorry, but no.
What's interesting about the Florida-UGA matchup is that Georgia, like everyone else, couldn't stop Tim Tebow in '07. They basically turned the game into a track meet, and won by a nose. Which, of course, makes this year's version as interesting -- can they continue to play offensively at such a high level? And if they can't, can they make a defensive adjustment to at least slow down the invincible 15?
4. It's a little early for a "traitor's draft" since we don't know who the starters are going to be until the fall, but since football is a year long affair let's go ahead and have one. If you could trade two Alabama spring starters, one offensive and one defensive, for their counterpart on any other SEC team, who would you trade and why?Can I trade Nick Saban for someone who's an actual human being? I guess not.
On offense, I know it's cliche to say Tebow, but I'd love to go to war with a guy like that. Everyone knows what he's going to do before he does it, and somehow it doesn't matter. As much as I love John Parker — and it's a week-to-week thing with the two of us, but I do respect him for the abuse he's absorbed — he's not a freak of nature like that guy.
On defense, speaking of freaks, I'll trade any linebacker on my roster for Auburn's Tray Blackmon. The guy gets into way too much trouble off the field, but he's scary good on it. Plus, I think Glen Coffee would prefer having this guy on his side, don't you?
5. Finally, and just for fun, give me one non-Alabama game you'd love to attend this season (there's a list of the "Top 40" non-con games of the season here if you need a little help).
I thought about saying Tennessee-UCLA, but I'll go with Auburn-West Virginia. Because of the way the game was re-scheduled, for a Thursday night later in the season, both teams should be hitting their stride offensively, and you'd have one of the ideal spread-option quarterbacks (Pat White) matching up against a defense that has dominated spread teams over the past two seasons. Also, it's a mix of two fearsome fan bases, plus you could be home in time to watch the full complement of Saturday games, as well.
Runners-up in this category: Army-Navy, Texas-Oklahoma.
Monday, June 2, 2008
• Mark Bradley of the AJC posted some college predictions, even leading with this one:
Alabama will beat Clemson on Aug. 30 in the Georgia Dome. I’m not as high on the Tide as a year ago — I did, I’ll admit, get carried away on the zephyrs of Sabanmania — but I’m never high on the Tigers. And if Clemson is considered the class of the ACC, it tells us the expanded ACC has failed to evolve into the colossus many foresaw. (Fun fact: Since the league grew to 12 teams, the ACC champ is 0-3 in the Orange Bowl.)• A week-old post I missed: RBR examines the lost senior class of '08. For the most part, he's right on point, even if he completely over-values Wallace Gilberry, someone I once described as "a nice player who does some nice things, and that's about it." Also, he failed to note Justin Britt's general jackassishness.
• A follow-up to last week's C&W Roundtable: TD posts a round-up of same. A number of people out there scared of Ole Miss ... and understandably so.
• Cecil Hurt discusses recruiting from Tommy Tuberville's perspective.
• Speaking of Tuberville, he, Charlie Weis and Mark Richt were all involved in a roundtable discussion of their own, chronicled here by Ivan Maisel.
• Finally, FreeDarko breaks down the NBA Finals as only he can. Worth noting: my grandmother would've enjoyed these Finals. She always did love the Celtics.