With the season now only weeks away, a variety of quality links are starting to crop up around the 'sphere. Here are a few that caught our attention here at The Party.
— First, on the subject of the scrimmage. Coach Saban said he was pleased (kinda) with what he saw, although it's worth noting that nobody really knows what that is because ... well, those scrimmages are all closed from public viewing. Which is why it's good to have Gentry Estes around, to tell us what to look for when reviewing those statistics (UPDATE: he has a post up today about what we've learned).
— Regarding personnel, Tidesports has a great story about one of the guys competing for the center slot in Tuscaloosa; the Advertiser talks to a potential safety for this fall; BSR analyzes the redshirt freshmen; and Jeramie Griffin goes down "with a knee." Also, Gentry covered the story of Ezekial Knight's transfer to Stillman.
(And if you're the sort of person who pays attention to these things, 3d Saturday gives you a recruiting update.)
— Auburn stuff: Tony Franklin celebrated Chris Todd's victory in the Auburn QB derby, and Ray Melick says Todd's story makes it harder to quit. Which is great, except that the guy I saw last year wasn't hampered just by arm strength; he looked about as confused as Frank Lapidus on "Lost." I wouldn't have wanted him quarterbacking my intramural team.
There is a precedent here, though: Ben Leard, who was the symbol for all the failures of the Terry Bowden era in a 3-8 1998 season that featured the firing of the head coach midway through. Most Auburn fans had forgotten Leard at the start of the '99 season; it was Gabe Gross who was the rising star at quarterback as the Tommy Tuberville era dawned.
But Gross played poorly in the '99 season opener against Appalachian St. and was yanked in favor of Leard, who wound up bringing the Tigers back in that game and eventually becoming the permanent starter the next two seasons. And ohbytheway, Auburn won the West during his senior campaign.
(Do I envision a scenario where Chris Todd goes to the Georgia Dome as anything other than a paying spectator? I do not. But it needed to be said, anyway.)
— The Orlando Sentinel has a great list of quality September matchups, and RBR has an entertaining sit-down with SI's Andy Staples.
— Finally, Scarbo relates the recent foibles of Rick Pitino to the Mike Price situation in Tuscaloosa.
He's leaving out one important detail of the Mike Price saga, however: MIke Dubose. The surreal events surrounding Mike Price's ill-fated Pensacola excursion happened in the spring of 2003, less than three full years after Dubose had to be sacked midway through a disastrous 2000 season that happened primarily because his players had little to no respect for him and his staff. It's arguable, obviously, that the players never really respected him, but (it was believed) they certainly did not after Dubose's interlude with a member of the Alabama staff and subsequent dishonesty (Shaun Alexander and a corps of strong senior leaders held the talented squad together through the '99 season, goes the mantra, and without them the team fell apart).
The point is simply this: Alabama's administration wasn't traveling down that road again. They would deal with the short-term consequences — angry student-athletes and fans, a sub-par football season and so forth — to rid themselves of another black eye.
Now ... does Louisville have the same situation? No idea. But it will be interesting, for sure.