Sunday, March 21, 2010

of life, and why you probably won't hear much from me for a while

Editor's Note: I try as hard as I can to avoid writing about my personal life on this site. So I apologize in advance. You've been warned.

A number of blog-eligible topics exist out there in the world right now: there's spring practice in Tuscaloosa, 'Bama's baseball team playing out of its mind, even how much I hate the current (and mercifully, the final) season of "Lost." As recently as 10 days ago, I would be typing away furiously about all these things.
Unfortunately, to the disappointment of those who visit here regularly, I have little desire to do so. And I feel I owe you owe an explanation.

Maybe it's burnout. I have no idea. What I can say with some certainty is this: for this blog to be done right, it requires energy and creativity from its proprietor. Which, sadly, is missing with me right now.

So apologies to those who have come by here hunting for words of wisdombiting sarcasm regarding the NCAAs or Nick Saban's righteous pitching arm or Auburn's (doomed) search for a replacement basketball coach. Much like Urban Meyer, I can't guarantee when I'll be back.

The good news: a number of bloggers much better than I aren't suffering from such bizarre maladies. Here's to those guys. And here's to all those who have visited and read this thing and commented over the last few years. You guys deserve a round of applause and a fruit basket.
Anyway, all this is way too serious. So here's a video that's much more pleasant.

Hope to see you guys again soon. Roll Tide.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

why no "Lost" blog?

A programming note: this week's blog of "Lost" took a backseat both to UAB's NIT victory over Coastal Carolina, and my own apathy toward the show and the maniacal practice of blogging every damned episode. You'll have to excuse me.

Be back with more tomorrow. I think. .

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tuesday 'tube: Irish eyes

It's a bit of a cliche, perhaps, but with St. Patrick's Day looming, it seems only appropriate we relive the day Alabama finally defeated the Irish from Notre Dame.

The game is apparently the subject of a video that will soon be available through the Bryant Museum.

I still get a chuckle every time Steve Beuerlein announces a 'Bama game for CBS.

Assuming I haven't completely given up by the time the show is over, expect a "Lost" blog tonight. Roll Tide, as always.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

C&W Roundtable: spring practice edition

This week's Crimson & White Roundtable (which I did not just make up myself) comes from Todd at Rollbamaroll. As with the previous edition, all questions — as well as a link to each of our responses — is available at the C&W blog. So feel free to join in wherever you are. And as always, feel free to add your own thoughts here in the commentary section.

1. Spring practice starts today (Friday) and there will be a number of position battles on both sides of the ball. Which one are you paying the most attention to?
Don't know if this counts as a "position" per se, but I'll be interested to see who takes over the "quarterback of the defense" role for 2010. In 2007 and 2008, Rashad Johnson had this role — it required him to a) get the call from the sidelines; b) communicate the call to 10 different people; c) position Dont'a HIghtower (this was just in '08) with his hands; d) run back to his own position and line up. And he had to do all that before the snap.
So I was concerned that we might not have anyone capable of doing all those things in '09. Stupid me: I forgot about Rolando McClain. Which worked out pretty well for us.
Now we don't have either of those guys. I'll be interested to see who steps into that role.

2. There have already been a couple of position change rumors (Kendall Kelly to safety, Michael Bowman to TE) and, knowing Saban's penchant for playing mad scientist with the roster during the early part of spring camp, there are likely going to be a few more over the next few weeks. Who do you think would be a candidate for a position change, why, and where are they moving?
Again, this doesn't qualify as a "position change," but ... I want to see if Saban & Jim McElwain will spend the offseason coming up with more creative ways to use Julio Jones. In '09, Julio spent most of the season battling nagging injuries and constant attention from opposing defenses. It was frustrating at times, though Julio showed up when it mattered most.

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)
Anyway, I'd like to see if we've spent any time in the lab this offseason coming up with some creative ways to use Julio, a phenom who scares everybody else to death when he touches the ball. Video-game players everywhere are intrigued to know what's going to happen.

3. Each year someone has a come from nowhere breakout performance in the spring, a la Robby Green's surprise nabbing of the FS spot last spring. Who is poised to be a breakout star this year?
Let's say the tight end position. For two reasons: as we covered last week, the passing game should make a leap with a senior quarterback & more experienced receivers. And furthermore, as my dad is fond of saying, "The tight end is always open." So assuming we have some soft hands at that spot, expect some passes to float that way.
(Aside: for whatever reason, the term "balls" has become much more prevalent in the football lexicon. Julio Jones caught 7 "balls" last week. Greg McElroy throws a good "ball." The defense jumped all over the quarterback's "balls." I find it disturbing, frankly.)

4. There was a lot of blue chip talent riding the pine last season. Which heralded recruit that has yet to see any meaningful playing time is, in your opinion, both poised to show their stuff and the one you are most excited about finally seeing on the field?
Trent Richardson saw plenty of "meaningful" playing time in '09, but one wonders (again) what kind of jump he can make with a year in an NCAA training program (and a year of mentally absorbing the collegiate atmosphere). You see what happened to Mark Ingram in his second year.
And this underscores another problem we have going forward: who gets the majority of the carries, the Heisman Trophy winner or the sophomore phenom who might actually be more talented? Do Saban & McElwain spend the offseason figuring out ways to get them both on the field (a la Al Borges in 2004)? I'm not sure if the status quo can still apply in 2010.

5. If Mark Ingram and Godzilla fought, who would win?
Godzilla goes off as a 3-1 favorite, but Ingram's faster and harder to grasp. So we'll go with Ingram in the 13th round.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

some Thursday Webb, with a few extra links

Let's start today's rainy-day version of our links with some Webb, singing "Love is Different" ...

That song was our theme while we were in college. Which seems pretty pathetic now, I realize.

Here are some additional stops from around the Web.

— ESPN's Ivan Maisel has a little more on the Tide's visit to Washington. There's video included, which means you get to hear Ivan talking in his bizarre Southern-but-not-really drawl.
— OTS (who else?) has the definitive wrap-up of Pro Day in Tuscaloosa, which included the bizarre revelation that Rolando McClain has Crohn's Disease. Um, what?
— With spring practice almost here, here's a primer from Chris Low on the 'Bama defensive front. This is a bigger deal than you might think: if I've learned anything over the last few years, I learned that a good defensive front can make up for a lot of ills, including deficiencies in the secondary. So yeah, we need to be tough up front.
— Yes, I should say something basketball related before we wrap this thing, so here's a column from Jon Solomon about how the SEC's use of divisions in basketball is dumb.

— Jason Heyward related hype: Chop Talk has his 2010 player preview; and Chipper says his team will need him right from the jump.

— Miscellaneous: Dr. Saturday throws some cold water on the 2010 dark horses; EDSBS considers the implications of a fight between Greg Paulus and Tim Tebow; and Brian Cook considers the death of the big Top 25 meeting in the regular season. Games like this:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"Lost" blogging: Dr. Linus

Welcome back to "Lost" blogging, a weekly attempt to analyze, comprehend and occasionally (OK, frequently) ABC's remarkable TV show "Lost." Tonight's episode: "Dr. Linus," which, judging by the title, will revolve around the guy who helped inspire this video.

As always, tonight's version of the "Lost" blog is delayed, owing to TiVo. Also as always, SPOILERS WILL INEVITABLY OCCUR DURING THIS BLOG. SO BACK AWAY SLOWLY.

A little perspective before we begin tonight's broadcast: thus far in Season 6, creepy, manipulative Ben has (apparently) transformed into bug-eyed, terrified, good soldier Ben, someone who actually apologized to the real John Locke for murdering him. A few questions:
• Will FLocke attempt to recruit Ben back to his side?
• Is this the real Ben or is he still lying in wait for his opportunity?
• Will Sideways Ben find out who drank the last of the coffee without cleaning up?
• Can I make it through tonight's episode without cracking a cheap joke related to Peanuts or those Dr. Pepper ads?

Find out in a moment.

(All times are CST.)
8:23: Seeing Ben run like this makes me think of a famous Dave Chappelle routine.

8:24: How does Ben know who Dogen is?
8:26: Only a handful of people know how funny the term Elba really is to people from South Alabama.
8:27: Trust Ben. He's a doctor.
8:28: Dude, it's Arzt! An awesome blast from the past. He's just as whiny and cynical in Sideways World as he was back before he blew himself into tiny bits.
8:29: OK, so I'm tired of pointing out the parallels between characters in the Sideways World and the "Real" one. But yeah, Locke just gave us one.
(Before we flash, it's worth noting that teachers don't "ascend" into their roles as administrators. Most administrators became administrators because a) they got tired of dealing with kids in the classroom setting or b) they weren't very good at teaching to begin with. My mother was once jokingly offered a job as principal at her middle school and replied with a straight face, "You couldn't pay me enough.")
8:31: Miles strikes me as very similar to Professor Trelawney. Occasionally he gets one right.
(Note: This is one of those times.)

8:34: Ben totally ripped off the "shoulder bag" look from Jack Bauer.
8:35: If Ilana is so convinced Ben killed Jacob, why not just kill him or tell him to leave? I'm confused.
(Unusual, I know.)
8:36: There's some sort of irony in Ben's Sideways dad being hooked up to oxygen when his dad in "real life" died of a gas attack engineered by ... um, Ben.
8:37: Holy smokes! So the Island existed in the Sideways World?
8:38: Alex is a flirty student in the Sideways World, instead of Ben's daughter. Yay.
8:40: At least we have some idea of why Ilana is on the Island. Although at this point I need a scorecard to keep track of everybody. Even the NBA salary cap is easier to figure out.
8:41: Hurley has a lousy method for convincing people to do anything.
(Note: "Where'd you come from?" is a fun loaded question that this show seems to be full of.)
8:42: Ben found Sawyer's old tent!
8:43: Oh. Right. The "he killed Jacob" thing. Dollars-to-pesos Ben talks his way out of this, just like he does every other time someone points a gun at him.

8:45: Sideways Alex has the same test anxiety as my wife and Jesse Spano.

8:46: Sideways Ben could totally make a power grab with this information.
8:48: That was a clever nod by the writers to Nikki & Paulo (who Sawyer called "gibrones"), two characters the audience hated so much, "Lost" made them disappear quickly.
8:50: Hurley has asked on 3 different occasions during this season whether someone was a) a zombie b) a vampire c) a cyborg.
8:51: I kind of liked Richard Alpert a lot more when he was mysterious.

8:53: No such thing as bad student, only bad teacher.
(Note: That quote came from Mr. Miyagi, hilariously cited in this article from Multiple people on this show should be there.)
8:56: Has Sideways Arzt ever heard of the BOE? Or federal grant programs?
8:57: Richard almost assuredly came to the Island on the Black Rock, possibly as a slave. Could Dogen have been with them?
8:58: Should I bother noting that the Black Rock is hwere Arzt died? You knew that right?
8:59: If Jacob's touch is a gift that makes you into an ageless wonder, then Jack and Hurley can't die, right? Remember that Jack couldn't kill himself, no matter how hard he tried, off-Island.
9:00: "If he wants to die, there's nothing we're gonna do to stop him" is a long way from "First, Do No Harm."

9:03: Has Jack turned into a man of faith?
9:04: Where is "where we started?"
9:05: Here comes FLocke's recruitment of Ben Linus. Not sure how this ends.
9:06: Ben's running away like a woman again.
9:07: The similarities between Sideways Ben vs. his principal and "Real" Ben vs. Charles Widmore are pretty blatant, right?
9:08: Apparently in the Sideways World, principals have some kind of sway over children's college destinations. And remember: in the "real" world, Martin Keamy put a gun to Alex's head; Ben said he didn't care about her ... and then Keamy shot her ("He changed the rules"). In this world, apparently, Ben cares more about her than himself.
9:09: In either world, Ben runs like a girl.
9:11: Ben isn't being honest here. Creepy, Manipulative Ben is back!
(Note: Was I wrong here?)
9:12: Yes, just like Sideways Locke, apparently Ilana is willing to tolerate Ben for a while.

9:15: I simply couldn't care less about Sideways Ben and his selflessness. Frankly, it's boring.
9:16: Jacob's followers are life. FLocke's are death. It's actually pretty simple. Ben chose life. After years of choosing death. And now their army is beginning to form, with Hurley, Jack and Richard showing up on the beach.
(Note: Sun apparently goes through intermittent spells in which shoe doesn't really care about finding her husband. I guess it's just a phase.)
9:18: Hey, Widmore made it back! In a submarine very similar to the one Locke blew up! Cool.
(Actually, it played out more like a goofy twist at the end of your average "24" episode. But whatever.)
[end of episode]

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tuesday 'tube: we run this

Been a pretty good week in crimson. It started Saturday at halftime ...

(Note: Two funny things about this: the first, of course, is the ridiculous "controversy" caused by Nick Saban's "University of Auburn" slip; funnier to me is Greg McElroy, who you can clearly see in the background saying, "Boring.")
That's awesome, because it gives me an excuse to do this.

(One other note: my apologies to the president's press secretary, who today lamented the fact that football is actually a timed game, and the winner is declared after a full 60 minutes. Too bad, those damned rules.)
And the postgame Saturday was a lot of fun, also.

The best part came today: the Heisman winner, the SEC champs, the state champs and the national champs all showed up in D.C. for a little federal love.

Fun fact: of Alabama's last four national championships have coincided with the terms of the last three Democratic presidents (Carter, Clinton and Obama). Does that mean Alabama will go blue in 2012? Um, somehow I doubt it.

See you later today. Roll Tide.

some basketball thoughts, post-mortem

I've avoided discussing Alabama basketball in this blog space this season for two big reasons. The first was that I was giving my brother — a basketball enthusiast — his own platform and didn't want to step on any of his posts. The other was this: any kind of post would've seemed like an overly negative knee-jerk and probably would've included multiple snarky lines like, "Too bad we don't have a men's soccer team — the way we kick it around, we'd be pretty good!" or "I'd give $10 to hear Chris Stewart say, 'Brock was open there, but he sucks.'"

In the wake of Saturday's season-ending win over Auburn — meaning our boys closed out a frustrating season on a two-game win streak — it seems appropriate to offer some scattered thoughts about the first year of Anthony Grant at 'Bama.
(Note: All notes about the end of the season should come with the disclaimer: "pending something truly bizarre happening in this week's SEC Tournament." I don't foresee this team making anything resembling noise in Nashville this weekend, but we do have a touch of momentum and we do have a string of agonizingly close losses this season against many of the same teams we'll be facing. I'm not sure if that counts as "hope," but it's something.)

• It's fitting, I think, that the season ended vs. Auburn, if only because Auburn and Alabama are so damned similar to one another. Beyond the records and the tournament seeding, both hung tough all year against superior competition, both have multiple losses on their resume that could be described on a scale from "tough" to "painfully tough." From a coaching standpoint, both have head coaches who hail from impressive backgrounds (Grant cut his teeth with Billy Donovan at Florida; Jeff Lebo is a Dean Smith disciple) AND both appear to be sound from a scheme perspective, only the players on the floor aren't always capable of executing that scheme.
The big difference: Grant just finished his first season at Alabama. Lebo has been doing this dance for nearly 6 seasons now on the Plains.
Which is why the Lebo Era at Auburn is something of a cautionary tale for 'Bama fans. During Saturday's broadcast, I heard Joe Dean Jr. say something to this effect: "Once [Grant] gets a few capable offensive players in his system, this will be a dynamic team." The classic, "Coach is fine — he just needs some players!" argument. And of course it would be foolish to argue otherwise when Grant's coming off his first season.
All I'm saying is that Auburn has been waiting on Jeff Lebo to make that big splash for 6 seasons. It hasn't happened (unless you think 24 wins in a watered-down league and an NIT appearance counts as "happening"). And now they may be looking for a new coach.
(Note: Jay Tate's blog post today is an example of the dumbest kind of argument for keeping a basketball coach. I know this because multiple people advanced it last season when Mark Gottfried's fate was on the line. What does it matter how Lebo measures up to other terrible basketball coaches in Auburn history? What does that have to do with anything? Jeff, in 6 years at Auburn you've produced exactly nothing and this year's team got housed at home by Sam Houston St. ... but, what the hell? All our other coaches have been lousy, so let's just stand pat. Give me a break.)
• The giant secret about this Alabama team that isn't remotely a secret: there isn't a soul on this squad that can reliably be expected to make a jumper. As a team, the collective field goal percentage is a tick under 45 percent; from 3-point range, it's an abominable 35 percent. The best individual shooter on the squad, percentage-wise: Andrew Steele, who's been sidelined with an injury since the first month of the season. The worst offender is Senario Hillman, who has somehow managed to average under 1 point per shot this season and should probably be benched and possibly suspended every time he takes a 3. You're not a shooter, Senario. You're not. So stop.
(Note: the alleged "shooters" on this team are Charvez Davis and Mikhail Torrance — I say "allegedly" because they took a combined 232 3s this year, way more than anyone else on the team. By the way, neither of them made could even hit 40 percent of those.)

My point: if you're looking for a reason this team squandered so many winnable games and couldn't hold onto leads away from home, you can stop now. Teams that don't have at least one reliable shot-maker simply can't win. It's actually pretty simple.
• Of course, the key to everything this year has been defense — specifically, coach Grant read correctly that his team, which lacks anyone who might be considered a polished basketball player, is ideally suited to the pressure-defense game. And it shows: every regular on the roster save one (Justin Knox) registered at least 20 steals this season; for the season, 'Bama forced an eye-popping 14 turnovers per game (of course, we committed nearly 13 per game, but that's neither here nor there). Opponents averaged less than 42 percent vs. 'Bama this season, and less than 40 percent from 3, as well.
(Note: Evaluating defensive stats is one of the hardest things to do in basketball; if we're playing 1-on-1, and you make 1-of-15, did I do a great job defensively or did you just stink? You really don't know unless you watched the game.)
Here's the thing: because of its lack of shooting acumen, Alabama needed to lock people down defensively and earn those free points off turnovers and fast breaks to even have a chance. Grant definitely deserves credit for that part of it.
• The two most improved players — as well as the two who may have a shot to make us pretty good next year — were Tony Mitchell and Chris Hines. Mitchell went from "I'm not sure what he does well" in January to "dominating on both ends" last Saturday. As for Hines, he was a spot player until late January (when he began averaging over 20 minutes per game). Offensively, his game doesn't stand out, but he's a brawler in the post, someone who fights for rebounds and plays physical defense at 3 different positions. It was because of Hines that 'Bama didn't even remotely miss JaMychal Green in the final two games of the season (well, that and the fact that JaMychal plays like a sissy — I'm begging you, JaMychal: throw an elbow at somebody this week ... show us you care a little ... please).
• My wife's take on the home grays we wore vs. Auburn: "It looks like someone threw two pairs of dark socks in with our whites. Gross."
• There are some fair parallels between this season and Nick Saban's first season at Alabama: a few big wins early to get our attention, an exciting style of play that ultimately frustrated us all even as it gave us hope for the future. There may not be any chance of a postseason in this case, but things definitely look brighter than they did.
(I just don't want to be saying these same things over again this time next year.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

rounding up the Crimson & White Roundtable I just made up

Many thanks to the folks out there in the 'Bamasphere who responded to Monday's Crimson & White Roundtable, the one I essentially made up for the sake of my own amusement that inadvertently caught the attention of several blogs I respect way more than this one. Kleph at RBR took things one step further — here's a blog he created as a central location for anyone looking for a reference point. The response was so positive, hell, maybe we'll do it again next week.


Before we go on, I feel the need to relive this.

Gets better every time.

Here, then, is some of the best from those who took a few minutes to join the roundtable.

1. Can't we just keep re-living 2009 forever?
Capstone: We could, but then we’d be resting on our laurels. And how does that fit in with the process? Hmm? You don’t think Nick Saban is reliving the 2009 season repeatedly, do you? There were too many mistakes. Seriously. Who could be happy when you let Auburn score on a stupid play where a guy loses containment? Who could be happy with a defense that lets a backup quarterback come into the BCS National Championship Game and toss a couple of touchdown passes? Nope. There is room for improvement in 2010. Do these guys only want to win one championship?
(Note: I think he's joking here. I think.)
RBR: That's not to say we as fans can't revel in a perfect season and celebrate the tremendous plays and all the effort put in by the team to achieve it, but that's all past and come spring practice none of it matters. Which brings us to the "why would we just keep re-living 2009 forever?", 'cause it's not like this was our only opportunity at glory. Think about it this way; there's a whole boatload of blue chip talent from the last two top rated recruiting classes (as well as from this year's top five rated class) that have yet to see the field in any meaningful way. As great as the 2009 team was and as much as Cody and Javy and Anders and Ro and Peek and all the others guys that have moved on will always have a special place in our hearts for the crystal they brought home, there's a whole slew of guys on the bench just waiting to do the same thing and with just as good of a (if not a better, considering the returning talent on offense and all the blue chippers waiting their turn on defense) chance to do it, too. So yeah, it's fun to re-live it all right now but once spring practice starts and we're combing over every minuscule shred of intel we can get to see how the secondary is shaping up and so forth, speculating on the future will be a hell of a lot funner.
Tower: I spent the last half of 2009 sleeping in a hastily assembled altitude tent, just so I could preserve that 2009 feeling as long as possible (via an increased red blood cell count). I’m conceivably looking at another month or two with that championship blood doing victory laps through my circulatory system.

2. Who's the hardest player from 2009 to replace?
3rd Saturday: I think it has to be either McClain or Javy. We know how valuable McClain was to the defense, and Arenas effected so many facets of the game that either would be a good pick. But I'm going with Rolando because while it may take more than one player to give the team everything that Arenas did, I think it's much harder to replace a guy that from the moment he arrived on campus he was the best player on the defense, both physically and mentally, with the possible exception of Rashad Johnson on the mental part.
Tower: Long Snapper Brian Selman! As noted in our 2008 feature “stick your head behind your legs and kiss your long snapper” the long snapper is an integral part of a trouble-free special teams, like a high fiber diet and a nice regular gastrointestinal system. But if you subtract the few successful cogs from the 2007 – 2009 special team unit? I worry that kicking game buffoonery will be at an all high levels in 2010. Some Cirque du Soleil looking stuff going on. Beamer-ball in reverse. A plague of locusts.

3. Which player — or facet of the game — should we expect to make the biggest jump in 2010?
RBR: Probably easiest answer is McElroy and the offense. By the end of the season (barring the MNC game where he played with a cracked rib), McElroy had ridden the first year starter roller coaster from dark horse Heisman candidate to OMG worstest ever to game manager back to solid QB that can win a game for you. With a season under his belt, conference and national title rings on his fingers, all of his top targets at wide receiver, a ridiculously loaded backfield, and three of five starters on the line returning there's no reason to think the offense as a whole and the passing game in particular shouldn't be taking a big leap forward.
3rd Saturday: I'm going with the pass rush. As salty as our defense has been, the team's ability to get to the quarterback isn't at the truly elite level yet. While it has improved each season under Saban, I think this season we'll see Bama lead the SEC in sacks (you heard it here first!). Expanded roles for players such as Marcel Dareus, Courtney Upshaw, and Jerrell Harris among other athletic freaks coming from the recruiting juggernaut Saban has established will have more opposing quarterbacks pulling chunks of sod from their facemask because they dared to try and throw the football.

4. Is there one aspect that concerns you going into 2010?
Capstone: Attitude. Will the players have the right attitude to achieve success. 2007 was rough because of lingering attitude issues. 2008 was a salutary improvement thanks to the correct attitudes. In fact, reports from fall camp in 2008 were important indicators of the team’s progress of buying into the “process.” Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban has said the year (2004) following his LSU national championship was a very difficult season. The 2010 Alabama campaign will hinge on player leadership. Does Alabama have enough hunger in its leadership?
3rd Saturday: If I was forced to pick just one, I'd go with the kicking game/special teams. Remember how good Tiffin was last season? Remember what happened to him as a freshmen during a certain road game in the Ozarks? True freshmen will more than likely be handling the vast majority of the kicking duties this season for the Tide. Yowza! Yeah, and we lose the best punt returner the SEC has seen in a while.
RBR: As for Cody? Jury is still out on whether Josh Chapman can fill that gap (or two, as it were). He's a fine nose tackle on his own, and there are plenty of fresh bodies to rotate (Kerry Murphy, Luther Davis,and Darrington Sentimore all spring to mind), but man, you just didn't run against Cody and he made life so easy for the LBs.

5. What is a reasonable expectation for 2010?
Tower: think its reasonable to expect some of the best young whippersnappers in the conference to compete with each other and produce a solid, exciting team. I think repeat talk isn’t very realistic unless we see some Florida 2007 to 2008 level improvement. I reasonably expect to see some bone-headed calls and hear some hits that leave my balls bruised. I expect to see teams punt when they should go for it, because this is old school footbaw. BUT As for me, to hell with expectations. I am going turn on my oven, crawl inside, and literally bake in the warm glow of the BCS Championship and the Saints Super Bowl that now power my house.
Capstone: Alabama fans reasonably should expect a 10-11 win regular season and the SEC Western Division. Another undefeated regular season (that would be three in a row) would be great, but the team has to lose sometime in SEC play. How the team responds to that will be the difference in a nice BCS bowl and a trip to defend the BCS National Championship.
3rd Saturday: I'd say reaching the SEC title game would be reasonable. There's only one team in the West with comparable talent to Alabama and that's LSU. Arkansas will be better, but they need to get MUCH better at defense. Ole Miss is breaking in a new quarterback (that might not be a bad thing), and they have to somehow replace Dexter McClusterBomb's production., they're not going to be sneaking up on anyone this season. But LSU has the talent to win the West race, I just don't think they have the coaching. So I think we can expect to make it to Atlanta. Once you get there, the game can go either way, at least from this far out anyway.
RBR: Coach Saban does not approve of this question.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Lost" blogging: Sundown

Welcome back to the "Lost" blog, our weekly attempt to comprehend what's taking place in the increasingly confusing universe that is this show. Tonight's episode: "Sundown." As with the last two weeks, please note that tonight's blog is running late, because I chose to watch through the magic of TiVo (no commercials — suck it, advertisers). As always, feel free to play along from home. Also always, please note: SPOILERS MAY OCCUR DURING THIS BLOG. Thank you.

Before we begin, a theory (and please note that I took great care to avoid twitter so as not to spoil the show for myself): thus far, we've seen three "regular" episodes of this show, all of them dealing in some way with the "war" between Jacob and FLocke, and their attempts to recruit members of the Castaways (the original Oceanic ones) to their respective sides. Thus far, we've seen Hurley and Jack recruited for Jacob; Sawyer recruited for The Dark Side. My guess is tonight we'll see FLocke attempt to court the Kwon Family.
(Note: Tonight's episode is apparently important enough that the producers chose not to spoil anything by showing any clips after last week's episode. Which counts for something, I think.)

A few questions before we get started:
• Jacob has said repeatedly that someone is coming to the Island. Who's coming?
• Does anybody care that Sun left her child somewhere in Seoul and doesn't seem all that interested in finding her again?
• Can I make it through this episode without making a joke about Big Cat Weekend II?
• Is this show actually going somewhere? Will I wish I could get back the hours of my life I'm spending on this?

Enough adieu, then. Let's begin.

9:11: Does anyone find it odd that I'm starting a blog that opens up with an Iraqi at 9:11? Just me? Never mind.
9:12: While it's not clear whether Sideways Sayid is enduring the same fate as his "first-run" self, remember that guy was on his way to L.A. to see Nadia as the result of a pact he made with the CIA to turn in his friend Essam for terrorist acts, only at the last minute he told his friend, who then shot himself in the head.
9:14: Apparently the Sideways Nadia is married to someone else. Who is her husband, though?
9:15: Omar is a stupid name. Also, Nadia's daughter has a giant unibrow.
9:16: Does Sayid look, I don't know, darker now?
9:17: Is Dogen referring to the scale where the dark and white stones were? In the cave?
9:18: 50 bucks says Dogen eats it here.
(Note: I lost. And also, I'm wrong about the episode — apparently it's going to be Sayid recruited to The Dark Side, not the Kwons.)
9:19: Recall that Locke and Claire were pretty close at one point back in Season 2. Locke even saved Aaron from Crazy Charlie and then punched Charlie repeatedly in the face.

9:21: Could Sideways Nadia's husband be a terrorist? Do we need to call in Jack Bauer?
9:22: Apparently we're going to try to discern whether Sayid is a good guy. This seems very literary. Maybe we're going to re-invent "Wicked" while we're at it.
9:23: Is Sayid putting on here, or is he really mystified by what's taking place?
9:24: OK, so why did they wait until now to sub-title our Japanese friend?
9:26: This sounds an awful lot like the assignment FLocke gave Ben last year.

9:27: This seems like the right time to mention that Naveen Andrews, in real life, talks like an incredibly effeminate British man and doesn't seem the least bit intimidating.
9:28: Take a drink if you just saw Jack.
9:29: Aw, dude, don't stab Kate.
9:30: Can anyone tell me what game (if any) Miles is playing with the cards?
9:31: God bless Miles. They invented characters like that just for me.
9:32: If you let him speak, it's already too late.

9:34: Interestingly, Jacob willingly allowed himself to be killed. FLocke apparently won't allow that.
9:35: "If you do this for me, you can ride around in my big white stretch limo and roll Toomer's Corner."
9:36: Sideways Sayid isn't quite as dangerous, apparently. Although there's a 100 percent chance he's about to cause Nadia to be unfaithful to ... Omar.
9:37: Wait, this dude is his biological brother? I though that was just an expression.
9:38: I guess I should have found something noble about Sideways Sayid saying he "doesn't deserve" the only thing "Real" Sayid ever wanted, but really I'm just bored by the whole plot.
9:39: Could Kate be going over to The Dark Side, too?
9:40: Claire is singing "Catch a Falling Star."
9:41: Remember that Claire said last week, "If Kate really had Aaron, I'd kill her."

9:43: "Mischief, thou art afoot.Take what course thou wilt."
(That's my English minor being put to good use. Which makes like the third time since I graduated.)
9:45: Oooo, the car's black, too! Just like Sayid's heart! Good grief.
9:46: No kidding — it's Martin Keamy! He's a bad man even in the Sideways World.
9:47: A lot of people are competing for Sayid's brain, in this world and the Sideways one.
9:48: Real-World Sayid would shoot Keamy about 60 times and spit on the corpse.
(Sideways Sayid did, too.)
9:49: Oh come on.

9:50: Remember that Jack asked Dogen about the baseball earlier, and he said, "It's a baseball." But apparently it's more than that.
9:51: The puzzle is becoming complete. Kind of.
9:52: Remember that among the Castaways, Sayid is the one who Jacob didn't help. In fact, it's possible Jacob caused Nadia to die.

So it's possible Sayid isn't a huge fan of Jacob's.
9:54: Sayid is the one who's going to be doing the killing today, apparently.
9:55: I was just thinking, "Can't you kill the white guy too?"
9:56: The special effects for each Smoke Monster attack are surprisingly bad.
9:57: Oh, Sayid still ahs some unfinished business with Mr. Linus, no?
9:58: Also worth noting: Ilana brought Sayid back to the Island. So they may have some talking to do, also.
9:59: That version of "Catch A Falling Star" is creepy.
10:00: Wait, so FLocke has his own army now? And Kate's marching with them?
(Not marching with them: Sawyer.)
[end of episode]

Monday, March 1, 2010

Tuesday 'tube: a quick trip through the museum

I recently discovered the Bryant Museum youtube channel, which has all kinds of cool footage on it. Here's their retrospective of the 'Bama legends we lost in 2009.

It's pretty neat stuff. I encourage anyone to visit the channel and a look around. We'll have some "Lost" stuff up later today.

Roll Tide.