Monday, October 31, 2011

Tuesday tube: Julio does his thing

Hard to think of much to say about Saturday's game that someone else hasn't already said or will say, most likely better than I can. So, while I attempt to think of something, here's video of Julio running by the state of Louisiana and into the BCS championship game.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

gameday texts: bye week edition

This week's edition of "Gameday Texts" is even fatter than normal — it was the bye week in Tuscaloosa, meaning most of us had nothing to do other than hang out in our houses and watch football. And there was some pretty good football, as you know by now. As always, all messages appear complete with timestamp, and all are [sic]d. Also as always, some material may be mildly offensive. But it probably is not. Feel free to comment here or by finding us on Twitter.

Me (9:39 a.m.) In spite of the fact that we all know Stanford's BCS rating will improve in the coming weeks, let us now ignore that & use it as an excuse to whine a/b the system. You suck, system.

Me (10:13 a.m.) The "We're Playing Ga. Tech" cliche box: Don't see that too often, play assignment football, limit big plays.

Halcombe (11:35 a.m.) Odds Brantley had some epic day and UGA fans are left going "Son of a .." all the way up I-95 and 441?

Me (12:10 p.m.) The Vandy band is currently playing "All I Do is Win."

Me (12:34 p.m.) Once more, with feeling: VANDY!!!

Halcombe (12:17 p.m.) One of my interns reads your blog and mentioned some of my gameday texts have made the final cut. I am humbled sir ... And I also want a cut. I'm rich beeyotch!

Halcombe (12:32 p.m.) I imagine Lane Kiffin saying something like this during coaches' only meeting: "Aw, c'mon dad. You never let me pick. Gawd! I hate you."

Halcombe (12:37 p.m.) To be a heartland state school, you ever noticed how many muslim players end up on Nebraska's team? Not hatin', just sayin'.

Me (12:43 p.m.) It's entirely reasonable to wonder if Tyler Wilson's OL hates him. 

Rob (12:45 p.m.) He can definitely take a hut
Rob (12:45 p.m.) Hit!

Halcombe (12:54 p.m.) I wish I could email the Bud Light PK commercial to my HS kicker with a subject line, "DIDN'T KNOW YOU STILL TAILGATED?"
Halcombe (12:58 p.m.) True story: Had to create a Faberget (pardon spelling) egg for World History. His was green and gold with a f'ball going thru uprights. I raised my hand and asked, "Shouldn't that (the ball) be over to the right?"

Maguire (1:30 p.m.) Throw his ass out of the game. 
Halcombe (2:16 p.m.) Loved the Razorback coach fussing at the ejected kid like a dad who can't get his belt off fast enough. 

Dad (1:50 p.m.) Andre Ware is as bad as Dave Rowe and Bob Davie rolled into one. 

Me (2:04 p.m.) ... And that's why you're Vandy. 
Dad (2:04 p.m.) My words exactly

Me (2:42 p.m.) Vandy playing for the tie?

Jamie (2:44 p.m.) No the loss
Whit (2:44 p.m.) No dicking idea because regional coverage gave me florida game

Maguire (2:45 p.m.) Damn, Vandy. Just damn. Why do we get our hopes up?

Me (2:45 p.m.) This might be the most Vandy loss in the history of Vandy.
Dad (2:47 p.m.) Yeah. Terrible, just terrible.

Maguire (2:48 p.m.) He said Arkansas likes to live on the edge. Really? They're only playing for the Citrus Bowl anyway.

Travis P (2:49 p.m.) Dores will be Dores

Me (3:07 p.m.) How is it possible a QB playing on 1 leg converts a 4th-and-19 for a TD? No wonder UGA hates Florida.
Rob (3:08 p.m.) Grantham appears worth every penny
Dad (3:11 p.m.) Don't you love to hate the ga def coordinator?

Me (3:37 p.m.) Cade Foster just watched that Demps return & thought, "Kicker should've got him."

Dad (3:38 p.m.) No one even touched him

Me (4:03 p.m.) I say we go find 22 homeless people & put UF jerseys on them. Bet they still beat UGA.
Rob (4:11 p.m) Imagine what would happen if they gave the homeless people crack!

Me (4:43 p.m.) Muschamp used the phrase "one tough sucker." We were all waiting on the f-bomb that never came.
Me (5:02 p.m.) Let's go find 2 more homeless people & put them in the booth. See if anyone notices. 
Maguire (5:14 p.m.) I'd call that an improvement over those two clowns. 

Me (5:15 p.m.) How much longer do we have to pretend Georgia is good? Gators doing everything they can to give this away ... & they're up 3.
Rob (5:17 p.m.) They do less with more at uga!

Maguire (5:25 p.m.) I guess Weis stayed in the box today so he could remain sitting and no one would give him grief for it. Also he can snack without being seen. 

Jamie (5:49 p.m.) Ole miss has 15 fans here
Dad (5:50 p.m.) Here I am in aubie-ville. 
Dad (5:54 p.m.) They have beer! ... outside.

Maguire (6:29 p.m.) How 'bout them Dawgs!
Me (6:33 p.m.) A historic win, really — Florida plays a QB with 1 leg who can't complete a pass, commits 14 penalties & turns it over 2 times inside the 20. And they won by 3.

Me (6:37 p.m.) My ideal scenario now is to play UGA in the SECCG. Unfortunately I think AU will beat them & keep them out. 
Rob (6:51 p.m.) I would rather play USC without lattimore

Me (7:01 p.m.) Clemp-son is a redneck school.

D. Hardin (7:09 p.m.) Snow snow snow

Jamie (7:33 p.m.) Apparently we have an agreement that we will run plays if they won't call a time out.

Dad (7:42 p.m.) And to heck with georgia tech!

Me (8:54 p.m.) So A&M won the football game, but Bama State won Battle of the Bands.

Me (9:03 p.m.) Kudos to Ohio State for breaking out the "Wicked Witch of the West's Army" alternate unis.

Halcombe (9:33 p.m.) The OSU jerseys keep Conan's "In the year 2000" song ringing in my head. 

Maguire (9:32 p.m.) The ref moving that ball half the distance in the GT/Clemson game just now might be the funniest thing I've seen all day.
Halcombe (9:41 p.m.) That shot of the Jacket cheerleaders did absolutely nothing for the school's street cred.
Me (9:54 p.m.) Dabo might have just choked.

Halcombe (10:04 p.m.) Love Clemson coaching staff's use of "Your dad's Clemson sweatshirt," and "Your dad's Clemson turtleneck." Like consecutive Father's Day gifts on sidelines.

Me (10:17 p.m.) Is it possible that God hates Wisconsin?
Jamie (10:38 p.m.) I'm thinking more like God hates yankees and Wisconsin is just bundled in there with the rest of them. 

Whit (10:21 p.m.) God also hates stanford
Me (10:21 p.m.) It's because of the tree
Whit (10:22 p.m.) Of course

Me (10:31 p.m.) Harbaugh would go for 2.
Whit (10:32 p.m.) Without question. Then he would shake your hand too hard.

Rob (10:37 p.m.) He would have gone for two on every rd
Rob (10:37 p.m.) Td!

Me (10:44 p.m.) Think the guys from Buffalo Wild Wings called that last sequence.
Rob (10:45 p.m.) Might have called that play

Rob (10:48 p.m.) So the stats in ot count man I am glad he told us that.

Rob (10:49 p.m.) I have not seen the USC cheerleaders enough show them!

Jamie (10:55 p.m.) I'm not sure I understand this new celebration that appears to be imitating eating cheerios.

Me (11:15 p.m.) I have seen Lane Kiffin make that face before ...
Maguire (11:15 p.m.) And Stanford survives. Good — I want to beat them in New Orleans.
Whit (11:15 p.m.) I like it

Thursday, October 27, 2011

newspaper column about shaking hands

This week's column from the St. Clair Times was inspired by the endlessly replayed confrontation between Detroit's Jim Schwarz and San Francisco's Jim Harbaugh from the NFL two weeks back, and the concept of shaking hands after a football game. As always, feel free to disagree (assuming you care), either here or on Twitter.
Shake hands or come out swinging

It happens every year, and every year the chorus grows.

Most of us in this state, for better or worse, are in love with the sport of football, whether college or pro. And since the games only occur once a week, that means we spend as much time discussing, analyzing and agonizing over football as we do, you know, actually watching football.

That extends even into the customary postgame handshake. We’ll go over that ritual — no matter how mindless — over and over again, until we’ve exhausted it.

It’s kind of an odd ritual, when you think about it, the postgame handshake. Two squads of 60-plus athletes and coaches have drained virtually every second of an entire week preparing to pound one another’s brains in … and then they’re all supposed to shake hands when it’s over? Really?

Which is why it’s not a surprise when something like this happens: Coach of team that just won taut, intense game comes bounding across the field, vigorously grasps his opposing coach’s hand and slaps him on the back; the opposing coach, understandably riled by such an action, proceeds to react like a starving animal let loose on a chunk of raw meat. Chaos reigns.

(Note: It is important to say, for the record, that though the 49ers’ Jim Harbaugh and the Lions’ Jim Schwarz were quite animated in the confrontation, they did not, in fact, “fight.” They jawed at one another, were separated, and moved on, in the words of Leslie Nielsen, free to pursue a life of religious fulfillment.)

It’s not even nearly the strangest or most disturbing thing that’s happened in a postgame handshake this year: In Ohio, a high school athlete was actually arrested after he somehow managed to conceal a sharp object in his hand and necessitate tetanus shots for more than 25 players on the opposing team. Not even Courtney Upshaw has caused that much damage to his opposition this year.

Every year, somewhere, something happens during a postgame handshake that inevitably triggers a skirmish of some kind. In one famous incident — hilarious to watch on Youtube now — Mississippi State’s Jackie Sherrill popped off to Memphis head coach Tommy West, prompting West to stare down Sherrill like Clint Eastwood from “Fistful of Dollars.” They’re competitors. It happens.

Football games haven’t always ended in handshakes. Once upon a time, both teams just ambled off the field when the game ended, sportsmanship be damned. No amount of copious research — probable translation: I Googled it a few times — could actually turn up when or how the tradition started in the first place.

Each sport has its own postgame ritual. In hockey, the two teams line up at the end of a series to shake; in international soccer, opposing athletes trade jerseys. And there’s baseball, where the winning team shakes hands … with, um, itself. A few years ago, college football attempted to mandate a pregame handshake, which lasted all of about two weeks because it made everyone uncomfortable.

Me, I’m in favor of a mandated handshake — not so much for the sportsmanship display, as for the chance that someone might go berserk and give us a memorable bit of video to last forever.

We tend to run out of things to talk about by Wednesday, otherwise.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday tube on Wednesday: making them quit

Since we're in the bye week, with the titanic showdown with LSU coming up, just thought I'd post this. It works for the speech, if nothing else.
I could run through a brick wall after that. Roll Tide.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

gameday texts: Tennessee week

Welcome back to "Gameday Texts," my own personal running thread for the weekend that was. One programming note: The phone battery died quickly after we entered the stadium Saturday, which will explain why there aren't more vitriolic messages from me during the first half. As always, each message appears, complete with time stamp, as it does in my phone, and each one is [sic]d. Additionally, some material may be mildly offensive, but just mildly. Feel free to complain here, or by finding me on Twitter.

Me (8:36 a.m.) Herbs just called Auburn's special teams play "outstanding." Presumably he's referring to the fact that Florida dropped 4 punts last week.

Maguire (8:47 a.m.) #godthing, right?

Dad (11:06 a.m.) You forget one down and the whole stadium turns on you.

Rob (11:48 a.m.) Score!! Broke through the firewall at work to stream games!!

Kurt B (11:58 a.m.) So the Dawgs now play Daphne, who lost to McGill last night, in the first round ...
Me (12:01 p.m.) Yay?
Kurt B (12:03 p.m.) Any word on how good the basketball team will be?

Halcombe (12:13 p.m.) A Suburban passed me on the highway with an HP laser printer 11x17 Ga. State Panther sticker. Didn't know their popularity had increased so much in one year?

Jamie (12:17 p.m.) Arkansas failed to realize they have a game today.

Me (12:21 p.m.) Someone from Oxford just yelled "Giggity!"

Maguire (12:22 p.m.) Rev. Nutt must have prayed hard this week.

Halcombe (12:41 p.m.) If u are not Kevin Brown, or a member of his immediate family, or an idiot who paid $1,200 4 a Rangers' polo, then u shouldn't be wearing said polo ... in Macon. 

Dad (1:06 p.m.) Why can't the newspaper be more truthful and honest?

Me (2:04 p.m.) "It's OK. We're donating all the proceeds to breast ... breasts."

Whit (2:06 p.m.) Who runs a stretch play from his own goal line?! your darn right, houston nutt
D. Hardin (2:07 p.m.) I miss Arkansas come back ... what happened?
Me (2:46 p.m.) Arkansas remembered Ole Miss is terrible.

Halcombe (2:03 p.m.) Every pogo stick story in history turns on, "I was doing great until ... and then I busted my ass and broke my ..."

Jamie (2:08 p.m.) Clemson resembles auburn '10 more every week.

Me (2:35 p.m.) If there was a day for Gus to turn it loose, today is it. Nothing to lose.
Zach (2:37 p.m.) Nah. Play field position.
Whit (2:45 p.m.) Parkey kid from auburn is wearing boxers with thigh pads. Apparently nobody's knee pads touch their intended area.

Halcombe (3:33 p.m.) Are those those FSU Glitter Guys who swear they're not gay?

Maguire (4:57 p.m.) CBS shows LSU fans waving as if to fan away the smell of something. I guess they don't realize that the corn dog smell is coming from inside the stadium.

Jamie (5:51 p.m.) LSU: they want bama
Halcombe (5:26 p.m.) Paginator's fun with headlines for Picayune ... "Tigers Win"

Halcombe (5:43 p.m.) I'm guessing my 3-year-old's daycare sent his football drawing to Maryland? That's honestly my only guess.

Maguire (6:01 p.m.) Half the people above us are wearing that puke orange. I hope those were already visitor tickets and not sold to the hillbillies by our faculty and staff.
Me (6:10 p.m.) From up here, I think I can take that idiotic cheerleader out. 

Whit (6:26 p.m.) Throw it to somebody in a red shirt!

Me (6:44 p.m.) Continuing our sterling record of fast starts in 2011.

Me (6:52 p.m.) One positive note about Dooley's orange pants: He is visible all the time.
Whit (7:15 p.m.) Dooley cusses like coach saban

Maguire (7:27 p.m.) We sure do a lot of stupid crap in the stadium this year. Did we hire some MLB folks to come in and rework everything?

Maguire (8:07 p.m.) They seriously just called Clinton-Dix "HaHa" over the PA.

Halcombe (8:08 p.m.) Believe FSU's Glitter Guys got their hands on Notre Dame's helmets.

Maguire (8:10 p.m.) Once again, glad #15 has good hands.
Maguire (8:11 p.m.) President Palmer approves.

Maguire (8:12 p.m.) AJ, settle the f*** down.

Halcombe (8:27 p.m.) By my watch, the tide are officially at "Route 30."

Maguire (8:31 p.m.) Crap, Eli is calling him "HaHa" too. Groan.
Halcombe (8:39 p.m.) Derek Dooley's mommy: "Eff you, 'Bama. Eff you."
Maguire (10:30 p.m.) SPARTANS!

Maguire (12:54 a.m.) 8-0. Roll Tide.

Monday, October 24, 2011

thoughts at 8-0: waiting on the world to change

I don't ever remember, in my time as an Alabama fan, a season quite like this one.

I should back up. I've been an Alabama fan since 1989, and through some curse blessing of life, I have a pretty decent ability to remember things that other people don't consider important. You know, like football seasons.
In any case, while scouring that memory bank, I can't remember one quite like this for Alabama. Not the undefeated part, obviously — this is the fourth season since 2005 Alabama has started with 8 straight victories. But in none of those seasons has the narrative centered so clearly around one game, as it has in 2011.
And, for better or worse (sorry, coach) that has been the narrative ever since sometime around the halfway mark of the Florida game, when two things became very obvious:
1. Alabama and LSU are the best two teams in the country.
2. None of the teams on their schedule appeared even close. 
So the tone of the past month — Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and even this past week against Tennessee — has been one of pure business: Get through this without getting hurt or getting embarrassed, and let's prepare for the biggest game of our lives.
It's different, even, than 2008 or 2009, when we were looking across the division at Florida for 12 consecutive weeks. Alabama wasn't as clearly superior to its competition in those years as it's been in this. Geez, the closest we've come so far to "facing adversity" was being tied with the Vols Saturday night at halftime.
But even that wasn't so much "adversity" as it was "not really focusing on the task at hand." Everyone — fans and players alike — has been so keenly aware of the "get to the LSU game unscathed" narrative this year, it's affected pretty much everything else. I don't think I ever remember a more docile crowd for an Alabama-Tennessee game than the one Saturday night ... and it showed.

The narrative, however, managed to obscure — even for me — what should have been the dominant storyline of Saturday night in Tuscaloosa: Bama has now won 5 consecutive over Tennessee, and 6 out of its last 7.
For me it's a pretty incredible stat. I spent the entirety of my high school and most of my undergrad years not knowing what it feels like to beat Tennessee. Every year, I'd talk myself into believing our squad had a chance, and every year, it would end badly for me. Some years, like 1996 or 2000, we'd hang around for three quarters and find a way to mess it up; some years, like '95, '97 or '99, they'd just hammer us and we'd never even have a shot. We were the Roadrunner, and Tennessee was the Coyote. That's just the way things were.
No more, though. All five of those games except one — the, um, well, you know — the game was over well before the fourth quarter even began. Alabama's football program, in 2011, is superior to Tennessee in every conceivable way. On Saturday, Tennessee came into Bryant-Denny with a superior game plan to Alabama's, and surprised the Tide with superior execution, as well. And they scored a whopping 6 points. In the second half, Alabama turned it on and the Vols couldn't keep up.
Yes, on Saturday, Tennessee was simply a means to Alabama's end. It's a world turned upside down. Or possibly right side up. Whatever.

And you know what? Let's wait a few hours before we start worrying about LSU. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

newspaper column about "taking America back"

I'm probably the last person in popular media to point this out, but I enjoyed writing this column comparing the various political movements to "take back" some portion of the country. The ending was a little weak. As always, feel free to complain here or on Twitter.
Time to take our country back, but where did it go?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the upcoming 2012 elections, it’s that we all have to rise up and “take America back.”

No kidding. Whichever side of the aisle is speaking at any given point, the topic will come up: Take America Back. Take America Back. Take America Back.

Google that phrase and your computer will start to smoke like an overheated engine. A great many people want to take America back.

From whom, though? Everybody, it turns out.

The Tea Party, which began its protests almost as soon as the current presidential administration took office in 2008, was centered around the idea of “Taking America Back” from … someone. In an article from the “Tea Party Tribune” website, conservative Lloyd Marcus stated the mission very clearly.

“Bottom line, we tea party patriots MUST take our country back,” Marcus said. “Back from politicians who demonize achievers; back from politicians who promote entitlement to enslave as many voters to government as possible; back from bottom feeding parasites seeking freebies from Obama’s stash; back from those who hate moral standards of any kind; back from those who hate our military; back from those who seek to divide us along racial lines for political gain; back from those who celebrate and sympathize with the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.”

And from Obama himself, obviously.

“And most of all, back from Obama who upon entering the White House toured the world apologizing for America’s greatness and has vowed to “fundamentally transform” her. You sir, are unworthy of our extraordinary legacy. And with God’s help, we will take our country back from YOU come November 2012.”

Strangely, the political and ideological opponents of the Tea Party have exactly the same “Take America Back” mantra. While introducing the president himself at a union rally in Detroit this past September, Teamsters President James Hoffa Jr. (yes, that Hoffa family) said the following:

“We’ve got to keep an eye on the battle that we face, a war on workers. And you see it everywhere. It is the Tea Party. And you know there’s only one way to beat and win that war.

“President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let’s take these (expletives) out and give America back to America where we belong.”

The expletive, of course, was what received the most play. But the point is obvious: As bad as the right-wing Tea Party wants to “take America back,” it appears the left-wing movements want to do the same. Protesters from the liberal “Occupy Wall Street” events said as much.

“We are out here to try to take back our country peacefully,” one of them said.

It’s not surprising that so many groups want to “take back” what they perceive as lost. Reclaiming something is an old trope, whether it’s football superiority (“Take back the state!”), your safety (“Take back the night!”) or possibly even control of your own life (“Take your hands off that!”).

To that end, I attempted to start a “Take back the remote control!” protest in my house. Anybody know where I can buy a good couch?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tuesday tube: first of all, it's tennessee

Because we've been doing this youtube feature for some time, it's become harder and harder to find "unusual" videos you might not have seen, particularly as they relate to Alabama and Tennessee (because I love beating Tennessee, and I love watching highlights of us beating Tennessee ... and there's nothing wrong with that).
Eh, whatever ... let's just run a few of the ones you've seen lately. It's not like they're getting old.

And because it's important to keep in mind what we're playing for this Saturday, here's this guy to put it in perspective.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

gameday texts: week 7

Welcome back to "Gameday Texts," a compilation of my favorite text messages from friends and family on a football Saturday. As always, all messages appear here exactly as they do in my phone, and all are [sic]d. Also as always, please be advised that some material may be a tad offensive. Enjoy.

Me (9:05 a.m.) Good news: If we can get someone from Big & Rich to call the president Hitler on television, we can end this forever. 
Maguire (10:53 a.m.) Just get them to use a "term of endearment" with Cowboy Troy while their mics are still on.

Dad (11:30 a.m.) Kri-muh kree! Kri-muh kree!

Me (1:26 p.m.) State & Carolina playing the ugliest game since ... um, Auburn & Carolina.

D. Hardin (1:28 p.m.) Ummmmm ... you know .. that is a great comparison!! Freaking awful

Me (2:03 p.m.) State plus 3 looks great right now.

Jamie (2:09 p.m.) Watch football? Why do that when you can walk around magic kingdom all day?
Jamie (2:13 p.m.) Also, I realize I have put on weight since college but the amount of morbidly obese people at disney world rivals that of a fried butter eating contest.

Dad (2:29 p.m.) This exactly how bama's games will go with ole miss and state ... win butt ugly
Maguire (2:31 p.m.) And the folks from here in the Grove are amused.
Me (2:39 p.m.) Carolina takes safety on final play. Meaning? State covers. 
Maguire (2:40 p.m.) #Vegasconspiracy
Whit (2:40 p.m.) Ohhhhh some where somebody is cursing those two points and running for their lives

Dad (2:31 p.m.) With Dr. Pepper ... have a real good time

Me (2:34 p.m.) And they, they lowdown. They dirty. They some snitches.

Me (2:38 p.m.) Matt Simms changed his number. Savvy.

Jamie (2:40 p.m.) But that damn snap the ball to him thing gives away his position every time.

Me (2:55 p.m.) Verne: "We might have another flag here ... No we don't. No we don't."
Whit (2:56 p.m.) Honey badger or mad hatter? Worst nickname? And which one do you think you'll hear more about today?

Whit (3:03 p.m.) I hate tennessee but I like derek dooley. Any man who can coach from the sidelines with those pants on has got to be cool.
Me (3:03 p.m.) This Jarrett Lee looks like the Jarrett Lee I recognize.

Jamie (3:04 p.m.) So far my under looks happy.

Halcombe (3:06 p.m.) I'm watching GSU-Furman. And yes I hate Furman ... ergo I hate Guy Cochran ... ergo I hate Friendly Gus chicken? I'm confused by my own psycho-babble.

Whit (3:21 p.m.) Why is gary giving the name of the official right after he misses a call? Kinda messed up

Me (3:41 p.m.) When Verne says that Jordan Jefferson gives LSU "a facet Lee does not," what means is "He is black."
Pedro (3:41 p.m.) I miss the Watts/Zow tandem when announcers tried to make that statement but failed repeatedly. "Zow's the better runner ...."

Dad (3:42 p.m.) Aflet-asizzum
D. Hardin (3:43 p.m.) And can run fast due to that "fast twitch muscle thing" and he is black

Me (3:55 p.m.) Man, Phil Simms is gonna be FURIOUS with what people say about his kid after today.

Whit (3:56 p.m.) Neither receiver on those last two picks saw the ball.

Halcombe (5:15 p.m.) Wonder if Dooley's mama will call into the radio next week and go, "My bad. My son's team sucks. Even Vince thinks so."?

Jamie (3:58 p.m.) After 7.5 consecutive hours of disney bliss, I am in room, alone, with booze. The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards.

Maguire (4:30 p.m.) Ole Miss's #57 is freaking HUGE.

Me (4:55 p.m) Question we all want to ask Peyton: "Tell the truth — Eli is a mama's boy, right?"

Me (5:08 p.m.) Off to a roaring start once again.

Maguire (5:21 p.m.) Ole Miss band plays Katy Perry's "Firework." I wholeheartedly approve.

Pedro (5:24 p.m.) Eli just called deuce mccalister fat.

Halcombe (5:29 p.m.) The Bayou Bengal fight song sounds like a dog ate a mole, teeth and all, then took a crap. And as it was crapping, a tooth caught its rear and made it howl. Yep

Me (5:35 p.m.) IT'S THIRD DOWN

Dad (5:54 p.m.) Holy Cross got Dartmouth today.

Me (6:09 p.m.) Courtney Upshaw still plays for this team, right?

Jamie (6:36 p.m.) Attention espn. This is a family show. Keeping the audio on mchamp after a bad call is asking for it. 
Jamie (6:36 p.m.) And there it is. Bull sh*t over the airway.

Me (6:48 p.m.) Frankly, when the announcers discuss Trent's lower body in such detail, it creeps me out.
D. Hardin (6:53 p.m.) I hope they are talking about his ankles .. maybe thighs ... but if they head north from there and south of the "mason richardson line" ... Then that is just not right!
Travis P (6:55 p.m.) You get a semi. No need to worry, it's not gay

Dad (6:55 p.m.) Bama is so lucky!

Jamie (7:02 p.m.) Dear darren bates. The ref know you flop worse than ric flair. They are ready for it.

D. Hardin (7:03 p.m.) Wouldn't you hold if you were a lineman for Ole Miss! Refs are protecting the Ole Miss players!

Jamie (7:07 p.m.) Clint Mosely must be the worst qb on the planet
Me (7:08 p.m.) Holy. Smokes.
Dad (7:08 p.m.) That one bust they heart.
Maguire (7:09 p.m.) That was a work of art.

D. Hardin (7:10 p.m.) I retract my earlier statement! I am now talking about Richardson lower body! His footwork that is!

Kendra (7:12 p.m.) Is there anything more ridiculous-looking in college football than the Gator chomp?

Halcombe (7:18 p.m.) Houston Nutt making a game of it I see.

Me (7:19 p.m.) Mark Jones, unedited: "I had a lot of pork on my fork last night."
D. Hardin (7:20 p.m.) A little Pork Forkin'

Me (7:24 p.m.) May have to shorten the 4th to 8 minutes.
D. Hardin (7:25 p.m.) Time for 2nd string
Maguire (7:25 p.m.) Josh and i are going down to the locker room to suit up.
Dad (7:25 p.m.) Like junior high ... run the clock!
Jamie (7:51 p.m.) For the black bears sake, I hope they don't have any decent recruits at the game.

D. Hardin (7:38 p.m.) Lesson here, "Don't run between the tackles against Alabama." Well said.

Maguire (8:12 p.m.) 7-0. Roll Tide.

Jamie (8:07 p.m.) If you're not watching au florida just think back to the last 2A high school game you watched and there you have it.
Me (8:11 p.m.) Think C-USA just tried to annex Florida AND Auburn.

Jamie (8:09 p.m.) Have no idea why we don't go frazier and just don't throw.
Jamie (8:10 p.m.) Can't throw anyway might as well have an inside outside threat.

Halcombe (8:19 p.m.) A bunch of white biomedical engineers are high fiving and using words like "The bomb diggity" after that Vandy return TD.

Halcombe (8:28 p.m.) Mark Martin is in the godaddy tonight. Sure they're working up his "kinda nekked if you go to the web" unrated commercial.

Jamie (9:06 p.m) Fact only an idiot au fan would know: the last 3 times florida has played in jordan hare, the florida punter has dropped a perfect snap, resulting in either a bad punt, blocked punt, or knee down by punter. 2001, 2006, 2011.

Dad (9:34 p.m.) That ol' punkin orange ... and I hate punkins.

Friday, October 14, 2011

the trouble with regions, or why we should be careful

Editor's note: Fair warning, there's a good deal of high school football coming in this post. It's mainly used for its applicability to the issue of conference realignment, but you may find it off-putting, anyhow. 

Friday night, our hometown Leeds Green Wave solidified its standing for the AHSAA state playoffs with an easy home win over region foe Beulah.
If that last sentence doesn't mean anything to you, read it again and look up the two schools on a map. It's roughly 130 miles, one way, from Leeds High to Beulah High. And the game was a region obligation for both teams.
It's not as though this is an unusual thing for this particular region — aside from Leeds and Beulah, 3A Region 3 includes B.B. Comer (in Sylacauga), Central-Coosa, Clay County, Handley, Marbury (near Prattville and Walter Wellborn (in Anniston). It's a region that literally crosses the entire state. This isn't an isolated issue, for the record: In 6A, for example, Opelika, Auburn, Central and Smiths Station share a region with Enterprise, Dothan and Northview. That guarantees at least one 100-mile trip for every team in the region, every season.
We've discussed this before, but one of the advantages to the old area system was schedule flexibility: In 1999, Leeds played at Handley, at McAdory, at Moody and at Hayden, all trips relatively close to home. The long road trips started in the playoffs.
Aside from the high cost of travel (monetarily), long road trips mean logistical nightmares for the schools — players, managers, cheerleaders and band members all have to leave class early, have to secure buses, have to be fed, and so forth and so on.
(Note: Here's where I point that not everybody has this issue: The Vestavia Hills Rebels, owing to their region alignment and savvy scheduling, don't play a regular-season game farther away than Thompson all season. So it works out well in some places.)
But there's a larger problem here: The region alignment means a string of unfamiliar opponents coming to town. Which means? Smaller crowds.
High school sports are built on rivalries, the idea of young men representing their community in contests vs. young men from other communities, with representatives of those communities looking on from the bleachers. But those games lose some of their luster if the communities don't care about the teams involved. A similar thing happened to the NHL, as Bill Simmons described.
This was a sport that thrived on rivalries and feuds -- Montreal and Boston, the Rangers and Islanders, Philly and Washington, Montreal and Toronto, Montreal and Quebec, Montreal and everybody -- so by moving key franchises and adding too many other ones, fundamentally, they were killing the one thing that made the sport so great. As a Boston fan, how am I supposed to get fired up during the regular season for a steady stream of Nashville, Columbus, Carolina and Anaheim? It's insane. It's illogical.
And I guess my point — and yes, there is a point to all this rambling that's taken two days to put together in a cogent form — is this: we have to be careful, when it comes to conference expansion, that we don't put ourselves out of business.
Look, I'm not buying into the columnist's plaintive cry when it comes to conference realignment: That the greed of executives is destroying the rivalries of our youths. As Tony Kornheiser has aptly pointed out on his radio show, rivalries have always evolved: As recently as 40 years ago, Georgia Tech's major rivals (apart from Georgia) were Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Tennessee. Now? Tech fans get excited for Miami, Florida State and Clemson. That's the way of the world.

At the same time, the danger inherent in turning over the conferences is simple: With a schedule no one recognizes, there's no guarantee that fans will continue to care.
Will football remain such a big deal in 10 years if we're showing up every Saturday to play Missouri, Louisville and Oklahoma State? Possibly.
Just something to keep in mind.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

more newspaper fun, this time regarding Halloween

This week's column from the St. Clair Times is about Halloween; specifically, the extraordinarily bizarre and sick people who carry it way too far (for more info, listen to this Patton Oswalt routine about life in the suburbs).
Love for Halloween can go a bit too far sometimes

I’m almost certain Halloween is not an occasion dreamed up by demon worshippers who wanted an excuse to celebrate their faiths. But some of the people who throw themselves into “the spirit of Halloween” make me question that statement.

Take a quick walk around my own neighborhood — and mind you, most of the people who live in my neighborhood are either retirees or parents of young children — and you’ll see the following: a window etching that looks like a tortured spirit trying to get out; a skull resting on top of a mailbox, grinning at the world; and what appears to be a 100-pound spider attempting to attack someone’s front door.

Oh, and also there’s a skeleton in a front yard that looks like it’s trying to escape from a grave. I see this one every day. Because it’s at my house.

Look, it’s not just us that do this. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to visit with some of the folks at Leeds’ Atrox Fright Factory, in advance of their opening.

One of their prized attractions in the waiting area: a display that shows an animated zombie devouring a human carcass. Even better, the zombie appears to recognize the presence of a human, comes crawling after the person watching … only to take a shotgun blast to the back of the head.

One of the organizers at Atrox, after nearly causing me to lose control of my body with this display, made a disappointed face at the device.

“My shotgun noise doesn’t work like it’s supposed to,” he complained.

Whaddaya mean, “like it’s supposed to?!!” Was I supposed to have a heart attack? Jump through the ceiling? Run away crying?

I’m not sure at what point Halloween became a contest to determine who could build the most authentic crime scene, or whose costume could make them look more like an escaped patient from an asylum for criminally insane people. My mom’s Halloween decoration was a silly-looking ghost popping out of a jack-o-lantern — it’s kind of funny, but probably not the kind of “funny” that gives anyone nightmares or anything.

By the way, the shotgun blast is fixed, according to the folks at Atrox.

“You could hear it outside right now,” he said. “It’s epic.”

So … there’s that.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tuesday tube: Desolation Road

OK, so I couldn't really put together enough from the Vandy game to warrant a whole post. Sue me. We sleepwalked for 30 minutes and wound up winning comfortably. Ho-hum.

Anyway, on to this week in Oxford. It's hard to believe where Ole Miss is these days — this time two years ago, they were trending upward, even rose as high as top-5 in the country before laying an egg vs. South Carolina on a Thursday, a week before Bama came to town and finished the job.
The Rebs haven't really been the same since that two-week stretch — they struggled through the rest of the season, losing at Auburn and Mississippi State, then came back and posted an inspiring 3-9 mark. Thus far this season, the high point of the season was when they led BYU in the fourth quarter. For this year's version of the Bama game, they opened as 25-point underdogs in their own building. That's life in the SEC: things move quickly.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

gameday texts: week 6

Going to try to cobble together a few thoughts from yesterday's win over Vanderbilt, which are limited because I was in Opelika welcoming my cousin Rob's new bride Erin to our family. In the meantime, here's a smattering of text messages received throughout the day, related to all manner of things. Note that today's edition includes very little input from either my brother Whit or my dad, as both were in the flesh for much of Saturday (Rob is also missing, since he was, you know, getting married). As always, the timestamp and name appears as it does in my phone, and all messages are [sic]d. Some may be mildly offensive, and you can complain about that here or by finding me on Twitter.

Halcombe (6:48 a.m.) When asked about facing the Tigers' Justin Verlander in the ALCS, Rangers' mgr. Ron Washington responded with: Lemme holla. Lemme holla holla holla holla atcha.

Me (8:37 a.m.) TEXAS
Audra (8:38 a.m.) Sucks

Halcombe (8:44 a.m.) Schlereth, there is nothing BOLD about saying McNabb will throw over 300 yds. vs. Arizona.

Jamie (9:58 a.m.) RIP Al Davis. Dead for 12 years, finally stopped breathing.

Me (10:09 a.m.) Why is Brent yelling?

Maguire (10:10 a.m.) He must be going deaf.
Zach (10:11 a.m.) Someone is biting his taint?

Me (12:33 p.m.) How do you like your Bevo?
Audra (12:34 p.m.) Raw and bloody

Me (1:07 p.m.) UAB applying for membership in the Big East. 
Me (1:08 p.m.) Today's game vs. State is their resume. 
Maguire (1:08 p.m.) I'm not sure what to say about that.
Jamie (1:08 p.m.) Hopefully state will do the same

Travis P (1:09 p.m.) Loser of the egg bowl 2011. Kicked out of the sec. Looking like the best move for the conference and the losing school.

Me (6:15 p.m.) Chris Stewart described Hanks' first catch as "incredible." He may need to calm down.
Whit (6:16 p.m.) Yeah he no funny

Maguire (6:21 p.m.) Calm the F down, Chris.

Me (6:35 p.m.) Also, Vandy has an LB named "Fugger."

D. Hardin (6:36 p.m.) i'm sorry what did you just call me?
Maguire (6:36 p.m.) I hope his nickname is "Muh."

Me (6:54 p.m.) They know we're running screen on 3rd & medium.

Travis P (7:11 p.m.) "mccarron underneath" would be a nasty drinking game

Whit (7:33 p.m.) someone just stabbed bramlett's dog

Me (8:24 p.m.) AU game may not end until midnight.

Jamie (8:28 p.m.) when you have told the opponent "I aint throwing". You're finished.

Me (8:41 p.m.) I can't think of one subject I want to hear David Pollack & Jessie Palmer discuss.
Jamie (8:42 p.m.) I have one. How terrible barret trotter is. Should be an easy discussion
Maguire (8:44 p.m.) They should discuss Jesse's appearance on "The Bachelor" so Pollack can make fun of him.

Me (8:54 p.m.) ESPNU just wasted 10 minutes talking to Tom Luginbill about Vandy's recruiting.

Maguire (9:00 p.m.) 6-0. Roll Tide. 

Me (9:26 p.m.) What in God's name does Gus think is going to happen on a bubble screen to Lutzneknachrnenxd? Does he think he'll break 2 tackles & score?
Jamie (9:27 p.m.) He thought he would catch it
Jamie (9:28 p.m.) Besides, you see what happens when we attempt a pass longer than 10 yards

Me (10:10 p.m.) All hail Nebraska, singlehandedly keeping the white RB alive.
Jamie (10:11 p.m.) Its rumor that nebraska was forced to name their defense the black shirts due to affirmative action.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

this week's column, about Bartman and tears

This week's column from the St. Clair Times takes a very strange turn: starting out being about crying fits, and ending with the story of Steve Bartman. You figure it out. As always, feel free to complain here, or by finding me on Twitter.
Fan’s infamous pain still brings tears to the eyes

I find I’m crying a lot more these days. Probably because of the fact that my head is constantly stopped up.

Thing is, it’s not always over things that seem worth the effort. It’s one thing to cry during the finale of “Les Miserables” — at least, until I flipped out and started threatening the girl two seats down from me who wouldn’t stop checking her cell phone DURING THE SHOW WITH ALL THE LIGHTS IN THE BUILDING OUT — but quite another to cry over an ESPN documentary.

Last week, the Worldwide Leader premiered a new documentary entitled “Catching Hell,” which centered around poor Steve Bartman, the fan who had the misfortune of sitting on the front row the night someone in the Great Beyond decided to toy with the emotions of Chicago Cubs fans.

In case you forgot, here’s the basic story: The Cubs, were leading the Florida Marlins 3-0 in the top of the eighth inning of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, and were up 3-2 in the series overall. They were five outs away from advancing to the World Series for the first time since 1945. Wrigley Field, one of America’s last real authentic sports venues, was in the midst of a celebration.

Then, with a runner on second base, Marlins second baseman Luis Castillo hit a fly ball that sliced away from the left field line. Cubs left fielder Moises Alou ran toward the bleachers, intent on catching the ball. He leapt up, his glove reaching into the stands.

He never caught it, though — a group of fans in the area where the ball was landing came between his glove and the ball. The baseball smacked off the hands of Bartman, a Little League coach on the front row, and rolled away to another guy sitting two seats away.

It’s important to note a couple things at this point: Just about every fan in the section reached for the ball; it was in the stands, where fans have as much right to the ball as a fielder; it’s unclear whether Alou would’ve caught it under any circumstances.

In any case, the ball wasn’t caught. Castillo drew a walk. And the Marlins poured it on.

By the time the inning ended, Florida led 8-3. They won the game, then won the series the following night in front of a deflated fan base.

Very few people remember that now. All they remember is poor Steve Bartman, sitting there (apparently alone, although the documentary points out that his two friends were sitting next to him) with his headphones on, undoubtedly listening to a radio feed describing what had just happened. Fans screamed and threw things at him; eventually he was escorted out by security.

The saddest part: Bartman didn’t seem fazed by the (unwarranted) anger of his fellow Cub fans. Mostly he seemed upset because he thought he’d cost his team a shot at the World Series. Fans who were seated near him even say he asked, “Did I do anything wrong?” like someone who’d accidentally struck a jaywalking pedestrian.

Of course, Bartman didn’t cost his team a thing. The Cubs lost because pitcher Mark Prior melted down, and because shortstop Alex Gonzalez dropped an easy double play, and because the team couldn’t rise to the occasion in Game 7.

The historical aftermath, of course, doesn’t remember any of that. All it remembers is a heartbroken Bartman, who faded into obscurity because he didn’t want to live in infamy as the guy who cost his favorite team the chance of a lifetime.

So yeah, I got a little choked up, revisiting that story. It happens, I guess.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tuesday tube on Wednesday: Mind the Dores

Highlights from Alabama's longstanding series with Vanderbilt are relatively sparse: Vandy has traditionally served as a foil, a team that's on the schedule to test us, but ultimately falter down the stretch. As proof, here's video of the last game vs. the Commodores: a 2007 trip to Nashville in Nick Saban's first season.
It's pretty much the same pattern every year vs. Vandy: play like garbage, make your fans swear profusely, make a few plays late and win with relative ease. Hopefully this one Saturday ends early enough.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

gameday texts: week 5 edition

Welcome back to "Gameday Texts," this blog's own personal version of an open thread. This week's version suffered somewhat from my phone battery dying (of course it did) but still was enjoyable. As always, the timestamp and name next to each text appears exactly as it does in the phone, and all message are [sic]d. Also, as always, a word of caution: some of the language may be a tad abrasive. Please feel free to complain here or by finding me on Twitter.

Me (11:46 a.m.) Arkansas has apparently decided to quit running the ball altogether.
Rob (11:47 a.m.) Wouldn't u?
Jamie (11:50 a.m.) Stil in the fetal position from last week
Zach (12:15 p.m.) Apparently have quit playing defense altogether as well.

Dad (12:39 p.m.) Arky is awful!

Travis P (12:53 p.m.) Shirts say shut up Gary.

Jonathan Page (1:31 p.m.) Roll Tide!!

Whit (2:04 p.m.) Beware the jorts
Me (2:04 p.m.) 1st jorts sighting was on the way in.
Whit (2:05 p.m.) Roll

Dad (2:08 p.m.) So maybe Arky is not awful.

Me (2:29 p.m.) How many major-distance penalties in this one?
Rob (2:30 p.m.) I hate that helmet to helmet crap

Me (2:56 p.m.) More prevalent than jorts: cleavage.
Whit (2:57 p.m.) Werd

Me (3:16 p.m.) 5th quarter with Gary Danielson?! Where do I sign up?
Rob (3:17 p.m.) Ummm I 'm good with just 4, unless he is buying the drinks
Maguire (3:18 p.m.) I'm in, if I can punch him in the face.

Jonathan Page (3:23 p.m.) Quick ... would you rather face a twice or thrice defeated Auburn in the Ironbowl ... or an undefeated SC in the SEC (assuming we get there, HUGE assumption)

Rob (4:02 p.m.) Auburn's best play is when they don't block

Me (4:47 p.m.) Currently we're at the traditional Dog Vol Gator Tiger Walk of Champions.
Jamie (4:19 p.m.) We were there in 07 some nimrod came to our tailgate, made himself barf and walked off.

Me (4:50 p.m.) I can neither confirm nor deny that Muschamp shouted "LET'S KNOCK THESE MUHFUGGAHSZ OUT"
Maguire (4:51 p.m.) Wouldn't it be a Gator Waddle? I thought they couldn't walk straight.
Rob (5:29 p.m.) Watch out for Jean shorts!
Rob (5:32 p.m.) Yeah jorts and silicone that's gainsville

Dad (4:54 p.m.) This aubie-carolina game is as ugly as a bowling shoe.

Me (6:03 p.m.) The concession stand here sells turkey legs.
Maguire (6:05 p.m.) I would say that goes well with jorts ... but then, I like turkey legs.
D. Hardin (6:09 p.m.) Hales yea!!! Pull through down there in the lilly infested Marsh ... its not a swamp in my mind!

Whit (6:15 p.m.) Are they stanky legs?

Me (6:30 p.m.) Think I've seen every Florida highlight from the last 2 years already.

Whit (6:15 p.m.) Also ... Aubs
Jamie (6:30 p.m.) Shreveport!

Me (6:45 p.m.) Also, we just said the Pledge of Allegiance.
Maguire (7:00 p.m.) Did they pray to Tebow yet?

Dad (7:07 p.m.) Is that constitutional?

Rob (7:10 p.m.) Nice they showed tebow crying on CBS

D. Hardin (7:13 p.m.) Did he really just get to the corner on us?
Me (7:17 p.m.) They real fast.

Halcombe (7:33 p.m.) For a brief second you could hear Saban mumbling "it better not go effing right."
Rob (7:40 p.m.) Yeah dre looks slow
Travis P (8:07 p.m.) Dre — no draft for you

Halcombe (7:35 p.m.) My boys are practicing "modified interrogation methods" on a throw pillow with NERF swords. Should the UN be contacted?

Halcombe (7:40 p.m.) Is Obi Wan wearing Crimson? I swore Force powers forced that UF receiver out of bounds.

Rob (7:41 p.m.) Never came down with the ball should be incomplete but these refs are retards
Me (7:43 p.m.) Got lucky 2 times.
Me (7:44 p.m.) 3 times. Sorry.

Dad (7:46 p.m.) Made it easy for them.

Maguire (7:49 p.m.) I hope those are the only breaks we need tonight.

Dad (7:51 p.m.) I love Gary. He is always RIGHT.

Rob (7:55 p.m.) We look unorganized
D. Hardin (7:58 p.m.) Can we please get someone that can get the kickoff into the endzone and not the 10 yard line

Halcombe (7:57 p.m.) Saw a shirtless Bama fan beside a red headed chick. Anything you'd like to say for yourself?

Maguire (8:36 p.m.) Saban to A.J. as he came to the sideline: "Calm the f down!"
Rob (8:36 p.m.) Saban told mccarron to settle the f down
Rob (8:36 p.m.) And muschamp was caught on tape saying get your ass in the game to the ref

Dad (8:40 p.m.) Their defense is losing their cool.

Maguire (8:45 p.m.) Brantley may have hurt his knee pretty good there.
Maguire (8:46 p.m.) Sucks for them, he's a tough kid.
Rob (8:48 p.m.) No one has any idea how or when uf called a timeout on that fumble and bama rd

Dad (8:48 p.m.) White hat called it a fumble and did not blow it dead.

Me (8:56 p.m.) Other things I've learned: Apparently Gainesville frown on people drinking out of marked containers. They don't mind you getting trashed, mind you — they just prefer you do it from a cup.
Rob (9:00 p.m.) Well we were kicked out of a bar the last time we were down there but wasn't due to container issues

Moody (9:23 p.m.) Well if your gonna light a gu up on a punt ... that's how you do it.

Me (9:56 p.m.) Through all kinds of weather we'll all stick together.

Whit (10:01 p.m.) For FLORIDA!

Whit (10:06 p.m.) Leave no doubt
Me (10:07 p.m.) Night night boys.
Maguire (10:08 p.m.) They all heading home?

Me (10:13 p.m.) Still think Florida wins the East.
Rob (10:17 p.m.) Dunno depends on Brantley the rest of the way

Dad (10:19 p.m.) Georgia thinks they are still in it.
D. Hardin (10:20 p.m.) Nope not without QB

Rob (10:23 p.m.) They play lsu next week so they will have 2 losses in the sec

Maguire (10:15 p.m.) Guess we'll score the "eff-you" touchdown and then get Sims a few snaps.
Rob (10:18 p.m.) Umm ok I think we are worthy of the ranking now

Dad (10:28 p.m.) You should have no trouble getting out tonight.
Rob (10:31 p.m.) Gimme som Rammer jammer!!

Rob (10:33 p.m.) Nice work
Maguire (10:33 p.m.) 5-0. Roll Tide.
Travis P (10:41 p.m.) Rtr

Jamie (11:36 p.m.) Bama is a very very good ball team. Offense better than I thought it would be. Good win.

Monday, October 3, 2011

week 5 thoughts: winner by a knockout

Most of Saturday, honestly, is a blur. We bought tickets to the game on a whim, woke up before sunrise in Leeds, Ala., and drove like crazy people to Gainesville. By 3:30 local time, we'd parked the car and were on campus.
And the game didn't even start for another 4 hours.

Riding down the road, listening to the ESPN crew discussing Saturday night's game (ESPN Radio broadcasts the television feed of "Gameday" over the radio), a thought occurred to me.
"We're better than they are," I said to my wife, kind of out of the blue.
"Do what?" she said.
"I mean, we're a better football team than they are."
Five minutes passed.
"Not that we can't lose. We could easily go in here tonight, turn the ball over like 8 times, miss a couple tackles, and lose."
Another pause.
"But we're better than them."

I'm telling you this for two reasons: first, I'm so rarely right about these things — I probably make about 8000 different predictions before, during and after an Alabama game (mostly about something awful that's going to happen) that never ever come true.
And the second: this Alabama is really good. I mean, really good. Potentially great.
Saturday night was a prime example of that: Alabama ran at and over Florida, weathered an early storm from the homestanding Gators — and for the record, it was deafening in there for the first quarter — and then took them apart for the next three-and-a-half quarters. The final result was as brutal as it was inevitable: Alabama 38, Florida 10.
Time will tell about the quality of this Gator team. I was definitely prepared to anoint them the favorites in a flawed group of SEC East contenders, but their current offense is limited to "put the ball in Chris Rainey or Jeff Demps' hands and hope they do something great," which simply doesn't work against elite defenses.
Having said that, nobody walks into Florida Field and crams it down the home team's throat the way Alabama did Saturday night. Even if this isn't a vintage Steve Spurrier/Urban Meyer Florida team, it's still one that's pretty good. And Alabama crushed them in their own stadium. Even for the most cynical Alabama fans (like, well, me) that's hard to ignore.

Some other thoughts ...
— I realize this is nitpicking, but Alabama's defense has, over the past two years, shown a propensity for starting slowly on the road. In 2010, Arkansas, Tennessee and South Carolina all led in the first quarter; in two road trips thus far this season, the home offense has seen its greatest success early in the game. We've righted ourselves, obviously — by the time the second quarter started Saturday night in Gainesville, Florida looked deflated and on its heels. It just seems curious, is all.
— Remember our discussion back before the season about luck? Well, we were lucky as hell to get out of the first quarter Saturday tied at 10. Chris Rainey fell out of bounds on what was an easy touchdown; the officials (correctly) overruled a second-quarter touchdown catch; and DeQuan Menzie smartly chopped the ball away on third down (avoiding pass interference in the process, thank God). Holding them to a field goal there was one of the bigger plays of the game. Seriously.
— It is so, so gratifying to a former offensive lineman and fan of old-fashioned football to see the way Alabama's running game attacks opposing defenses. Saturday night, most of our success came up the middle, largely because Florida came out in a really odd defensive set that basically dared us to run the ball up the middle. And credit to A.J. McCarron for recognizing when that happened, calling audibles at the line and getting us into the right play.
— While we're on the subject of McCarron, it's enjoyable to see the kid's emotion, even as he's invoking the wrath of about 90,000 Florida fans. More enjoyable: Saban telling him to settle down on national television.

— I'm not sure who I felt worse for Saturday: John Brantley — I knew he was hurt immediately after I saw him go down — or poor Jeff Driskel, who stood on the sidelines staring vacantly onto the field as Brantley writhed in pain at the 35-yard line. His reward for surviving the second half: a road trip to LSU.
(Note: Dad pointed out that the guys on "Talkin' Football" noted that Florida might put in some different sets this week, in an attempt to take advantage of Driskel's running ability. Which sounds great, until someone from LSU separates one of his arms from his body and eats it.)
— First, let's just enjoy this play.
Now for the embarrassing part: While excitedly recounting the play to the guy next to me, I called Nick Gentry "Kyle Tatum." Twice. I'm really old. It's kind of upsetting.
— With the team's ascension to No. 2 in the nation, the national narrative will center around the LSU game in November until ... well, November. And it's true that Alabama should win every game on its schedule until that week.
My wife pointed this out, but it bears repeating: When you spend all your time watching, worrying over and endlessly discussing your favorite team, it's almost surprising to find out anyone else has even noticed. In fact, our collective reaction when we found out we were moving back to second in the nation was, "Really?"
And the answer is yes, really. Because when this team plays like it did Saturday, it's better than just about everybody else out there.