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I’ve read about all that I can read and I’ve thought about all I can think. I’m going to try and make it to the golf course a little after lunch and smack a little white ball around and drink a few frosty, cold beverages because that doesn’t take any real amount of concentration, which at this point I don’t possess any of. We’re about thirty-three hours away. By five o’clock tomorrow I’ll be more geeked out than a fifteen-year-old boy who’s been guaranteed he’ll get to see a real live breast.

I love this. I live for this. I’ll have to get drunk just to be able to sleep tonight.

I’ll leave you for the weekend with a couple of thoughts:

  • You sometimes forget how sloppy first-games are. Most of the teams I watched looked sloppy last night, at least for a half. Alabama and Clemson are probably going to be that way tomorrow night and it will be maddening. If the teams are as close as some say they are, whoever is less sloppy just might come away with the victory.
  • I’ve heard a lot of talk about how people think the Ross’ Brother is going to be better this year. Here is where I am with that: It’s very possible that McElwain has helped him by the way he runs the offense. He certainly is experienced and I know that goes a long way. I also know that he has been prone to some poor decisions, but he is certainly more worthy of praise than blame. So I leave it at this, I hope that Wilson has improved and I hope that he has a break out year. That’s all it is though at this point, hope.
  • I really want to see the development of Alabama’s defense, as well as receivers and O-line. Alabama has the potential to be a much better team this season all the way around. There are signs that they could be. All the reasons given by pundits for their success this season on on those areas. I believe they are flying under the radar this year, at least I hope they are. There is a small reason to believe that Alabama could be a surprise team this year. Look back at Stoops in his second season in Oklahoma and Saban in his second season at LSU. I know the circumstances are not the same for both of those teams compared to this one, but change from year one to year two can be dramatic. Keep in mind all the losses last season were by a score or less. Once again, my hope is that Alabama experiences a lot of improvement. I hope.
  • I don’t want to get on a theme of bashing Auburn here, because I agree that they could be a very good team this year. I’ve stated I’m not sold on snitching-ass Tony Franklin and his system and I’m not going to start on that again but I’ve heard several times this week how this two quarterback deal on the Plains is different. The party line this week is that running all the reps would just be too exhausting on one quarterback. I’m calling bullshit right here and now. Let me get this straight, one quarterback isn’t physically fit enough to do it but the offensive line is? Maybe all the cage-fighting Ziemba is doing on the side makes him extra fit for a standard SEC lineman but I don’t think so.  Are they going to platoon the whole line to keep the fatigue down? What about the “much improved” receivers, I understand they rotate more than other offensive players but don’t they run more too? If everybody from the quarterback to the opposing defense to the marching bad playing so many song for all the first downs are going to be so tired, then why isn’t the largest, and slowest players on the team? The bottom line is that one quarterback is not good enough to take charge or that the coaches are too worried about messing with team chemistry to sit one and play the other. This cannot end well unless it is the first time that it ever, in the history of football,  does and I will apologize for my short-sightedness if that is the case.
  • Clemson has more to lose than Alabama, but a win would be much bigger for Alabama. I don’t believe either team should or will be satisfied with a loss but nobody but Alabama fans hoping for a return to glory are predicting big things for Alabama this season. This could be a springboard for a spectacular season. For Clemson it is just the first test for them to finally meet expectations. Either way both team will be focused and intense and it should be some great, great football.
  • I’ll state one last time that I do not forecast and Alabama victory tomorrow. That doesn’t for one isecond mean that I will yell at my television less or get any less upset and mope around the house if they do lose. I’m just trying to be logical and for every reason I can think to get excited and mentally workout the victory I can come up with a counter argument. Clemson is good, on paper, hyped or not. And since that’s all we’ve got to go on, I’m still predicting Clemson. I have no idea on the points.

That’s it. I hope you all enjoy your holiday weekend.

Roll Tide!

Well, here we sit a mere four days from the first game, trying to work, and not having much success. I’ve read until my eyes hurt and it hasn’t even remotely quenched my thirst for football. There is but one thing that will do that and that my friends is actual live football (although Erin Andrews screen caps help).

This is the time of year that everyone tries to wrap the story lines and general predictions into neat little bundles. I’m not sure why, maybe to get the wanna-be fans that jumped on the bandwagon this past week up to speed. In my opinion, if you’re just tuning in now you aren’t a real fan anyway. You should have been with us back in February when my phone was blowing up with text messages like I was a fourteen-year-old girl every time Nick Saban landed another highly-touted recruit. Since he did this with consistency similar to the way Kenny Loggins recorded soundtrack music in the 1980’s, my phone was blowing up a lot.

You should have been here during Spring Practice as we clamored for the tiniest shred of news, no hope, that our team will be better this year and that yes, the dreaded streak will end.

You should have been here when the summer started when we were scrounging message boards to hear the latest rumors about who was in camp and who was going to be ineligible. When we were counting with calendars and hands and toes to determine exactly how many days there were left until the addiction would be fed. When we were planning tailgates and trying news recipes that tasted great and could be prepared successfully while impaired from a day of drinking or worse, while hungover from a night of drinking. When we were committing the schedule to memory. When we were planning road trips and booking flights and calling in favors for tickets and rooms from long-lost friends and relatives.

Just as long as you know that we know that you have a life other than football and that we resent that about you we’ll let you play along. Sure, be a fan when it’s convenient, but know that when you jump up and diss John Parker before it’s quite time to, we will know what a fair-weather, gained all your knowledge-listening-to-Finebaum-on-the-way-into-town, douchebag you really are.

Without further ado, here are my predictions, both bold and not-so-bold, for Alabama, the SEC, and college football in general this season.

Alabama’s Season – Even though I want to jump on the happy-feel-good vibes coming from the football complex, I’m sticking with my assessment earlier in the summer. 9-3 with losses to Clemson, Georgia, and LSU. I’ll get to Clemson in a minute but I really don’t think we can beat both the dawgs and the tigahs on the road.

The Streak with Auburn – will end this year. Don’t worry about reasoning or logic or the lucky underwear I’ll be wearing into Bryant-Denny. Six is enough. What I am more interested in though is how this empire Auburn has built will crumble when the only truly remarkable event of the greatest period of Auburn history ends. As bad as some Alabama fans have taken this streak, when it turns, I believe that the Aubs will take it much, much worse. I think we could handle the streak running to seven, or even eight (God forbid) better than they will take it when it ends. It seems sometimes like it is all they have. I want to predict that the winner of the Iron Bowl will represent the West in Atlanta, but that is just day-dreaming and is counter to my overall prediction. But don’t get me wrong, I’ll take it.

This is Phillip Fulmer’s last season in Knoxville – After opening with conference losses to Florida, Auburn, and Georgia the pitchfork wielding crowd will be at the gates. The second consecutive loss to Alabama will be more than even the annual cakewalk through November can overcome. I believe he’ll take his dignity and the lifetime Krispy Kreme rider in his contract and leave the program. And as I brush a tear (of absolutely satisfying mirthful glee) from my eye, I’ll wish him the best of luck with knowledge that the conference won’t be the same without him.

While starting in the Top Ten both West Virginia and Clemson will not finish there. I could give you my reasons but what the hell for, that’s just what’s going to happen. Write it down. (and notice that I’m still predicting a Clemson victory against the Tide).

The Spread Eagle will not fly. At least not in the vision that Auburn fans think it will. Your offense will still be similar to last seasons and the seasons before. Auburn wins by controlling the clocks and playing good defense. That’s what their talent does and Tuberville would be a fool to try to do differently like. It’s kinda like you in college, you did well with the girl-next-door type. She was cute and fun to be around. Yeah she wasn’t model material but she was acceptable. She was your wheelhouse and every time you forgot that and out kicked your coverage it ended badly and awkwardly for everybody involved. So you went back to the girl you saw studying at the library and left the cast of the Hills to the product sporting douchebag with not much substance but really sweet trust funds. Tommy Tuberville has never had product in his hair in his life. He ain’t taking anything over a 7 and-a-half out of the bar. He may try but after the lame attempts at being cool countered by the silly looks and under-her-breath comments to her friends he’ll go back to the wheel house. That’s why he’s the best damn coach in Auburn history (WEH!). By the Tennessee game, the Tigers will be pounding the ball up the middle and throwing on third and long.

I’m not sure what snitching-ass Tony Franklin will do our what the new company line will be to all the Auburn faithful, but you ain’t going to light it up and score gobs of points. Nor do you have to to win.

Sylvester Croom will not repeat last year’s success, but he won’t miss it by much. State will beat at leat two teams that they aren’t supposed to. Something tells me LSU is one of them but that just seems almost too crazy to write down.

Houston Nutt will not. Earlier I thought they would be better, but Jevan Snead beside, they still just aren’t going to have it. The losses to injury on the d-line are just way too much for them early in the season and a team like that needs something to build from – like say, a win – and they aren’t going to get it early in the year.

No team will run the table in the SEC and at least one of the teams in the championship game will have two losses. I don’t think I’m being Nostradomas here.

Baby Jesus and his end-zone dancing group of petty criminals will not win the National Championship. Or even the conference. [ eds. note:Jimmy Johns and Jeremy Elder (who was from Georgia by the way) think the Bulldogs string of misdemeanors (and assaults to be fair) are chicken shit.] As Rick Bragg said in All Over but the Shoutin, “Georgia is obnoxious anyway, with Herschel Walker they were unbearable”. Moreno is everything to the silver-britches about Hershel except that he isn’t Herschel. Would I love for him to be on my team, yes, but that’s beside the point. Richt and the Bulldogs are good and I’ve gone through this ad nauseum but the last seven games last year were special but they do not entitle you to walk into Miami a week after New Year’s day. In fact the only game they’ll play in Florida the whole year will be in Jacksonville and I just don’t see them beating Florida this year. It should be merciful though because Spurrier is already in Richt’s head and when they lose at Columbia the dreams should be back down to reality.

Alabama will lose to Clemson on Saturday. I believe that the game will be fantastic and I hope that I am wrong but Clemson has just seen this situation too much in comparison to Alabama. They played in the same location with just as hyped a crowd as will be there and Alabama, at least the freshman who are depended on for so much, has not. Alabama is just too young at too many positions. I hope I’m wrong and I’ll definitely be cheering for them to win but I’m setting emotion aside. You can look at every match-up on the field and Clemson wins it. Clemson’s O-line versus Alabama’s D-line might be the only exception but you’d logically have to say that given the unknown nature of each, the nod goes to Clemson who has more in support. If Alabama wins the game it will be because of an as-of-yet undetermined superiority in this battle.

Now for the promised links:

Gump for Heisman did a helluva job of predictions himself. These are hilarious. (HT:Gerry Dorsey)

Bama Sports Report takes a look at yesterday’s practice. These guys are quickly becoming one of my favorites and daily reads.

Senator Blutarsky links Barnhart’s AJ-C piece on the ESPN-SEC deal and add some insightful commentary.

Orson brings a hired gun to help channel your inner-defensive coordinator and you don’t even have to put on polyester shorts with a belt first.

In the early nineties the pop band Jesus Jones had a hit single that spoke to the changes that were taking place in the world around them. The chorus stated with wild-eyed fascination, “right here, right now, there is no other place I’d rather be.” While I was never particularly fond of the song, those words ring through my ears and mind at this time every year, nonetheless.  That statement is completely and utterly true.

Right here in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and right now, the first week of the college football season I believe that I am the person I am truly intended to be. The first game is three days away and the first time that my beloved Crimson Tide takes the field is still some 129 hours away and yet, at 5:50 this morning I jumped out of bed with a start – ready to get the day begun in order that it may be done and I would be 24 hours closer to my treasure.

There is spring in Paris, or a bright winter’s morning somewhere in the Rockies, or a warm summer day in New England, or even a bright fall afternoon in the Smokies, and they are all wonderful. But, to me, the first week of football season in Tuscaloosa trumps them all. There is a viscous feeling in the air. A certain force that occupies that air, thicker as you approach the campus, that can best be described as electricity. Were I richer than imagination and the means to be anywhere in the world were at my disposal, I would choose to be in West-Central Alabama right now everyday of the week and twice on Sunday.

Anyone who has ever taken a retriever hunting and watched them perk up when the birds start flying, or been riding a horse near a cow that was bred to move livestock, or a new-born baby suckle it mother’s breast, or any other number of things that were just “meant to be” knows of what I speak. I feel as if I were created to be a small part of what goes on here at this time of the year. This is football season in the Deep South and it is a much a part of who I am as my brown hair or blue eyes.

I am also smart enough to know that both my feelings and this location are not unique. There are legion of you just like me in college towns and big cities all over this region and country, although I believe that the farther that you get from the South the more rapidly that number diminishes.

Yes, I love the entire football season, but there is something special about this particular week. I believe that it probably is the fact that the slate is clean. Every team and their hopes for perfection are unblemished. There is nothing but possibility. If hope springs eternal, then the First Week is a massive up-welling of promise and desire. Anything is possible right now. Anything.

Had you told me that Michigan would lose to Appalachian State, USC would lose to Stanford, LSU would lose to Kentucky, or even that Alabama would lose to Louisiana-Monroe last year at this time I would have told you your were an idiot. The next four months hold more suspense and gut-wrenching twists and turns than the best novel I have read or movie that I have seen. There will be joy and heartbreak by varying degree based on the way the season plays out. I know that I can be supremely elated as I was when Alabama sent the orange-clad devils that call themselves Volunteers back to Tennessee with their heads hung low or that I can hang my head low in misery, like when I turned off the television in late November and told my dad, “next year they’ll end that damn streak” before I went quiet for a long while. But as bad as the lows are, as bad as the taunting and crowing get, the highs and joys of special victories keep me coming back, wanting more.

This week it is all possible. Never mind what the pundits and owners of streaks say. There is nothing but opportunity. My team sits with the same record as your team. Everyone is at the starting line and they all have the chance, however improbable, to finish first. The truly magnificent thing is that sometimes, the improbable does happen. Sometimes the horse on the outside breaks ahead right at the end and most everybody sits there stunned and for the “fool” holding the ticket with the long odds there is pure joy. The sun shines bright but softly on his cheek and his steps are just a fraction of an inch above the ground. For a few fleeting moments he is not bound by the laws of physics and he moves in his own “perfect” world. I am convinced that people that don’t truly love sports never know this feeling – where else in this cruel world are our faiths in others so handsomely rewarded.

Anyone that knows me well has heard me talk about the best part of every football game. I’m not talking about winning, because no matter how good you are, you will not win every game. No there is a part of every game that happens no matter what – the game could not be played without that moment – and it is what I crave even more than the victories. For football fans, our world is lived during regulation football, between the snap and the whistle, when dreams are realized or shattered. This time only equates to the forty-plus hours a year that the 12-13 games are played. I normally get to attend at least seven of those and maybe one or two that are away from Tuscaloosa but there is a moment in those handful of home games that I replay over and over in my mind.

It’s approaching the stadium and feeling the constant, steady noise that comes from the bodies that occupy it. It’s being crowded into lines and making sure that my beer cup is empty and thrown away, that my flask is adequately hidden and my ticket is in hand. That feeling that I’m here, I’m in as I go through the ticket-checkers stand and start the climb up the ramp. It’s the slight bounce and hop I get as I climb higher and higher and “Sweet Home Alabama” rings from the PA. It’s making my way to may seat and smiling, nodding, speaking to familiar faces and shaking hands of the people that have set near me for years; I don’t know their names but I have watched their children grow and asked how things were the way neighbors do, I’ve given pats on the shoulders when it didn’t go our way and hugged them as if they were family when it did. It’s rising from my seat when a hero of our country is honored and placing my had to my heart and singing the National Anthem, not because my voice adds to the harmony but because I am privileged to be able to. It the hair standing on my neck as the band plays its pre-game routine and it’s the utter joy that I feel as the players fill the tunnel and come onto the field. Those moments are perfect. There is no won or lost, there is only the contest that is to come. The analysis and predictions are forgotten and the game is to be played.

This week is one long, slighlty less hyped pre-game. It come only once every 52 weeks. It is here that I am happy to be and here that I would long to be if I weren’t.

Let’s play some ball!

If you are an Alabama fan and, like me, you’re getting prepared to start tailgating then I think it’s probably a good idea to get out your Bloody Mary and Mimosa recipes. Breakfast casseroles and pigs-in-a-blanket and breakfast burritos are probably going to be in high demand too. Why you ask, do we need to get these morning delicacies ready for consumption? I’ve already done some game predictions for the year and now I’m going to go ahead and do some game-time predictions as well.

I believe that several of Alabama’s games this year, especially home games, are going to be on Raycom/Lincoln Fianancial/Jefferson Pilot. In fact, I’m betting the Daves already have some rooms booked- maybe even a condo or townhouse rented for the fall.

Clay Travis at Deadspin has released what he says is a leaked schedule for CBS – the primary broadcaster of SEC football games – this fall. I’ve looked over it and, while one could debate the legitimacy of the document in question – I’m sure CBS has a plan but would be foolish to lock in a season’s worth of games before the season – but the list that is presented makes sense based on a look at the schedule right now.

The good news is that there are a lot of great games this season in the SEC and there are quite a few weekends that I could be locked in a room with a working television, some snacks, plenty of beer, and a place to relieve myself I would be utterly content from 9:00 in the morning until I passed out sometime that night. The bad news is that most of those games take place in stadiums other than Bryant-Denny.

I believe that the consensus is that Alabama’s home schedule is weak this season, but the full effect of that weak schedule is going to play out, I predict, with quite a few 11:30 kick-offs. Here, I’ll break it down for you (keep in mind that on all but one week of the season CBS has first pick and they have two picks one Saturday, ESPN picks second and then Raycom gets whats left):

  • Clemson – In Atlanta; night game on television (ABC)
  • Tulane – Bryant-Denny Stadium; 6:07 kickoff on PPV
  • Western Kentucky – BDS; 6:07 kickoff on PPV
  • Arkansas – Fayetteville; probable JP game (I’m sorry, it may be Raycom now, but it will always be JP in my heart) LSU plays Auburn and Florida plays Tennessee that same day. One of those certainly will be CBS and the other the ESPN night game. Georgia plays Arizona State, which is an ABC game. Vandy and Ole Miss, which in theory sounds like a JP game, might get the morning slot but ESPN would have to take the Tide and Hogs as the second night game. I’m, not sure they want to air three SEC games that night on their family of networks plus UA and UA may both be 2-1 with losses to Clemson and the probable pantsing at Texas the week before.
  • Georgia – Athens; this almost certainly an ESPN night game. Auburn and Tennessee should be the CBS game with Ole Miss versus Florida and State at LSU battling it out for JP honors.
  • Kentucky – BDS; Not the best day in the SEC this season. Florida is at Arkansas (meh – but supposedly on the radar for CBS along with the UK/UA game. Other scorchers this day include, USC (cocks) and Ole Miss and Vandy at Auburn. Honestly that’s four JP worthy games. If Ole Miss and South Carolina are playing well (should/could both be 4-1) the there may be ESPN interest but Kentucky should be, in all honesty, undefeated when they visit T-town and hopefully that will win out for the ESPN game but I don’t see them both being on during prime-time. I’ll say 30% chance of Dave honors.
  • Ole Miss – BDS; According to the Deadspin list CBS has LSU and South Carolina, which makes sense but if Ole Miss is a one loss team at that point it will be because they beat South Carolina -giving them their second loss – 14 days before. Both Alabama and the Rebels come off bye weeks so CBS could opt for that game. Georgia plays Vandy which is typical JP fodder except for the recent closeness of those games, Arkansas is at Kentucky (two teams who should be losing interest at that point) and State is at Tennessee. There again, this is a day full of, what seems right now, mediocre match ups. While I’d say that Alabama wasn’t a lock to play the JP game that day I’d say they are 50-50 to though. The thing that helps is the possible resurgence of a Nutt-inspired Rebel squad and the competitiveness of these games the last few seasons. This could just as easily end up on ESPN as it does JP.
  • Tennessee – Knoxville; Unless some miracle happens and the Vols and Tide are undefeated then CBS will broadcast Georgia and LSU – which should be a phenomenal game. I just don’t see a replay of last years step-child treatment to the Third Saturday in October. Kentucky/Florida and Ole Miss/Arkansas just don’t offer the same prime-time meat that Alabama at Tennessee does.
  • Arkansas State – BDS; While nothing official is out yet, since this is Homecoming it is all but guaranteed to be a 2:00 PPV game.
  • LSU – Baton Rouge; This is almost certainly the CBS game. Deadspin says that Georgia and Kentucky are possibilities but unless Kentucky is undefeated or only has one loss, I just don’t see that game bumping Saban’s return to Tigah Stadium. All eyes will be on Baton Rouge that day but I’m sure given their druthers, the LSU fans would prefer the night game.
  • Mississippi State – BDS; The “leaked” CBS schedule has the option of South Carolina and Florida or Georgia and Auburn and one of those is certain to be called by Uncle Verne while the other goes to ESPN. Vandy and Kentucky reeks of JP, but if ESPN decides to only broadcast one SEC game that day then Croom’s return to Tuscaloosa might get the Dave treatment. The only thing that helps this situation is State’s streak of two-in-a-row, both on JP, could create enough of a story to warrant prime-time. State’s three-five losses coupled with Alabama’s three-four to that point might negate that interest. This has a 70% chance of being JP bound.
  • Auburn – BDS; On the newly formed SEC Rivalry Day, Florida and South Carolina both play their in-state, ACC rivals in their stadiums, excluding them from consideration. LSU and Arkansas as well as State and Ole Miss will have played the day before as has become their tradition. That leaves Georgia Tech and Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee, and Alabama and Auburn to battle it out for the CBS slot. The Jackets and the Bulldogs are definitely the bigger market game but the match up just doesn’t carry the umph that the Tide and Tigers do. I don’t think that any of the games that day get Daved, but to be honest with you, I’d rather be the ESPN game. There is just something about a night game. This is the first year that the game has been this late in the year and in Tuscaloosa. The change to standard time coupled with the waning hours of daylight guarantee that (if kicked off at 2:30) this game will finish at night, which is good enough. It will also probably be good chili and bourbon weather. Remember, Tennessee and Kentucky were the CBS game last season and the Iron Bowl was on ESPN.

That makes four strong candidates for JP honors this year and every home conference game with the exception of Auburn. Either way, Alabama is probably going to be on CBS only once or twice tops. I think that’s a good thing. I prefer night games over day games any time, but if I’m at a game at 11:30 then I’m out by 3:00 and have the rest of the day to absorb what else is going on around the country. The other silver lining of that cloud is that I only have to listen to the Daves one time at the most. No matter who you pull for, I’m sure you can agree that that is a good thing.

All kind of news events happening in and around the Alabama football periphery. I’ll start with the most important:

Image from Dan Lopez/The Tuscaloosa News (used without permission)

The Houndstooth is opening today. Anyone who has gone to school at the University or been to a game on campus knows at least where the Houndstooth is. It has been a staple to students and football fans for at least twenty years and with the possible exception of Egan’s is the dean of bars on the Strip. To the credit of the ownership they have constantly improved over time, adding the outdoor porch in the late 90’s and conveniently locating the temporary, football-season home of Big Bad Wolves Barbecue immediately next door. Even with the rise of tailgating on the Quad, which was brought about by the advent of portable satellite television, it has remained a popular pre and post game destination.

Well, the newly renovated building is opening today. From verbal reports (and the picture above) it seems that the ceiling height is much greater than the old wood structure. This can only be a good thing for the lungs at least, for as we deduced long ago, the severe hangovers were as much caused by the toxic levels of second-hand-smoke we inhaled as the ridiculous amounts of cheap alcohol and draft beer we consumed there.

I spent many an hour and dollar there through college. I met some of my best friends there -one was a bouncer there for a while in the mid-nineties. It was also a requisite stop on evenings out and the place to meet and celebrate victory or commiserate the loss. While it certainly is not sui generis of college-town sports-bars around the country, it is very unique for Tuscaloosa. It is both a landmark and tradition and with the new, handsome building will hopefully continue to be for a long time in the future. Best of luck and I’ll be on my way soon for the obligatory drink of celebration.

Nick Saban is the most influential coach in all of footballdom. All of it. At least according to Forbes. If anybody knows about such things, I am sure it’s them. I haven’t read it yet and so won’t comment other than to say, “take that Tubbs”. Here, I’ll get it out of the way: … Tuberville owns him just like he does Alabama. Happy? (HT: The Noodle)

Burnthall Quits. In news that, no doubt will be reported by Saban haters who have little else to do but spin the webs of animosity towards a man they have never nor will ever meet in order to feel better about their own pathetic lives, Sam Burnthall quit the team. While he played very little in his first three seasons for the Tide and was not very likely to see playing time this season as well [to be honest I forgot he was on the team. ed.] this will no doubt be spun as Saban forcing kids from their scholarships to make room for the new uber-recruits that Saban has, at this very moment, being constructed from robotic parts and forced pregnancies of human breeding stock chosen only for their athletic prowess and of course, the whole system is manned with underage, Asian, sweatshop workers, and supervised by Nazis who feed them only gruel and beat them with phone books. I’m certain that Brian Cook is doing the scholarship math for his first off-season post titled, “Nick Saban: Spawn of the Underworld”.

Mad props to the WWL. At least one small part of it. Chris Low has been in Tuscaloosa since Tuesday night and has lots of good tidbits from the team on his blog. Chris contributed some to ESPN.com in the past but his addition as a full time and in particular his blog are good thing. Of course, just like Maisel, Forde, Schlabach, and Feldman, I’m certain I’ll vacillate between loathing and jubilant praise with him depending on what he’s saying on any give day, especially when it concerns Alabama. Low is leaving title-town today and heading to Stark-vegas to spend some time with Sly and the Family Croom.

You think you’ve seen goofing off at work? There are now 14 days until the first college football game of the year and 16 until Alabama and Clemson. Get your business taken care of – life is about to get a lot better. At least until Alabama loses the first time, then we’ll all piss and moan, but at least it will be in-season pissing and moaning which is infinitesimally better than the off-season variety.

(HT: The War Eagle Reader)

Official PMR Public Declaration of Stance on Fighting at Auburn Practices

I don’t care. It also gives me absoluetly zero insight into the situation at Auburn this season. Anyone who says otherwise just needs something to talk about. Which is every single one of us right now.

Look, it’s been over seven months since there was football. And now, there’s football but there really isn’t football. All we have to occupy our attention with is practice. Have you ever thought about that the entire year, when it comes to football (and life really), the true action is somewhere between 40 and 50 hours. That’s it. In the amount of time that most of us work in a week, a season’s worth of games are played. That is the only truly substantive football we have. Everything else is just filler  and fluff – some of it is good but the vast, vast majority of it is just junk like this. But in our Robert Langdon-like passion to unravel the mystery some of us read into the “signs” way too much.

I rarely listen to Finebaum, but I happened to catch him yesterday and was amazed at how defensive the Auburn fans were. I’m just not sure over what – I didn’t hear, in my short time listening, any Alabama fans reading into the situation at all, although I am certain that they did. I am also fairly certain that the reactions would have been the exact same had the situation flipped. That’s just the nature of the this rivalry and I can see today how with a little distance and perspective it seems silly to so many. I can also see how, as a rival fan with nothing else to talk about it can be seen as somewhat comical when you’ve just been berated by your rival for a month and a half about how little character your team has and then the accuser becomes the accused. I think that’s why the wise man once said, “Those who live in glass houses…” In the SEC, and in this state in particular, we all live in really big glass houses. None are without reproach – so get over it if you feel “picked on ” today.

For any Auburn fans reading today – which is way up from normal thanks to the link from the War Eagle Reader – I, for one, read absolutely nothing into fights during Auburn practices. I don’t see it as an ominous sign that things have gone to hell there or proof that Tubberville has lost the team. In all honesty, it could be going on at Alabama and none of us would know because of the closed practices – which are now evidently the norm on the Plains (See, there might be a method to Saban’s madness). The season will be decided in the twelve or thirteen (or fourteen) games that your team will play beginning in 17 days. All else will be forgotten, unless things don’t go well – in that case all bets are off.

Link Update. I updated my links section on the right with a few new additions (at least as far as my links go). Bama Sports Report always has a bunch of information – plus they have been linking to me for quite a while, so I kinda owed them. Eight in the Box had put the keyboard down for a while but has thankfully picked it back up and I appreciate the link from their site. Make sure to check out the Coffee Conversations.

The last link might be a little bit of an enigma, but despite his rooting interest, the Joe Cribbs Car Wash is a fantastically written blog. If you want to get an open, honest, well thought-out view through the eye of the Tiger check out this blog.  It has become one of my many stops on my daily trips through cyber-space.

Injuries, Injuries.Looks like the Injury bug hit Georgia and Ole Miss big time yesterday. The losses of Sturdivant and Hardy (while only for six to eight weeks) loom big for the respective programs. Maybe it’s just the parent in me but I keep expecting to get to the office every morning and hear about the big injury in practice yesterday and every day that passes without that news leads me to believe that Alabama is  in for a big one. Of course, on the other hand maybe Croyle, Prothro, Closner, and Knight have paid Alabama’s karmic dues

So long Chef. It hasn’t been mentioned very much in the things I have read but as most of you know by now, Issac Hayes past away this past weekend. There has been a lot of discussion from folks about the man ans his music and almost every one of them mentions the theme for “Shaft” and rightly so as it earned him a Grammy award. But in my opinion his most pivotal piece of music, the one that opened his genius to a whole new generation and secured his legacy in Americana is this composition right here:

Travel well Mr. Hayes, travel well.

Quite a few interesting things going on this weekend. Let’s get into it.

Saturday Scrimmage. The first big event was the scrimmage on Saturday. Of course there isn’t a ton of news and I won’t show my ignorance by gleaming facts from the minuscule amount of information that we have all seen but I did think that OTS did a pretty good job of reading between the lines. In my observation he is right more times than he is wrong – although reports of this mornings practice show that Eryk Anders was working with the ones at LB. All I know is that in 19 days all the speculation will end and the accolades and hand-wringing will begin.

Injury Update. It used to be that you could read three different reports of practice and render three different story lines. In these days of media lock-down you get basically get the same report by three different papers. Mind you, I’m not complaining, I’m just taking a long way to get to the point that as a team Alabama has been relatively injury free. This is making me nervous. I feel good about it mind you – Alabama has certainly had its share of injury problems over the last few years but they seem to be very, very fortunate this season thus far. Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida have all had major injuries. Hopefully, this is a result of the lauded strength and conditioning program we have all heard so much about.

Here’s hoping that streak continues in Alabama’s favor and best wishes and speedy recovery to those who were injured at other schools. Rivals or not, I never like to see and athlete’s season or career end due to injury.

Ivan Maisel does not have a firm grasp of reality. It is my belief that Mobile native Ivan Maisel tries to cover his unstated love for the University of Alabama by being overly critical of the Crimson Tide with the reason being to put on a show of being impartial. I’ve thought that for years. I believe that he is intelligent and writes well it’s just that I feel his criticisms of Alabama are biased because he doesn’t want anyone to know that he hides away in his house at night and watches replays of Alabama football games decked out in a full complement of Tide Gameday wear. His latest attempt at hiding his true passion is this laughable piece on Auburn and other teams that utilize the no-huddle spread. In fairness, this article isn’t as laughable as an accompanying list of “fastest” teams in the nation. Maisel lists Little Brother (WEH!) as the second fastest team in the country behind Oregon.

The super-fast spread may turn out to be awesome at Auburn but the verdict is still out. I think snitching-ass Tony Franklin’s offense may have some merit to it and in theory the idea that running tons of plays seems to hold water. There is just so much we don’t know about how it will work at Auburn this season with recruits, especially offensive lineman, who were brought in to run the power running, clock management game that Tuberville has always used to own the state of Alabama and become the OMG!!!1! “best big game coach” in the nation. I’ve always believed that you dance with the one that brought you and if this experiment doesn’t work or even starts slow then the outcome could be disastrous. Not that the prospect of Auburn imploding bothers me mind you, it’s just, don’t rank it number two on a list (higher than Troy’s offense that has been running it for at least two seasons) based on one game against a Clemson team that gave up almost 19 points per game (Auburn won 23-20). Yes, it will run more plays in a game than what has been run and yes, it will put up more yards and score more points as a result but it’s certainly not the equivalent of Alabama unveiling the Wishbone in ’71.  According to Franklin in Maisel’s article, a lot of his theory is that if the offense plays a bunch of plays then, eventually the defense gets tired and makes a mistake. However, if you go three-and-out in a minute-and-a-half and your defense has to go back out on the field by the end of the game it will be as big a problem for your own defense as it is for the others. Auburn’s stellar, as usual, defense will have them in contention this year if they are – not the Spread Eagle. Of course having to watch the clinic on three-yards and a clud of dust that has been the Auburn offense over the years, except ’04, when Al “Gorgeous” Borges, the OMG!!!1! Best Offensive Coordinator, like ever, led the team to the People’s National Championship. Of course that could have been the absurd amount of talent that Auburn had at that time.

All I’m saying is, Auburn may be very good on offense this season, but let’s let them play first, before we go and crown Tony, the Rat, as the next best thing since sliced bread.

Paddy brings it over The Pond. As everyone who cares about such thing knows now, Irishman Padraig Harrington won the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills yesterday, continuing a streak of two consecutive majors that he can defend next April in Augusta. This also gives him wins in three of the last six majors.

I do love some golf and as has been the case on the three preceding major Sundays this year, I was glued to the TV all day. Despite the statement by one of my co-workers that Harrington, “sounds like a muppet when he talks”, you can’t help but love the guy. I mean, he Irish, which amongst many things guarantees that he celebrated with adult beverages last night. He just comes across as an every-day type of guy and he doesn’t yell at his ball like Sergio Garcia does.

The other things I took away from golf coverage this weekend: Getting to hear Verne about a month prior to CBS football. It’s been so long since the season that it actually sounds good to hear that senile bastard calling the action. Demarco Ryans thanks you, Verne. Also, and I’m not sure he knows the sport, but I would be willing to coach him up free-of-charge, Nick Faldo is one of the best announcers. Ever. I absolutely love to hear this guy talk. I mean obviously he knows that game golf, but he’s incredibly funny without trying to be, unlike Gary McCord, who is horribly not-funny while desperately trying to be. I’m telling you now CBS, send Verne to the assisted-living home and sign up Faldo. He would add a layer of civility to the best-damn-sport in the world that only the English could. Here’s a link to the two together.

“What a tackle! What a tackle! He nearly took his bloody head off with that hit.”

After a little over a week’s worth of hiatus I am back and functioning in a semi-lucid state. A lot has happened since we spoke last. How are you? How are the kids? Enjoying your Summer? Been hot, huh? Football? Oh yeah, football has started. Well that’s just spectacular.

If the net is good for one thing it’s good for practice updates. Ian has been providing most of my daily fix. I’m glad and not-at-all surprised to hear that the freshman look good and are working hard.

So you heard about the Franchione thing on ESPN Radio, huh? Well, here’s my take on it: Who gives a big flying crap? Yeah, we thought we were going to be shed of a least one stereotypical-douchebag with an agenda against Alabama when Curry got a new title, but we didn’t know they would replace Hitler with Stalin (OK, that’s a little harsh, but you get my point.)

I think the thing that has everyone upset is the thought of listening the the light nasily tones of Dennis “take the money and run” Fran-phony for three plus hours. Well don’t worry my friends. There is a good chance that WVUA broadcast of All Things Acoustic this week will have more listeners than the ESPN radio broadcast of the Alabama-Clemson game. Look at it like this; most fans of Alabama that aren’t at or watching the game will be listening to it on the Eli-Snake David Crane version of the radio broadcast. I’d be willing to bet that most listeners to the ESPN game are doing so because they are out-of-market and can’t watch the game on television or hear the CTSN. Well, this is the ABC prime-time national game. If you can’t watch it on TV then you probably can’t get ESPN radio either so, no worries mate.

Gameday coming to Atlanta, or more importantly Alabama’s recent streak with Gameday at the location (3-7 overall, 0-5 since 2001, all in Tuscaloosa). I’m pretty sure that Chris, Kirk and Lee were not in Tuscaloosa before ’01 and I definitely remember them being at the ’94 Iron Bowl in Birmingham (which Alabama won) but I really can’t recall the other 4 supposed appearances by Alabama on the show. I guess the good news is that Gameday has been to some of the toughest games in Tuscaloosa over the last 6 years (UCLA, Oklahoma, LSU, and Georgia twice) so this streak is more of a product of strong competition and arguably the worst period in Alabama football history. Maybe the new venue and new year will have a change in the recent history but as I’ve already said, I don’t see Alabama beating Clemson, so that will be one more streak that has to be rectified in the near future.

What I do know is that it will be pandemonium in Centineal Olympic Park. There will certainly be tons of Alabama and Clemson fans on hand but with Georgia opening with Georgia Southern that day, there will be several Bulldog fans as well. Get your Knowshon for Heisman signs ready. Georgia Tech opens with Jacksonville State on Thursday night and thus many Tech students will be around for the cameras (unless Periloux runs wild on the Tenuta-less defense). Plus Atlanta is basically the hub of the SEC (no offense Birmingham) and being a metropolitan area there are bound to be crazies from all sorts of schools there. It should be an interesting sight. And maybe, just maybe, none of the stupid fucking “Rick and Bubba” signs in the crowd. (Eds. Note- there are few things in this world I dislike less than the Rick and Bubba show. Much like the NBA, if they did away with it I would never know unless you told me). And then there’s Kirk. And of course Erin. Ooh Erin.

Lastly, as much embarrassment and shame was heaped on the University by the Jimmy Johns saga, it was really good to read this today about Ali Sharrief. It doesn’t make for good trash talk though and thus won’t be discussed much at all. It is however certainly worth a read and a “thatta boy” to Ali. Well done young ma, well done.

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