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This weeks questions come to us from the good folks (that’s just good Southern manners for Ed Orgeron, Bat Shit, Crazy people) at Tower of Bammer. You can find a round up of the roundtable this and every week right here.
1. While the actual players and coaches deserve some of the credit for last season’s success, it was our collective superstitions and dark rituals that brought home the championship. What was your superstitious contribution?
I am such a total believer in Saban and the philosophy that he preaches that for possibly the first time ever I didn’t keep a ritual. Except for drinking. I drank before every game and during most of them. God forbid what would happen to the team if I didn’t drink.
2. Put on your Finebaum hat, dip your arrows in vile poison, and tell us which SEC coach is gonna be the first to get canned/and or bolt for greener pastures… like golf courses.
This is going to be the easy answer, but Spurrier’s days are numbered. Unless he has a huge year I believe he’ll hang it up. Richt is on a short leash. Miles’ leash is even shorter; I believe this is it for him in Baton Rouge. Nutt’s got a couple more in Oxford before they run him out. Mullin is due for a good year in my opinion and he’ll bolt for greener pastures (figuratively not literally; if there is anything they do good in Starkville it’s green pastures).
3. We would love for this to go on forever, but let’s face it, we have to lose a game at some point, right? What team on next years schedule (pronounced shed-jewel) should cause the most concern?
This is one of those time-stamp questions. Pre-season the pundits will say Penn State and Florida. I’m a little worried about an improved Arkansas in Fayetteville. That game comes at the end of two straight weeks on the road and the week before the super-hyped game against Florida. If Alabama beats Penn State, and they should, then the entire Sports/Industrial Complex will be looking forward to October 2. Arkansas, on the other hand, will be looking forward to Alabama, who embarrassed them like no one did, last year. On paper Alabama controls the clock by pounding the ball against an inferior defense and utilizes a superior defense against a gimmick (read: non-traditional offense) and runs the quarterback all over the field and gets ready for the more important showdown. No problem right? That was the exact plan for Auburn last year. That’s what has me worried The contests with Tennessee, LSU and Auburn always scare me. UT will generally be awful, but Dooley will probably win a game he shouldn’t and they always get up for Alabama. LSU probably scares me the least and Auburn should be improved but it’s in Tuscaloosa and the winner might just punch its ticket to Atlanta. I’m going to keep my eye on State too but it’s just too early to say on that one.
4. Joe Paterno has already screeched “You can’t count on freshmen. Do you want to go down to Tuscaloosa with freshmen!?” but Penn State fans are buzzing about how true frosh Paul Jones looked in their spring game. Is JoePa playing it smart, clinging to an outdated case of freshmanastartaphobia, or just planning on starting a sacrificial lamb QB so Marcel Dareus doesn’t eat his good ones?
All you have to do is go back to the National Championship game to see what a Saban defense can do to an inexperienced QB so he might opt for experience, no matter how little it is. But to be honest with you, I’m not sure that Paterno is even aware that the war is over – and I’m refereeing to WWI here – so you can’t be too sure of what he says anyway.
5. Everyone I know has a crazy story about dealing with an out of control swamp-thing rival from Red Stick, whats the craziest thing you’ve ever seen an LSU fan do? (Just to make things interesting, lets disqualify Shaquille O’Neal’s performance as a genie in Shazam)
I’ve had some truly great experiences in Baton Rouge and here with LSU fans. It wasn’t anything where I felt threatened or was just in shock. Probably the worst thing was in 2000 when the kid jumped out of the student section in Tiger Stadium, ran the length of the field and mooned the Alabama fans in the visitor section. It was right at the start of the 4th quarter and then Saban directed his Tigahs to a comeback and their first victory over the Tide in Death Valley since 1969. Or possibly when I sat in the student section there in 2004 and the girls were asking me, “what the fuck are you doing here?” That was pretty intense.
1. How did you watch the game, and why?
I have not yet watched the game. I spent an incredible weekend rock climbing in North Carolina. As much as I love Alabama Football, it was the farthest thing from my mind on Saturday. I guess as someone professing to be an Alabama fan to the point of blogging about it this demands some sort of explanation.
In 1995, I was a few years out of high school and basically a sophomore in credit standing entering the university. From the first game of that season I have missed exactly one game played in Bryant-Denny Stadium; and that was for the weeding of a great friend and Alabama was playing Utah State. I’ve been a season-ticket holder since 1999, my first year out of school. Of course this doesn’t even go into the first game that I attended, in 1977, or the dozens I attended or followed prior to my college years. I’ve lived and died with the Tide, and you’ve got to remember there was a lot of dying in that time period. I’ve literally had dreams of singing “Rammer Jammer” in the waning moments of victories over Tennessee, Auburn, and LSU.
Suffice it to say, my dreams came true this year. I was there in Pasadena and I almost cried. Hell, I probably did. As the game was about to kick off I told my best friend, seated to my right, with all the seriousness I am capable of, “Other than the birth of my children, this is the coolest shit I have ever seen.” I’m sated. Everything I wished for was attained. Alabama has returned to prominence, and that was the thought that kept me warm in the coldest moments of NCAA turmoil, recruits slipping away, coaching debacles, inexcusable losses, and passion killing streaks. Combine my satisfaction with the weariness I experienced from going to every game this season save Kentucky and Ole Miss. That’s twelve of fourteen, which is the most I’ve ever been to in a year. I also own a small business and most importantly above all those, I am a husband and a father – my two most important roles. Two of my three boys are in the midst of little league – if you think an Alabama score is exciting, wait till your eight-year old hits a triple, scores the winning run, and gets a game ball – and the only reason that the third isn’t playing is that he’s fourteen months old.
In a nutshell, I’m tired and there just isn’t enough time or energy to do everything that I want to do. But I’m also satisfied and completely content with where the program is right now. I’m certain that come late August the passion will return and I’ll go sleepless the night before San Jose State, not to mention the entire week leading up to Penn State.
I took the week off. And I don’t regret it one bit.
2. Who stood out most on offense, be it for good or bad reasons?
Since I didn’t attend or watch, all of my impressions are distilled through the descriptions of others. What I’ve heard over and over again is how great McCarron looked, ditto for Ingram. The talent and depth at most positions is becoming apparent and that is great but also to be expected at this point in Saban’s Process. Disturbing were the reports of Julio’s drops; got to be better in that department.
A quick word on McCarron, McElroy and the “quarterback controversy”: regardless of what you read or hear McElroy is the starter. Hands down. No Question. End of story. His credentials for that are too long to name and if you even need to know them you probably don’t need to be reading this. He will, without question, have times when he struggles this season. He may even lose a game. Unless he just completely loses himself – which is highly unlikely – he is not going to get benched in favor of McCarron. Especially in a big game. So to the folks that are going to scream for A.J. after GMac’s first interception, save your breath. McCarron looked great in a scrimmage, that’s a far cry from the 4th quarter in Neyland or Tiger Stadiums when the game is on the line.
3. Same question for the defense.
I keep hearing great things about the front seven and Dareus in particular. I’m very excited to the whole unit. Everyone writes that side of the ball off, but I have a feeling it will be a pleasant surprise. For us, not opposing offenses.
4. Did A-Day make you feel better or worse about our chances for a repeat in 2010?
I’d have to say better. As I mention in question #2. The talent and depth are really becoming evident. You’ve still got to continue to prepare and develop, and hope for some luck but Alabama is setting up to be a power for the next few years, similar to LSU, Florida, USC, and Ohio State have been recently.
5. With the long dark of the off-season finally upon us, what’s your favorite coping mechanism?
As I described in my opening answer, I’ve got a lot going on. Used to be that the summers drug along and September couldn’t get here fast enough. I’m going to enjoy baseball, both my kid’s for the next month or so and then the Braves – their tied for the lead of the NL East after the first two weeks of the season and Jason Heyward is a very exciting player. I’d like to take a trip or two and climb as much as time and extreme heat allow. Before you know it we’ll be talking about Fall Camp.
Filed quickly this week as I flee town, with thanks to Memphis Tider for the questions.
1. With Cody being gone to the NFL this season, will this change not only the way the Tide plays defense, but the way that opponents attack? Will this play into our favor or no?
I’m not the X’s and O’s type, or I guess I should day that such analysis is better left to those who have a firmer grasp on the X’s and O’s. But I do believe that other teams shied away from running up the middle with Cody there. Plus, his prowess at attracting double-teams is well documented. That freed the linebackers to make plays. Honestly though, I’m not looking for that big of a loss in the heart of the defense. What Chapman, Murphy and company lack in size in comparison to Cody – mind, they aren’t small men – they make up for in athleticism. The defense is Saban’s and thus won’t change much, if any. Will their level of play be affected? That remains to be seen once the season starts. I do believe that teams will test the middle, early on especially.
2. Although it’s simply a glorified scrimmage, what are you looking for from Saturday’s A-Day game?
As I mentioned last week, I’ve learned the hard way to attempt to gleam too much from Spring Practice and that goes double for A-Day. To be honest, I stopped going the day we had 92,000 there and was turned away at the gate. I’m actually going climbing and camping in North Carolina this weekend before the blazing heat shows up and sets up residence until October. I’ll watch a little of the replay next week and read as much as I can, but I’m not all that excited about this – I attended 12 of the 14 games this year and I’m still somewhat sated in my football appetite. I’ve actually had dreams about Alabama playing Tennessee; Crimson vs. White just doesn’t so it for me personally.
3. How big is the loss of Mike Johnson on the offensive line? Was he the reason the transition from 2008 to 2009 was so smooth?
It’s my premise that leadership is an oft forgotten element for success. Johnson was without question a leader which complemented his athleticism as his position to make the line pretty darned good overall. I predicted much greater drop-off last year. I believe he was a huge part of the absence of that. His loss has to be a big factor. However, Alabama is more talented and deeper on the line overall than they have been in several years. Saban understands that games are won up front. Based on the lines at LSU, even after he left, I believe that the team will weather the change alright.
4. Is there another strength & conditioning coach in the country that is as important to a plan as Coach Cochran? What is it about him that you love so much (because we know that everyone here loves him. haha)?
It’s hard to answer the first part of that question. I believe that Saban is a good enough manager that he would have another top-notch guy to fill that role, but I love Cochran’s enthusiasm. I bet you’d hate his ass at six in the morning, but like anybody that forces you to call upon the best that you possess; you love him at the end of the process.
5.NBA Playoff time — who wins it, who pulls off the biggest upset, and why?
What is this NBA that you speak of? I thought basketball ended when Duke won a couple of weeks ago.