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.