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I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been sucking at this blogging thing recently. And by recently, I’m referring to the last 19 months.

Enough of the whining and excuse making. In order to help us make it through this time of year and saving you from the mindless drivel that I contemplated for this, I’m taking the initiative to temporarily alter the format to just three questions this week.  The questions:

1. Expansion has happened. The Pac-10 and Big Ten have grown by two and one teams respectively, the Big XII has shrunk by two and the Mountain West has added one (the WAC lost one, but really who cares?). Who did the best and worse in the whole deal, conference, team or both?

2. To piggyback off the last question, do you foresee a shift in the balance of power in the conferences based on these moves?

3. On to our team; I believe that it is safe to say that Alabama was a run first, clock-control type offense last season. This was, I think, first and foremost because we could count on the defense to shut down the opposing team – the only exception to this was the game plan against Florida, who the coaching staff seemed to respect offensively more. By all accounts the defense will not be as good this year and the offense will be counted on to score more points. Do you believe that the offensive philosophy will reflect this more – basically will the offensive game plan we saw against Florida be the norm for this season?

I’ll be the first to admit that contributing regular, much less meaningful blog posts is tough. Even without anything resembling a life it can become a chore. Add in the doldrums of the off-season that keeps anticipation for actual football high but football-related news low and the act of writing  can easily be shunted until “tomorrow”; only tomorrow usually becomes August. So like the sailors of old stuck in that hot, windless region near the Equator (wow – the parallels are eerily similar, save the proximity to the Equator) we’ll work to maintain the discipline required to keep things in order and running smoothly.

Many thanks to Todd, over at the Champagne of Alabama football blogs, Roll Bama Roll for this weeks questions. As always you can refer to the Roundtable Blog for links to all this contributors.

1. Have y’all developed an unexpected affection for any of the non-revenue sports during the offseason, and if so which ones?

I am firmly on the baseball bandwagon – in true form, only when they are winning – and I was glued to the Softball Super Regional, but for the last five years my springs have been dominated by little league baseball. With two boys playing, it becomes a second, full-time job so there isn’t the time to follow the other sports. I love my alma mater and gladly support it every opportunity I get, but the reality is I devote so much to Fall Saturdays – we have declined participation in more than a few things because of possible conflicts with Alabama games – that the “account” tends to get rather low and thus requires the other nine months to build the balance back up. I do love me some Braves though – three games over the Phillies right now!! (I realize that isn’t a non-revenue sport, but it helps to pass the time).

2. Back to football, which team on the upcoming schedule are you most looking forward to facing and why?

I’m sure this is the stock answer but Penn State is going to be the perfect storm of college football perfection. Along the same lines this year has one of the best schedules and home schedules in particular. Two seasons ago, when Tennessee and LSU were away and Kentucky, moribund State and Ole Miss teams made up the home schedule, along with the Teagles – which saved the home schedule from Siberia-like bleakness – there weren’t many weeks games that had me excited about hauling all our gear to the Quad. That won’t be the case this year as virtually every home game, save Georgia State and San Jose State – where the newness of the expanded stadium and arrival of football will far out shine the opponent – will be eagerly anticipated affairs.  It’s going to be like a roller coaster where you’ve got just enough time to catch your breath before the next exciting turn has you white-knuckled in your recliner or stadium seat.

3. It’s hard to imagine Jim McElwain not making the leap to a head coaching position sometime soon. When that sad day comes, who would be your dream OC hire to take his place?

I’m not sure. I’m a defensive-minded fan and so, while I find a lot of these high-flying offenses intriguing, I really like seeing them at other schools. I’ll just go ahead and resign myself to what will happen anyway: I’ll trust that Saban will make the best choice for our team and the personnel on it.

4. In that same vein, which OC that Alabama will face this year would you send an unmarked van filled with goons to “disappear” and then replace with a cosmetically-surgified-to-look-just-like-them Jeff Bowden?

Petrino and Mullen are both head coaches/offensive coordinators that seem to have earned respect; Arkansas is supposedly a dark-horse NC contender (I suppose only because someone has to be) and I’m very interested to see Florida post-Mullen without the boy wonder. But I’m going to go with someone who as an OC or Head Coach has probably the best record against Alabama and that would be David Cutcliffe. The only thing that gives me any hope (other than the fact that he doesn’t have a Manning taking snaps this time) is that Alabama should be a far superior team, talent-wise. Say what you want about Cutcliffe, but he has the numbers to prove he can call an offense.

5. Finally, what is the one thing you are most looking forward to when football season finally gets here?

It’s certainly, in part, the restless anticipation that builds to crescendo on game week, the electricity that is palpable as I walk the well worn steps from the tailgate, across the Walk of Champions, up the spiral and to my seat, and the way the hair stands up on my neck as the “Star Spangled Banner” is completed and the team runs on to the field. Or even the euphoric elation that can only come from beating Tennessee, LSU or Auburn. Or the way my heart will swell with pride when the new National Championship flag is unveiled for the first time (against Penn State and not San Jose State if anybody in the Athletic Department is reading). All those things are great and I do look forward to them, but the honest and simple truth is that there are seven guaranteed days when I can crack open a beer between 7:00 and 9:00 (a.m.) and know that I have nothing to do the rest of the day but enjoy the  fellowship of good friends and the bask in the joy of something I am absolutely passionate about. That’s the definition of a blessing.

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