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Welcome to this week’s installment of the Roundtable. You can find the other responders and a wrap-up post right here. On to the questions:

1. What is the biggest lesson we learned in the win over Arkansas last
Saturday?

The first thing that comes to mind would be resiliency; Alabama did what they had to do late in the game to win. Sometime in the third quarter, when Arkansas was up by two scores, thoughts drifted back to a few previous Alabama experiences: at Auburn last season, against a Saban coached LSU team in 2000 and against the eventual national champion, LSU, in 2007 (which still had some Sabanistic toughness now missing in Baton Rouge). All three of those games were won, eventually by the better team (two of them were Saban-led) despite the fact that they trailed in the fourth quarter.

This team has confidence and a belief in what it is doing.

The second thing that was learned, and perhaps just as important, is that this defense still has a lot of work to do. This shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone at this point. They were atrocious in the first half. If there is a silver lining it is that they did appear to grow up some in the second half. Now, let’s see if they can keep the intensity and effort up for a whole game.

2. What is the biggest concern going into the game with Florida next
Saturday?

The defense’s ability to stop Florida is the biggest concern. Granted, despite the production against Kentucky last week, Florida has not appeared to be the offensive team we’ve come to expect from a Meyer led team but there is potential for Brantley to find some success with the deep ball – two other opponents have and Florida is more than capable.

This weekend’s game appears to be a case of strength on strength (Florida’s defense versus Alabama’s offense) and weakness on weakness (Florida’s offense and Alabama’s defense). The talent gap you can count on with most of Alabama’s opponents is almost non-existent. It’s going to come down to who makes the fewest mistakes.

3. Will this contest be a preview of this year’s SECCG? Why or why
not?

At this point, due to obvious weakness in teams from the East, Florida is without a doubt your odds on favorite. South Carolina is the only team that could conceivably beat them, but that would seem to be a long shot at this point.

The West, however, is a different story. There are three teams that have a shot. LSU has holes, yet they’ve remained unbeaten.  The same could be said of Auburn. At this point Alabama has to be the favorite, but there are some holes there, too.

If Alabama can make it through the next two weeks unbeaten (or even with one loss) it stands a good chance of beating Ole Miss and Tennessee and making it to  the bye week in position to get it legs under it and focus on fundamentals for a week before preparing for the always tough trip to Baton Rouge.  Auburn could very well stumble down the stretch but right now they’ll be the favorite in every contest now except for one. The gmae on the day after Thanksgiving could very well decide the West’s representative in the championship game.

If this does indeed turn out to be a copy of the bill for the title game, it would stand to reason that both the Alabama defense and Florida offenses would be better.

4. What part of this week’s gameday experience are you most looking forward to?

While this appears to be one of the most perfect combinations possible in the football world – a top-ten match up of the conference elite, a clash of cultures and some of the best football weather imaginable – I find that I’m excited about this contest more than any other this season for other reasons.

For the past twelve consecutive seasons, I have gathered for at least one game with two of my closest college buddies. The core three have stayed the same, but without fail at least two more join us and it becomes an annual celebration. This might not seem like that big of a deal, but these guys  travel from at least 1,600 miles away. While they have definite Alabama ties – one’s grandfather played with Paul Bryant on the ’31 National Championship team and later worked for the Athletic Department for years – it’s their passion for Alabama in distant, heathen lands that has brought new converts into the fold. We now have a group of several guys from western states that make a yearly trip to the Capstone to watch Alabama play, despite the fact they have no ties to the University or SEC football. It’s going to be a big weekend for me.

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What is the most important thing we learned about the 2010 Alabama Crimson Tide in the wake of the San Jose State game?

I think it’s safe to say that we didn’t really learn anything. SJSU was clearly out manned and Alabama was never really tested. CJ Mosely looks like he’s got some talent and McCarron did a pretty decent job as well. So, in that regard I guess we learned that we have some talent in reserve, but I think we were all pretty clear on that anyway. Let’s all agree that the Spartans amounted to a pre-season scrimmage game that actually counts on the record.

What is the biggest area of concern given the upcoming contest with the Penn State?

The laundry list of concerns I’ve had all year: Will the secondary make it through without being scorched on a regular basis, will the offensive line gel, will the tight-end position provide production, will this team have the fight in them that last years team had? In my mind we might as well be starting the season this weekend.
Which Alabama player is most likely to have a breakout performance against the Nittany Lions?

It would be very nice to see Lester back his performance last weekend up with a great game. On the offensive side, I’d like to see McElroy have a really big day.
What part of the gameday experience are you most looking forward to on Saturday?

Now that we got the first week tailgate kinks worked out, I’m looking forward to getting to the Quad early and taking in the revelry. The atmosphere should be up there with LSU last year and Auburn the year before. The other thing I am really looking forward to is seeing, or rather hearing, how loud 101,000 plus can get. There was a great atmosphere last week, this week it should be unlike anything we’ve ever experienced.

(Ed. Note: the following is what I wrote for our tailgate blog. It has been modified slightly to remove names and content specific to that blog)

On April 4, 1865, Gen. John T. Croxton and his cavalry brigade of the Union’s Army of the Cumberland, raided, seized, and burned Tuscaloosa and the campus of the University of Alabama. There are only a few buildings, including the President’s Mansion, that still stand from this horrific event. Just five days before Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House and within the last months of active fighting in the War Between the States, the full effect of the horrors of that war were felt in Tuscaloosa.

What, you ask, does this have to do with a football game? Two things, if you want to know the truth: First, there has not been an event in Tuscaloosa in the span of 144 years since that tragic affair bigger than what will happen this weekend and second, we will have more than old men and boys to defend against the invaders this time.

The game this weekend is the culmination of thirteen years of misery and the slow return to glory. This is the type of game that everyone dreams of.

So here we are, our team has sat atop the polls all season, the respect that has been denied for so long has finally returned, and we have returned to our rightful place among the nation’s elite. The talk of conference and national championships is now more than just talk. It is all right here in front of us, ripe for the picking. But at least for now, all that lies in front of us is LSU.

The glorious warrior-poets of the Crimson Tide will battle the fighting Tigahs of LSU this weekend in Bryant-Denny Stadium at 2:30 in a game broadcast nationally by CBS. On the line is not only our pride, the pride of our coach, and our #3 national ranking, but a guaranteed birth in the SEC Championship game, a chance to take our unblemished record into the final three weeks of the season, and a continued march toward a 13th national championship.

I’m certain there are other games on television  but honestly, I just don’t care. There is only one game this weekend.

Alright folks, you know what you have to do. This is the perfect storm of football and tailgating. Great weather (clear with highs in the low 70’s), lots of great food and fun, and the biggest football game in the country between two great teams. This, my friends, is what it’s all about. By the time this game ends under the lights of Bryant-Denny, the emphatic statement that we are back will have been made.

I’ll see you on the Quad! Roll Tide Roll!

I’ll close with this (just in case you weren’t fired up already)

They say this is the loudest Bryant-Denny has ever been. Let’s prove them wrong.

This past weekend was what college football is all about to  me. I was thinking going in that Alabama was a much better tean than Tennessee and that I would be dissapointed with anything less than humiliation of the hated Vawls from them. I was wrong.

The elation I experienced in the moments following the blocked kick as time expired was as euphoric as every win I’ve ever experienced as a fan in this storied series. It’s games like this that make the rivalry so great.

Now that I am somewhat rested the focus of my brain (and liver) has shifted to something other than clearing alcohol from my system. Some thoughts:

Alabama

  • This was the first game all year that left me feeling there were things to worry about. After watching the replay yesterday I feel better about that. Granted, the offense has to improve, but despite the fact that this one came down to the wire, Alabama did the things it needed to do to win. They aren’t perfect but they are a complete team.
  • They win. That’s the major difference in Alabama and Tennessee right now. It wasn’t to long ago that Alabama did not know how to win.
  • I was convinced that McElroy stunk it up Saturday after the game. Part of that was carryover from the South Carolina game and part of that was the idiot behind me in the stands screaming about open receivers. After the replay I feel better about him. He didn’t do things to help us lose the game, which is an improvement.  Obviously he needs to improve but I’m confident that he can. The thing that crossed my mind was maybe the speed of SEC defenses have sped the game up for him and he’s rushing his decision making and therefore his execution. Hopefully, the game will slow down for him and he’ll be fine. I’m confident that he can lead this team but we need to see improvement every week.
  • This has been stated ad naseum in the last thirty-six hours but the bye week comes at a great time. Rest and focus should do this team wonders.

Tennessee

  • The series of events that had to take place for Tennessee to have a chance to win this game was just amazing:
  1. The most sure handed rusher in the conference fumbles a ball.
  2. Overcomes a sack for a big loss of yardage to keep a drive alive.
  3. Score a touchdown against a team that hadn’t given up one in almost twelve quarters.
  4. Recover an onside kick.
  5. Move the ball enough to set up a field goal to win the game without a time out.

Simply amazing.

  • You could argue that UT did enough the rest of the game to be in position to win and I don’t know that I’d disagree. Still, in the stadium until around the two minute mark, I never felt like UT had a chance to win. As successful as the Vol offense had been and as good as Crompton was, there was a point on every promising drive that the worn out Alabama defense emphatically shut the door.  The final three minutes contained all the drama.
  • Deserve has nothing to do with this game. This UT team still has a ways to go to be competitive every week. Sometime mediocre teams play great games against better competition but I’ve never felt this was a true indicator of a team’s progress (as Lane would have you believe). The measure in this sport is not total yards, first downs, or time of possession. It’s wins. This UT team is 3-4. That’s not very good.
  • Keeping on the same theme, this situation reminds me of Alabama and LSU in ’07. The Tide took LSU to the wire and lost after leading most of the game. They felt good about themselves and then threw all that promise away in consecutive weeks (against Mississippi State, La-Monroe, and Auburn no less). This is not a prediction, but the Vols need to focus on South Carolina this week, and not what they did or almost did against Alabama. Another Vol loss this week (and more the rest of the way) will not surprise me at all.
  • Lane Kiffin needs to shut the hell up. Obviously, I’m not a fan, but this is ridiculous. He’s already calling for the victory next year and and whining about headsets and penalties like it was a conspiracy that kept his team from winning. I loathe people that place blame on anyone but themselves for thier situation. Lane seem like the poster boy for that. Your team did a lot and I mean a lot to gain respect from at least this Alabama fan this week. Kiffin stuck a pin in that balloon real quickly with his big mouth. Just be quiet and let the team make the statement for what you’re doing.
  • When is someone going to start the Kiffin promise board. He’s making promises more quickly than a politician – which he reminds me of. He’s saying all theses things that his fans want to hear but he isn’t really following up on them. I’ll start the check list: “… not getting recruits from Memphis (OK, that was Thompson, but he’s writing checks on Kiffin’s account) -not happening. “Sing Rocky Top all night after beating the Gators” – didn’t happen. After he’s finished promising all the losses from this season that are supposed to be wins next year UT should run the table by his estimation.
  • Tennessee played a great game. They were well prepared and played very physical football for sixty minutes. Unlike the last two years, they never gave up in this one. My credit is worthless, but they were a more impressive product than I have seen in a while from the boys in orange. The single biggest superlative for this team is its tenacity.

Personal

  • I always look forward to and enjoy this game every year. There was. however,  a perfect storm of events that made this one extra special:
  1. Weather that proves God loves college football
  2. My friends Chris and Steve flying in from Albuquerque and Denver respectively keeping a string of twelve consecutive years where we all attend a game together going.
  3. Chris and Steve bringing their fraternity brothers Justin and Seth with them for the second time. These guys are southwest guys with no ties to Alabama other than friendship and have become big fans – they love the experience of southern football.
  4. Getting to meet and hang out with three folks I like and respect from the internet all in the same day: Holly, Doug, and later Clay Travis. Good folks all.
  5. The game itself. Obviously.
  6. Finishing the night doing shots with a former professional baseball player who was in town for the game. (and who was an all-around good guy).

Like the team, I need a bye week. I’m going to focus on work, flag football, and hopefully a little rock climbing before the team hits the field again for a huge matchup with the Tigahs.

Let the good times ROLL! I’m within fifteen minutes of heading out the door on my way to Baton Rouge. If you’ve never been, go. I love game at Bryant-Denny and tailgating on the Quad but there is nothing in this world like a football Saturday in Baton Rouge.

The bonus is that I’m so excited about the trip that I have forgotten to be nervous about the game tomorrow. I’m sure that will come back with a vengeance.

Gerry Dorsey has an especially great feature with his Love Thine Enemy serial this week.

New site, A Drug Called Tradition, has a great piece on Alabama’s football fortunes in relation to elections.

Ya’ll have a great weekend and whether you are in Death Valley or in front of a television, yell loudly.

Mark Dau, who is the editor-in-chief, for The Tailgater.com, published a story today on his site that was compiled form an email interview with yours truly. I tried to express how great I believe tailgating on the Quad, Alabama Football, and the awesomeness when the two come together is and I think Mark did a good job relating that to his readers.

So go check it out.

There is an old joke that asks what’s the difference between Northern and Southern Fairly tails. Northern fairly tales all start out with, “once upon a time” and Southern fairly tales start out, “y’all ain’t gonna believe this shit.”

Y’all ain’t gonna believe this shit, but Alabama started the season by beating a top ten team and is a front-runner to win the division and challenge for the SEC title come December.

It was so easy to believe and it made such good sense; Alabama has more talent on the field – never mind their youth and it’s companion, inexperience – than they have had in the past several seasons. This is Saban’s second season you don’t have to delve deep into the archives to find dramatic turnarounds in year two. The Tide was flying under the radar a little bit and almost all the pundits had them pegged as at least a year away.

Then they throttled the pre-season darling to run through the ACC and Sports Illustrated is plastering them up on the cover and sports writers and television personalities all over the country are falling all over themselves to see who can use the most superlatives in their descriptions of the Crimson Tide. The cherry on top of this sweet treat was that Little Brother’s new-fangled Spread Eagle offense had a horrible debut that had the Auburn faithful lamenting their 34-o win over a team that beat Alabama late last season.

Oh how things change in a week.

Alabama did come away with a win Saturday night. That should remain the focus. And if you look only at the score then it is a decisive win. But that really does not seem to be the whole story. Like anyone who was at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday night, I didn’t feel that the offense played very well. The comment I keep seeing over and over is that the the bunch led by Ross’ Brother looked just like they did last season. To me, that’s a scary proposition.

There are many things I could say to justify the play but when there is no justification they just become excuses and I’ve grown a little weary of that game. The O-line was without its starters and therefore lacked cohesion and while this is certainly true, you’d like to see backups that are redshirt sophomores perform a little better. The game plan was very reminiscent of last year’s and while that could have been a ploy to keep the offense vanilla and therefore off of future defensive coordinators film reels you would think that our players could execute them even better. John Parker still floated a few passes that could have led to big plays and therefore a completely different game and while you could say that he played better and didn’t necessarily hurt his teams chances the fact remains those passes were incompletions instead of touchdowns. And while the defense played really well considering they were out there for so long, how long will it be before they grow tired of bailing out the offense.

I’ve just said those things too many times over the past few seasons. I was kinda hoping this year could be different. And it still very well could. If I am anything I am hopeful. After all they do have the Clemson win on their resume and they did win a game when they played flat. If this is their worst game and it very well could be – they could play much better and still lose to two or three other teams on the schedule – then we, the fans, have very little to worry about.

I’m going to give some positives and then some negatives (several of the negatives aren’t confined to the game):

Positives

  • The defense has yet to give up a touchdown and the team overall has given up on 16 points in two games. This defense has the chance to be very good by season’s end.
  • Can you say enough good things about Javier Arenas? The guy is awesome and he adds a dimension to the return game that has to have other coaches up late at night. Heres hoping he returns quickly.
  • The reinsertion of Smith and Davis to the O-line should make a huge impact especially in the run game.
  • Mark Ingram is a super star waiting to happen. Alabama has sorely missed a back like him.
  • Tulane got to think about Alabama all summer and study film all week on what the Tide did in Atlanta. Alabama had neither of those things going for it.
  • As a guy at my tailgate said, this is probably the best thing that could have happened. They got humbled without losing and should be much more coachable.
  • Isn’t it great to be back at the Quad and in Bryant-Denny?

Negatives

  • The game plan appeared to be totally different. I just don’t understand that.
  • Julio has got to do better than 1 of 4 before he gets my Heisman nod. What was up with the short-armed attempt across the middle?
  • The backs need to do a better job on blitz recognition.
  • Will Alabama ever stop playing to the level of their competition?
  • While overall depth and talent are better it was obvious that this year’s team, at least to this point, cannot weather many injuries.
  • $6 drinks and $7 nachos?!? Come on guys this is ridiculous. I am not a fan of the new concessions.
  • Continuing with concessions, no popcorn or m&m’s. That’s absurd.
  • The Dreamland nachos are horrible. Same crappy chips, same crappy cheese, a tiny bit of meat with no sauce, served from the same booster club service. So much for making it a better fan experience. I actually watched as they charged a man $4 to fill his paper cup with ice. Somebody screwed this up.
  • I like our band but come on, Journey, the worst version of Kashmir ever, the same Green Day song to start the fourth quarter and then the Queen medley. First of all, they aren’t loud enough to get the stadium hyped and then the selections are just not good football fare. They played virtually no piped-in music on the PA and when they did it was Whitesnake. Seriously? Whitesnake? That wouldn’t have been cool to play even if this was 1988. Someone has got to do a better job on this. Let the band play all the catchy song after scores or first downs of big plays but stop trying to use them to excite the crowd. They are not good at it. I hate to say this but Dixieland Delight was better than that and Sweet Home Alabama just sounds so much better than Basket Case. In case you haven’t noticed, no one likes that song. We can do better than this.
  • The atmosphere was meh at best.The play didn’t help but I have a bad feeling that until the Auburn game there just isn’t going to be a ton of excitement. I really hope I’m wrong.
  • Parking is so screwed that I can’t even start to go into it. Just another example of paying money for someone to screw stuff up.
  • Would it be possible to cut the grass on the Quad? I understand the concept of leaving it a little long for weed control, drought tolerance and so forth but that was ridiculous.
  • With all the money UA spent on Gameday operations could they buy some fire ant poison?

Alright, I’m done whining and bitching – at least for now – let’s get ready for the Hilltoppers.

What’s up with the Cocks? I was at the Aimee Mann show at the Bama Theater last night and missed the entire Cocks-Commies game. Suffice to say when I got home and turned on sports center and was the score I was amazed. When we met a friend that was going to the show with us at Innisfree it was 7-0 Cocks and I felt certain that SC would run away with it.

A quick look at the stats shows that Carolina’s D played well enough to win, limiting Vandy to 225 yards and less than 100 passing. Contrast that to Carolina’s 325 and TOP that was almost identical and you find that, based on a look at stats alone, it appears that Vandy won the turnover battle (3-1) and hence the game.

That’s the second time this week (the other being Tennessee/UCLA) we have seen a team dominate the other statistically and still lose. The point children is this, being the better team talent wise is not a mandate for victory. Mistakes are the great equalizer. You have to be both talented and disciplined to consistently win football games. I know, file that under stuff you already knew.

Tailgating and Alabama Football-Other than the fact that it is the first home game and thus tailgate tomorrow it is hard to get real excited for Tulane. Alabama is almost a 30 point favorite and that does not give me great confidence. The two best things about tomorrow, other than beer on the Quad at 9:30, are the enthusiastic reception the team will get appearing in from of the home crowd for the first time combined with the big win last week and witnessing how they respond from said win and perform; basically, will they play to the same level or down to their competition. Either way, a day on the Quad and in the stadium is pretty much better than a day doing anything else on earth.

Booers Suck– Finally, I mentioned yesterday in the houndstooth post that i was not a fan of booing (I’ll have to work in the other grievances in later posts). Let me cut to the chase on this one. If you boo then you are a loser. Booing is the single most classless thing you can do at a football game.

Have I ever booed? Yes. I’ve booed Tennessee, LSU and Auburn when they came on the field and I’ve booed officials after questionable calls. I regret all of that. Does that make me a hypocrite for castigating others that boo? I don’t think so. I mean, I wet my bed before (when I was a small child and once when… oh never mind) but that doesn’t stop me from telling you that bed wetting is not cool either.

Mal Moore sent a memo out reminding all of us fans of the recent trails and tribulations of the Tulane football team and requested that we all give them warm applause when they enter the stadium. I’m glad he did but he shouldn’t have had to. There is no reason to ever boo young men when they take the field of play. Do you think that if you don’t boo they might believe you wan them to win? Do you think it intimidates them? I doubt it, it probably fires them up even more. I just can’t think of one single reason to boo the opponent when they come on the field.

When Alabama traveled to Oklahoma in 2002 I was very impressed with the video message reminding the Sooner fans to treat all of their guests with dignity and respect. There was no booing. I am jealous of that atmosphere and desire that all opposing fans, even Tennessee, Auburn, and LSU fans leave our stadium saying that they were treated well. Regardless of how you were treated elsewhere, you should never be part of the reason that an opposing fan or player has a bad experience in “our house”.

One thing that I have never done and find more reprehensible than anything else is booing my own team. Whether it is a player or coach if you feel the need to boo your own then you seriously need to question why you are at the stadium. It’s disgusting, it’s classless, it’s low-rent, and anyone who particiapates in that kind of behavior is, at least for that moment, a loser. And that’s with a capital L. I could go on about why not and how it’s percieved by players, rivals, and media but it’s really just pointless. I don’t care how much you paid for your ticket or what rights you think you have with that purchase, if you feel the need to boo the team that’s wearing the same color as you then you need to do everyone a favor, including yourself and leave. Go cuss and throw stuff in the privacy of your own home or car but don’t do it in the stadium.

Enjoy your weekend and Roll Tide! Beat Tulane!

A little Aimee Mann for you in honor of last night’s great performance.

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.

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