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.

This week’s edition of the Rountable bids a fond farewell to Memphis Tider as he ceases blogging on his site this week. I completely understand this thing called real life and how it interferes with activities like blogging. There comes a point when you have to pare down things in your life because there are just too many of them. Best wishes, Memphis Tider!

On with the questions:

1.After hearing as much as I have about BJ Scott, Dre Kirkpatrick, Rod Woodson, etc, is it possible that the secondary this year may actually be better than last year’s squad?

I guess that anything is possible and it would seem that the premise is that raw athletic ability will make up for the lack of experience but it just seems that experience is just too important. As talented as they are they are bound to see some things that make them think and as we all know at this point, if you’re thinking you’re not reacting. Really elite football teams react. The most likely scenario is that this groups surprises us by their rapid development as the season progresses. The early conference tests set up well for being tested and learning early.

2. How will all of the awards and honors, especially from his hometown, affect Mark Ingram’s performance this season?

Ingram seems to be a humble enough kid that it shouldn’t affect him. The unfortunate thing is that he is very unlikely to produce this year like he did last – it was, in fact, a record breaking performance, he stayed relatively injury free, and Richardson emerged as a viable option in his own right and that should reduce some of the load and thus opportunities this year. There is a faction out there that will blame his relative woes on a big head if the numbers drop. Tebow remained humble after his trophy and although his numbers were never as good as his Heisman year he remained an effective player. I believe that Ingram is made of the same type of stuff. At least I hope he is.

3. Could you see Greg McElroy as a legitimate early round selection in the NFL draft next year? Why or why not?

Admittedly I know very little of what constitutes an early round pick in the NFL but if McElroy improves some and is consistent (I suppose that would be his improvement) there is a possibility he could be an early draft pick.

4. James Willis was a master recruiter and one hell of a linebackers coach. We haven’t talked much about what the loss of him means to our staff. Tell us what you think the effect will be with him gone to Texas Tech.

What a great question. First Saban has shown that winning is not a function of consistency in staffing so I believe that as long as he’s piloting the ship, the course will remain the same. As far as how he’ll do at Texas Tech, his addition to the staff has to be a boon for Tuberville. Willis’ knowledge of defense has got to help the Red Raiders and surely his recruiting prowess will be helpful. But overall, Texas Tech will probably never be a football “power” and that is mostly for the same reasons that Mississippi State will never be: there is really no tradition from which to build and the location is horrible. I believe that as a coach selling a program you’re better off selling a new program than you are one with a history of mediocrity. Also, and I mean no offense to Starkville and Lubbock, unless you are raised with an affinity for these institutions, there really isn’t much in the way of enticement to spend four or five years of your life there. Sure some would argue that you could say the same of Tuscaloosa, and on many levels I’d agree, but the difference  is that Tuscaloosa is a football town – it doesn’t take very long for even the most football obtuse to realize that – and there is an established history of football excellence here. If you’re going to spend four to five years in a location that doesn’t fit your idea of paradise, you at least want the opportunity to win while you’re there. To conclude and be concise with my response: Willis will do well in Lubbock because he is a good coach, but there would seem to be a glass ceiling on the level of accomplishment that is possible at Texas Tech.

5. Have you ever seen a state whose political views can be switched by football rumors? The Tim James fiasco is absolutely incredible to me how much football can mean to a state.

I must be out of the loop more than I thought because I don’t know all the details. I don’t listen to Finebaum because he’s an instigator and tends to bring out the worst elements in the football loving public of our fine state. As far as I can tell most folks that would seek to be callers on Finebaum’s show are exactly the kind of person that can’t wait to vote for James.  So I’ll provide two responses: First, good or bad, football is our thing in this state. Despite the ridiculous heat that unpacks its bags  and moves in for four to five months this time of year and the ignorance that abounds in this state (the very fact that there is even the remotest of possibilities that Tim James could become governor proves the astounding amount of ignorance) there is no place in the world I’d rather be as September rolls around than right here. Football is what we do.

Second, Tim James represents the worst element of this state, the ignorant masses who attend church every Sunday and still believe that it’s acceptable to hate and oppress, the hypocrite, those with two-story houses in their eyes that stand up and yell about the splinters of their neighbors eyes, those who would gladly lead a prayer in a school unless of course it was a prayer to Allah or in Hebrew, those who teach English in schools and still say “ain’t” and end sentences with “at”, those who believe God and the founding fathers stand firmly with them despite the fact that the only verse of scripture they know  is John 3:16 and couldn’t tell you anything of the fathers other than that they were “Christians”, basically the people that love Rick and Bubba. James  is counting on their vote to become governor. That is reprehensible. He is the definition of a politician and I loathe him for that.  I contend that we need a leader. Someone who will embrace the future and the changes that must take place in this state if we are ever to move beyond where we are now.  Someone who will put an emphasis on education despite the fact that it doesn’t play well politically. OK, I’m done now. I’ll stop before I get really worked up.

This weeks questions were provided courtesy of one of the best college football blogs out there, Third Saturday in Blogtober. As always you can get links to all participants here.

1. Whenever a media outlet evaluates the Tide heading into the fall, the first three questions are always ‘how will the Tide replace Terrence Cody?’, ‘will the secondary be a weakness?’, and ‘what sort of liability will special teams be?’ After these three obvious questions, is there another area not being discussed that could be problematic this fall?

Because the offensive line is basically recreated every single season (unless you have that very rare situation where all five starters return) I will stress over how that unit gels until I see proof otherwise. There is also bound to be some drop off in production at the tight end position with the loss of Colin Peek. Those are the two that concern me in addition to the 2010 pre-season boiler plate concerns.

2. Every season since Coach Saban showed up on campus, at least two true freshman have distinguished themselves either as starters or as standout contributors on offense or defense. In 2007, it was Rolando McClain and Kareem Jackson, followed by Julio Jones and Donta Hightower in 2008, and last year it was Trent Richardson and (arguably) Nico Johnson. Who do you see being an immediate asset for the class of 2010?

Because of the lack of depth in the secondary that would seem to be the area that would offer the quickest playing time. Milliner and Fulton could see playing time there based on their supposed skill sets. Generally, I believe it’s hard to predict what freshman, if any, can make an impact. The one big difference between this year and the previous two is that the quality depth is as good as it has been since the early nineties. You’d have to be a very special player at an area of need to break to rotation this season.

3. We’re all hopeful that Alabama goes undefeated for the third consecutive regular season, but ‘unlikely’ doesn’t begin to describe the difficulty of that. If Alabama is going to lose at least one game, the question is not which is most likely, but which loss could you stomach the easiest?

As much as I hate to think about the sickening feeling that I’ll have in my stomach when that finally happens, my first reaction is that the Florida or Penn State games would be the easiest to take. Those are early enough that the team could recover  enough with good performances down the stretch. Plus with Florida, the team could win out and get a rematch that would matter more. Either way, that’s just tough to think about.

4. Lots of people are pointing to the Georgia State game as the functional equivalent of a bye week. Agree or disagree?

I agree so much that it may even be better than a bye week. That is a game that should see the starters exit early and every single player on the roster logging some playing time. It would be even better if they can do it on Thursday, so Saban could keep his routine week in preparation for Auburn. I hate to degrade any opponent but let’s face facts, the scout team has more talent than the Curry’s Georgia State team will have.

5. We’ve been talking about hypothetical expansion for weeks now and the consensus is that the SEC will expand if it feels so compelled by the moves of other conferences. For a few days a specious rumor has been circulating on MSM sources that the Big Ten has extended invitations to Nebraska, Missouri, Notre Dame, and Rutgers (one version includes Syracuse). If this group of invites were true, would this be enough to cause the SEC to attempt expansion? Why or why not?

I believe that it would. If the SEC has been anything, it has been progressive. I just can’t see them resting on their laurels while another conference makes attempts to steal its thunder.

The questions were provided by yours truly and if you so desire you can read my answers here. To highlight the answers of other contributors, I submit the following:

The first question dealt with future scheduling in light of the recent changes involving Georgia Tech announced last week.

Opinions varied widely on this with most liking the more traditional teams. Todd liked the idea of a revenge game against LA – Monroe.

The second question asked about favorite Tide players from this past year moving up on our own sentimental lists.

Like me Capstone Report couldn’t get enough of Ro. Todd made room in his heart for everyone’s favorite defensive lineman, Terrance Cody. Kurtz, from 3SIB loved Ingram, but not enough to let him overtake Bobby Humphrey. And Alabama Man Dance from the superb Tower of Bammer went back a year to show Rashad Johnson his propers.

The third question asked about conference expansion who you’d pick to become the new pledge class.

Yet again there was a mixed bag of responses for expansion, with about half going for and half against. Everyone’s reasons are as complex as the problem is but there was pretty good agreement with the teams involved: Georgia Tech, Florida State, Texas and Oklahoma plus a few odd teams that fit due to either geography or prestige. There was also consensus that if anybody had to go it should be the Gamecocks and the Razorbacks.

Next’s years chances for success or failure for our two biggest rivals was the subject for the fourth question and there was universal agreement on the ineptitude of our friends to the north. The committee seems to think that Auburn’s chances for success are somewhat bearish based mostly on last year’s performance and their untested quarterback. To quote TJ of Tower of Bammer, “Yeah, yeah, Cam Newton is the real deal, you say. I prefer to make those sorts of judgements after he plays a few games and not base my opinions on players off of whatever youtube videos the barners have been jerking off to.”

Finally we discussed who we thought the biggest surprise in the conference would be:

Roll Bama Roll: Ole Miss will be surprisingly good, if only because Houston Nutt’s teams are always best when no one is paying any attention.  I’m not saying they are going to challenge for the division or anything, but another Cotton Bowl (or other New Year’s Day Bowl) appearance isn’t that far fetched either.

Tower of Bammer:

Alabama ManDance: The officiating! I think it is going to be even worse. And I think the bitching about it is going to reach a fucking fever pitch. Mike Slive is going to have to publicly execute one of those sons-a-bitches, and it won’t even help. Babies will get called for holding, every play will be a unsportsmanlike taunting, and kicking wedge violations will get called on field goals. So many flags will fly it will block out the sun! And you know what? Football will still be fun to watch, people will still get cancer, and bacon will still make you fat and taste good as shit.

TJ: For the 1st time in 5 years, the SEC will not have a team in the BCS Championship Game. The party has to end sometime, right? I have a feeling that the old spectre of SEC attrition will return with a vengeance. Nobody makes it out unscathed and we get to watch Boise State vs Ohio State. Sucks, huh?

Third Saturday in Blogtober: I think Mississippi State has a big year and LSU implodes.

Capstone Report:I believe Georgia is going to be a pleasant surprise this year. Sure, everyone always expects Georgia to be good. And they will be. What I think will be most surprising is that Georgia and Mark Richt will correct the discipline problems and the concentration issues that have plagued the team over the last few years. This means I expect fewer penalties and improved cohesion on the team—that should mean a better chances to win the big games.

Thanks to everyone for participating. We’ll see you on the next addition.

So, with typical PMR form, I’m a little later posting my answers than I intended to be. Here are my answers with a brief round-up coming soon. Please refer to the C&W Blog for a list of participants with links.

1. There’s been a lot of talk about schedules and future opponents recently with Georgia Tech dropping off for 2012 and 1013. This question gets thrown around a lot, but it’s pertinent once again. Pretend you’re Mal Moore. Who do you target for a future home-and-home series or who would you seek for a one-shot, neutral site game?

Having a grandfather that was a die-hard Tech fan makes me pretty upset about this scheduling snafu. When he was a child, my dad used to travel with him to Grant Field from their NW Georgia home, via train, to watch games on Saturday. I was hoping to bring that full circle by going to the game there with my dad. Not that it won’t happen now, it’s just that my dad has slowed somewhat in his game attendance and I’m concerned that the more time that goes by the harder it will be to get him to go.

Anyway, I’m a sucker for traditional games or traditional teams. I’d love to see Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC or Nebraska fill those vacancies. I know, I know, modern scheduling, and time are factors here, but the question is what I’d like, not what will happen.

2. The recently completed season has gotten us all filled with fresh, good memories. A new crop of players have completed their eligibility and endeared themselves to Crimson Tide faithful forever as have some guys that are still on the roster. Have any of the recent players unseated their predecessors for the top spots on your own personal “all-time greatest” players list? If so, who are they?

I love defense first and foremost. I’d rather see a sack or line of scrimmage stuff than a touchdown. I guess I just like the punishment. There hasn’t been anyone more punishing in recent memory that Rolando McClain. His physicality combined with his intelligence and humble nature easily push him to one of the top spots of most loved players. Javier was great too and you’ve got to give a tip-of-the-hat to Ingram. But for my money, they don’t come any better than Ro. Scoot over Biscuit, you’ve got some company.

3. Conference expansion is all the rage across the country, which in my opinion is a response to the recent and foreseeable dominance in the SEC. Now expansion of our conference is being discussed as a possibility. Are you for or against expansion of the SEC and why? Whether you are pro-expansion or not, list the teams you like to see added (and/or removed) to the league roster if expansion takes place.

This is a little complex. First off, I’m fine with the status quo, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that the times, they are a changin. You either improve or at best you stagnate and that is the first step to rotting. If any other conference is going to grow beyond twelve members, it is absolutely imperative that the SEC does so as well and if you’re going to do it eventually you’re better to do it sooner rather than later. Sure we all love the way it is, but it won’t always be that way. The Beatles were great when they were churning out stuff like, “She love you” and “I want to hold your hand” but they would have soon been left in the dust bin had it not been for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonly Hearts Cub Band” and the White Album. The conference has got to change if it wants to remain where it is.

So if it’s going to grow, let’s add some real power. You start with traditional rivals from the ACC: Clemson, Florida State, and Georgia Tech. You can throw Miami in to make it an even sixteen team conference. That way we stay regional and true to our roots. I understand the attraction of Texas, Texas A & M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State but, a) it’s not regional and 2) something tells me you’ll never get them away from where they are; the Big XII ain’t great but they are far and away the most competitive conference after the SEC and those four teams, along with Nebraska, anchor it. I could be wrong, and often am, but I don’t see any of those four leaving unless the conference completely dissolved.

One final thought on this; I am totally in favor, however far fetched it may seem, of five or six “super-conferences” banding together and forming their own football league completely independent of the NCAA. The NCAA is too broad and detailed in its rules and as a result is arbitrary and capricious in meting out punishments that harm the wrong individuals. Sure the smaller, less traditional football schools won’t like it but it would be better for the “football” schools and we really don’t mind if Auburn rides our coat tails once again (ZING!). There never has and can never be an equal playing field when it comes to football. Is it fair that a school like Boise State doesn’t get the same opportunity as an Alabama or Texas? When it comes to football, absolutely! Football means more to people in Alabama, and Mississippi,  and Louisiana than it does to people in Idaho or Utah and the attendance, revenues and passion confirm that. Just because they have a few good years doesn’t put them on the same ground as the football powers and those powers shouldn’t be penalized so that an artificial “even” playing field can be created. We have that already and it’s called college basketball. Sure the Big Dance is great, but 95% of people don’t give a crap about college basketball until the Dance comes along. Regardless of what anyone says, I just don’t believe that translates to football nor would I want it to. Alright, I’m going to calm down now.

4. Pre-season indications (which are admittedly totally my own prognostications) are that our two biggest rivals, Tennessee and Auburn, are going to suck and be somewhat improved respectively. Agree or disagree?

Since I wrote the question, I’d have to agree. I generally don’t read others’ answers prior to writing my own, but I’m picking up a consensus opinion that people (and by that I mean anyone other than Auburn fans) believe that the Teagles are going to stink this year.  No one doubts UT’s level of sucktitude but all the signs are there: depleted roster and virtually no experience where it matters coupled with new coaches and systems combine for a long, long year on Rocky Top. But down on the Plains things aren’t as transparent.

Auburn started last year with two conference wins (on their way to 5-0 out of the gate) and managed to lose five of the last six against conference foes, including blowing fourteen-point leads in the last two. This was primarily because there was no depth on the defense and therefore that side of the ball played appallingly bad. The offense wasn’t the problem and despite the loss of a senior quarterback, the Tigers could actually be better this season at the signal-caller spot due to the arrival of super-hyped petty larcenist juco sensation, Cam Newton. Let’s just say they are as good as they were on offense last year, which I don’t believe is that big of a stretch, they will almost certainly be better on defense. Chizik is a good defensive coach and he’s got the hardware to prove it. I’m sorry, and I’m not trying to be a heretic here, but I think that Auburn will be improved. At least, unlike Tennessee, they have the possibility of it. Maybe it’s just me wishing that the game that takes place the day after Thanksgiving will have ramifications beyond that of bragging rights in our state.

5. Tell us what team will be the biggest surprise, good or bad, in the SEC this season.

I’m going with State. They aren’t sexy and the things that are required are not necessarily there on paper, but I believe that Mullen can coach.

Here are this weeks questions. Please send a link and I’ll compile a synopsis by the weekend. I’ll also post my own answers in a day or two. Enjoy and have a great week! – PMR

1. There’s been a lot of talk about schedules and future opponents recently with Georgia Tech dropping off for 2012 and 1013. This question gets thrown around a lot, but it’s pertinent once again. Pretend you’re Mal Moore. Who do you target for a future home-and-home series or who would you seek for a one-shot, neutral site game?

2. The recently completed season has gotten us all filled with fresh, good memories. A new crop of players have completed their eligibility and endeared themselves to Crimson Tide faithful forever as have some guys that are still on the roster. Have any of the recent players unseated their predecessors for the top spots on your own personal “all-time greatest” players list? If so, who are they?

3. Conference expansion is all the rage across the country, which in my opinion is a response to the recent and foreseeable dominance in the SEC. Now expansion of our conference is being discussed as a possibility. Are you for or against expansion of the SEC and why? Whether you are pro-expansion or not, list the teams you like to see added (and/or removed) to the league roster if expansion takes place.

4. Pre-season indications (which are admittedly totally my own prognostications) are that our two biggest rivals, Tennessee and Auburn, are going to suck and be somewhat improved respectively. Agree or disagree?

5. Tell us what team will be the biggest surprise, good or bad, in the SEC this season.

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.

This weeks questions were courtesy of Roll Bama Roll. A round up with links to all participants can be found here.

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.

This submission marks my return to the blogosphere after a three month lay off. I wan the thank Kleph for inviting me to participate and I look forward to this regular event as a way to rev up my posting. You can see other participants here.
Without further ado:
1.Is Alabama on the verge of a quarterback controversy? The backup quarterback is always a fan favorite, but A.J. McCarron posted good stats from the first spring scrimmage. What are the chances he some significant playing time in 2010? Would that be good or bad?

Saban has shown throughout his career that he will stand behind the starter. McElroy is a proven commodity at this point, will be a two-year starter, and has what no other signal caller in the country has: a National Championship Ring. So unless he’s injured (God forbid) he’s going to start and see the majority of the snaps. If there is any issue I have with Saban, it’s that he doesn’t let the backup QB play enough and I’m always scared of what will happen in an injury situation. I just don’t see anybody other than GMac getting a lot of game work. That’s good if he continues the way he’s been going and bad if he gets injured but either way I have no problem with it.
2. Were there any other bits of good or bad news from the scrimmage that fans should consider?

The difference in years past and this year, as far as my perceptions of Spring Ball is that I have always looked for anything good that happens to hang my hat on as to how the season will be better. This year, I’m confident we are on the right path. I predicted huge things for Terry Grant, Jimmy Johns and quite a few others based on the way they played in the Spring. That turned out well. Honestly, I’m just not following it as much as I typically do, so I’m not gonna do any crystal ball gazing from what always turns out to be partial glimpses that don’t really tell you anything.
3.Homecoming is October 16 against Ole Miss. Thoughts? Is it ever good to play an SEC squad for homecoming?

The scheduling the last few years has made a mid-term patsy harder to come by. Homecoming has gotten to be overrated and a cliche that we hold onto that has little meeting. If your an alumnus and you want to come back to campus and enjoy a game with friends and family, are you gonna chose from between Penn State, Florida, or Auburn or come to the lively festivities surrounding the Georgia State game (who is what I consider HC fodder). Every game means something big. Calling it Homecoming doesn’t change anything. I’m gonna be there regardless and I hope our team shows up and plays to its potential.
4.What does the Menzie injury do to Alabama’s projected depth in the secondary?

There is no question that if Saban recruited him, then the coach believed he could have contributed. Loss of depth hurts, there is no question. But if there is an area that has been a constant in Saban’s tenure, then it has been the development of the players in the secondary. The secondary overall is a concern, but the nature of college football almost dictates that you have depth concerns in one or two units every year. Am I concerned? Yes. Menzie’s absence only intensifies that. Will the team work through it? Recent history says yes.
5.Happy that Duke won the tournament? Happy the basketball season is finally over?

College basketball is probably my third favorite sport and for me personally, my interest in the relative sport has a lot to do with my favorite team’s activity within the sport. Alabama’s absence from post-season play allowed me to focus on other things. I watched the tournament, especially the first round, but not with usual fervor or with the interest I would have had Alabama been deserving of a bid and included. I supose the short answer is that I am indifferent to Duke’s victory. I didn’t even watch the game, because I really just didn’t care. I don’t follow or know anything about Duke’s players this year and didn’t even know where Butler was until I heard it in a news story leading up to the Final Four.
I’ll use the question to say this, though: I think one of the huge negatives for a proposed football tournament is that, inevitably, you’re going to get match ups in the championship game that are less than appealing. Was Butler being in the championship game a good thing? If you’re a fan of Butler, then certainly. If you’re a fan of college basketball, then maybe. If you’re a television advertiser, then probably not. The draw with the Dance is huge in the early rounds and then diminishes as the games continue, unless you get the big name match up. With the current system in football, the excitement, at least as far as the championship goes, is on the last game.

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