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This weeks questions come to us from the good folks (that’s just good Southern manners for Ed Orgeron, Bat Shit,  Crazy people) at Tower of Bammer. You can find a round up of the roundtable this and every week right here.

1. While the actual players and coaches deserve some of the credit for last season’s success, it was our collective superstitions and dark rituals that brought home the championship. What was your superstitious contribution?

I am such a total believer in Saban and the philosophy that he preaches that for possibly the first time ever I didn’t keep a ritual. Except for drinking. I drank before every game and during most of them. God forbid what would happen to the team if I didn’t drink.

2. Put on your Finebaum hat, dip your arrows in vile poison, and tell us which SEC coach is gonna be the first to get canned/and or bolt for greener pastures… like golf courses.

This is going to be the easy answer, but Spurrier’s days are numbered. Unless he has a huge year I believe he’ll hang it up. Richt is on a short leash. Miles’ leash is even shorter; I believe this is it for him in Baton Rouge. Nutt’s got a couple more in Oxford before they run him out. Mullin is due for a good year in my opinion and he’ll bolt for greener pastures (figuratively not literally; if there is anything they do good in Starkville it’s green pastures).

3. We would love for this to go on forever, but let’s face it, we have to lose a game at some point, right? What team on next years schedule (pronounced shed-jewel) should cause the most concern?

This is one of those time-stamp questions. Pre-season the pundits will say Penn State and Florida. I’m a little worried about an improved Arkansas in Fayetteville. That game comes at the end of two straight weeks on the road and the week before the super-hyped game against Florida. If Alabama beats Penn State, and they should, then the entire Sports/Industrial Complex will be looking forward to October 2. Arkansas, on the other hand, will be looking forward to Alabama, who embarrassed them like no one did, last year. On paper Alabama controls the clock by pounding the ball against an inferior defense and utilizes a superior defense against a gimmick (read: non-traditional offense) and runs the quarterback all over the field and gets ready for the more important showdown. No problem right? That was the exact plan for Auburn last year. That’s what has me worried The contests with Tennessee, LSU and Auburn always scare me. UT will generally be awful, but Dooley will probably win a game he shouldn’t and they always get up for Alabama. LSU probably scares me the least and Auburn should be improved but it’s in Tuscaloosa and the winner might just punch its ticket to Atlanta. I’m going to keep my eye on State too but it’s just too early to say on that one.

4. Joe Paterno has already screeched “You can’t count on freshmen. Do you want to go down to Tuscaloosa with freshmen!?” but Penn State fans are buzzing about how true frosh Paul Jones looked in their spring game. Is JoePa playing it smart, clinging to an outdated case of freshmanastartaphobia, or just planning on starting a sacrificial lamb QB so Marcel Dareus doesn’t eat his good ones?

All you have to do is go back to the National Championship game to see what a Saban defense can do to an inexperienced QB so he might opt for experience, no matter how little it is. But to be honest with you, I’m not sure that Paterno is even aware that the war is over – and I’m refereeing to WWI here – so you can’t be too sure of what he says anyway.

5. Everyone I know has a crazy story about dealing with an out of control swamp-thing rival from Red Stick, whats the craziest thing you’ve ever seen an LSU fan do? (Just to make things interesting, lets disqualify Shaquille O’Neal’s performance as a genie in Shazam)

I’ve had some truly great experiences in Baton Rouge and here with LSU fans. It wasn’t anything where I felt threatened or was just in shock. Probably the worst thing was in 2000 when the kid jumped out of the student section in Tiger Stadium, ran the length of the field and mooned the Alabama fans in the visitor section. It was right at the start of the 4th quarter and then Saban directed his Tigahs to a comeback and their first victory over the Tide in Death Valley since 1969. Or possibly when I sat in the student section there in 2004 and the girls were asking me, “what the fuck are you doing here?” That was pretty intense.

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(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.

When it comes to Alabama, I’m an unabashed glass-half-full guy. So, with all the hand wringing about the passing game, which in reality saw McElroy improve in  the contest against the Vols in completion percentage (62% vs. 50%), interceptions (0 vs. 2), and passes to Julio (7 vs. 0) , from his previous performance against the Cocks, I thought I’d take a look at how the oft lamented kickoff coverage unit did.

I’m not exactly sure of the metric you use to guage such things but from my observation there has been improvement in this area. Tennessee did not appear to make any “big” returns (nor have they really all year), but a look at the stats shows that they averaged 28.4 yards on 5 returns with a long return of 33 yards. More importantly their best starting field position after a kickoff return was on their own 37 yard line (in the 3rd quarter) which ironically came on their shortest return (24 yards).

The only time Tennessee began a drive in Alabama territory was on the fumble recovery in the 4th quarter.

Dare I suggest that this is an area that has seen improvement over the course of the season?

I’ve got to admit that I’ve been caught up in the aftermath of the UT-Alabama game last Saturday. Kiffin keeps popping off at the mouth and like kids following the piper the UT faithful are right behind him.

The coach of the Volunteers  seems to be the definition of immature. He doesn’t like it when he doesn’t get his way and he’s going to make sure that everybody knows it. Ghostofneyland said it best when he stated, “Kiffin felt he needed to stand up and say something…” I believe that is the majority of Kiffin’s problem; he just can’t keep his mouth shut. He always feels he needs to say something, even when he would be better served by remaining silent. Maybe he is smarter than he looks and this is all a part of a master plan. If he keeps the hopes of Vols inflated with close wins and promises of what will be, they’ll be patient with him until he does win. I think it may even be working. From my brief observations the Big Orange Nation is too busy crying foul and lauding what will be to reflect on the actual record.

The down side to all his talk will be that his timer will run out much quicker. If the promised wins don’t come soon – I personally believe that he can’t back track to Georgia next season and needs to beat either Alabama or Florida or natives will start getting restless.

Right after the game I spoke with a great Tennessee fan. She didn’t tell me that UT could have or should have won, she didn’t say that the penalties (or lack of) or the headset malfunctions or even their lack of comparative talent cost them the game. She just said it was a great game.  She was absolutely right. She was the gracious fan that Kiffin must feel he can’t afford to be.

I’ve been through two truly awful streaks in my time pulling for Alabama. The seven years to Tennessee and the six to Auburn. The worst part of those was the feeling that it might get worse before it got better. The 365 days until our teams would meet again would be long but the possibility that a talent or coaching gap would make it longer than that was the really scary part. UT fans probably feel right now that in fifty-one weeks this wrong can be righted. Hope is better than the absence of it. Despite the fact we Alabama fans would prefer them dejected the Volunteers lost a game but gained some faith. In that at least, Kiffin did a good job.

This certainly isn’t a defense of Kiffin; I believe he’s a whiny douchebag whose eventual downfall is as certain as the enjoyment I’ll derive from its occurance. But Lane did help to give my favorite rivalry in the world a shot of Jaegarmister this weekend. Sitting on the good side of a three-year streak I think that is a pretty good thing.  I thank him for that.

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.

Nine months after my last post, almost exactly two years after my first post, and the week of one of the absolute best things about college and Alabama football seems like a pretty good time to try out the internets again. So here I am.

In way of a brief explanation, as I shared with you about this time last year, my last official gig ended and I went out on my own. Things are going relatively well on that front but running a business is incredibly time consuming. Also, last winter I became a dad again (for the third time) and lack of sleep coupled with increased duties with the other two take up a lot more time. Finally, Alabama had a pretty good year last year and my level of contentment with “the process” allowed me to focus on other outlets.  I do this because I enjoy it and it fills a creative need but lately when the desire to write struck there seemed to be something else that “needed” to be done. I realize my tiny voice is one that is easily lost in the din but I do appreciate all the inquiries into my whereabouts. Thanks to you all.

So, I understand there is a game this weekend. What’s going on with that?

  • Tennessee wants to wear orange. While Saban tends to say things like jersey color don’t matter – and they don’t – I’m not at all surprised that the request was denied. Of course the Vols are going to say we’re doing the fans a disservice, but the fact remains that a.) Kiffin raided the coaching staff, b.) said coach has been lying to recruits, and c.) this is still Tennessee. So screw UT. Why extend to them any courtesy at all other than letting them have a locker room? They wouldn’t, and haven’t done the same for Alabama. I understand from off-the-record comments that Saban is not a fan of the Volunteers and I believe that the way Alabama has been prepared to play, and has executed against UT in his tenure lends that some credence so it makes sense that UT was not granted the concession. I say no quarter asked or given in this rivalry. They’ll probably end up in those gaudy orange pants anyway. Orange sucks, people! (Update: As usual, the guys at Bama Sports Report put it into perspective)
  • McElroy Struggling. G-Mac has, without a doubt, had two bad outings (against competent defenses) after some pretty good outings (against less than stellar defenses). I’m not ready to bench him though. I’m not even ready to verbally abuse him by comparing him to other, less-than-good quarterbacks, like another Alabama blog writer who tends to overuse the word “nevertheless” and speaks of the team in the first-person.  I don’t think McElroy was quite as good as the early season success showed, nor do I think he is as bad as his last outings would indicate. Despite Monty Kiffiin’s (bow in awe, people) vaunted defense I think we’ll see a little more regression to the mean this week. Meaning we won’t see as much forcing to Julio, a little more Colin Peek and Marquis Maze, and a steadier reliance on play-action. McElroy will be alright. Aight!
  • Tennessee Overall. I’ll preafce by saying this: anything can happen. Anything. UT could come in here and play the game of the decade and beat Alabama. But it isn’t very likely. This is not a good football team and there is no way around that. Tony Barnhart called this out as a trap game in the summer. But part of his premise was that UT would be winless in the conference. As you all know they aren’t. Beating a dreadful Georgia team hurt them more, in the context of this weekend’s contest, than anything. There wasn’t much chance that Alabama would overlook this UT team anyway but the big win in Knoxville ten days ago only served to make sure everyone was paying attention. As Mike Strange points out, UT’s first half  body of work doesn’t look near as good as it did. SEC Offenive Player of the Week aside, Crompton is not a good QB and the Alabama defense should make that very evident. Hardersty is a great back, but Alabama’s run defense  is no slouch either. The defense’s ability to nuetralize Crompton and make the game one-dimensional should effectively negate Hardesty (and super-frosh Bryce Brown as well). Things get a little more dicey with Alabama’s offense versus Tennessee’s defense. While statistically, they are a good defense, Auburn – yes the same Auburn that was just run over roughshod by Arkansas and Kentucky – lit them up like a Christmas tree. As I said, anything can happen, but if Alabama holds onto the ball and McElroy takes just one step back towards averages, we should be singing “Rammer Jammer” by mid fourth quarter.

Having completed week seven, we are at the halfway of the 2008 football season. Sad isn’t it. Of course if you’re an Alabama fan, up to this point, you really can ask for nothing more. Here is quick look at where conference teams are, where we thought they would be and what’s coming in the future:

Alabama

After week seven Alabama stands as the only undefeated team in the conference, a consensus number two in the major polls, and a projection from major media outlets as a player in the BCS championship game.

Wow! Just wow!

After coming off a 7-6 campaign that defined mediocrity and being picked to finish third in the division only the most delusional fans would have predicted this. Yours truly predicted the Tide to have two losses at this point. The rise of Alabama to this point has been nothing short of miraculous.

It starts with an injury list that is virtually empty, superior play from some guys on the roster that no one though were capable of such, and an influx of incredible new talent. Alabama has played a little too up and down for some but has been there when it mattered.

The season opening Clemson win looks less and less impressive as the fighting Bowdens spiral into oblivion and the low scoring affairs with Tulane and Kentucky are not exactly huge accomplishments. The win over Georgia, in Athens, stands as the best accomplishment on their resume. The Arkansas win gained a little more luster after the weekend, even if that’s only within the confines of our great state.

The rest of the season looks manageable but scary. Alabama will begin the second half of the season with a target squarely on its back. For teams like Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee, and now, Auburn, beating Alabama would be a high point for less-than-stellar seasons. LSU might be the only team left that Alabama will be an underdog against and that is a big, might.

Fan-in-me aside: I’ll admit it. I am very excited about this season but it makes me as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a rocking chair factory. There isn’t a team Alabama plays that cannot beat them if they are not ready and committed. The Tide can beat everyone on the schedule, but Auburn could have beaten Arkansas. Will I be content with 9-2? Probably not now although it would be a definite improvement. It’s easy to look at the present tenuous situation that all of our rivals are in and say Alabama should role but all three of those teams can be very dangerous to an unprepared team and Alabama has yet to trail. How will they respond when they do? Tennessee worries me and worse than that LSU and Auburn are still, despite the recent troubles, the proud holders of streaks over Alabama that fill up at least one hand. Nothing is proven until those streaks are reversed.

Hold on. It’s going to be a hell of a ride.

To be continued…

Quite a few interesting things going on this weekend. Let’s get into it.

Saturday Scrimmage. The first big event was the scrimmage on Saturday. Of course there isn’t a ton of news and I won’t show my ignorance by gleaming facts from the minuscule amount of information that we have all seen but I did think that OTS did a pretty good job of reading between the lines. In my observation he is right more times than he is wrong – although reports of this mornings practice show that Eryk Anders was working with the ones at LB. All I know is that in 19 days all the speculation will end and the accolades and hand-wringing will begin.

Injury Update. It used to be that you could read three different reports of practice and render three different story lines. In these days of media lock-down you get basically get the same report by three different papers. Mind you, I’m not complaining, I’m just taking a long way to get to the point that as a team Alabama has been relatively injury free. This is making me nervous. I feel good about it mind you – Alabama has certainly had its share of injury problems over the last few years but they seem to be very, very fortunate this season thus far. Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida have all had major injuries. Hopefully, this is a result of the lauded strength and conditioning program we have all heard so much about.

Here’s hoping that streak continues in Alabama’s favor and best wishes and speedy recovery to those who were injured at other schools. Rivals or not, I never like to see and athlete’s season or career end due to injury.

Ivan Maisel does not have a firm grasp of reality. It is my belief that Mobile native Ivan Maisel tries to cover his unstated love for the University of Alabama by being overly critical of the Crimson Tide with the reason being to put on a show of being impartial. I’ve thought that for years. I believe that he is intelligent and writes well it’s just that I feel his criticisms of Alabama are biased because he doesn’t want anyone to know that he hides away in his house at night and watches replays of Alabama football games decked out in a full complement of Tide Gameday wear. His latest attempt at hiding his true passion is this laughable piece on Auburn and other teams that utilize the no-huddle spread. In fairness, this article isn’t as laughable as an accompanying list of “fastest” teams in the nation. Maisel lists Little Brother (WEH!) as the second fastest team in the country behind Oregon.

The super-fast spread may turn out to be awesome at Auburn but the verdict is still out. I think snitching-ass Tony Franklin’s offense may have some merit to it and in theory the idea that running tons of plays seems to hold water. There is just so much we don’t know about how it will work at Auburn this season with recruits, especially offensive lineman, who were brought in to run the power running, clock management game that Tuberville has always used to own the state of Alabama and become the OMG!!!1! “best big game coach” in the nation. I’ve always believed that you dance with the one that brought you and if this experiment doesn’t work or even starts slow then the outcome could be disastrous. Not that the prospect of Auburn imploding bothers me mind you, it’s just, don’t rank it number two on a list (higher than Troy’s offense that has been running it for at least two seasons) based on one game against a Clemson team that gave up almost 19 points per game (Auburn won 23-20). Yes, it will run more plays in a game than what has been run and yes, it will put up more yards and score more points as a result but it’s certainly not the equivalent of Alabama unveiling the Wishbone in ’71.  According to Franklin in Maisel’s article, a lot of his theory is that if the offense plays a bunch of plays then, eventually the defense gets tired and makes a mistake. However, if you go three-and-out in a minute-and-a-half and your defense has to go back out on the field by the end of the game it will be as big a problem for your own defense as it is for the others. Auburn’s stellar, as usual, defense will have them in contention this year if they are – not the Spread Eagle. Of course having to watch the clinic on three-yards and a clud of dust that has been the Auburn offense over the years, except ’04, when Al “Gorgeous” Borges, the OMG!!!1! Best Offensive Coordinator, like ever, led the team to the People’s National Championship. Of course that could have been the absurd amount of talent that Auburn had at that time.

All I’m saying is, Auburn may be very good on offense this season, but let’s let them play first, before we go and crown Tony, the Rat, as the next best thing since sliced bread.

Paddy brings it over The Pond. As everyone who cares about such thing knows now, Irishman Padraig Harrington won the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills yesterday, continuing a streak of two consecutive majors that he can defend next April in Augusta. This also gives him wins in three of the last six majors.

I do love some golf and as has been the case on the three preceding major Sundays this year, I was glued to the TV all day. Despite the statement by one of my co-workers that Harrington, “sounds like a muppet when he talks”, you can’t help but love the guy. I mean, he Irish, which amongst many things guarantees that he celebrated with adult beverages last night. He just comes across as an every-day type of guy and he doesn’t yell at his ball like Sergio Garcia does.

The other things I took away from golf coverage this weekend: Getting to hear Verne about a month prior to CBS football. It’s been so long since the season that it actually sounds good to hear that senile bastard calling the action. Demarco Ryans thanks you, Verne. Also, and I’m not sure he knows the sport, but I would be willing to coach him up free-of-charge, Nick Faldo is one of the best announcers. Ever. I absolutely love to hear this guy talk. I mean obviously he knows that game golf, but he’s incredibly funny without trying to be, unlike Gary McCord, who is horribly not-funny while desperately trying to be. I’m telling you now CBS, send Verne to the assisted-living home and sign up Faldo. He would add a layer of civility to the best-damn-sport in the world that only the English could. Here’s a link to the two together.

“What a tackle! What a tackle! He nearly took his bloody head off with that hit.”

After a little over a week’s worth of hiatus I am back and functioning in a semi-lucid state. A lot has happened since we spoke last. How are you? How are the kids? Enjoying your Summer? Been hot, huh? Football? Oh yeah, football has started. Well that’s just spectacular.

If the net is good for one thing it’s good for practice updates. Ian has been providing most of my daily fix. I’m glad and not-at-all surprised to hear that the freshman look good and are working hard.

So you heard about the Franchione thing on ESPN Radio, huh? Well, here’s my take on it: Who gives a big flying crap? Yeah, we thought we were going to be shed of a least one stereotypical-douchebag with an agenda against Alabama when Curry got a new title, but we didn’t know they would replace Hitler with Stalin (OK, that’s a little harsh, but you get my point.)

I think the thing that has everyone upset is the thought of listening the the light nasily tones of Dennis “take the money and run” Fran-phony for three plus hours. Well don’t worry my friends. There is a good chance that WVUA broadcast of All Things Acoustic this week will have more listeners than the ESPN radio broadcast of the Alabama-Clemson game. Look at it like this; most fans of Alabama that aren’t at or watching the game will be listening to it on the Eli-Snake David Crane version of the radio broadcast. I’d be willing to bet that most listeners to the ESPN game are doing so because they are out-of-market and can’t watch the game on television or hear the CTSN. Well, this is the ABC prime-time national game. If you can’t watch it on TV then you probably can’t get ESPN radio either so, no worries mate.

Gameday coming to Atlanta, or more importantly Alabama’s recent streak with Gameday at the location (3-7 overall, 0-5 since 2001, all in Tuscaloosa). I’m pretty sure that Chris, Kirk and Lee were not in Tuscaloosa before ’01 and I definitely remember them being at the ’94 Iron Bowl in Birmingham (which Alabama won) but I really can’t recall the other 4 supposed appearances by Alabama on the show. I guess the good news is that Gameday has been to some of the toughest games in Tuscaloosa over the last 6 years (UCLA, Oklahoma, LSU, and Georgia twice) so this streak is more of a product of strong competition and arguably the worst period in Alabama football history. Maybe the new venue and new year will have a change in the recent history but as I’ve already said, I don’t see Alabama beating Clemson, so that will be one more streak that has to be rectified in the near future.

What I do know is that it will be pandemonium in Centineal Olympic Park. There will certainly be tons of Alabama and Clemson fans on hand but with Georgia opening with Georgia Southern that day, there will be several Bulldog fans as well. Get your Knowshon for Heisman signs ready. Georgia Tech opens with Jacksonville State on Thursday night and thus many Tech students will be around for the cameras (unless Periloux runs wild on the Tenuta-less defense). Plus Atlanta is basically the hub of the SEC (no offense Birmingham) and being a metropolitan area there are bound to be crazies from all sorts of schools there. It should be an interesting sight. And maybe, just maybe, none of the stupid fucking “Rick and Bubba” signs in the crowd. (Eds. Note- there are few things in this world I dislike less than the Rick and Bubba show. Much like the NBA, if they did away with it I would never know unless you told me). And then there’s Kirk. And of course Erin. Ooh Erin.

Lastly, as much embarrassment and shame was heaped on the University by the Jimmy Johns saga, it was really good to read this today about Ali Sharrief. It doesn’t make for good trash talk though and thus won’t be discussed much at all. It is however certainly worth a read and a “thatta boy” to Ali. Well done young ma, well done.

I’d like to begin by thanking those of you who made positive comments on the “Stuff Crimson and White People Like” post at Every Day Should Be Saturday that Gerry Dorsey and I worked on. I have always liked that site a lot and got a big kick out of seeing something I had been a part of writing on there. Don’t be too hard on Holly about the pictures. I gave her the option of doing what she wanted; we wrote the post a month or so ago and didn’t know they were going to publish it until Wednesday night. It was a hectic week and there was no way I could have come up with pictures that quick, plus despite her Orange loving ways, she is pretty talented and has a great sense of humor and I felt confident that she would do an admirable job and was actually glad to have her do it with the time constraints. I might have picked a different Bryant pictures (OK, I certainly would have) but I loved the Auburn “championship ring”. She has always been gracious in helping me and regardless of her allegiance I consider her a friend and a good (no great) sport. She’s welcome at my tailgate any time.

I also got confirmation, via the comments, that Houndstooth bras and thongs exist. Now we just need some verifiable proof in the form of pictures, preferably modeled on a lovely young female.

Now, on to the round table; I’d like to thank all of this week’s participants, in no particular order:

Roll Bama Roll

DBH Dance Party (Who for the record is not a Bama Blogger – btw I loved the Kenny

Fisher youtube. Part of the derivation for my blog comes from his quote)

The Tide Druid

Uncle Rico’s Time Machine

3rd Saturday in Blogtober (Crimson King)

Alabama Gameday

You’ve already seen my answers as I gave them with the questions on Monday. So we’ll just dive in to some of the responses.

1. Other than the contest against Little Brother, what do you think is a “must-win” for Alabama this season?

As much as I hate to say this, but how about Arkansas State? Seriously people, the embarrassing November collapses to State, LSU, and Auburn are bad enough, but did we really need the added humiliation of a home loss to one of the worst teams in the worst conference in the country? No, we didn’t. And we’re right back in the same situation with a trap game against an “inferior” opponent late in the season that should be an easy breather. The Indians Red Wolves have a back to back 1000 yard season rusher in Reggie Arnold and a mobile quarterback in Corey Leonard, the kind of combo that got the Warhawks an upset win last season. Just ask Texas, who escaped with a 21-13 win after allowing 397 yards (57 more than the Longhorns could gain) and ten points in the fourth while being shutout in the final quarter, and Tennessee, who gave up 178 yards rushing (130 of them to Arnold) in their 48-27 win, how seriously we should be taking them. And honestly, we need to be taking everyone on the slate seriously, since finally actually beating all the teams we are SUPPOSED to beat in a season is the first step we need to take in order to get back to contending for the SEC. Todd – Roll Bama Roll

Here’s what makes that question so hard to answer: at Alabama, every game is a must-win. At this time last year, we were all sitting around wondering if Week 2 at Vandy was a must-win. Of COURSE it is! There’s a story one of the bloggers — and I can’t remember which one — told about going to a random Kentucky basketball game like last year, and wearing an Alabama hat (without really thinking about the implications). And what happened to him? More than one UK fan took the opportunity to heckle him … about Kentucky’s overtime win over ‘Bama in 1997. The point, simply, is that every game is must-win in Tuscaloosa. It’s the best and worst part about the job. Will Heath – DBH Dance Party

Like me, several of the contributors think that Mississippi State is a game Alabama must win, especially this season. LSU was a close second.

2. Every year there seems to be a player that no one is really talking about pre-season that garners accolades by the end of the year. Who will that be for Alabama this year?

Mike Johnson. He struggled at RT (why must we keep saying that year after year?!?! WHY?!?!!!11), but he’s a mean run blocker and the move to LG should really make him an asset on the offensive line, and hopefully he can garner some hype for himself. Todd – Roll Bama Roll

Earl Alexander at WR. He had himself a very good A-Day performance, and we desperately need a few Receivers to step up and fill the shoes of Hall, Brown, and Caddell. He is tall, quick, and fairly strong, and doesn’t seem to be garnering much attention with the likes of Burton Scott and Julio Jones getting all of the media coverage. The Tide Durid

i’m going to go way out on a limb and say lb eryk anders. i’ve already mentioned this guy once over on pmr, so i’ll stick with him. he’s not all that big (6’2″ 225lbs), but has pretty good speed, and is obviously at a position in need of someone to step up. he also looked pretty solid getting 2 sacks in the a-day game…whatever that’s worth. you heard it here first. Gerry Dorsey – Uncle Rico’s Time Machine

John Parker Wilson, or as I refer to him, Ross’ brother was also a popular choice for this, but I’m going to have to be technical here and say that if you are on pre-season all-conference teams (hey, third team counts) then you aren’t an unknown. I will give this: if he flourishes there will be an element, especially in our fan base that is shocked by that.

3. In your opinion, how many true freshmen will start against Clemson? How many will start against Little Brother?

We may actually see more against Clemson since it will probably be a testing out period for a portion of the game. Sure, we do want to win, but it is only one game and we need to figure out who can step up during a pressured situation.As for the Iron Bowl, I really hope that we see the exact number needed for a victory, whatever it may be. The Tide Druid

We believe Julio Jones is ready to play now, and will against Clemson. For the sake of argument, we’ll add 2 more freshmen to the mix for the Iron Bowl, assuming they get playing time earlier in the year. Tony Orlando – Alabama Gameday

For the opener against Clemson I could see as many as seven and as few as three true freshmen starting.  Julio Jones and Jerrell Harris are obvious picks and will be starters as long as they stay healthy through the summer and fall practice.  I would also basically pencil in Mark Barron at safety as well.  As for the others, I could actually see Don’ta Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Alonzo Lawrence, and Marcel Dareus getting the stating nod because of the need for their positions.  While Coach Saban and Staff were a huge, and I mean HUGE factor in bringing the number one class for 2008 in, the pitch of potential early playing time was actually truthful, reasonable, and probable.

As far as the starters for the game against Little Brother, several true freshmen could be starting by then.  It’s tough to predict at this point because of injuries or suspensions (hopefully neither), but playing the hypothetical game I will say there could be nine to ten possible true freshmen starters.  Obviously this number is going to seem high, but it’s June and what difference does it make right now???  It’s all fun and games, but I’ll be right.  Or way off.  Anyway, the seven already mentioned and then possibly Corey Smith, or myself if we don’t find a punter, and maybe Tyler Love at one of the guard or tackle spots.  I also do believe that Burton (BJ) Scott will be a starter in the slot as well, sharing reps with Marquis Maze and putting a lot of pressure on LB’s and zone defenses.    Capstone King – 3rd Saturday in Blogtober

4. Pick one player on offense and one on defense and give a match up with an opponent that you are really looking forward to watching this season.

Ah, so many to choose from.  I’ll keep it Alabama related for now and then I’ll venture out.  I really, really want to see Eric Berry match up with Burton Scott.  Talk about the talent clash on that play.  Any and every true football fan who know who these guys are regardless of team affiliation should get at least a little excited about the idea of this match up.  Berry is quite possibly the best defensive back in the league along with a couple others in the elite group going against a for sure future All-SEC player.  Seriously though, need I say more about it?  As far as defense goes for Alabama, I just want to see Terrence Cody go one-on-one with any offensive lineman.  I don’t really care who it is as long as it is one-on-one.

As far as seeing a player from a different school besides Alabama, I would have to go with Greg Hardy from Ole Miss.  This guy had a great season last year and it all got started in the game against Alabama where he had to of had 15 tackles for loss.  I know some of you might be thinking there are better match ups, but I just have to see if Hardy is the real deal or if it was just momentum he carried after going unblocked for four quarters against Alabama.  Line him up against some of the SEC’s best offensive lineman like Andre Smith and I want to see if he’s got the moves then.

*Note, Hardy abused Mike Johnson until he was benched for Chris Capps and he was abused as well (go figure).  Hardy rarely faced Big Dre in last season’s game. Capstone King – 3rd Saturday in Blogtober

Kareem Jackson vs Mohamed Massaquoi. Jackson’s efforts against the Vols last season was one of the highlights of the year, and the Dawgs have a solid receiving corps this year. Let’s see if he can have another game where his defensive efforts help snatches victory from what looks like certain defeat before the game even starts. Todd – Roll Bama Roll

It’s difficult to say you’re looking forward to a match up between linemen because it’s so hard to focus on linemen and still watch the rest of the action. That said, I’m looking forward to seeing how Alabama’s front matches up against opposing offensive lines. As Joe Kines proved in 2004 and 2005, a solid front can make up for a number of glaring deficiencies elsewhere.
Offensively, weirdly, I’m looking forward to the coaching chess match as much as anything else — I’m interested to see what manner of personnel groups McElwain and company put on the field, and how they come up with ways to get them the ball with a chance to create something. Yes, I’m a geek. But you knew that already. Will Heath – DBH Dance Party

i enjoy watching physical specimen go up against each other. therefore, these match ups are based less on the likelihood that they will actually see a lot of each other on the field, and more on my level of interest.

rolando mcclain vs. knowshon moreno

julio jones vs. eric berry

Gerry Dorsey – Uncle Rico’s Time Machine

5. What, if any, SEC school’s head coach will be out after this season?

Steve Spurrier. Having been to Columbia, South Carolina numerous times, I can tell you that it is a nice place to visit and possibly live (I never got to see the suburban areas, so I can’t speak for them. And yes, I know the Danny Ford boys might be disappointed in me for saying such a thing). But, it is not a football hot bed, nor will it ever be a football hot bed. He’s over the age of 65 and has really looked worn down and tired of being at a program that isn’t moving up as quickly as he had hoped. Adding all of that together, it just seems that he may step down in the next year or two. The Tide Druid

The seat is getting warm for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina, but he will be given time to either win, or quit. Tennessee is the obvious choice; Phil Fulmer got to Atlanta last season, but the days of winning the SEC in the courtroom or the league offices – instead of on the field – are over.

However, don’t be surprised to see Tommy Tuberville leaving town at the end of the year. He wants out; they want him out. Only his buyout stands in the way. If that issue gets resolved, he’ll be out quicker than you can blow a duck call. Tony Orlando – Alabama Gameday

Fulmer was the really popular choice

Well, that wraps up week three. Thanks again for the great responses. Have a great weekend.

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