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I rarely agree with Scarbinsky. I beleive him to be a failed Dennis Miller wannabe and sensationalistic blowhard. But I will give him props when he deserves them.

He’s a little more bullish on the prospects of the football team that Alabama will field in ’09 than some of the “experts” are.

Basically, three pundits have proclaimed the Tide a top six team that will be in the mix for the national title again.

In this instance, I thinks he’s got it right.

I’ll go ahead and go on the record now and say that Alabama should begin the season around 15. You don’t immediately contend with 2/5 of an experienced offensive line (including replacements at center and left tackle) or a wide-eyed quarterback.

The possibiltity is there to see addition by subtraction at the signal caller position but the line will take a few games to get it together either way. You don’t go on a strong campaign without good line play. You just don’t.

The only saving grace could be the schedule. Auburn and Ole Miss will be the toughest road games, not the mention the season opener againast a Virginia Tech team that improved most of the last half of the season. The Tide does get a rebuilding Tennessee, an improved Arkansas, and an always dangerous LSU at home. Exchaning Georgia for South Carolina helps as well.

My belief is that the offense is purring by the end of the season and the defense has become other worldly. This makes me think that as play begins in 2010 that Alabama will be loaded at most every position and a top three pre-season ranking will be warranted.

I don’t think that the parallels are exactly the same but, for the most part, the third year of a new coach, following a great second year, is usually down. LSU just completed the worst season since Saban’s third year. The fourth year is statiscally a good year though. Just look at Saban, Meyer, or Les Miles for further proof.

(ht: Bama Sports Report)

Thanks to Todd over at Roll Bama Roll for hosting this week.

1. What are your feelings on Alabama’s current position in the polls? Are
we Overrated? Underrated? Just right?

I’m still feeling good about the position. If the team can keep winning, everything will take care of itself.

2. What aspect of the game did Alabama control that shocked you the most?
What aspect of the game was Alabama dominated in that shocked you the

Alabama tried, and finally did establish a passing game this weekend. Tennessee countered with a pretty fierce rush but McElwain and company countered with roll outs. Also, hats off to John Parker; he took a few early hits but never lost his poise.

I was also presently surprised with Alabama’s defense against the screen pass (minus the touchdown). That is an area of improvement over the struggles from earlier in the season.

For a team that stunk it up on punt returns earlier in the year, the Vols did a great job on neutralizing the threat of an Arenas return. Drunk or not, minus the shank, Britton Colquitt is one helluva punter.

3. Name your player of the game on Offense. Also name one on Defense.

I’ll go with at least three on each side: John Parker, Roy Upchurch , and Julio Jones when we had the ball. Rolando McClain, Dont’a Hightower, and Javier Arenas when they had the ball. This was truly a team effort on all fronts.

This is probably an excellent segue into the fact that my wife is expecting our third son late this winter and as we already have two other boy children, names are getting harder to choose. At some point during the game, my wife tells me that our newest addition was turning flips inside her and she figured it was a response to her nervousness over the game and the noise and general rowdiness coming from me and the other two boys. Sometime during the fourth quarter, in what has become an almost daily occurrence in our home, she turns to me and says,  “what are we going to call this child,” and in as serious a face and voice as I could muster in that moment, without hesitation, I said, “Javier Julio Tyrone.”  She thought for a moment and  said, without cracking a smile, “Javier Julio Tyrone, child of the covenant, I now baptize you in the name of….” (for those of you who aren’t Presbyterian, or other infant baptizing denominations, that’s what the minister says right after he has asked you the christian name of the child and before he sprinkles water on its head, and is in front of the entire congregation on Sunday morning.)

4. Arkansas State got a BCS scalp at Texas A&M to open their season,
while we’re still living down the humiliation of a loss to their
fellow Sun Belt member La.-Monroe.  We’ve worried about a letdown all
season long and, considering a similarly dominating win over UT
preceded the November death spiral last year, are we in danger here?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Alabama is certainly in danger. Arkansas State will not be bothered at all by 92,000 plus. They expect to beat the Tide, or at least compete with them. Alabama will have to play four good quarters of football to win this game.

With that being said, beating A&M might be the worst thing that could have happened to Arkansas State. Alabama will take them seriously. I think the same was true of Ole Miss and their win over Florida, prior to playing Alabama. It is cliche to say that any team can lose to any team even though it’s true. But having a win like that is a hard-core, eye-opening fact, that gets players attention more than just coach-speak. Alabama must take this team seriously, as they have to do with every team on the schedule, but evidence that not playing your best game can cost you should work in the Tide’s favor. They won’t be “sneaking up” on Alabama – at least that’s what I hope.

5. Looking around the SEC, which team is the most undervalued in the
league?  Who is the most overvalued?

Undervalued is a little easier and I’m going with Ole Miss for that distinction. They have been in every game they played – one score from winning all of their losses. A not-so-close second is Auburn. Yeah, I know things seem bad down there, but if you turn down Finebaum long enough to see the facts, other than the WVU game, you can say the same thing about themas Ole Miss. There is talent down there, especially on defense. Burns is gaining experience and if they can win the game this weekend, they could be very dangerous down the stretch. They should give Georgia a good game at home and will absolutely play lights out when they visit T-town the weekend after Thanksgiving. Think I’m wrong? Think back to 2004 when they were undefeated and Alabama had defined mediocrity. The Tide gave them everything they wanted, taking a lead into halftime and being a score from tying it up on the last drive. Just because they are 4-4 and Alabama is 8-0 starting November doesn’t mean that the streak is over. I won’t rest easy on that one until Alabama is ahead and the clock reads 0:00.

For overvalued, I’m going with Alabama or Florida.  Florida still sports a home loss to the Rebels and despite a couple of impressive wins since, then they still have holes. I just don’t believe that Myer’s spread is a pound-it-out type offense. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly good, but have you noticed it’s feast or famine with the points. They get in rhythm and it’s like turning on a faucet with the handle broken off, you can’t stop it. On the other hand, if they don’t get going to begin with, they don’t seem near as potent. The Gators do have a much-improved defense and a collection of incredible athletes but you don’t want to peak against Kentucky and in light of what Georgia just did in Baton Rouge, the win over LSU doesn’t look near as good.

Alabama has yet to be punched in the mouth early, if you don’t count Tulane, and, despite a few good performances lately, I’m not sure if the pass protection is good enough to make a two-score rally. Let’s face it, if passing is predictable, I’m not sure the tools are there. On the bright side, Alabama is not going to see anything from defensive lines they haven’t already seen, so I think they can run the ball on anybody, but no one has said, “we dare you to pass” by selling out on the run. The effective passing this team has done has been when they wanted to, not because they had to.

What Alabama does have is an earth-mover of a line, a couple of sure-handed receivers, a couple of better-than-average tight ends, a handful of work-horse running backs, and an experienced if not flashy quarterback. No one’s talking about Heisman for any of these guys and they aren’t going to put up sixty points but who else in the conference can claim all the elements Alabama has on that side of the ball.

Paul Finebaum, who runs a talk radio program from Birmingham, Alabama, sells the sleeze that the masses are buying. And man are they buying it. He provides a daily dose of college football gossip in a state where college football is the one and only game. A close coorelation would be to desrcibe what he does is to imagine him as US Magazine (or any other celebrity gossip rag) and college football, especially the teams in this region, as Hollywood. Nick Saban and his Alabama Crimson Tide and Tommy Tuberville and his Auburn Tigers are the main principals. To his credit he is good at what he does but keep one thing in mind; it is entertainment you are listening to. It isn’t knowledge, it isn’t wisdom, it isn’t prophecy, and it probably actually makes you dumber.

Let me caveat this by saying that I have heard Finebaum speak in person and I believe him to posess a great intellignce. He is certainly no idiot. I also have known people who call into the show and know them to be rational, intelligent people (although my own wife would accuse me of not possessing those faculties when it comes to Alabama Football) so I am not saying that every caller is a moron, even though the vast majority are.

Let’s be honest, Alabama is chock full of ignorant people. I love this place and there are many, many fine folks that dwell within its borders, but Alabama isn’t known as a bastion of intellignce and openmindedness. Everyone of the Legion of Stupidity is listening, intently to Paul weekday afternoon from three to six. Most of them are trying to call in and ask Paul a question or give them their opinion. The funny thing his Paul tends to scoff at most of them yet they keep coming back.

See, Paul plays both sides of the board and generally praises the team winning and kicks the team that’s losing. It appears to me that when people win they want to crow about it and tell the losing team how pathetic it is and when people lose they want to blame someone-usually the Coach or Quarterback- and tell the winning team how their day is coming. In our sick and twisted instant gratification society Paul has the crack that keeps us buzzing until we get our next hit.

In this state which harbors one of the nations biggest and ugliest rivalries it is the place to have your say and boy does it seem that the uninformed and irrational need to say it the most. A lot of people want to discuss football every single day regardless of the time of year around here. Paul gives them the water cooler (maybe feeding trough or all-you-can-eat Ryan’s buffet line might be better analogies) to gather around. Also Auburn’s rise and Alabama’s entrenchment in mediocrity has made it fertile ground for the last several years and as long as one is wining and one is losing people are going to try and figure out why, or rather bitch about it. You’ll hear Alabama fans calling him an Auburn lover most of the time and then when the tables turn, like early this season, Auburn fans call him out for being an Alabama and Saban disciple. The truth his that he is neither; he’s just selling whatever gets people to listen at the time. The worst thing that could happen for him would be for both teams to go undefeated until they played one another. Of course then the build-up to the Iron Bowl would be a ratings bonanza.

I’ll tell you a little more about me; I don’t listen to him. Not with any regularity -mainly if there is some serious breaking story- and not that I feel above the folks who do, although at heart I probably do. The truth is listening to it usually makes me frustrated and angry. I love my alma mater and I don’t enjoy hearing other people put it down. Even less than that do I like people, who claim to be fans of my school, represent it in a negative way. And almost to a man (or woman) thsese folks that call in come off like clowns and Paul plays to them and eats it up. People are listening and advertisers are paying. In the end isn’t that what it is all about?

I myself am passionate about Alabama Football. That’s not an admission; I have been told that by several of my friends. I’m sick of hearing what other people feel and think and honestly it’s kind of disturbing to think that many people aren’t doing anything useful all afternoon. I generally don’t feel that my opinion matters enough to risk putting myself out there enough to be ridiculed… Wait a second, I’m blogging and that means that anyone with internet access can read these thoughts… I’ll just hang up and listen.

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