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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.

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.

In a well deserved acknowledgment, the SEC named Alabama’s senior quarterback, John Parker Wilson, the conference Offensive Player of the Week.

Wilson looked like a true leader on Saturday night.

On another note, it’s hard to watch or listen to a media outlet in this state this morning and not hear about the Tide. It’s even harder to peruse the internets and not see Alabama as a major topic on conversation today. I’ve heard or read national championship more time than I can count this morning and the phrase, “undefeated LSU and Alabama meeting in November is huge” has been uttered more time than a few.

Let’s do a good job and keep this in perspective. There are seven more gamers to be played
starting with an undefeated Kentucky team this weekend. Kentucky is unranked and has a chip on their shoulder because they are not getting any respect.

Ole Miss, who Alabama faces in a little less than three weeks, just defeated Florida, at home.

Tennessee, who seems to be headed toward oblivion, will not roll over and die when Alabama comes into town at the end of the month. In fact, nothing would make Fulmer happier than to upset Alabama as it might save his job and will certainly be a point of pride.

Arkansas State would love nothing more than to upset Alabama on homecoming and will put forth their best effort.

I don’t believe that I need to say anything about LSU.

State has a two game winning streak against Alabama and always, always plays out of their minds against the Tide.

And Auburn. If you don’t think that Tuberville can whip those guys into a frenzy to play Alabama then you haven’t been watching football.

There is a long, long way to go. Just as the team needs to focus on the the next game, so do we. It’s nice to dream and speculate and it’s wonderful to celebrate, God knows we’ve needed that win to charge us up. But let’s keep focus.

There is nothing at this point but a good Kentucky team that can beat Alabama unless the Tide gives their best effort. Let’s be ready to fill Bryant-Denny on Saturday and cheer as if that is the only game left to play, because in truth, if we (every last one of us)  don’t, it just might be.

Roll Tide! Beat the Wildcats!

Well, here we sit a mere four days from the first game, trying to work, and not having much success. I’ve read until my eyes hurt and it hasn’t even remotely quenched my thirst for football. There is but one thing that will do that and that my friends is actual live football (although Erin Andrews screen caps help).

This is the time of year that everyone tries to wrap the story lines and general predictions into neat little bundles. I’m not sure why, maybe to get the wanna-be fans that jumped on the bandwagon this past week up to speed. In my opinion, if you’re just tuning in now you aren’t a real fan anyway. You should have been with us back in February when my phone was blowing up with text messages like I was a fourteen-year-old girl every time Nick Saban landed another highly-touted recruit. Since he did this with consistency similar to the way Kenny Loggins recorded soundtrack music in the 1980’s, my phone was blowing up a lot.

You should have been here during Spring Practice as we clamored for the tiniest shred of news, no hope, that our team will be better this year and that yes, the dreaded streak will end.

You should have been here when the summer started when we were scrounging message boards to hear the latest rumors about who was in camp and who was going to be ineligible. When we were counting with calendars and hands and toes to determine exactly how many days there were left until the addiction would be fed. When we were planning tailgates and trying news recipes that tasted great and could be prepared successfully while impaired from a day of drinking or worse, while hungover from a night of drinking. When we were committing the schedule to memory. When we were planning road trips and booking flights and calling in favors for tickets and rooms from long-lost friends and relatives.

Just as long as you know that we know that you have a life other than football and that we resent that about you we’ll let you play along. Sure, be a fan when it’s convenient, but know that when you jump up and diss John Parker before it’s quite time to, we will know what a fair-weather, gained all your knowledge-listening-to-Finebaum-on-the-way-into-town, douchebag you really are.

Without further ado, here are my predictions, both bold and not-so-bold, for Alabama, the SEC, and college football in general this season.

Alabama’s Season – Even though I want to jump on the happy-feel-good vibes coming from the football complex, I’m sticking with my assessment earlier in the summer. 9-3 with losses to Clemson, Georgia, and LSU. I’ll get to Clemson in a minute but I really don’t think we can beat both the dawgs and the tigahs on the road.

The Streak with Auburn – will end this year. Don’t worry about reasoning or logic or the lucky underwear I’ll be wearing into Bryant-Denny. Six is enough. What I am more interested in though is how this empire Auburn has built will crumble when the only truly remarkable event of the greatest period of Auburn history ends. As bad as some Alabama fans have taken this streak, when it turns, I believe that the Aubs will take it much, much worse. I think we could handle the streak running to seven, or even eight (God forbid) better than they will take it when it ends. It seems sometimes like it is all they have. I want to predict that the winner of the Iron Bowl will represent the West in Atlanta, but that is just day-dreaming and is counter to my overall prediction. But don’t get me wrong, I’ll take it.

This is Phillip Fulmer’s last season in Knoxville – After opening with conference losses to Florida, Auburn, and Georgia the pitchfork wielding crowd will be at the gates. The second consecutive loss to Alabama will be more than even the annual cakewalk through November can overcome. I believe he’ll take his dignity and the lifetime Krispy Kreme rider in his contract and leave the program. And as I brush a tear (of absolutely satisfying mirthful glee) from my eye, I’ll wish him the best of luck with knowledge that the conference won’t be the same without him.

While starting in the Top Ten both West Virginia and Clemson will not finish there. I could give you my reasons but what the hell for, that’s just what’s going to happen. Write it down. (and notice that I’m still predicting a Clemson victory against the Tide).

The Spread Eagle will not fly. At least not in the vision that Auburn fans think it will. Your offense will still be similar to last seasons and the seasons before. Auburn wins by controlling the clocks and playing good defense. That’s what their talent does and Tuberville would be a fool to try to do differently like. It’s kinda like you in college, you did well with the girl-next-door type. She was cute and fun to be around. Yeah she wasn’t model material but she was acceptable. She was your wheelhouse and every time you forgot that and out kicked your coverage it ended badly and awkwardly for everybody involved. So you went back to the girl you saw studying at the library and left the cast of the Hills to the product sporting douchebag with not much substance but really sweet trust funds. Tommy Tuberville has never had product in his hair in his life. He ain’t taking anything over a 7 and-a-half out of the bar. He may try but after the lame attempts at being cool countered by the silly looks and under-her-breath comments to her friends he’ll go back to the wheel house. That’s why he’s the best damn coach in Auburn history (WEH!). By the Tennessee game, the Tigers will be pounding the ball up the middle and throwing on third and long.

I’m not sure what snitching-ass Tony Franklin will do our what the new company line will be to all the Auburn faithful, but you ain’t going to light it up and score gobs of points. Nor do you have to to win.

Sylvester Croom will not repeat last year’s success, but he won’t miss it by much. State will beat at leat two teams that they aren’t supposed to. Something tells me LSU is one of them but that just seems almost too crazy to write down.

Houston Nutt will not. Earlier I thought they would be better, but Jevan Snead beside, they still just aren’t going to have it. The losses to injury on the d-line are just way too much for them early in the season and a team like that needs something to build from – like say, a win – and they aren’t going to get it early in the year.

No team will run the table in the SEC and at least one of the teams in the championship game will have two losses. I don’t think I’m being Nostradomas here.

Baby Jesus and his end-zone dancing group of petty criminals will not win the National Championship. Or even the conference. [ eds. note:Jimmy Johns and Jeremy Elder (who was from Georgia by the way) think the Bulldogs string of misdemeanors (and assaults to be fair) are chicken shit.] As Rick Bragg said in All Over but the Shoutin, “Georgia is obnoxious anyway, with Herschel Walker they were unbearable”. Moreno is everything to the silver-britches about Hershel except that he isn’t Herschel. Would I love for him to be on my team, yes, but that’s beside the point. Richt and the Bulldogs are good and I’ve gone through this ad nauseum but the last seven games last year were special but they do not entitle you to walk into Miami a week after New Year’s day. In fact the only game they’ll play in Florida the whole year will be in Jacksonville and I just don’t see them beating Florida this year. It should be merciful though because Spurrier is already in Richt’s head and when they lose at Columbia the dreams should be back down to reality.

Alabama will lose to Clemson on Saturday. I believe that the game will be fantastic and I hope that I am wrong but Clemson has just seen this situation too much in comparison to Alabama. They played in the same location with just as hyped a crowd as will be there and Alabama, at least the freshman who are depended on for so much, has not. Alabama is just too young at too many positions. I hope I’m wrong and I’ll definitely be cheering for them to win but I’m setting emotion aside. You can look at every match-up on the field and Clemson wins it. Clemson’s O-line versus Alabama’s D-line might be the only exception but you’d logically have to say that given the unknown nature of each, the nod goes to Clemson who has more in support. If Alabama wins the game it will be because of an as-of-yet undetermined superiority in this battle.

Now for the promised links:

Gump for Heisman did a helluva job of predictions himself. These are hilarious. (HT:Gerry Dorsey)

Bama Sports Report takes a look at yesterday’s practice. These guys are quickly becoming one of my favorites and daily reads.

Senator Blutarsky links Barnhart’s AJ-C piece on the ESPN-SEC deal and add some insightful commentary.

Orson brings a hired gun to help channel your inner-defensive coordinator and you don’t even have to put on polyester shorts with a belt first.

If you are an Alabama fan and, like me, you’re getting prepared to start tailgating then I think it’s probably a good idea to get out your Bloody Mary and Mimosa recipes. Breakfast casseroles and pigs-in-a-blanket and breakfast burritos are probably going to be in high demand too. Why you ask, do we need to get these morning delicacies ready for consumption? I’ve already done some game predictions for the year and now I’m going to go ahead and do some game-time predictions as well.

I believe that several of Alabama’s games this year, especially home games, are going to be on Raycom/Lincoln Fianancial/Jefferson Pilot. In fact, I’m betting the Daves already have some rooms booked- maybe even a condo or townhouse rented for the fall.

Clay Travis at Deadspin has released what he says is a leaked schedule for CBS – the primary broadcaster of SEC football games – this fall. I’ve looked over it and, while one could debate the legitimacy of the document in question – I’m sure CBS has a plan but would be foolish to lock in a season’s worth of games before the season – but the list that is presented makes sense based on a look at the schedule right now.

The good news is that there are a lot of great games this season in the SEC and there are quite a few weekends that I could be locked in a room with a working television, some snacks, plenty of beer, and a place to relieve myself I would be utterly content from 9:00 in the morning until I passed out sometime that night. The bad news is that most of those games take place in stadiums other than Bryant-Denny.

I believe that the consensus is that Alabama’s home schedule is weak this season, but the full effect of that weak schedule is going to play out, I predict, with quite a few 11:30 kick-offs. Here, I’ll break it down for you (keep in mind that on all but one week of the season CBS has first pick and they have two picks one Saturday, ESPN picks second and then Raycom gets whats left):

  • Clemson – In Atlanta; night game on television (ABC)
  • Tulane – Bryant-Denny Stadium; 6:07 kickoff on PPV
  • Western Kentucky – BDS; 6:07 kickoff on PPV
  • Arkansas – Fayetteville; probable JP game (I’m sorry, it may be Raycom now, but it will always be JP in my heart) LSU plays Auburn and Florida plays Tennessee that same day. One of those certainly will be CBS and the other the ESPN night game. Georgia plays Arizona State, which is an ABC game. Vandy and Ole Miss, which in theory sounds like a JP game, might get the morning slot but ESPN would have to take the Tide and Hogs as the second night game. I’m, not sure they want to air three SEC games that night on their family of networks plus UA and UA may both be 2-1 with losses to Clemson and the probable pantsing at Texas the week before.
  • Georgia – Athens; this almost certainly an ESPN night game. Auburn and Tennessee should be the CBS game with Ole Miss versus Florida and State at LSU battling it out for JP honors.
  • Kentucky – BDS; Not the best day in the SEC this season. Florida is at Arkansas (meh – but supposedly on the radar for CBS along with the UK/UA game. Other scorchers this day include, USC (cocks) and Ole Miss and Vandy at Auburn. Honestly that’s four JP worthy games. If Ole Miss and South Carolina are playing well (should/could both be 4-1) the there may be ESPN interest but Kentucky should be, in all honesty, undefeated when they visit T-town and hopefully that will win out for the ESPN game but I don’t see them both being on during prime-time. I’ll say 30% chance of Dave honors.
  • Ole Miss – BDS; According to the Deadspin list CBS has LSU and South Carolina, which makes sense but if Ole Miss is a one loss team at that point it will be because they beat South Carolina -giving them their second loss – 14 days before. Both Alabama and the Rebels come off bye weeks so CBS could opt for that game. Georgia plays Vandy which is typical JP fodder except for the recent closeness of those games, Arkansas is at Kentucky (two teams who should be losing interest at that point) and State is at Tennessee. There again, this is a day full of, what seems right now, mediocre match ups. While I’d say that Alabama wasn’t a lock to play the JP game that day I’d say they are 50-50 to though. The thing that helps is the possible resurgence of a Nutt-inspired Rebel squad and the competitiveness of these games the last few seasons. This could just as easily end up on ESPN as it does JP.
  • Tennessee – Knoxville; Unless some miracle happens and the Vols and Tide are undefeated then CBS will broadcast Georgia and LSU – which should be a phenomenal game. I just don’t see a replay of last years step-child treatment to the Third Saturday in October. Kentucky/Florida and Ole Miss/Arkansas just don’t offer the same prime-time meat that Alabama at Tennessee does.
  • Arkansas State – BDS; While nothing official is out yet, since this is Homecoming it is all but guaranteed to be a 2:00 PPV game.
  • LSU – Baton Rouge; This is almost certainly the CBS game. Deadspin says that Georgia and Kentucky are possibilities but unless Kentucky is undefeated or only has one loss, I just don’t see that game bumping Saban’s return to Tigah Stadium. All eyes will be on Baton Rouge that day but I’m sure given their druthers, the LSU fans would prefer the night game.
  • Mississippi State – BDS; The “leaked” CBS schedule has the option of South Carolina and Florida or Georgia and Auburn and one of those is certain to be called by Uncle Verne while the other goes to ESPN. Vandy and Kentucky reeks of JP, but if ESPN decides to only broadcast one SEC game that day then Croom’s return to Tuscaloosa might get the Dave treatment. The only thing that helps this situation is State’s streak of two-in-a-row, both on JP, could create enough of a story to warrant prime-time. State’s three-five losses coupled with Alabama’s three-four to that point might negate that interest. This has a 70% chance of being JP bound.
  • Auburn – BDS; On the newly formed SEC Rivalry Day, Florida and South Carolina both play their in-state, ACC rivals in their stadiums, excluding them from consideration. LSU and Arkansas as well as State and Ole Miss will have played the day before as has become their tradition. That leaves Georgia Tech and Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee, and Alabama and Auburn to battle it out for the CBS slot. The Jackets and the Bulldogs are definitely the bigger market game but the match up just doesn’t carry the umph that the Tide and Tigers do. I don’t think that any of the games that day get Daved, but to be honest with you, I’d rather be the ESPN game. There is just something about a night game. This is the first year that the game has been this late in the year and in Tuscaloosa. The change to standard time coupled with the waning hours of daylight guarantee that (if kicked off at 2:30) this game will finish at night, which is good enough. It will also probably be good chili and bourbon weather. Remember, Tennessee and Kentucky were the CBS game last season and the Iron Bowl was on ESPN.

That makes four strong candidates for JP honors this year and every home conference game with the exception of Auburn. Either way, Alabama is probably going to be on CBS only once or twice tops. I think that’s a good thing. I prefer night games over day games any time, but if I’m at a game at 11:30 then I’m out by 3:00 and have the rest of the day to absorb what else is going on around the country. The other silver lining of that cloud is that I only have to listen to the Daves one time at the most. No matter who you pull for, I’m sure you can agree that that is a good thing.

It’s 82 days until Alabama kicks off the 2008 campaign, a lot of the new recruits are in town and integrating into the team, the mercury is soaring into the nineties, and there’s only baseball to keep you occupied, oh, unless you want to talk football that is. You do, huh? Well, let’s talk football then.

I present to you my five questions for the Crimson & White Roundtable. This is open to any Alabama blogger. Email your responses to me (picmerollin –at- gmail.com) and I’ll post a roundup on Friday.

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

I believe that winning the LSU game would help with perception that Alabama is returning, but as far as the must win game, I’m going to have to go with Mississippi State. The return to feared status as an opponent cannot begin until Alabama wins the games they are supposed to.

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?

This may be the easy answer based on spring practice reports, but I’m going to go with Darius Oscar-Wayne Hanks (I absolutely love the hyphenated middle name). At 6’, 190 lbs, he isn’t that physically dominating specimen, but he does catch passes and I believe that Saban wants to play the receivers that will catch passes.

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

I’m going to say none against Clemson. I know everybody wants to plug in Jones, Scott, Lawrence, and Harris, but they were at the prom a month ago. I think that all those guys are starting by season’s end plus as many and two additional (not considering any injuries that, God forbid, end a season of an upper-classmen early)in late November when the Booger Eaters come to town; to summarize, none in August, 6 in November.

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.

I’m excited about Rolando McClain and Knowshon Moreno – Georgia will work to limit that match up but expect some solid licks when it happens. On the other side, I’m going with say Antoine Caldwell and Sen’Derrick Marks (nose guard for the booger eater’s).

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

I’m sticking with my crystal ball vision of this being Fulmer’s last season in Knoxville. Think epic fail in orange.

Well, that’s it. Remember children there are no wrong answers, only cretins who disagree with your opinion and curse you in the comments section all the while calling you classless.

Number 9 – Alabama at Mississippi State – Nov. 14, 1998, Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, Mississippi

(editor’s note: this is the second installment of a series abou the worst Alabama games I have personally attended. You can see Part 1 here.)

This was my first trip to Starkville for a game and it is a trip that I hope to never make again. It was raining and pretty chilly, Alabama lost, and State has to the be the home of possibly the worst stadium in the conference.

As you might recall, in 1998 Alabama was in their second year with Mike Dubose at the helm and while there was some improvement over the dismal 1997 campaign, overall Alabama was still not a very good football team. The Tide was 6-3 going into this game with a blowout loss at Arkansas, a very close loss to Florida at home, and a pretty solid beating at the hands of Tennessee (who was on their way to a national championship). State had beaten Alabama two consecutive years and this trip to Starkville was to be the third. I’m sure that’s why the Bulldog fans seemed to be full of piss and vinegar as we passed through them on our way to the stadium after parking below the baseball field.

Now, I’ve know some fine folks that went to State, but in all honesty, Starkville is one of those places that you go to, not through. There just isn’t anything there and it seems to me that it would be an absolutely dismal place to go to college. Their stadium is a reflection of that. With the exception of Vanderbilt they are the only stadium in the conference who hasn’t constructed proper end-zone seating, giving their stadium the appearance of an overly large high school venue. There is very little aesthetic appeal to it (if college football was played in Russia, this it what I imagine all the stadiums would look like) and on this day in particular it was a dull-gray mammoth lurking into a dull-gray sky.

Alabama gave very little to cheer about that day. The running game never got un-tracked and it seemed that the defense was totally incapable of stopping State’s ground attack. As I recall, our fireplug of a fullback, Montoya Madden, was the only bright spot. While ten years have made the details sketchy, I distinctly remember that the weather was awful and the Alabama’s play was not much better.

At half-time I went to the concession stand in the upper deck to get a hot dog. I was about sixth in line for the half-time rush and remember the first customer ordering a hot dog only to be told they were out but more would be arriving shortly. About that time a man comes up the ramp with a tray of about thirty-five hot dogs. Of course they were all gone when I got there and I just kind of looked at the girl with disgusted silence when she told me they were out of hot dogs again.

After the game, as we made our way through the jubilant State fans who were knocking each other over to shake a cowbell in the face of any Alabama fan they could find, all I could think was that this was a fan base that was so unaccustomed to winning that they didn’t know how to handle it. We were treated quite rudely as we left and it was not a pretty site. Now I know that not every Alabama fan is the model of decorum after a victory, especially after the defeat of a hated rival, but actions of a lot of the State fans we encountered as we exited left enough of a bad taste that I decided then and there that I never want an opposing fan leaving our stadium, regardless of the team, to be treated the way we were treated that day.

One of my favorite parts of college football is the tailgating and fellowship that takes place before and after a game. Regardless of the outcome I am usually up for a beverage or two after the game but I have never wanted to be on my own couch, which was a scant ninety mile away, as I did that day, and so without bye or leave we left Starkville as quick as we could vowing never to return. And to this day we haven’t.

One final note; on the way out of town, off the side of the ramp onto the four-lane, there was a couple of State fans standing in the grassy area right of the shoulder, dropping their pants and mooning the Alabama fans as the started east. The whole scene was funny enough until a car about three or four ahead of us, pulls out of line and starts in their direction, sending the drenched mooners sprinting toward the fence. At least we had one thing to smile about that day.

In our previous post we discussed the complexities involved with Lincoln Financial (affectionately referred to as crap JP) broadcasting two games simultaneously from the Southeastern Conference. We proposed the possibility of two separate crews consisting completely of people named Dave and sucky announcing of monstrous proportions.

Turns out we were 1/3 right on the second crew or 4/6 (we realize that reduces) overall. Dave Archer, who got replaced by another Dave on the regular SEC crew this year, is returning to do color for the Alabama-Mississippi State game this Saturday (same crap time – same crap channel).

It appears that the Daves will be in Knoxville for the Arkansas-UT game (ha!) and that Alabama and State fans will get the broadcasting crew of Bill Rosinski, Dave Archer, and Jenn Hildreth. Now we all remember Dave from years past and if memory serves, Jenn did some, if not all of the SEC team preview shows on Fox Sports South two years ago. She was replaced by the cute blond this year but we believe we saw her doing some of the ACC preview shows (not that we watched any of those mind you).

A quick search revealed that Rosinski was the voice of the Atlanta Falcons in the early 90’s and then was the voice of the Carolina Panthers. To be honest, we just don’t know anything about him beyond what we read in his bio. If you can get over the fact that he’s a yankee (maybe you can’t, we’ve yet to hear him talk) you still have to think about the fact that this is JP’s “B” team. Think about being second string to the Daves. There has been many a college athlete quit the team for much less.

All of a sudden we are greatly lamenting the delay from television to radio so that Eli Gold’s calls are 10 seconds ahead of the action. Maybe the DVR? It would require pinpoint timing, which is tough in our experience with Comcast DVRs, but it just might be worth a shot.

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