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Thanks to Gerry Dorsey for this week’s fascinating questions:

1. what team will be the biggest surprise in the sec in ’08?? the biggest disappointment??

I’m sticking with my prediction that Ole Miss is the sleeper in the conference and I will add that I would not be surprised to see the Cocks (hehe – he just said cocks – absolutely never gets old) do well this year. The Vawls are this years train wreck waiting to happen; no defense + new offense = disaster.
2. we appear to know who our qb is going to be for the season barring something crazy, but not all offensive skill positions are so certain. as the season progresses, who do you see stepping up to be this squad’s most productive rb?? and wr??

Terry Grant is due. But I also believe that Saban likes the committee style running back so I look for either Jimmy Johns (my bad, couldn’t resist) Roy Upchurch or Glen Coffee to make their mark this year. As far as receiver look for Nikita Stover to lead all categories, but I believe there will not be a lot of difference between the group as a whole. You should notice a trend here – I believe that if this offense is successful it will be because the ball is spread around and keeps the defense guessing. We’ve been used to one running back with all the carries and one WR leading all others by a large margin. I don’t think you’re going to see that this season and if you don’t the most important stat, W, will be greater that it has been lately.

3. obviously “the saban” is lord and savior, and created the heavens and the earth, but if you were forced to trade saban for another active coach, who would it be and why??

Similar to Gerry’s answer for the trade-a-player question a few weeks ago, I’m standing pat. There is no one else I want. I think that Saban is the perfect coach at the perfect time for Alabama. To give a little bit of an answer I’ll say that I like the way that Mark Richt is running things at Georgia and I think that Tubberville is doing about as well at Auburn as any coach can, and he is to be commended for that but I quite happy with who we have and neither one of those guys would come to Alabama now anyway. Our next coach will be coordinator somewhere with a lot of success or a mid major coach with the same characteristic. But I hope that in at least 5-7 years, minimum.

4. some people view bama fans as insane. while “insane” is an awfully strong word, many bama fans have a disturbing obsession with their team. what is the most significant/unique/valuable/weird piece of bama paraphernalia you have and why??

As soon as I wake up on a game day before I do anything else I place my crimson flag with the white scripted A in its place on the front of our house. Only football games, whether home or away; so this happens twelve or thirteen times a year, but it is the most crucial thing I do that day and I am obsessive about it. If I am at the site of the away game I call my wife and make sure she has it up (she hasn’t traveled much since the children arrived- that’s changing this year and I’m not sure what I’m going to do – well, there goes any hope for productive work today.) Also when out of towns guests are stating with us, they are awakened by “Yea, Alabama” very loud. Hungover or not.  In ’99, after I put the flag up I would go get Hardee’s biscuits and got to my dad’s and we’d read the paper, eat, drink coffee and discuss the game. We won the SEC that year. I guess I’ve got to start that again. OK, I’m very OCD about game days. Game days are the best.

One of the greatest things about college football is the fact that trash talk goes on all year long. If there is a team that you don’t like, rival or not, it seems that one of our national pastimes is to run them down and I  never ceased to be amazed at the lengths people will go to stir up the hornet’s nest.

A great example of this happened over the course of the last week. The Wizard of Odds is a great blog and is one of my daily destinations. There is not a more concise site that I have ever found for a viewing the most interesting stories in college football regardless of who you pull for. If you like the sport of college football, you will like visiting the Wizard of Odds.

Today a post was made on the Wiz’s site referencing a post on Gentry Estes’ blog. Gentry writes for the Mobile Press-Register and evidently he was a little frustrated about the way Alabama and specifically Nick Saban handle their press releases relataing to fall practice. (That is my interpretation and not his). Estes blogged about it and then took the entry down. The insinuation was made that someone within the Alabama circle asked him to take the entry down. He later wrote an explanation and re-posted the entry. You can read it all here.

Possibly an attempt to make something out of nothing the Wiz posted this. And in all fairness, the post is a fair summary of the events and makes no judgement. The facts are all presented and the reader is allowed to judge for himself what really happend. My issue is the title of the post- “Did Saban Request Blog Post Be Spiked?” I believe that the title insinuates that there is the possibility that he did. Maybe it’s good marketing; you’re going to attract Alabama fans and Alabama and Saban haters alike with that title. As an Alabama fan I beleive that it points to an agenda.  The aftermath is what will prove me right or wrong. There were two  comments when I read the post. The first was a known Alabama fan who asked what the big deal was. The second was a Dawg fan, judging by his moniker he refutes Gentry Estes’ claim that no one asked him to remove the post and then he goes on to tell how excited he is about the fact that Saban is not his coach and other stuff you would expect from a rival fan.

There are two things that bother me here. One is specific to this post and one is with fans in general.

As far as the post, I beleive that it fits an agenda. The Wiz has never written impartially about Saban or Alabama that is to say there is an air of contempt in anything Saban related. That is his right and I don’t hold it against him.  But I beleive that  he is helping to blow it out of proportion. I don’t think that the post coming down is really a story. Estes’ explanation seems plasuible. It makes sense that he would be frustrated trying to report news from a program that give out very little news. I don’t believe he was out of line saying the things that he did. But I also certainly do not believe that Nick Saban is checking blogs or even having his staff check blogs or other media sources. If Nick Saban is focusing on the media and not depth at linebacker right now, Alabama certainly does have a problem.

The wild card here is the fact that Paul Finebaum picked this thing up and ran with it. I’ve been very clear about my feelings with Finebaum in the past. While he is entertaining he does absolutely zero to advance football or the people of this state. He highlights the ignorant minority of people who are convinced that not only does their opinion matter but is right. [For the record, my opinion matters not at all and right or wrong in most of these instances depends on the colors you wear on Fall Saturdays.] He is in it completely for himself. What does that mean? It means that in the absence of a real story he will pick up circumstantial threads and create fabricate a story. And in the current dearth of real stories this is a humdinger.

I believe that the Wiz’s post was nothing more than a way to stir up argument. I don’t like that. Estes’ thoughts are there for all to see and he is after all a journalist. Unlike a blogger or Finebaum if he lies he is out of a job because he doesn’t have credibility anymore. Most bloggers run from an agenda and facts only get in the way or are at least a starting point to put out a great yarn. Finebaum lost credibly a long time ago and his agenda has always been to stir the pot.

There are other bloggers that picked this up but as the colors on their banners are orange and blue I am not even going to go into their take on things because they are certainly pushing an agenda.

On the larger scale, I am still just baffled by the latent hate and anger out there that is directed at Nick Saban. The man likes to keep things quiet around his football team. What’s wrong with that. I don’t believe that you, as an American Citizen who follows college football have a right to know every single thing. Saban has been villified by the majority of the media because he doesn’t tell everything that goes on with his team. There is no crime in that. I can understand frustration – it must be harder to do your job if your job is to report news about Alabama football. But as a fan, I don’t really need to know about every time Ross’ brother farts on the practice field.

It seems to me that someone who discusses at what point in the show he left the Kenny Chesney concert isn’t tight lipped. I’d rather not have known he went to that show honestly. That made me lose more respect for him than anything he’s done in the past five years. It seems that he has openly talked about things he could talk about. He gave information about Elder after he was dismissed. He stood  up for Johnson after his arrest. But what he doesn’t do is talk about things that he feels are important not to discuss. What’s wrong with that. Are any of us really at a loss because he hasn’t said something. I can see where anyone could spin it to advance their agenda of how he is a terrible human being but in my opinion the evidence just isn’t there to go on tirades about it.

To be totally honest, I wasn’t a big fan of Saban when he was at LSU. I thought, as I still do, that he was arrogant. But I wasn’t a big fan of Spurrier either. I don’t really care for Tommy Tuberville although I couldn’t tell you why. I think Mark Richt is kind of prissy and self-rightous. Herban Meyer seems like a douche nozzle to me. My loathing of Fulmer is well documented. I’ve never really had a lot of good words for Houston Nutt. Sylvester Croom has been a lttle cry-babyish at times. Wait… is this a trend developing? Could it be that I don’t really like any coach of a rival team.

I don’t have a lot of good words for any coach in the conference save Saban. The only reason I have good words for Saban is that he is the coach of the football team that I have allegiance to. With every one of the men that I listed above I have zero first hand knowledge but I’d be willing to bet that there are good qualities about every one of them and I am positive that former players of theirs would fight you if you said something in their presence to disparage their characters.

We see these men on television and the sidelines and we read and hear their words and we think that we know them. The truth is that we don’t know them and with Saban we know him even less because he isn’t as open as the others.

It’s the same way with fans of our opposition. We can paint stereotypes and list great reason to loathe all of them and that works real well when we keep them at arms length. But, when we get to the tailgate and start discussing things, we find that, with rare exception, they are just like us.

You can interchange any coach in the conference with any other team and once that coach becomes “your coach” you are going to hold him in the same light with slightly varying shades. Bring Fulmer or Tuberville here and as far fecthed as that sounds they would have new defenders and new haters almost immediately. Saban, Tuberville, and Nutt are the best examples of that. There are people right now at Alabama, Auburn, and  Ole Miss that “hated his guts” that are now cheering for them. There are also people at LSU, Ole Miss, and Arkansas that would speak easily of their demise but at one time sung their praises.

The sad fact is that most of us aren’t any more complex than that.

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