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

On with the questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

Here is an example of a hard working, intelligent, Auburn alumnus. In this case it’s Leeds own Charles Barkley.

(HT: The Noodle)

You stay classy, Auburn.

Have a great weekend. Make sure you call or visit your mother on Sunday.

Posting will be a little light next week as I get ready for a timely vacation, but be looking for Monday, May 19th (or thereabouts) as I team up with the fine folks at Alabama Gameday and accept their invitation to introduce a new series for this site on theirs.

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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