John Parker Wilson is growing up and becoming a much better quarterback. Everything about him just seems to be even better this year.
If you were wondering why there were 4 billion people at the 'closed to the public' practice, it's because Alabama is hosting a coaching clinic this weekend. Among the notable speakers were Gene Stallings, Cinci coach Mark Dantonio, Philadelphia Eagles defensive line coach Pete Jenkins, and former NFL and Bama player Cornelius Bennett.
Coach Saban didn't have a post practice press conference, leaving Thomas Murphy of the Press Register a little bummed out, but with good stories from things Coach Saban learned from Buddy Ryan.
Former Bama player Herb Hannah has passed away. He had three sons that played at the Capstone - most notably John Hannah, who was elected into the pro football hall of fame in 1991. Our prayers are with his family.
Finebaum goes into detail about the rest of the country using Nick Saban as the code-word for all liars. For example, Jim Rome recently stated about Billy Donovon not turning down the Kentucky job, "at least he didn't go Nick Saban on us." Jim Rome's an asshole.
¶ 7:12 AM1 commentslinks to this post
Days 'til the A-Day game: 22 Days 'til Season Kickoff: 155
Got to check out On a Dead Machine last night here in Memphis. Really good hard rock band - you should all check them out. Also, you can check out my band as well - Prosevere. I'm the singer. If you live in Memphis, we're playing next Saturday, April 7th at the Complex. :-) Shameless self-promotion. Gotta love it.
Anyway, I made it through another work week. Thank God. It's been ridiculous. But you guys don't wanna hear about that. Let's get right into the sports talk.
The Gadsden Times has a story discussing the position changes being made on defense. Talking to Coach Saban, you wouldn't know that Ezekial Knight and Bobby Greenwood are both playing outside linebacker now. I suppose they'll both be used the same way Jason Taylor was used in Miami last year.
Heralded Offensive line recruit, Michael Brewster, has already scheduled his five visits. He's leaning towards Florida or Ohio State, but has an official visit scheduled at Alabama on September 22nd. He is "really interested to see what (new head coach) Nick Saban does at Alabama," Brewster said. "They have great tradition and I'd like to see them get back on top."
We picked up a commitment from Ivan Matchett, a blistering running back from Mobile. Good pickup.
In some basketball news, be sure and read more about Ronald Steele's surgery. What was originally thought to be tendonitus was actually Steele's femur bone digging into a bruise on the top of his knee. Ewwwww.
And, as if you don't know what they are already, here's the official schedule for A-Day activities on Saturday, April 21st.
11:30am: Gates open at Bryant Denny Stadium 12:15pm: Walk of Fame at Denny Chimes with Coach Kines, Juwan Simpson, and Le'Ron McClain 1:05pm: Kickoff for A-Day Game
Now, here's my schedule:
10:00am: Fire up my grill in my parking spot next to the Ferguson Center 11:15am: Finish eating and hanging out, clean up our area 11:30am: Walk by the Quad to see what's going on, heading to the stadium 12:00pm: Get into the stadium and wander around looking for the best seat
Yup. There ya go.
And thanks to our boys over at Dawgsports - we all knew this but now it's official. Auburn students are the dumbest people on the planet. This was confirmed by the fact that one of the swimmers gave a cop a fake ID after being caught relieving himself in an Athens parking garage and smelling like alcohol. Here's the kicker. He's 22 years old.
¶ 9:02 AM0 commentslinks to this post
Today's Thursday. That means On a Dead Machine at Newby's tonight, and only one more day until the weekend.
Days 'til the A-Day Game: 23 Days 'til Season Kickoff: 156
Bernie Machen, Florida's president, has put together a formal proposal for a college football playoff system. It was discussed in the SEC meetings back in March and will be on the agenda for the SEC spring meetings in April in Destin, FL. This is a REALLY big step toward possibly having a true national champion. Read more over at ESPN.com.
Michigan has pinpointed Vandy's Kevin Stallings for their next head coach. Stallings has basically told them to get together an offer quickly and that he will NOT go through an interview process. Kinda how Nick Saban came to Bama. No interview - just pay me. Haha.
Ronald Steele is having arthroscopic knee surgery, according to TideSports.com. Gottfried and Steele both said publicly that they didn't believe surgery would be needed - just rest. Guess they were wrong.
Players are being moved around on defense, but Coach Saban doesn't consider them moves at all. Zeke Knight and Bobby Greenwood have been moved to outside linebacker from defensive end, but in Saban's 3-4 blitz happy package, they'll fit there perfectly. Prince Hall and Darrin Mustin will play inside linebacker.
"You can be as tired as a beaten dog but if you tell yourself you're fresh, you're going to keep moving. That's what it taught me. Come the fourth quarter, we will be better and can play a lot harder." - read more about the Fourth Quarter Program here.
Coach Saban is doing his best to get players to stop their bad habits. Also, Andy Davis, redshirt freshman defensive back, has quit the team.
Days 'til the A-Day game: 24 Days 'til Season Kick Off: 157
The defensive players appear to be really enjoying Coach Saban's work ethic and his chaotic, in-your-face approach. Simeon Castille said “it’s kind of different, because with Coach Shula, I never really saw him, but I see Coach Saban in my face all the time."
The Crimson White discussed the players' being able to talk to the media as well. Matt Collins told about the different terminology and how the best way for new coaches to know their players is in intimate one-on-one drills, like they've been doing for the first two practices.
Wallace Gilberry laughed at his own jokes, particularly one about how he had heard horror stories before Saban came, but then realized "he's so short." He then settled down and got serious to reveal this: "He wants the best out of you," he said "and he's going to get it. He's going to make you a better man." Isn't that what we want out of a football coach? Read more here.
TideSports.com goes into detail about how intense Major Applewhite is, and how the players are responding to it. Everyone seems to love it. “Smart guy," junior guard Justin Britt said. “Knows his stuff. He’s an intense coach as well. He got after us in the fourth-quarter [offseason] program."
We get a little more information about Saban's Fourth Quarter Program. I kinda wish I could figure out what the workouts are and all that...cause I need to get back in shape. Haha.
Matt Collins revealed here that there are a lot of mistakes, but that it comes from not knowing exactly what's coming next. Everybody is still learning the new system.
Ray Melick discusses why Alabama and Awbarn raised ticket prices. Coach Moore says "it's just the price of doing business."
Dateline Alabama discusses all of the hype surrounding the program right now, and how Coach Saban and his staff don't really give a damn about it.
And....a little different note here -- Cecil goes into detail about how Pat Forde doesn't know what he's talking about. People are constantly comparing Mike Shula and Tubby Smith now, and that's ridiculous. Read it and see what we're talking about.
Read in one of the articles that all of the walk-ons for special teams that the former staff brought in were not invited back this year by Saban's staff. I find this rather comical.
¶ 8:50 AM2 commentslinks to this post
Tyrone Prothro underwent another surgery on his leg last Thursday. For people to keep suggesting that he might make a comeback - please stop. I REALLY want him to come back, but c'mon, he had another surgery 17 months after the injury. He's still limping noticeably. For those that want to know about the surgery, read about it here, here, and here.
The Montgomery Advertiser discusses Coach Mal Moore's hesitation to put together a better non-conference schedule. He's hesitant to play Georgia Tech and Penn State, etc etc, in back to back years because of the NCAA sanctions we just finished with. So, why Florida State this year?
Somebody named their newborn child "Saban" last week. Their first child was named "Tyde." The Huntsville Times plays the role of Captain Obvious by running a story about how Bama fans are in a frenzy.
Stan Heath got fired from Arkansas for making the NCAA Tournament and the SEC Championship game. Whoever gets that job is going to win IMMEDIATELY because of the talent he left behind.
Days 'til the A-Day game: 26 Days 'til Season kick-off: 159
Yeah, I thought I would be working on the blog on the weekends...turns out I've been wrong for the past few weeks, so I guess I'll just keep it to a Monday - Friday thing, at least until August.
Anyway, the first practice, from what I understand, was incredibly intense. Coach Saban, who doesn't like to single out players, made mention that both DJ Hall and JP Wilson were ahead of the curve on offense. That's always a great thing to hear - it's something an offense can be built around.
Saban is going to be acting as the graduate assistant with the secondary because Kirby Smart does not currently have anyone to help him in that position. Coach Saban will do more hands on work with cornerbacks, just as he did on Saturday.
Coach said that the defense's first unit did very well, but he didn't specify who was on the first unit.
The secondary has already been pinpointed as a major strength. The base defensive formation will, of course, be a 3-4, but with so much talent in the defensive backfield, the setups may look more like the 3-3-5 that we've seen for the past few years. I imagine that one of our nickels will end up splitting between outside linebacker and nickel back. Should help throw off the opponents' offense a little bit.
A lot has changed since Saban took over. Don't overlook the little things, like the fact that the quarterbacks used to wear non-contact yellow jerseys, and injured players would wear orange. We're Alabama and we hate orange and yellow, so Coach Saban has switched both QBs and injured players to black jerseys.
The start of spring practice also resulted in a couple of commitments from Birmingham's Undra Billingsley, a 6'4" 260 lbs defensive end, and Corey Smith, rated as one of the top five kickers in the country. Smith excels at everything - punting, field goals, and kick offs. He had a bad day in the "college combines," only going 3 for 8, but he has a range of 55 yards. He booted 25 of his 34 kickoffs out of the endzone last year.
The guys over at TideSports.com are trying to figure out if Saban has finalized his deal with Nike or not because Coach didn't wear any Nike branded Alabama gear at the first practice.
The next practice is tomorrow. I'm sure we'll have more, along with pictures, etc. The first day was smiles and "get-to-know-you" time. The 2nd practice should be a little bit tougher.
¶ 9:02 AM0 commentslinks to this post
Days 'til Spring Practice: 1 Days 'til the A-Day game: 29
Talk about a crazy night. It couldn't have happened any better. The two teams I wanted to see win not only won, but won in heartbreaking fashion. I hope it REALLY hurts Tennessee. Hahahahaa.
Coach Saban had a press conference just to somewhat give the media an introduction to spring practice.
Cecil talks about how Saban has upgraded Alabama's "quotability" over at tidesports.com.
The Crimson White goes over everything, including the fact that a few players will be limited due to some injuries, including Jimmy Johns, Will Oakley, and the player who needs the most practice, Chris Capps.
The assistant coaches came to Bama because of Nick Saban, according to the Birmingham News. Duh.
The Huntsville Times goes over how Bama's offense will fit the players that are available. So Applewhite won't exactly be airing it out completely just yet.
Kirk McNair, from BamaMag.com, revealed that no depth chart or roster was provided to the media. The Montgomery Advertiser discussed Saban saying that everyone has "a clean slate."
So today we'll focus on the defense.
Defensive line: This could be the weakest group on the entire team. For the past few years we ran with Defensive linemen that should have been linebackers, linebackers that should have been in the secondary, and a secondary that, despite what you want to believe, should have been on the bench. It helped out as far as speed goes, but how many times did you see Bino, or anyone else for that matter, give up a big play when they needed to make a stop?
The defensive is pathetically small. If you saw the LSU game last year, you'll understand what I mean. We're not big at all. Recruiting this year helped out a little bit, but you can't start an entire line of freshmen (and if Saban does that, more power to him). Gilberry is all-world. He's a helluva ballplayer, but that doesn't make him unstoppable. The biggest question marks will be with Greenwood and Saunders. They have the potential to be REALLY good if they get the right training.
Two other potential stars will be incoming freshmen Kerry Murphy and Luther Davis. Davis is a character and is already a fan favorite, but will have to learn his role on this team quickly. Freshmen are not allowed to talk to the media, so he'll have to shut up at least for this year. Both he and Murphy are huge and are very talented. If they pick up a little bit more muscle, they'll be ready to be BIG TIME contributers by the time September rolls around. Jeremy Elder is another to watch out for as long as he qualifies. He'll be a force and could be a potential starter as early as the middle of this year.
Cornerback: I see NO weaknesses here. There are two kids coming in (Kareem Jackson and Chris Lett) that will be All-SEC players by the end of '08. Simeon Castille has one corner wrapped up, while I would imagine that Lionel Mitchell will take the other spot. Experience is, of course, key here. The secondary is Saban's specialty - just look at the kids that are going to the NFL from LSU.
Safety: I think Rashad Johnson and Marcus Carter were tremendous last year, and will only be better this season, especially with a more fine tuned defensive staff. This will be a fun position to watch because we're incredibly deep and talented enough to rotate on a regular basis. Watch out for Justin Woodall, Michael Ricks, and possibly Corey Reamer to make big plays back here this year.
Outside Linebacker: I don't know much about ANY of these guys. What I do know is that this position is definitely up in the air after losing our starters from last season. We're bringing in Rolando McClain, Nick Gentry, Alex Watkins, and Chavis Williams, along with a lot of guys that are also in the running for Defensive End (Saunders, Greenwood, etc). I don't know who's going to step up, but I saw Rolando McClain in high school and my guess is that either he or Williams will be key at this position. They could end up being 4 year starters.
Inside Linebacker: Prince Hall should have this wrapped up. Matt Collins has experience behind him, and then there's all the kids that I mentioned that can also play outside linebacker. This should be a pretty talented spot on the field. As long as Hall has learned not to over pursue plays, he's got the talent to be All-SEC. This should be another fun year at the linebacker position.
So, there's your defense. Biggest weakness is across the defensive front, but I believe there's enough speed around to make up for it, at least for this year. Just hope we don't play against anyone that's good enough to just pound it up the middle every play, or we'll never see the football. Haha.
¶ 9:10 AM0 commentslinks to this post
Days 'til Spring Practice: 2 Days 'til the A-Day Game: 30
DAYS 'TIL TMNT IN THEATRES: 1
Ok, so enough of my inner child. We gotta get back to spring practice previews. I apologize for no updates yesterday...work sucks.
Anyway, we're still on the offense. Tomorrow, we'll cover the entire defense, and on Saturday morning we'll cover the special teams unit.
Offensive Line: This unit has been a liability for the past two seasons, but a lot of that can be blamed on Bob Connely's West Coast blocking scheme, which just simply didn't fit the type of offense that Shula was trying to run. Why Shula didn't bring in one of his own guys rather than keep Connely (one of Mike Price's leftovers) is beyond me, but, in the end, we found out Shula wasn't exactly a great decision maker.
Anyway, there is supposedly talent on the line. The kids that have been brought in (Andre Smith, Antione Caldwell, etc) are all-world at their positions. They have the ability to move around and still excel anywhere on the line. I believe that BJ Stabler and Justin Britt are good offensive linemen that were mistaught. Joe Pendry will do wonders with this group and, should they find a few redshirts or freshmen to come in immediately, this unit that was once a liability could actually be a strength on this team. We'll just have to play it by ear to see what happens.
Tight Ends: It'll be interesting to see what Chris Underwood does. He could be the best option that we have, although we have more experienced players. Nick Walker and Travis McCall will be the top options, I would assume, due to their experience. I would not be surprised to see Underwood redshirt this year to build up his strength a little more. Saban's teams generally run a one tight end set, so they need the complete package...not a 215 lb weakling that can't block, but can catch. That's what wide receivers are for.
Days 'til Spring Practice: 4 Days 'til the A-Day game: 32
So today we'll begin the season preview. We'll take a look at the offense first.
It's a scary thought to think that the offense will be the most experienced, and probably best part of our returning team. As weak and predictable as it was last year, the pieces are still there for this to be a remarkable unit - with playmakers and strong blockers all over the field. We'll focus on the skill positions today.
Wide Receiver: This position will, without a doubt, be the strongest on the field. We have a stable full of wide outs that have big play capabilities. DJ Hall and Keith Brown have been big play threats for the last two years, so this year should be no difference. Matt Caddell and Nakita Stover stepped up to be incredible clutch receivers last year, and Will Oakley is what I would like to call a "possession receiver."
So with 5 really good returning players, why do I think there's room for more? Incoming talents Marquis Maze and Johnathan Lowe both have the potential to be another "Prothro." They can juke anybody, and are quick enough to run past anybody on the field. Great hands and blinding speed are always a great combination. Just ask Florida.
Quarterback: John Parker Wilson is the only experienced quarterback we've got. Jimmy Barnes tore his ACL at the beginning of bowl practice, and Greg McElroy was a redshirt last year. Nick Fanuzzi is coming in, but he's just a freshman. He will have to learn the ropes in the SEC before we can really count on him.
I would think that we're going to be ok at this position. The Texas duo (McElroy and Fanuzzi) will be much better than most people give them credit for, and should make for better backups than Guillon or Barnes.
Running Back / Fullback: There are four billion horses in the stable on this one, and none of them really has game experience other than Jimmy Johns. Of course, there are rumors circling that Johns may not even play this position by the time spring ball is done, so we'll have to see what's going on with that. Glen Coffee and Roy Upchurch are, I guess, the leading candidates to take over the starting job. Of course, it could be Ali Sharrief or Terry Grant as well. Needless to say, this position has the most potential of any on the field. We could see as many as 3 to 4 running backs carrying the work load this year.
As far as fullback goes, Baron Huber is built like a tank, and looks to be the favorite to take over as a starter. Don't necessarily count out Jeramie Griffin from South Panola, though. The freshman is huge, but has lightning fast gamespeed and could be a big time weapon if the coaching staff wants to use him that way.
¶ 8:56 AM3 commentslinks to this post
My bracket is officially screwed. I picked too many upsets and knew it. Oh well.
Days 'til Spring Practice: 5 Days 'til the A-Day game: 33
This past weekend didn't matter to most Alabama fans. This coming weekend does. This Saturday marks the first practice for the University of Alabama football team under new head coach Nick Saban.
I don't remember an athletic year with both our football and basketball teams being so disappointing. I've seen over-matched teams do better than they should have in the past however many years, but I haven't seen a football team picked in the top 20 fall to 6-7 and a basketball team picked as a final four candidate that got knocked out in the first round of the SEC and NIT tournaments.
There hasn't been much to cheer about lately, but that's all about to change. Practices are closed to the public, but that's ok. We'll get our share of information from the few media sources that are allowed in. Don't expect everything to be all smiles from the coaches either - these are men that probably have already realized the mess that they inherited from Mike Shula.
Everyone knows about the discipline problems that have gone on at the Capstone in recent years. The only "team" was the players pulling together to try and win DESPITE the coaches. Again, that will change. There is new faith, and with faith comes trust in a new system and a new regime. For the first time in a decade, everybody knows who is "in charge" of Alabama football - and for the first time in a decade, it will be the head coach and not the boosters.
Saturday will mark the first day of four weeks of spring practice. Should be beautiful weather most of the time, and a lot of conditioning. Lots of running, lots of endurance drills. These are trademarks of Saban coached teams. No team on our schedule will be better prepared entering the 4th quarter of ballgames than we will. Which is a far cry from the teams that Shula led onto the field. The 4th quarter was normally where games were LOST, not won - that eventually led to his firing.
So a new era begins on Saturday, and we'll begin the preparations here at Memphis Tider with as much pre-season crap as we can fit into the end of March. For now, check out the other articles regarding Alabama football:
So, for all the guys in the office pool that always pick the favorites -- yesterday was a very good day. I, however, did not do so well. I had Old Dominion, Duke, BYU, Oral Roberts, Texas Tech, and Marquette. My bracket isn't screwed, but I'm in last place already. I can still catch up though.
Anyway, on to more important matters...
Days 'til Spring Practice: 8 Days 'til the A-Day game: 36
Next week will begin the season preview. We'll go through the team - offense first, then defense - position by position, and then we'll go through each game, gearing up for the A-Day game. We'll probably do the same thing leading up to fall practice.
Today begins March Madness....but lets continue with our countdown first:
Days 'til Spring Practice: 9 Days 'til the A-Day Game: 37
I don't know about you, but I am insanely ready to see this football team under Nick Saban. We won't be great immediately, but we'll be pretty damn good. And a lot more disciplined.
Anyway, I filled out my bracket and actually feel better about it for the first time in 5 years because I didn't pick Alabama to the Elite 8 or whatever. However, I did pick Winthrop into it, so that could be my downfall.
My elite 8 is as follows: Florida vs Winthrop, So. Illinois vs UCLA, Ohio St vs Memphis, and Texas vs Georgetown.
How's that for upsets? haha. Anyway, I'm out for the moment. I'm sure I'll be posting something else here soon. Maybe even something related to the Tide. Haha.
¶ 8:56 AM0 commentslinks to this post
Days 'til Spring Practice: 10 Days 'til the A-Day Game: 38
Well, last night all they did was tease us.
Had the game in our hands. Had a lead in both regulation and in overtime with just over a minute, and then give the game away.
Props to Riley for hitting that ridiculous three to send the game to OT.
Props to Jemison for making it a tie game with 9 seconds left.
Props to Hollinger for looking more like Ronald Steele than Brandon Hollinger.
Davidson looked like he had never seen a basketball before. Steele sat on the bench in street clothes.
BOOOOO to the big men for missing free throws in the first half. We started out 1-5. Those points ended up costing us the game. And boooooo the A-10 officiating crew that let them "Kentucky" us for the entire game. I almost would've sworn we were playing a Rick Pitino coached team with all the hacking and slapping and no calls on our end. The free throw discrepancy was disgusting. But - they hit theirs and we didn't.
What really gets me is on the final shot to win the game, that Lowe kid pushed off so blatantly that I went back and watched it over and over to see where the referee was and if the kid actually pushed off. I won't whine anymore...the season's over. But I'll leave this video for you to see what I'm talking about. Sorry about the quality. I took this with my shitty digital camera.
"Alabama is beat up, plays lethargic, lacks any kind of post or transition defense, can't win on the road, makes the UCLA high post offense look like a joke, and is just a really dumb basketball team in general. That doesn't exactly spark confidence in me when you look at UMass' low post duo of Rashaun Freeman ( 15.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg ) and Stephane Lasme ( 13.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 5 bpg ) and how they will likely tear apart Alabama's interior defense. Alabama's Richard Hendrix can't play more than three minutes without being gassed which in turn means he's late on any kind of transition play and Jermareo Davidson doesn't know the meaning of help defense or stepping up in the lane. That's not even mentioning the Minutemen's Gary Forbes, who at 6'7 stepping out behind the three point line, will be a huge matchup problem for Alabama. Alonzo Gee or Mykal Riley will likely match up against him and both are terrible defending the arc. It appeared as if Alabama was done with this season after their blowout home loss to Auburn and there's no reason to think they're going to change their poor ways in the 32nd game. I can definitely see this one being a blowout. Atleast "defensive guru" Tom Asbury will likely be stepping down as an assistant coach after the season ( after this game I should say ).
It's been insanely difficult for Alabama to prepare for this game because, not only did they get a horrible seed in the NIT (not that they deserved better, but the other 3 SEC teams got home games), but they got shipped 1500 miles away from home, and were told that they had to be there to play in less than 48 hours.
Doesn't really seem fair.
But, that's the hand you're dealt when you lose six of your last eight games and don't have a healthy point guard or center. Aside from that, the Tide has struggled on the road this season in every way imaginable. We've been blown out from the start (Arkansas, Vandy). We've been blown out late (Mississippi State, Auburn, Notre Dame). We've been close but no cigar (Florida, Ole Miss, and Tennessee), and we've actually won two road games - at LSU and at NC State.
UMass is better than LSU and NC State, but not as good as Tennessee, Florida, and maybe Ole Miss. 6'8" Stephane Lasme and 6'9" Rashaun Freeman are both beasts under the basket, and will give Davidson and Hendrix fits all night. Their perimeter play is pretty good, but not sensational.
This is a Travis Ford coached team. Yes, the former Kentucky guard. He's a hell of a player, a Rick Pitino disciple who will do big things. The difference is that this team doesn't like to press as much, partly because their big men are not as fast and can't keep up with the fast pace.
The guys over at the tidesports message boards have put in their predictions for the game tonight, so I'll just use a few of theirs:
"UMass by 18. Then the season will over and we can get back to football."
"Umass 84, Bama 69.... Bama will probably go up like 25-14 in the 1st half, Umass will call timeout, go on major run to end the half. Score at the half 37-31 Umass. 2nd half opens, Umass starts on a run to take about a 13 point lead, CMG puts in some subs/full court pressure, bama climbs to within 4 points, but doesnt get any closer. Its Called Mark Gottfried Basketball. RTR I really hope we do win."
"umass by 20 or so"
"Bama wins in overtime..79-75..You saw it here first.."
"I'll stick with my usual...Bama loses by 15"
So that's one fan that thinks we'll win compared to four that think we'll get destroyed and one that doesn't even care. My how the mighty have fallen.
And this team was ranked #4 in the country at one point.
Well, practically, it is time for football. But we'll give the basketball team at least one more day before we completely switch gears and head back to the football team.
Days 'til Spring Practice: 11 Days 'til the A-Day Game: 39
It's inching closer and closer and closer. Once the basketball team is eliminated from the NIT, we'll begin getting into this year's football team preview. We'll go through each position, see what we've got, see what's coming in, who's gonna redshirt, who's gonna flunk out, who's gonna transfer, who can't handle General Saban's new regime, etc. It'll be a lot of fun looking at all of this.
But, until then, we'll go through with all of the basketball stuff again.
So, as we begin to look back on the season of '06-'07, we can't help but wonder what exactly went wrong. We can blame it on Davidson's personal struggles. We can blame it on Ronald Steele being hurt all year long. But the players that are still out there can only blame it on themselves. Alonzo Gee is not an SEC caliber player. His defense is atrocious. I sit and watch teams like Arkansas and Auburn who work their tails off on the defensive side of the ball, and then I watch our team and the difference is like night and day. And it worries me because I don't know if that's the coach or just the players.
What I do know is this - and I don't know how many times I can say it - ...we have oodles of talent coming back next year, so if we're not at least 10-6 in the SEC, then Gottfried should be gone. And it pains me to say that, but only 3 winning conference records in 9 years is not a good thing. I don't care if he's been to the Elite 8 or not...that's ridiculous.
People can't seriously be thinking that Richard Hendrix could leave early for the draft, right? I mean, he's still thinking Bama's got at shot at the NCAA tournament. One of Alabama's possible opponents in the NIT could be South Alabama, and the home of who I think will be Bama's next coach (John Pelphrey), if Gottfried tanks again next year. Could be very interesting.
¶ 8:55 AM0 commentslinks to this post
Do you figure we'll ever catch a break? I mean seriously. Luck has to shift our way at some point this season...right?
There is a very good possibility that Ronald Steele will be playing today, but, according to the Tuscaloosa News, Jermareo Davidson may be out with back troubles.
I mean, seriously. Are you kidding?
Cecil has a pretty good article about how the SEC Tournament title is up for grabs this year. The safe bet is Florida, but they lost 3 of their last 5 games to close out the season. Arkansas may be playing to save their coach, and they've got the studs to win, but they've been inconsistent all year. Tennessee's on a roll, but they're undersized, and if the long ball ain't fallin', they can't win. Vandy flopped in the last game they played. Ole Miss and Mississippi State both have byes, but they're insanely inconsistent too. Alabama has all the talent to win, but doesn't play like there's any desire to win.
Noon CST. Watch on the tube if you're not already in Atlanta.
Days 'til Selection Sunday: 4 Days 'til Spring Practice: 17 Today's RPI: 43
Ron Higgins said that if we make the tourney finals, we'll still get in the tournament. HA.
Oh well...at least good things are happening elsewhere. Coach Saban picked up his third commitment for the 2008 signing class - Brandon Lewis, a DE from Pleasant Grove, whose uncle is Michael Myers, who played here in '96 before being suspended for all of '97 due to some NCAA troubles. He's still currently playing in the NFL, if I'm correct.
Eric Crawford, from the Louisville Courier-Journal, is a cocky SOB. He proclaims "Of course, it doesn't hurt if you have a couple of stiffs lined up come tourney time...I'm calling it now -- UK will be in the SEC title game." It would be nice to shut up somebody like that on Thursday. Without Ronald Steele. Haha.
¶ 8:48 AM3 commentslinks to this post
Days 'til Selection Sunday: 5 Days 'til Spring Practice: 18 Today's RPI: 43
South Carolina did it last year, so there's no reason to think that we can't get to the SEC Tourney finals this year. Everything sets up rather nicely. We have a slumping Kentucky team in the first round, a revenge game against Mississippi State in the next round (although we haven't fared very well in revenge games), and a game against, probably either Arkansas or Vanderbilt in the semi-finals. Both of whom killed us in the regular season.
The loss of Ronald Steele was the killer this year. He could do things with the basketball that other people on this team just can't do, and the other players were used to just watching him take over in the clutch. Period.
It reminds me of when James "Hollywood" Robinson was playing, or when Brian Wilson was playing. They would just take over the games and, although they couldn't win most of them, they were still the stars. The teams would stand around and watch him on offense. It was ridiculous.
Same thing here, but Ron did have a little help, hence why we were able to win a few games this year.
Oh well. The season's shot unless we make an unlikely run through the tournament, which I very seriously doubt will be happening unless Ronald Steele makes a miraculous comeback.
Either way, we all know that the first key to recovery is admitting that there's a problem. Everybody loves the coach that blames himself, and Mark Gottfried did just that. He's pointing the finger at his coaching this season and is vowing that changes will be made. Good to finally hear something like that from him this season. Cecil also chimes in on the new attitude.
So here we sit. A 13-1 start got us up to a #4 ranking. Now we're 20-10. 7-9 in the conference. Got blown out 4 times. Got beat at home twice. Sitting on the outside looking in for the first time in 6 years.
Days 'til Selection Sunday: 6 Days 'til Spring Practice: 19 Today's RPI: 42 Latest Projected first round NIT opponent: Wright State
I guess, in one sense, it's better that Alabama won't be making it to the NCAAs. My bracket should play out much better than it has the past few years (thanks to my biased opinion).
The problem, whether anyone wants to address it or not, is both coaching and the lack of a point guard. Hollinger and Torrance are not SEC point guards. They can't handle the basketball. Gottfried doesn't know how to coach against the press. Steele was the only player we had that knew what to do when a team presses.
We're sloppy with the basketball. We don't move on offense. We don't have any effort on defense. And somehow, we found a way to win 7 conference games (3 of them by a combined 6 points). Does that go to coaching, or just to the talent itself? Either way, next year is, sadly, a make or break year for CMG. With the talent and experience that is returning, he should finish no less than 10-6 in the conference. We should see another 20+ win season and an upper seed in the NCAA tournament.
How in the world can a team go into a championship game and get demolished? They didn't look like they even wanted to be on the floor. They acted like they'd rather just be at home watching TV. Which is why I changed the channel. I would rather be watching some other TV show. I watched golf.
GOLF. I'm 24 years old and with 10 minutes left in my favorite team's final regular season game, I would rather be watching GOLF.
Are you kidding me?
So now, a team that was a projected FINAL FOUR TEAM in most preseason publications, finished 5th in the SEC Western division. Behind Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Auburn. What a joke.
This season, in one game, went from having everything still possible to being a joke. I wish I could wake up and have it be football season right now, because now I have to live with the crap that I'll get from everyone else. The only SEC West team that didn't beat us at least once this year was LSU. They were, amazingly, a bigger disappointment than we were.
Oh well. This is how the SEC tourney shapes up now.
E1 Florida W1 Mississippi State E2 Vanderbilt W2 Ole Miss E3 Tennessee W3 Arkansas E4 Kentucky W4 Auburn E5 Georgia W5 Alabama E6 South Carolina W6 LSU
Thursday at 12:00 CST we will play against Kentucky. For us to win the tourney, here's what the schedule would look like.
Thursday: vs Kentucky Friday: vs Mississippi St Saturday: vs Vandy / Arkansas / South Carolina Sunday: vs Florida / Ole Miss / Georgia / Auburn / LSU / Tennessee
I guess I like our chances more right now, but still feel like we'll be out the first day.
Time: 1pm CST TV: Lincoln Financial Sports Place: Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, MS
Today's game, for all intents and purposes, is the entire season. It's like the playoffs: win or go home.
Starkville has been a difficult place for us in the past, but it's not impossible to win there. I seem to remember an elite eight performance that came from us getting a win at #4 Mississippi State. Today's game will be just as crazy.
We still don't have anyone that can cover Gordon, and they still don't have anyone that can hang with us under the basket. Steele won't go again, so it's up to Torrance to provide some spark.
Davidson absolutely has to take this game over. He'll be the X factor. If he can get his mid-range jumper to start falling, and drag State's few big guys out from under the basket, Hendrix will clean house down there.
¶ 11:08 AM0 commentslinks to this post
Days 'til Selection Sunday: 7 Days 'til Spring Practice: 20 Today's RPI: 36
Mississippi State has an RPI of 67. Which is good, because if we can sneak out a win, we'll have a ROAD win against an RPI top 100 team. Very cool. With Arkansas' win yesterday, the entire West, other than LSU's last place finish, is still up in the air, with an Alabama win, Ole Miss is the 1 seed, Bama 2, Mississippi State 3, Arkansas 4, Auburn 5, and LSU 6. With a Miss St win, they're the 1 seed, Ole Miss the 2, Arkansas the 3, Auburn the 4, Bama the 5, and LSU 6.
I guess you know how much the game today means. Win and everything is still possible. Lose, and the season's over. Kinda like a playoff game.
Here's the winners and losers from the bubble.
Florida State (won at Miami in OT)
West Virginia (won against Cinci) DePaul (won against South Florida)
Purdue (won against Northwestern)
Texas Tech (won at Iowa St) Kansas State (won against Oklahoma)
Xavier (won at LaSalle) Old Dominion (won against Towson) Drexel (won against Northeastern) San Diego State (won against TCU) Virginia Commonwealth (won against Georgia St) Massachusetts (won at St. Joe's)
Illinois (lost at Iowa) Michigan (lost against Ohio St)
Well, here we go. This is what has happened so far today.
1) Illinois lost at Iowa. 2) Florida State won at Miami in overtime.
So one bubble team lost and the other won in overtime. We totally had FSU on the ropes. That sucks.
Anyway, something else that I didn't think about could end up happening. Arkansas is winning at Vanderbilt by 15 in the 2nd half right now. If they win and we lose, we drop back to the #5 seed in the West. How insane is that? One game can decide between a bye in the tourney, or the West's 5th seed. Argh.
¶ 1:18 PM0 commentslinks to this post
Here is a countdown to the A-Day game and to kickoff. I suppose I'll start posting that once we get to spring practice. Right now it'd just be disheartening. Haha.
CoachSaban.net is slowly, but surely, swinging into gear. Looks pretty cool, if you ask me.
Andrew Steele hit two free throws at the end of the game to lead John Carroll past Decatur last night. Looks like Ron's lil brother is clutch too. Must run in the family.
Now, back to basketball. First things first, turn on CBS RIGHT NOW and watch Kevin Durant. You'll be doing yourself a favor. He's a joy to watch.
Next, here is a list of teams that we want to root for, and teams we want to root against over the next week or two. Keep an eye on these games because they could determine whether or not Alabama goes dancing.
The NFL has an exhibition game between the Patritos and Seahawks in China this year, and the NFL is one step ahead of everybody. They've brought over several Chinese kickers that will be trying out for a spot on the Patriots and Seahawks so that Chinese fans will have players to relate to when they come over. Read about it at the International Herald Tribune.
¶ 12:10 PM0 commentslinks to this post
I'm leaving work early today and driving the 2.5 hours it takes to get to Little Rock to see my friends in Sevendust. Wooo Hooo. Today's going to be a very good day. But first...the numbers.
Days 'til Selection Sunday: 9 Days 'til Spring Practice: 22 Today's RPI: 38
Tennessee's RPI has jumped up to #8 in the latest realtimerpi.com update. Imagine if we could beat Mississippi State on the road, then beat Tennessee (if they beat LSU) in the tourney, then get to play Florida again. It would do WONDERS for the RPI numbers and give us a legitimate shot at the tourney.
In some other news, Shaud Williams signed a 2 year contract extension with the Buffalo Bills. Good for Shaud. He was here through some rough times.
Nick Saban has offered a scholarship to a kicker. That's right. Corey Smith, from Inwood-Musselman (WV), is a top kicker in the '08 class and Alabama has offered him a scholarship. I guess some people DO understand how important special teams can be. (cough cough, Arkansas)
If you're looking for a team that's even more careless with the basketball, and bad at making decisions, look no further than the women's basketball team, who committed 42 turnovers in a loss to Ole Miss last night in the first round of the SEC tourney. 42? Seriously? Jeez.
The Capstone Report is all about Mr. Perrin, aka "The Head Coonass," going after Finebaum for his repeated use of the word "coonass" on his radio show. He has threatened a formal complaint to the FCC if Paul doesn't stop. Jeez, some people are just ridiculous.
Jared Zabransky will be the cover boy for EA Sports' NCAA Footall 2008. It also tells how much the school makes in royalties off the game, and discusses how three filmmakers are working on a film / documentary about the 2006 undefeated season, which could also pay BSU royalties.
Rolltide.com has posted this year's football ticket information. Kinda insane, if you ask me. $40 - Western Carolina, Louisiana-Monroe games. $45 - Houston (Homecoming). Then $55 each ticket for all SEC games. Now that I'm thinking about it, I guess that would be about right because we've got Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and LSU all coming to BDS this year. Those are all HUGE games. Unlike last year with Ole Miss, Vandy, Mississippi State, etc. Oh well.
¶ 9:05 AM0 commentslinks to this post
Finally, players are stepping up and making plays at the end of a ballgame. Now we have to win on the road against Mississippi State - a team who is also fighting for a share of the SEC West Championship. Check out Cecil's column in the Tuscaloosa News about how, this time, we didn't let a win slip away.
Regardless of who wins the Ole Miss - Auburn game, the best we'll be able to do is the West's 2nd seed. A loss slaps us in the 4 seed.
Wait...don't let me get ahead of myself.
Days 'til Selection Sunday: 10 Days 'til Spring Practice: 23 Today's RPI: 38
Yup yup yup.
So, anyway... Alabama will either be 2nd in the West, or 4th in the West because of their 4 losses to Arkansas and Auburn. All three teams (Miss St, Ole Miss, and Auburn) have better divisional records than Bama. So lets look at a few scenarios:
As far as the tie-breakers go, Auburn beat Bama twice, State beat Auburn twice, and Ole Miss and State split. State is 6-3 in the division so far, Ole Miss is 5-4, and Auburn is 4-5. This is what the tourney would look like in each scenario:
I would DEFINITELY prefer to be the 2nd seed and play the Tennessee / LSU winner rather than playing Georgia in the first round and then Florida in the next. I would LOVE another shot at Tennessee when it's not on their court. :-)
The RPI moved up a bit today, and will move up drastically with a road win at Mississippi State. The NCAA tournament may not be a lost cause. Beat Tennessee and then play tough with Florida in the tourney and you're golden.