SEC Football Q&A: Is Alabama Good Enough to Win Even Without QB AJ McCarron?

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SEC Football Q&A: Is Alabama Good Enough to Win Even Without QB AJ McCarron?
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Alabama QB AJ McCarron

Every Thursday on The SEC Blog, we will feature questions from the Bleacher Report inbox, Twitter and email at bsallee@bleacherreport.com. 

You have SEC questions, and I have SEC answers. Thank you for your questions this week. If I didn't get to them, they will be saved and used in the future.

And we're off:

It's hard to win a BCS National Championship, much less three in four years.

It seems that ever since Alabama ran Notre Dame out of Sun Life Stadium in January, it's just assumed that the Crimson Tide are a runaway juggernaut with no signs of slowing down.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Alabama QB AJ McCarron

That's simply not true.

Alabama was barely good enough to get itself in position to play in each of the last two BCS National Championship Games, after losing a game in November in each of the last two seasons and getting extraordinary luck from around the country.

So no, the Tide aren't good enough to withstand an extended absence to McCarron.

Don't get me wrong, Alec Morris, Blake Sims and Cooper Bateman are all potentially solid quarterbacks, but potential doesn't get you in the position to repeat. Especially in a pinch.

The narrative this offseason seems to be about Bama's ongoing dynasty being unstoppable, when it should be more geared toward the strength of the SEC coupled with head coach Nick Saban's uncanny ability to get his team prepared for the game's biggest stages with time to prepare.

Alabama can be beat with or without McCarron. Without him, no chance the Crimson Tide will three-peat.

 

I don't want to dodge the question, but I'm kind of going to dodge the question. In an attempt to channel Bill Clinton, it depends on how you define success.

If you define it by simple won/loss record, I'll go with Auburn. 

Head coach Gus Malzahn has a boatload of undeveloped talent on the Plains, and that should make his transition year into the head coach role easier to navigate than the other three SEC newbies. Plus, while Auburn's schedule is tough, it's much easier than the gauntlet that head coach Bret Bielema's Hogs have to run.

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema

Between Sept. 21-Oct. 19, Arkansas plays at Rutgers, vs. Texas A&M, at Florida, vs. South Carolina and at Alabama. That's an 0-5 stretch if I've ever seen one that leaves little margin for error and will likely leave the team quite worn down.

Despite that though, the Razorbacks have a solid foundation in place on both sides of the ball—particularly at wide receiver, running back and along the defensive line—to be competitive in every game. 

The Razorbacks will be more competitive and consistent than Auburn, but just may not have a better record even if the Hogs win the matchup between the schools straight up.

 

Good for him.

I touched on it a bit earlier this week, but let's not spin the story in a way that makes new Alabama Bill Battle's comments inflammatory. They weren't.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama AD Bill Battle

The debate over paying players a fair market value is only going to become more heated as revenues generated from college football continue to rise. The full cost of attendance stipend—which SEC commissioner Mike Slive suggested should be $4,000 per year—is one way to pay players through the guidelines of a scholarship without jeopardizing the NCAA's tax-exempt status.

That'd be a start, and coupled with the value of a scholarship, health care and training that a scholarship already provides, is a pretty sweet deal.

But it's clear that it's not "fair market value" for big-time schools.

Everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion, and Battle's stance on paying players is going to become more and more common in the coming years.

 

Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at bsallee@bleacherreport.com.

 


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