Surprise, Surprise: Bama Will Need Good O-Line

Brian TynesContributor IJuly 24, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 02:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide walks off the field after the Utah Utes defeated the Crimson Tide 31-17 in the 75th Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 2, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Utes defeated the Crimson Tide 31-17.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

While it's a another milestone that says the football season is nearly upon us again, it's hard to be interested in the SEC Media Days that concluded Friday in Hoover, Ala.

There isn't much insight to be found there, and the most interesting topic to be discussed was who failed to put Florida quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow as First Team QB.

Who cares?

The coaches don't lie when they step to the podium, but they don't actually say anything, either.

Take Alabama's Nick Saban, for example. His press conference was so riveting that Alabama's own web site,, included not a single quote from the coach in the article headlined "Nick Saban Addresses the Press at SEC Media Day."

In fact, the only quote used there was from offensive lineman Mike Johnson who said, "It's an honor to represent the University. We're just trying to give a face to our team and our teammates today."

In other words, "They told me I had to come, and I did. When do we eat?"

But for starved fans, and we all are at this point, Saban's comment about offensive line play determining how well the quarterback play will be was a sound for sore ears. Even if the same quote could be attributed to every professional, college, high school and pee-wee football coach across the country.

That means two things:

1. We didn't learn anything, and 2. He's right.

Presumed Tide starter Greg McElroy was a highly-touted high school quarterback from a powerhouse program who could have gone just about anywhere he wanted. He's yet to start a game, though.

Tebow used to be in the same position. He's turned into a two-time national champion, a Heisman winner and could easily win the state's next gubernatorial election if he chose to run.

News flash: He still needs an offensive line.

So where does that leave McElroy. His offensive line is only slightly more experienced than he is.

All-Americans Andre Smith and Antoine Caldwell are gone. And the Tide's two games without Smith last year were not very pretty (see Sugar Bowl vs. Utah). Johnson will be the key to getting the offensive line to pull together and, in turn, protect McElroy and open holes for Mark Ingram and the rest of the talented 'Bama backfield.

McElroy has the talent and the coaches believe in him. He's wearing No. 12, and he's capable of following in the steps of Joe Namath, Kenny Stabler and Brodie Croyle, who all wore that number. He has the ability to hit targets such as receivers Julio Jones, Marquis Maze, Mike McCoy, and tight end Brad Smelley.

The question is will he have time to?

Every football team and quarterback needs a good offensive line if it wants to have success. We're about two months away from knowing if McElroy and the Crimson Tide have that.