After breathing down the elongated Tebow Gator Neck last year, the Tide will roll into this season with a lot going on before the Sept 5 kickoff with preseason Top 10 Virginia Tech in Atlanta. There are questions like, can they overcome the so-called "Utah ( WhoTah) Embarrassment” or the NCAA’s imposed “Textbook Gate” scandal, or is Saban running off too many good players, and just who is this new QB Greg McElroy with the skinny legs? I will not try to answer the last question because who knows now? Hit the weights skinny boy.
First off, will the team overcome the “Utah Embarrassment”? It maybe old hat by now, but it can hurt when you are out coached and out played by a team way out in the desert mountain west where only 49,000 mild mannered fans attend Ute games. The reality is Utah was a very good team that jumped Alabama strategy wise and emotionally. Note that Utah beat the all mighty USC Trojan Horse a few years ago. This is why college football is more interesting than the other “NFL product“. Bring on the playoffs! Anyway, the Tide will just roll harder in the first game if they are still really embarrassed by uh… “Who-tah“?
What about the NCAA textbook scandal just handed down this May? Forget the penalty forfeit of past games, Alabama will need to be on their “tippy toes” during the 3 year probation. Athletes giving or selling textbooks to their girlfriends etc. probably goes on at many power houses and little houses, but Bama got tagged even after turning themselves in and self punishing themselves with umpteen football game suspensions in 2007, many of them football starters. To add salt to the wound, USC gloriously marches like a Trojan horse down the road of fame whilst everyone ignores the Reggie Bush shush-hush money $300,000 “whatever it was thing“. Someone once told me the NCAA regulators are mostly made up of Big Ten and Pac Ten people. I don’t know if that’s true, but sometimes, it seems like it.
Is Saban running off good players? We are not privy to what is really going on player by player. Some do not “workout” academically or otherwise and Saban has to abide by the total scholarship guidelines. Brandon Fanney 6-4, 257 lb speed backer that was 3rd in tackles last yr is gone.
With this in mind, I thought, Saban must be recruiting alot of good players, so my daughter (a big fan at 11) and I went to the spring A-day game this year to peek at the team and the new quarterback. Sorry Utah, but it was a spring scrimmage with only 85,000 fans including cheerleaders, and the big band. It was even on National TV! In the last minutes, we fought our way down to ground level to stand behind the bench to see Ivan Matchett score the only running TD. I actually bet her before the game he would score after watching his impressive recruiting tape. Now Ivan’s on something called a “medical scholarship“.
Yes, Alabama looked loaded, except at QB. Like some draft gurus say, their backers look like they were developed in some NFL lab. Mount Cody looked monstrous sitting on the bench. Along with incoming fall freshman OL DJ Fluker, who they say can block out the sun, the Tide is starting to look intimidating, if nothing else.
And now back to the big question. Can Alabama breathe down the big “Gator neck” again this year? If Alabama with an untested QB is even lucky or good enough to get in the SEC Championship and play them again, it will be a viciously fought and a “do or die“ playoff, as all the exciting, screaming SEC match ups are. But, just remember, whichever team challenges the mighty Gator Nation this year, Florida has the Tebow superman and Urban Meyer is pretty super by himself. He even coached Utah a few years ago you know.
One last thing, this college football season should be exciting, but please Mr. BCS who ever you are, don‘t give us another boring USC vs Ohio State Rose Bowl like some have predicted. Mr BCS, they play in the regular season! Give us a more interesting trans-conference matchup, maybe an SEC or Big 12 vs the PAC Ten Rose Bowl.
Dear Mr. BCS, you and the networks will make more money if you do.