I hate to take attention away from the excellent commentary Todd posted earlier, and originally I had planned to effectively take the day off and allow that to stay up top all day, but I am afraid something major has arisen in the meantime that has changed those plans.
Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jeremy Elder has been arrested in Tuscaloosa on two counts of armed robbery. Long story short, he apparently robbed two UA students at gunpoint Saturday night as the two were walking to their car in a campus parking lot.
The charges are, of course, very serious. This is not your typical college transgression by any stretch of the imagination. The two charges of armed robbery are considered Class A felonies in the state of Alabama, and in the state of Alabama Class A felonies carry a punishment of, "Not less than ten (10) years and not more than life or ninety-nine (99) years imprisonment in the state penitentiary and may include a fine not to exceed $20,000." Moreover, at this point, the Tuscaloosa News is reporting that Elder is currently still behind bars in the Tuscaloosa County Jail on $120,000.00 bail.
Again, this is not your typical college years transgression. This is a very serious felony offense, and unless there is a massive mistake in identity or a complete fabrication by the two victims -- both of which, of course, are a one-in-a-million shot -- Elder's next stop will be at an Alabama state penitentiary for a very long period of time. Rest assured, this is not the type of thing that will result in some community service, a few months probation, and a relatively small fine, and then everything will go away and be just fine. It's not that type of situation, to put it mildly.
Coach Saban, as of this posting, was not available for comment on the situation, and rightly so. There is really nothing that he can say on the subject, and there is nothing he can do about anything. Elder probably just threw his life away, and there is nothing the Nicktator can do about that one. Moreover, there is really nothing for Saban himself to even decide. The decision and punishment in this situation will be up to a judge and jury, what Saban thinks does not matter the least little bit.
Now, from a football perspective, it goes without saying that Elder is effectively done. Obviously you cannot play football while incarcerated, and it just means that Elder's career at Alabama is almost certainly over.
In terms of talent and depth for the 2008 season, Elder's seeming demise really has no major impact. He redshirted in 2007, and did not play a single snap, not even in the Western Carolina game. For the 2008 season he would have probably played a few snaps here and there -- mainly in garbage time in blowout situations -- but it seems unlikely that he would have seen any significant amount of quality playing time. Our defensive line will feature several players next year as starters or in key situations, but Elder was unlikely to be one of those players. His departure is unlikely to have any tangible impact on our success in the short-term.
Elder's likely departure will also free up a scholarship in regard to the limit of 85 scholarship players. As you probably know by now, we need to free up a few scholarships, and this just puts us one step closer to that point. Moreover, on a more general point, it is largely reasons like this as to why you oversign in the first place. Attrition is a part of the game, and you have to compensate for that accordingly.
We'll have more on this as news becomes available.
Update [2008-2-18 15:18:57 by outsidethesidelines]:
As was first posted by kennybk in the comments, Saban has suspended Elder indefinitely from all football activities. It's a token gesture at best, however. It really does not matter what Saban does with Elder because the judicial system is going to trump whatever he wants to do. Regardless of what Saban says or does, Elder is likely prison-bound.