(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
"I played against their defense the last couple of years, and it's the most physical game you are going to play in every year," said senior offensive lineman William Vlachos. "I remember last year I came off the field just bleeding out of my mouth and my hands were bleeding. It's just one of those games where I'm not worried about statistics, honestly, because it really isn't going to matter. Alabama vs. Auburn - it's a whole different deal."
Alabama was well represented on Monday with the announcement of the finalists for the awards handed out at the Home Depot ESPN College Football Awards Show on Dec. 8, in Orlando, Fla. Trent Richardson was named a finalist for the Maxwell Award and the Doak Walker Award, while left tackle Barrett Jones was selected as a finalist for the Outland Trophy. Mark Barron was tabbed as a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and Dont'a Hightower was selected as a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award.
Alabama's football program has been awarded the 2011 Disney Spirit Award for the response of its players immediately following the April 27th storms. The award is given annually to college footballs most inspirational team. Crimson Tide junior Carson Tinker will accept the award on Alabama's behalf.
"I don't know exactly how it was born or why it was born," Saban said Monday. "I know when. I think it just came from the disappointment of last year's game. Some player said it, somebody said it somewhere along the line. It is what it is. I don't know that it wasn't something spontaneous that somebody said that just kind of stuck."
Signs reading "28-27. Never Again" found their way into the weight room and locker room not long after the ninth-ranked Tide blew the huge lead. If players need a little motivation lifting weights, they check the wall. Or just listen to the booming voice of strength coach Scott Cochran. "He’s gonna remind us every time we work out that this is not what we want to happen," Tide safety Robert Lester said. Tailback Trent Richardson said the reminder "always has to stay in your head." "We played some of the best football we played, and they came all the way back on us," Richardson said. "They went on to win the championship. You’ve got to have that in the back of your head."
Saban said Alabama has not decided, who will fill in for Lowery in the secondary for dime packages. "We can leave Mark (Barron) continue to play there and play somebody else at safety or Vinnie (Suneri) has been the backup dime guy and leave Mark to play safety," Saban said. "Those would be the two things that we'd probably make a decision about. We don't play dime until later on, so we kinda make these decisions as the week goes on. When we do third down, that's when we play dime so that's probably when I'll make that decision."
"That's all that matters in this state," Moseley said. "Especially growing up and football being the dominant sport here and pretty much all the South. Even when you were really young, 5 or 6, and didn't know much you cared about the Iron Bowl. All your friends would come over. You'd watch that game. Normally you wouldn't care, you'd just go out and play football in the game. That game, you stayed in and watched. "It's a big deal."
Richardson, the Southeastern Conference's leading rusher, has aggravated opponents throughout the past 11 weeks. Now it's time for Auburn to face their biggest fear -- a powerful tailback with the offensive line to match. "Any time you get to play against a player of his caliber you enjoy it. He's a heck of a football player," defensive end Nosa Eguae said. "When you come into the Iron Bowl, it really doesn't matter what happened every week before. It is about this one game, this one week of preparation."
Auburn's an underdog in Saturday's Iron Bowl, so defensive coordinator Ted Roof was asked Monday night if he might take some risks in stopping Alabama's offense. "I'm not going to use the word 'gamble,' but we want to be aggressive," Roof says in this Monday post-practice video.
"Thanksgiving is an important time, it’s an important time for family," Saban said. "It’s an important time for everyone to give thanks and to realize all they have to be thankful for. It’s just one of those things that’s a little bit more important than a football game." Besides the obvious challenge of missing a day of practice, some players will have to hold back at the dinner table with a game just two days later. "I know [Terrence] Cody came to my house a couple years ago, and he just sat and stared at the coconut cream pie," Saban joked. "I said, ‘You can have a piece, it’s Thanksgiving.’ He said ‘No coach, I’m not going to do it, I’m staying on my diet.’"
"Our focus is on this game," Saban said in his opening monologue. "We really don't have any interest in anybody playing in the Pac-12 or Pac-10 or whatever it is, the Big 12. None of those games matter. None of anything matters except how we play in this game. That's all that matters. I think I'm going to tell the team today if you want to watch the LSU-Arkansas game, turn it off and go watch Auburn film, because that game means nothing to us either. "So if y'all want to ask me about it, I hope you don't."
Barring a minor miracle on behalf of the rest of the country — or perhaps several miracles — the BCS Championship Game is going to be an all-SEC West affair, and there's nothing anyone outside the conference can do about it. Is there? Frankly, no, there almost certainly isn't. As badly as voters may want to strike down a rematch between any two of the triumvirate of SEC teams occupying the top three slots in the latest standings — and as badly as I'd like to strike down the notion with a bit of biting, airtight rhetorical scorn — the fact is, the alternatives would be a much easier sell if any of the one-loss candidates sitting immediately behind LSU, Alabama and Arkansas had any momentum to speak of. The fact is, we wouldn't even be having this conversation if any of those candidates had any momentum, because it would have already lifted them into the driver's seat.
University of Alabama forward Tony Mitchell has been named the Southeastern Conference men’s basketball Player of the Week, the league office announced Monday. Mitchell led the Crimson Tide to the Puerto Rico Tip Off title with wins over Maryland, Wichita State and Purdue and was named the tournament MVP for his efforts. Over those three games, the junior from Swainsboro, Ga., averaged 19 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. He shot 56.4 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from three-point range. Against Wichita State, he led all scorers with 26 points and had a pair of double-doubles with 17 points and 11 rebounds against Maryland and 14 points and 10 boards in the title game against Purdue.