The University of Alabama men’s basketball hosts its lone exhibition game of the 2011-12 season on Monday evening when it welcomes Alabama-Huntsville to Coleman Coliseum for a 7 p.m. tipoff. The contest will be the No. 19/17 Crimson Tide’s only exhibition before opening the season on Friday evening against North Florida. All tickets for Monday’s exhibition game are $6 and are available at the Athletics Ticket Office or by calling 1-877-TIDETIX.
“I think the main goal is obviously for us to take the next step in terms of our development and our progress as a team,” Grant said. “We have a tough opponent in UAH and they’ll put us in a position where we have to play extremely well to have a chance. I think it’s a good opportunity for our team.”
UAH, ranked No. 2 in the preseason NCAA Division II poll, visits Coleman Coliseum for the second consecutive season. A year ago, the Chargers lost 73-68 in double overtime. "They're coming off a banner year - high expectations for the coming year," said Anthony Grant, who begins his third season as Alabama's head coach. "They'll put us in a position where we've got to play extremely well to have a chance. It's a good test for our team."
Perhaps for the first time this season, Alabama truly missed Julio Jones on Saturday night. As a sophomore two years ago, the star receiver caught a game-changing 73-yard touchdown pass that helped Alabama rally in the fourth quarter for a 24-15 victory over LSU. Last season, Jones set single-season school records for catches (78) and yards (1,133). He caught seven TD passes in 2010, then skipped his season to turn pro. Alabama's wide receivers this season have combined for six touchdown catches in nine games.
But the most telling quote about the SEC's expansion plans is this from Slive: "We didn't really want to be more than 12." Yet the SEC expanded anyway because it bought into the very real notion that college sports is changing dramatically. You either adapt or risk getting left behind financially. "When we had the opportunity when Texas A&M contacted us and then Missouri, our people felt these were two such institutions that we wanted to take advantage of adding," Slive said. "It isn't a part of getting bigger. It's part of a plan to assure that over the next 20 to 30 years with the nature of institutions like Missouri, we'll remain the preeminent conference in the country."
It's also possible Alabama could still end up in the SEC title game. If Arkansas beats LSU and creates a three-way tie for the West crown, that scenario would likely lead to awarding the West spot to the team with the highest ranking in the BCS standings. But which team would be ranked the highest? If LSU lost to Arkansas in the final game of the regular season and Alabama remains at No. 3 in the BCS standings heading into that weekend, would that put Alabama, which lost to LSU, at a higher spot in the next-to-last BCS rankings than the Tigers, sending the Crimson Tide in the SEC title game? Or would LSU still be higher ranked? And what about Arkansas?
One item Sunday that stood out was a tweet by Tide punter Cody Mandell, who took to Twitter to defend place-kickers Cade Foster and Jeremy Shelley. Alabama kickers made 2-of-6 field goal attempts against the Tigers. The three misses and one block came from 44 yards or longer including Foster's 52-yarder that fell short in Alabama's lone overtime possession. The attempt was pushed beyond 50 yards after a third-down sack of AJ McCarron by LSU's Sam Montgomery, his second of the game. "If you are a fan bashing Cade or Shelley shame on you," Mandell wrote. "Win as a team (lose) as a team."
Kicking is a strange position. It’s unlike any other in all of sports. I’ve often described it as trying to play golf in a war zone. Unfortunately, for Cade Foster (Alabama’s long field goal kicker), Saturday night against LSU was a painful learning experience. This reminds all kickers everywhere that no matter how confident you may be, you too can fall victim to a bad game at any time. Anyone who kicks long enough will have a bad game– maybe even an awful one, I know I sure have. The key is to forget the mistake and remember the lesson. Another lesson here: it’s much less painful to learn from the mistakes of others. What are the lessons that can be learned from Cade’s experience and similar experiences that many of us have suffered at the hands of a treacherous position?
Or not completely at fault for the four missed field goals in Saturday’s 9-6 overtime loss to LSU. Consider the 12 combined offensive plays that preceded the four misses. Here’s the rundown.
Will Stanford move ahead of Alabama if it beats the Ducks? Probably. Not only would a win over Oregon (No. 7 in the BCS) sway a lot of voters in the polls, it should help the Cardinal's computer ranking significantly. The fact that Stanford is only No. 7 in the BCS computers is what is holding the Cardinal back, because Stanford is No. 2 in the USA Today poll and No. 3 in the Harris poll, which make up two-thirds of the BCS formula. How decisively Stanford wins would be a factor. Some voters are still unsure how good Stanford is, but a big win over the Ducks might vault the Cardinal well ahead of Oklahoma State. The total number of votes a team gets in the polls is what matters in the BCS formula, not its rank. Stanford has only a slim lead over Oklahoma State in the coaches' poll, and increasing that would have a significant effect on the Cardinal's BCS standing.
Now that Missouri to the SEC is official, how will the Tigers — and Texas A&M — fit in as football members in their new leagues? Gary Pinkel is in his 11th year as Missouri’s head coach and has yet to win a Big 12 title. Now he has to contend with Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina? Good luck with that. Texas A&M hasn’t won the Big 12 since 1998. As irrelevant as Boston College has become in the ACC and as overmatched as Colorado is in the Pac-12, that’s what Missouri and Texas A&M will be in the SEC.
I'll admit I think Alabama is a better team that Boise. The Tide is much more physical and would wear the Broncos down by halftime. Trent Richardson would run all over Boise, which hasn't seen an O-line or a back anywhere near as tough as what Alabama has. But I am very curious to see what Kellen Moore would be able to do against an elite defense, especially one that Chris Petersen's staff would have a month to get ready for. The Broncos, after all, have held up quite well whenever they have gotten on the bigger stage. I also suspect there are a lot of people who feel the same way, and they don't only live in Idaho. This intrigue has only grown over the past two years. SEC folks hate it, but deep down, some of them probably would love the chance to snuff it out once and for all. But would the pollsters act accordingly and look to craft such a matchup?