Auburn's transition from the run-based spread to a pro-style attack* brings up a somewhat disturbing trend in the SEC: Creeping Sabanization. When Saban joined the conference, the mix of offenses was fairly diverse. Florida was running the spread. LSU was running something with spread elements. Arkansas was relying healvily on the Wildcat. Within two years, Auburn and Mississippi state were also running the spread. Two national titles for Saban later, everyone is trying to copy him, but not necessarily in good ways. Florida is running a pro-style offense under a Saban disciple. Ditto for Tennessee. LSU is attempting a modern-day imitation of the Bo Schembechler offense. Now, Auburn is eschewing the offense that was a significant factor in the Tigers winning their first national title in 53 years.** Mississippi State is left as the only run-based spread team in the league (and no one is running the Air Raid that played a role in Clemson, West Virginia, and Oklahoma State all making BCS bowls). Chris Brown asks whether the age of the spread is in decline. The answer is clearly "yes" in the SEC.
From his seat in Bryant-Denny Stadium on an early November night, Adam Griffith saw the perils of college football kicking. He was on a visit the day Crimson Tide specialists missed four of six kicks in the 9-6 overtime loss to LSU. It made an impact. "I think for the first time there, he felt the pressure of being a college kicker," said Hal Lamb, Griffith’s high school coach. As the nation’s No. 1 high school place-kicker, according to two recruiting services, the Calhoun (Ga.) High School senior faced his share of tense moments. That, and his character, Lamb said, should help his transition to college.
Something about this recruiting process didn’t add up for Allen (Texas) High School coach Tom Westerberg. His 6-3, strong-armed quarterback named Alec Morris has all the tools. Why isn’t he ranked among the nation’s elite? Morris was rated a 3-star prospect on the 5-star scale used by the major recruiting services. Rivals.com ranked him the 30th-best quarterback in the country while Scout said he was No. 37. Only a few schools offered scholarships. After he first committed to Wake Forest, Alabama entered the picture. Morris changed his pledge to the Tide in August and will sign as the only quarterback in Alabama’s class Wednesday. "Once he gets there and people see him, they’ll figure out why we couldn’t figure out why he didn’t have more offers," Westerberg said.
Brandon Greene told the AJC on Monday afternoon that he still plans to sign a football scholarship with Alabama. However, UGA still hasn’t given up hopes of changing his mind before Wednesday’s signing day. The 6-foot-6, 295-pound offensive lineman from Cedar Grove High School confirmed that UGA has sent him a letter-of-intent. Greene said he also got one from Alabama, and that’s where he plans to sign. There’s a lot of speculation surrounding Greene, who is ranked the state’s No. 1 prospect at OL by some, and with good reason: Greene made a surprise visit to UGA last month, reportedly angering Alabama coach Nick Saban. Alabama's Nick Saban has enjoyed a banner year of recruiting Georgia's elite prospects (AP) Even to add more suspense to the recruiting drama, Mark Richt and his entourage of three UGA assistants went to Cedar Grove to see Greene last Thursday. That’s awful late in the recruiting process to make such a concentrated and orchestrated effort if UGA didn’t think it had a chance, don’t you think? (ed.- how evil. sounds like something nick saban would do.)
"Not everybody can call on a junior college kid and say hey, this is a guy that’s just a great citizen," O’Mera said. "We’ve never had any trouble with him. He’s a student that works real hard in the classroom and we never had any type of legal trouble or anything like that. He’s just been a model citizen and a model kid."
2. Player Development: Okay, after Saban shows he has the ability to get top talent on campus in the recruiting season, he has proven the ability to develop that talent. And here’s where Saban differs from a lot of other coaches (i.e. Mark Richt) in the country. It’s all about a coach having the ability to develop those players, and Saban has shown he can do that time after time.
Tim Crenshaw was in an enviable position. The Briarwood Christian offensive tackle said he had a scholarship offer Idaho State and an offer to walk-on at Furman. But the 6-foot-5, 285-pounder said he might choose another option. "I'm probably not going to be signing anything on Wednesday," Crenshaw said. "As of right now, I'll probably just walk on at Alabama, or at least try to. I've got an academic scholarship there. That's kind of the way I'm leaning right now."
It's a simple equation: The better your recruiting rankings by the gurus, the better your chances of winning games, against all classes. Emphasis on the word chances — the counterexamples are obvious and legion in both directions. But as far as forming a reasonable basis for predictions, well, it probably goes without saying that you never want to count on being one of the anomalies.
If you were anywhere near a computer with an internet connection yesterday, you probably feel like you have a closer connection to Landon Collins’ mom than he does, and you wouldn’t be far from the truth. Sports news sites went into a feeding frenzy with breathless reports that Saban had committed the most egregious of all sins in this modern culture; he had ‘disrespected’ April Justin. First was the claim that Saban had emphasized to Collins – a young man being recruited to play football – that Alabama prepares players for the NFL. While that’s likely true, it does not follow that Alabama is merely a football factory. Alabama placed an SEC-best 38 players on the academic honor roll, something Saban can rightly point to with pride. Then came the suggestion by Collins’ mother that his girlfriend had been offered a job to work in Saban’s office. News outlets frantically posted stories with red-siren headlines, only to note in the body of the article that they couldn’t confirm the allegation and were only going by what Collins’ mom had told them. Even if this allegation were true, this may not have been an NCAA violation. As decisively reported elsewhere, the rule in question pertains only to men’s basketball. Don’t worry sports media; if Landon Collins turns out to have an outstanding post-up game, Alabama may have a problem.
Going into his 14th season, Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy is the second longest-tenured Alabama coach. Murphy has broken the mold in the world of college sports, where coaches are canned after a few years. Murphy’s success makes him the desire of many schools — even prompting him to take the job as head coach at LSU for a few days this summer before returning to Tuscaloosa. He said Alabama, the program he has built into a powerhouse, was where he wanted to be. With more than 20 years of experience, Murphy says growing up in Iowa and advice from his dad helped him have a successful career. "I grew up in Iowa with pretty good Midwest values," Murphy said. "My dad had one piece of advice for me, and it was: work hard for four years in college, and you will have forty years of easy. He was absolutely right. I’ve been coaching college since I was 22, and in my mind, I haven’t had a job a day in my life."
The Alabama softball team was predicted to win the Southeastern Conference Western Division, as voted upon by the conference coaches, the league office announced Monday. The two-time defending regular season champions received 10 points in the poll. The Florida Gators were predicted to win the title with six first place votes while Tennessee closely followed with five first place votes. The Gators outdistanced the Lady Vols in the eastern division by one point in the voting.
The gymnastics team has won five championships since it began competing in the fall of 1972. Terry Bryson was the first coach, and now Sarah Patterson is leading the Tide in her 34thseason. She began running the gymnastics program right after graduating college. "At the end of [my first year], it was the first time that we had ever not had a losing season," Patterson said. "So, Coach Bryant decided we would keep the program and we would add scholarships to it." The success of women’s programs, including the addition of funding and scholarships, can be traced to Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972. The law requires equality among different genders. Robbins said early on, some women’s teams were merged with men’s athletics departments, and coaches of women’s teams coached many sports. "Over time, with the effects of Title IX, now you see there are head coaches of women’s sports," Robbins said. "I think, similarly, in the early years, coaches might’ve been graduate students . . . now they’re full-time and well-paid. I think all of that is a natural result of Title IX, but it didn’t happen overnight."
Coleman Coliseum will also be bathed in pink for the Feb. 17 meet, both inside and out. It marks the third year in a row that the outside of the Coliseum has been lit in pink. This year the plan is also to light Denny Chimes in pink to honor the Tide’s Power of Pink efforts. Over the last eight years, the Power of Pink has grown from a gymnastics event to a campus event to a national event. Schools across the country have pink events and the NFL and Major League Baseball both have pink-highlighted efforts in the fall and spring respectively. For Patterson the local efforts are still nearest to her heart. "While it is extremely gratifying to see the growth of the Power of Pink on a national basis, I am most excited about the difference this initiative continues to make within the University of Alabama and West Alabama community," Patterson said.
Last week, CBSSports.com exposed the declining bowl attendance and also reported there is "growing support" to increase bowl eligibility to seven victories in 2014, when the new BCS cycle begins. One athletic director I spoke with had a unique idea: suggesting only the best 16 bowl games should remain with the remaining "bowl games" held on campuses of the remaining bowl eligible teams – whether six or seven wins is required for bowl eligibility. "Declining attendance and the huge hidden costs of ticket ‘guarantees’ make most bowl trips a losing proposition for all involved," said the athletic director, who spoke to CBSSports.com on the condition of anonymity. "Institutions and fans are beginning to say ‘uncle’ since they can’t afford to support those bowls in the current economy." Under the AD’s scenario, once the 16 premier bowls are filled, every team that is bowl eligible would participate in an on-campus bowl game. If there is an odd number of teams that qualify, the lowest ranked team, based on the BCS rankings, would not play in an on-campus bowl game, but still would be allowed to conduct December practices like the other bowl teams. "Most bowl ‘functions’ are for local public relations and sponsors and simply another public appearance ‘duty’ for the players and coaches involved," the AD said. "They have no real interest in dressing up and going to luncheons and dinners or even to events where they are expected to mingle with the opposing players. They would much rather spend their free time visiting with family members or teammates’ families or doing the things college kids do."
In 2009, University of Alabama linebacker Eryk Anders was delivering big hits for one of the best defenses in college football history. Today, Anders is dishing out hits of another kind as an aspiring mixed martial arts fighter. The 6-foot, 230-pound former Tide star participated in his first sanctioned bout on Saturday, Jan. 28 in Cullman against Zach Howell and walked away a winner. "It's something I've been wanting to get into for a long time" Anders said of mixed martial arts fighting. "I've always watched it on TV and I was a state champion wrestler in high school so it appealed to me right away."
Tommy Tuberville did Gene Chizik no favors by leaving behind bare final recruiting classes. Twelve of Auburn's 28 signees in 2008 never even played a down for the Tigers, and only five of the 28 will likely exhaust their eligibility. Tuberville's last group truly was, as the Opelika-Auburn News recently dubbed it, "The Class That Time Forgot." So what's that make Chizik's first two classes? Because time is quickly forgetting many of those players, too. Remarkably, 43 percent of Auburn's 2009 and 2010 signees are no longer on the team, or never joined the program in the first place. That's a brutal percentage, especially as Auburn sits with the SEC's fewest 2012 commitments and two new coordinators who inevitably will weed out some veterans. (ed.- how evil. sounds like something nick saban would do.)
It's one thing for professional athletes to have to make an ethical decision about using steroids, but college cheerleaders? Anna Watson has to be America's strongest female cheerleader; the University of Georgia student loves spending time in the weight room, and it certainly shows. But she has more important things in her life: Watson passed up a big money fitness modeling contract because she refused to use a legal steroid. "It’s an elite position to be a cheerleader at UGA," Watson told Red and Black, her school's award-winning student newspaper. "They have hundreds of girls try out, and to be selected out of all of those people to be on the team, it’s kind of a big deal. So those girls were very humble and gracious and patient to help me just learn the basic stuff."