Grant said he "wanted to think more" before deciding whether any of the four suspended players - including Mitchell, previously suspended for what Grant said was an unrelated matter - would be back for Tuesday's critical game against Florida, or at some other unspecified point in the future. The door does appear open, but what level of trust will there be if and when reinstatement occurs? How will the disappointed ones Grant alluded to - the teammates, the loved ones, the fans - view the players upon their return, when and if there is one? At this point, there is still a season for Alabama. Saturday's loss didn't help things, but it was not an NCAA elimination game for the Crimson Tide, as some breathless hyperbole on the Internet surmised. But it is a season hanging in the balance, depending not on some buzzer-beating 3-pointer or defensive stand, but on choices - bad ones already made, some yet to come and the choices a head coach quietly pondered in an empty locker room in Baton Rouge.
"I'm very disappointed in terms of some of the choices that we as individuals made," Grant said after the game. "But you're dealing with young men. I was a college student at one point. Can't say that I did all the things right all the time. "Unfortunately, the thing that's most disappointing is how it affects so many other people, from loved ones and teammates, the program, the goals of the program and those that care deeply about this university." Grant said he takes responsibility for the players "in terms of decisions and the values that they learn or get built upon from their families when they come to me. We've just got to continue to try to make sure we do as best a job as we can in terms of giving them opportunities to learn and continue to grow as young men."
3. Veterans. Shame on them if this team fails in its bid to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006 because of what probably were some knucklehead decisions. The young players on this team should be ticked at their teammates, but if most or all of the veterans eventually are reinstated, it will be interesting to measure the team chemistry that already seemed to be lacking.
It took a while, it took some suspensions, and it took a really ugly game, but LSU finally put away the Alabama Crimson Tide with a 67-58 win in the PMAC. I don't think anyone will say it was a well played game with numerous turnovers, poor outside shooting, and some defensive lapses. By both teams.
For two years, they were inexorably linked together. For at least one of those years, they supposedly disliked each other. This year, Trevor Lacey and Levi Randolph are together, and around each other, almost 24/7. That's because now, after all of the Mr. Basketball ceremonies, state tournaments and the drawn-out recruiting process that Lacey took to the eleventh hour last spring, two of the Huntsville area's finest prep basketball players of all-time finally are on the same team - and living under the same roof - at the University of Alabama. "Me playing with Trevor, I think that's what everybody's been wanting to see," Randolph said.
"I felt we were capable coming into the game," Grant said. "We left a lot of things out there in the first half that we needed to be able to convert on. Anytime you go on the road, you've got to be able to finish plays." Cooper did not describe the team's pregame mood as gloomy. "We were excited to play," he said. "Coach Grant emphasized to go out and play real hard. We know we had to come together as a team so we could get this win." And what was the mood at halftime? "We came together as a team," Cooper said. "We said, 'The game is not over.' We wanted to go out and play hard."
The spoils of Alabama's football success these days go well beyond the trophies and rings accumulating on the second floor of the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility. Arguably more significant is coach Nick Saban's development of the players that helped haul in the hardware. Saban begins what he calls "the process" by selling recruits on an opportunity to grow in Alabama's pro-style program, everything from the way they are coached to the way they are treated. Those that blossom could compete for national championships using a blueprint he offers, which also happens to detail the path for the elite to reach the NFL. Last week, the NFL announced the names of more than 300 prospects invited to the NFL Scouting Combine Feb. 22-28 in Indianapolis. Nine Alabama players were invited, the most this year from any school.
As the Alabama’s athletic department sustains solid profitability, it’s driving force doles out more every year to insure success. Recruiting expenses for the Crimson Tide football program jumped again in 2011 to total $980,882, according to documents the school filed with the NCAA. That wasn’t a major bump from the $870,438 it spent in 2010, but it’s 2.7 times higher than the $360,327 it spent in 2008. The expense represents only 3 percent of the total spent by the program, but its increase offers insight into the importance placed on drawing top athletes.
Nussmeier's resume now has a top-10 NFL draft pick attached to it in the person of Jake Locker, the former Washington quarterback who played under Nussmeier before being chosen in the first round last April by the Tennessee Titans. But if you ask former Washington running back Chris Polk, the better measure of Nussmeier's skill as a coach is the work he did with Keith Price. It was Price who replaced Locker for UW in 2011 as an inexperienced, undersized and largely anonymous quarterback. Price responded with 3,063 passing yards, 33 touchdown passes to only 11 interceptions, and a 67 percent completion rate. "The difference he made with Jake was night and day. Early on, Jake was a running quarterback. By the end he was a passing quarterback, too. He developed a presence in the pocket under Coach Nuss that he didn't have before," Polk said. "But the way he communicated with Keith and kept our offense going without Jake around last year, I don't think you can overestimate what a difference that made. I know Keith loved working with him."
The state of Alabama faces huge budget cuts and major revenue short falls. Significant cuts are coming, lawmakers promise. The University of Alabama athletics department, however, is still making big money in a tough economy. Profits, though down 44 percent from the BCS-title aided 2010 numbers, still totaled $13.9 million last year. Revenues only dipped about $6 million while expenses rose by $11.6 million from 2010 to 2011, according to documents the university filed with the NCAA.
"It was fun (out there)," said Traina. "I love playing with these girls. These girls can definitely hit, because on the mound, it takes a lot of pressure off of you. I had a couple of pitches that worked well for me tonight, the curve drop and the off speed back door pitch." "We have six seniors on the team, and that's a lot of leadership," said Tide coach Patrick Murphy. "We hit the ball better when it's been cold. We played in the snow at Kentucky a couple of years ago and we hit 14 runs, and we did the same thing today."
The panel formed by the NCAA to propose stiffer penalties for major rules violations has suggested punishments that would get the immediate attention of all universities. USA Today obtained the proposals that for the worst offenders include postseason bans of three or more years, fines that could reach $1 million or more, season-long suspensions for coaches and 10-year show-cause penalties for coaches and administrators. The plan has been delivered to the NCAA membership -- that is, schools and conferences -- for feedback. Then, the plan will go to the Division I board of directors in late April. If approved, the penalties would go into effect in August.
Strong performances in the field events highlighted action for Alabama track and field athletes before a crowd of 2,083 on Saturday at the Texas A&M Invitational.