7. Alabama: Before the national championship game, Alabama's field-goal kicking game received a ton of criticism, especially for the four misses in the 9-6 loss to LSU. But Jeremy Shelley redeemed the unit by hitting 5-of-7 in the rematch. Alabama's kickers missed 13 kicks. Marquis Maze only had 12 kickoff returns, but averaged 28.5 yards per return, was third in the SEC in punt return average (13.2) and had that nifty touchdown against Arkansas. However, Alabama was 11th in the league in kickoff coverage and 10th in punt average.
Stock down: Alabama Suspended forward Tony Mitchell wasn't the only key player Alabama was missing during Saturday's 67-58 loss at LSU. Hours before tipoff, coach Anthony Grant also suspended leading scorer and rebounder JaMychal Green and guards Trevor Releford and Andrew Steele for an undisclosed violation of team rules. The quartet's absence cost Alabama (16-8, 5-5) a winnable road game and dropped the enigmatic Tide closer to the bubble. Their NCAA tourney hopes likely depend on when Grant decides to lift their suspensions, especially considering three of Alabama's next four games are against NCAA tournament contenders beginning with Tuesday's matchup with Florida.
Alabama sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina allowed just one hit and struck out a career-high 15 batters as the Crimson Tide finished the Mardi Gras Invitational with a 3-0 win over Jacksonville State, Sunday afternoon at Jaguar Field. After the weekend UA starts the season 4-0. Traina baffled the Gamecock (0-4) hitters all game long and had a no-hitter intact until a leadoff single in the seventh inning broke the no-hit bid. The All-American finished the tournament 3-0 with an unblemished 0.00 ERA. She allowed just four hits in 16 innings and struck out 30.
8.) Alabama Crimson Tide - Honestly, I don't know enough about this team to have a feeling one way or another about them. They've been decidedly mediocre in the past, and with the 8th best recruiting class in the SEC last year, I would expect that trend to continue.
But how frequently would a four-team field leave out a truly worthy title contender? Would there be years where four would be far messier than two? If so, is that a small price to pay for avoiding indisputable injustices like 13-0 Auburn not getting a shot at the championship in 2004? In an effort to find out, let's revisit every year's title matchup and accompanying controversy and compare it with the likely reaction to a four-team field.
Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin: A-. If Sumlin does intend to bring his pass-first attack to the traditionally ground-and-pound SEC, he now has the weapons to do so. Wide receivers Thomas Johnson (a former Texas pledge), Edward Pope, Sabian Holmes and Derel Walker all committed after Sumlin was hired, and quarterback Matt Davis, a four-star dual-threat out of Houston, stuck with the Aggies. Then there's Trey Williams, the 5-foot-8, 175-pound running back who rushed for 3,890 yards and 48 touchdowns as a senior, posting even better numbers than fellow Texas phenom Johnathan Gray. Williams should be the centerpiece of Sumlin's offense of the future.
What happens at a junior day? Prospects, often encouraged to bring parents or high school coaches, meet with the head coach -- significant because he's not allowed to visit recruits off campus in the spring evaluation period or talk to them during school visits in December and January of their junior years. Additionally, junior days typically include meetings with position coaches, coordinators, strength coaches, nutrition staff and academic advisers. The visitors take campus tours and/or attend a basketball game -- and might even participate in some serious football discussion. "We do like to sit down and talk football to see if this is a guy who can pay attention and understand what we're going to teach," Arkansas recruiting coordinator Tim Horton said.
Bring back athlete-only dorms with unlimited food. Let coaches talk publicly about their recruits. Allow transfers in all sports to immediately play. Those are among the ideas being discussed as the NCAA tries to produce a slimmer and more efficient rulebook, according to documents obtained by The Birmingham News. An NCAA working group that's studying current rules released concepts to schools last week for discussion. The goal is to crack down on what the NCAA perceives as major threats to its principle of amateurism while legalizing smaller issues, some of which are currently unenforceable. "It's very complicated to take a 400-plus-page rule book and shrink it down to something sensible," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in The Indianapolis Star last month. "But we're going to do it."
He didn't have eye-popping numbers in 2011, but that didn't mean that Kirkpatrick didn't have a solid final year in Tuscaloosa. He failed to record an interception, but the number of interceptions does not always tell the whole story of a corner's season. Throwing Kirkpatrick's way was usually a no-no for quarterbacks. With his 6-foot-3, 192-pound frame, he made it nearly impossible for quarterbacks to consistently throw toward his side. His aggressive style got the best of him sometimes, but Kirkpatrick had a very short memory on the field and never had an issue bouncing back.
Former Alabama Offensive Coordinator brings the Crimson Tide's head of Offensive quality control, Billy Napier, with him to Fort Collins as assistant head coach/quarterbacks. Napier was Clemson’s youngest ever coordinator in 2009 at age 29.