(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
8. Alabama NT Josh Chapman (6-0/310/5.02) - Possibly the least flashy player in the draft, Chapman is one of my favorites. He was the unheralded piece of a relentless 'Bama defense, plugging the middle to let others run free. Chapman plays within a two-yard radius, getting little penetration but displaying a rare anchor that rarely gets moved, even when facing double teams. With limited upfield ability, Chapman will be a two-down NFL player but he accomplishes his responsibility extraordinarily well. Despite playing with a torn ACL for the last eight games of the 2011 season, Chapman was the nation's top run defender.
Alabama sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina allowed one run on one hit to help lead the No. 2 ranked Crimson Tide to a 3-1 win over No. 15 Oklahoma State, Sunday morning at Jane B. Moore Field. Alabama finished the SEC/ACC/Big XII Challenge 3-0 and moves its season record to 7-0. Alabama outhit Oklahoma State (4-4) 12-1 and was led at the plate by the duo atop the lineup of Kayla Braud and Jazlyn Lunceford. The top two hitters in the lineup collected three hits apiece with Braud adding two stolen bases.
What would be his dream offer? "Alabama. I love Nick Saban, I love how the players treat the recruits when they visit for games, and I love how they always win national championships."
The flexibility that universities have to determine what they cover is evident in medical policies The Birmingham News obtained from Alabama, Auburn and UAB through open-records requests. Alabama provided a coverage plan that's identical to the NCAA's catastrophic injury insurance program. The plan covers medical, dental, rehabilitation and custodial care expenses for injuries at an official team activity, conditioning or practice session. Auburn's plan describes its insurance as the secondary carrier in all claims. The document says if any portion is not covered by the athlete's family insurance, the balance will be paid by Auburn's plan. Also, if athletes are uninsured, that athlete goes on Auburn's primary medical coverage.
The Crimson Tide, sitting in a four-way tie for fourth place in the SEC, would likely be in the 68-team field if the season ended today. Alabama's strength of schedule and Ratings Percentage Index are much stronger than a year ago. But the season doesn't end yet, of course. Alabama badly needed the win over Tennessee to stem the slide as Anthony Grant continues to send the right message by sitting leading scorers Tony Mitchell and JaMychal Green. According to WarrenNolan.com, the Crimson Tide has a No. 37 RPI and is 1-5 against top-50 teams (the win coming over Wichita State). Four regular-season games remain, at Arkansas and Ole Miss and home against Mississippi State and Auburn. Right now, none of those teams reside in the top 50.
"It was just a night of celebration," head coach Sarah Patterson said. "There was great athletic competition, but when you watch those 18 [breast cancer survivors] that walked out [before the meet], that was just so humbling, such a special moment. You really can’t ask for a better night than this." With campus glowing pink all week in support of breast cancer awareness, the energy in Coleman Coliseum was present from the start, and the Tide rode it to their second-highest team score of the season. "Seeing all the pink just set the stage for the night," senior Ashley Priess said. "As we walked out with our survivors on our arm, it was so inspiring to see them and what they’ve endured."
"Mistakes are made, but you have to learn about accountability and you have to learn about sacrifice," Grant said, adding: "We wouldn’t have a program if we didn’t teach those lessons. It’s a moving target with young men, always a moving target. "We’re trying to establish what we are trying to be as a program."
I’ve had 11 guys who’ve worked for me become head coaches, and if you hire quality people, they will be head coaches someday; you can’t stand in the way. The key is when you lose someone, how you replace him. Like when you lose a player and then have to go with a lesser player, you’re not as good. It’s the same with a coach. But more important than that, if you bring in someone you have to constantly preach to keep them aligned, that’s not my job anymore. I’m beyond that. You’re either going to be aligned or you’re not, and if not, you’re not going to coach here. In my year off and visiting programs, I found the No. 1 common denominator of great programs is alignment of the staff.
"Players just want to have consistency in vision and consistency in expectations," Fitzgerald said. "When you've had a position coach for four straight years, you know what to expect, and there's something to be said for that. "At the same time, when there's change, there's a newfound sense of urgency. Our big challenge is making sure our guys don't feel like we're Charlie Brown's teacher going, 'Wah-wah-wah-wah,' and start getting bored."
The scandal at the Fiesta Bowl, which also hosts the national football championship every four years, put its role as one of the four top-tier bowl groups in jeopardy. But it avoided the worst sanctions - the loss of the championship game and its NCAA license. A 276-page bowl investigation report found the "apparent scheme'' to reimburse at least $46,539 for employees' political contributions. It also found lavish spending by Junker. The state felony carries a presumptive 2½-year sentence that is also eligible for probation. A judge could reject the deal and would have discretion at sentencing. "Pursuant to plea agreements with the prosecuting agencies involved, Mr. Junker will continue his ongoing cooperation with them and their agents, as requested. No additional charges arising out of Mr. Junker's long tenure with the Fiesta Bowl will be brought against him by either the State of Arizona or the United States Attorney for the District of Arizona,'' Dichter said in a statement.