Feb. 25, 2012: Tuscaloosa, AL - Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Brian Bryant (22) is defended by Alabama Crimson Tide forward JaMychal Green (1) and guard Trevor Releford (12) during the first half at Coleman Coliseum. (Credit: Kelly Lambert-US PRESSWIRE)
The University of Alabama men's basketball team plays its final home game of the season Wednesday evening when it hosts in-state rival Auburn in Coleman Coliseum. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on SEC Network outlets and the radio affiliates of the Crimson Tide Sports Network. All available tickets for Wednesday evening's game have been sold by the UA athletics ticket office. Student tickets are available on a first-come, first served basis with a valid Action Card. The contest will also be the final regular-season home contest for UA's lone senior JaMychal Green who will be honored prior to the game. Green is the active SEC leader in rebounds and double-doubles and ranks in the top 15 all-time at UA in points, rebounds, blocks and steals.
"I think that probably the biggest thing with Mike is that I think over the course of three years, just the growth that you've seen in his game," Grant said. "I think his game has grown and developed. I think he's matured and has grown in that area, and in terms of his growth as a person. "I think Mike is very grateful that he's got this opportunity to finish his career out, to go through Senior Night and to enjoy whatever time he have left with his teammates and the experience that he's had here at Alabama. "When I first came in (as coach), Mike talked about was his pride of being from Alabama and wanting to represent the University of Alabama. To bring back the tradition of postseason participation and add to the tradition that's been here at Alabama. I think when you look at the course of his career, you can say what you want, but I think he's helped us in terms of getting the program back on track, in terms of playing for the NIT Championship last year and hopefully putting ourselves in a position this year where we could possibly get back to the postseason and hopefully the NCAA tournament.
SEC athletics directors meet Wednesday in Nashville to discuss future scheduling options in many sports, especially football. They will discuss going to nine SEC football games, although there's not much initial support. "I think everything has to be on the table, including playing nine games, which I know terrifies some people when you say it," Tennessee Athletics Director Dave Hart said. "I do want to talk about nine games." Discussions probably will focus on the number of SEC games, whether to keep permanent partners from opposite divisions, and if so, how to schedule them, said Larry Templeton, chairman of the SEC transition committee. The SEC has not decided how long it wants the next scheduling plan, starting in 2013, to last.
The NCAA requires that in order to have a conference championship game, which the SEC has staged successfully since 1992, there must be a round robin within each division. Stricklin wouldn't mind challenging that. "That legislation was put in before any Division I team was playing in a division for a championship," he said, "and there are some other leagues getting to this size who might support that, but I have no idea." Stricklin also has no idea how a setup mirroring the NFL might work, but he wouldn't mind exploring that option as well. "I think the way the NFL determines some of their schedules by where teams finished the year before makes some sense," Stricklin said. "If you finish first in your division, could you play the first-place team from the other division the following year? Same with the last-place teams. "We have the potential to be really creative with the way we approach this. I don't see this having to be A or B."
Indeed, many of the game’s great innovations have come in the spring. Spring practice itself was reportedly invented at Harvard in March of 1889 when the football team met and, according to the Harvard Crimson, their "work consisted of kicking, tackling and falling on the ball." In 1907, Pop Warner supposedly invented his single wing offense between spring practices, and the ability to doodle and experiment without the pressures of a weekly gameplan or even fall installation frees up coaches to try a lot of new things. But spring practice was likely most changed by Bear Bryant, first at Kentucky then Texas A&M and later Alabama, as he used the distance from the upcoming season for one primary advantage: It gave his players time to heal. Bryant’s approach to spring practice was to treat them as boot camp, with war on the near horizon: "If a man’s going to quit," once said the Bear, "I want him to quit in practice, not in a game."
In looking over the ballot for the 2012 College Football Hall of Fame, I was reminded of something that floored me a year ago. How is the late Derrick Thomas not already a College Football Hall of Fame member? He was on the ballot for the first time last year and inexplicably didn't make it. He was inducted posthumously into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009 and was one of the most dominant pass-rushers of his era. As a senior at Alabama in 1988, Thomas earned consensus All-America honors and won the Butkus Award as the top linebacker in college football. He set an NCAA record that season with 27 sacks and finished his career with 52 sacks, which was also an NCAA record at the time. With this being his second year on the ballot, surely Thomas will be selected this time around.
Former Crimson Tide great Derrick Thomas among 76 players on the 2012 Football Bowl Subdivision Ballot for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Thomas was a standout during his University of Alabama career from 1985-1988. During his senior All-America season he set the NCAA single season sack record with 27. He was a unanimous First Team All-America, Butkus Award winner and SEC Defensive Player of the Year after the 1988 season. During his four years at Alabama, Thomas helped lead the Tide to four straight bowl games. The Kansas City Chiefs selected Thomas fourth overall in the 1989 NFL Draft. He would play his entire career in Kansas City. There he was named to 9 Pro Bowl's, named to six All-Pro teams, honored as a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team and was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Thomas owns the NFL record for most sacks in a game. He dropped Seattle quarterback Dave Krieg 7 times during a game in 1990. His career ended with a total of 126.5 sacks.
Mobile's Paul Crane, a center and linebacker at Alabama from 1963-65, is among 76 players listed on the 2012 College Football Hall of Fame ballot that was released Tuesday afternoon. Crane, who also had a stellar NFL career with the New York Jets, is one of three Alabama players to make the ballot, joining running back Bobby Humphrey and linebacker Derrick Thomas, both of whom played from 1985-88. Crane was a two-way starter at center and linebacker, earning consensus first-team All-America honors. He was a member of back-to-back national championship teams and was the 1965 SEC Lineman of the Year, helping Alabama to consecutive SEC championships.
Humphrey, a running back, was the UPI Offensive Player of the Year in 1987 and ended his career with 4,958 all-purpose yards and 40 touchdowns.
The Alabama softball team claimed the number one ranking in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll, the organization announced Tuesday. The Crimson Tide has been ranked the No. 1 team in the country in five of the last six seasons. UA stayed ranked No. 2 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll. For the third time this season there is a new No. 1 team in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll. After another wild week across the nation, Alabama takes over the pole position from SEC foe Florida, which dropped to third after suffering its first loss of the season.
An eighth inning two run single by Jared Reaves boosted Alabama to a 4-3 victory over in-state opponent South Alabama at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, Tuesday night. The win was the fourth in a row by Alabama, whose record now stands at 4-3. With the loss, the Jaguars fall to 2-6. Alabama was led offensively by Reaves, who went 2-for-4, with two RBI and the go ahead two-RBI hit. Also contributing in the win was Brett Booth, going 1-for-3, recording two RBI. Two triples, by Austen Smith and Jon Kelton, highlighted the night for Alabama. "Offensively, the hits didn't show up quite like I thought, but our approach was much better and (Jared) Reaves got the big hit when we had to have it," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said of the evening's 4-3 victory. "(Jon) Keller came in and did a nice job, then I thought in the back of the game (Jake) Hubbard and (Ian) Gardeck did a nice job shutting it down. It was a good win for us."
Robert’s older brother is Denzel Nkemdiche, who is a freshman DB at Ole Miss. Denzel was a late qualifier out of Grayson last year and made it known that he really liked UGA. There were stories about it everywhere. However, Denzel was aggressively pursued and committed with Ole Miss before UGA got seriously involved. At the time, many speculated that UGA may have blown a golden opportunity to gain inside position on Robert — and, after this past weekend, they may be correct. This past weekend, Robert made a celebrity appearance at Ole Miss’s Junior Day, accompanied by his father. Denzel has always said it was his parents’ wish that the two brothers play together on the same college football team.
How did the SEC’s new over-signing rules affect Kentucky’s recruiting efforts this year? "It had a little impact. A guy like Justin Taylor probably doesn’t fall to us, and is probably signed by Alabama. With the new rules, you have to be creative with how you handle recruiting now. It’s not going out and signing 28 or over-signing. You also can’t sign guys who are on the fence academically. If you do, you take a huge, huge chance … a huge risk. There were some good players who got away from the SEC because of that. Some other conferences were able to sign some guys that were at-risk academically. "Here and now in this league, it’s becoming where you have to feel really good and really comfortable that a kid is going to qualify. You have to feel even better than that, really. You can still take chances but if it doesn’t work out, then you’re down a number on your roster. You had to play different [recruiting strategies] this year than you did in the past. But I also think a team like Kentucky benefits from the rule. It’s pretty much the same way we’ve been doing business all along. It actually helped us. We didn’t have to change as much as other SEC schools had to do."
Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe I'm on an island primarily full of Alabama fans. But this seems like a terrible idea. I think rewarding conference champions is noble. I love the idea of enhancing the importance of the regular season. But we already had a system that did that: bowl games. If a team won the Big Ten, it earned a trip to Pasadena; if a team won the SEC, it went to the Sugar Bowl, etc. That rewarded conference champions just fine. But if the goal is to determine a true national champion by playing out a bracket, that other stuff has to be put aside so the four best teams can take the field. Period. If last year's field had consisted solely of conference champions, here's what a bracket would have looked like (using BCS standings): No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 5 Oregon on one side, No. 1 LSU vs. No. 10 Wisconsin on the other. Think people are ticked at the current system? Imagine the reaction to that.
Apparently, Bill Hancock's BCS-positive emails and Facebook posts aren't doing enough for the BCS' image, so the group decided to hire a couple media consultants to help navigate the upcoming changes to college football's postseason. According to the Sports Business Journal, the BCS is looking at Dean Jordan from Wasserman Media Group and Chuck Gerber, who used to work for ESPN. The two will work with the 11 conference commissioners and Notre Dame to determine the most financially beneficial postseason plan. Yeah, not the plan that will fairly decide college football's national champion, the one that will make the BCS the most money. Hmmmm, might want to work on that PR strategy.
Michigan is still a month away from the start of spring practice (March 27), but offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Al Borges is eager to continue developing the Wolverines' offensive system. Although Michigan defeated Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, the Wolverines finished with just 12 first downs and 184 total yards. With Denard Robinson and the entire offensive coaching staff returning, Michigan ought to be able to solidify a strong offensive identity coming out of spring practice. Of course, Michigan won't have the luxury of easing into the 2012 season with a season-opener against Alabama.
Tommy Tuberville's job with Texas Tech, and, well, his (financial) freedom, might be in jeopardy after he and a partner allegedly defrauded investors out of more than $1.7 million. Seven plaintiffs in Alabama and Tennessee filed suit Friday seeking damages against Auburn-based investment company TS Capital Partners. Tuberville and TS Partners co-founder John David Stroud are named in the filing. According to the complaint, the two men "employed devices, schemes, and artifices" to commit fraud. Tuberville worked at TS Capital Partners in 2009 after he was let go at Auburn and before he signed on with Texas Tech.