The Alabama gymnastics team goes for its sixth NCAA Championship today in the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga. starting at 4 p.m. EDT. The Crimson Tide starts the Super Six Team Finals on a bye before going to the floor exercise. From there UA will progress to the vault and then its second bye before closing out the championship on the uneven bars and balance beam. It is the same rotation the Tide used to win the 2002 national title. Alabama will face Southeastern Conference foes Florida and Arkansas as well as Pac 12 powers UCLA, Utah, and Stanford for the 2012 NCAA Championships.
It was supposed to be a disadvantage for the No. 4 Alabama gymnastic team to start on the balance beam on the first night of the NCAA Championships. The beam was typically the toughest event of the season for Alabama, and an early struggle could have set an unwanted tone for the rest of the evening. Not so on Friday. The Tide got off to a scorching start, scoring a 49.6 on the beam to put to rest any doubts of an off night. “Coming out on balance beam, the hardest event to start on, we put the pressure on everybody else,” head coach Sarah Patterson said. “That was a huge step for us. That’s the kind of balance beam team we have had – we just haven’t hit on all cylinders yet.”
Senior Rachel Terry didn't perform, but she could see it coming in her teammates. "This past week, we've been focusing on beam, because we knew we were going to be starting on beam," she said. "Having that awesome start I think really helped us in the long run. It got our confidence up and got our energy going. It carried through for the rest of the night. We focused on the smallest things, the details, and that paid off."
The second ranked Alabama softball team powered its way to a convincing 8-3 win to even the series against No. 13 Georgia, Friday night at Jack Turner Stadium. With the win the Crimson Tide improve to 41-4 overall and 18-3 in Southeastern Conference play. Georgia falls to 35-11 on the season and moves to 13-8 in league action. After Georgia took a 3-2 lead in the second inning, Alabama scored six unanswered runs on the strength of 12 hits, including three home runs to even the series. Senior Amanda Locke paced the Tide with a perfect 3-for-3 night, needing just a single to bat for the cycle.
The Alabama fans were loud and many. As the No. 12 Georgia softball team faced off against No. 2 Alabama in the second game of the series Friday night, Jack Turner Softball Stadium was packed with enthusiastic spectators for both teams. But only one saw the night end well. Still riding high from Thursday night’s win against the Crimson Tide, Georgia couldn’t pull its offense together in the final innings of the game, ultimately losing 8-3. Georgia (35-11, 13-8 SEC) got behind in the count as early as the first inning, when Alabama (41-4, 18-3) hit and stole bases around the diamond. Another run gave the Crimson Tide a 2-0 lead. Sophomore pitcher Morgan Montemayor managed to close the inning with a strikeout, but going into the bottom of the first Georgia needed runs on the board.
Dont’a Hightower insists he’s right where he expected to be all along: A projected first-round NFL draft pick. The former Alabama star just had to convince NFL teams that he was worth such an investment, and that he was fast enough to play middle linebacker at that level. “I always knew I was going to be a first-round draft pick,” Hightower said Friday. “That’s the way I’ve always worked. I pride myself on going out and doing the best I can to the best of my ability. I might have started slow during the season, but whenever my teammates needed me to make a play or make a call, I was always there and did my job. “It’s not about what the media thinks. It’s about what the team thinks.”
"When it comes down to it, I'll be the dude that's on the field and getting the ball on third-and-3 or fourth-and-1," Richardson said. "And not to be cocky or anything, but I work on my game every day. And even if it's not physical stuff, I work in the classroom learning plays and learning the defensive line and what the linebackers and safeties are doing, so I can pick up my blitzes. I love to block. "Everybody knows I can run the ball. I've never been caught from behind, so if anyone wants to question my speed, just look at the tape. When it comes to playing football, any game you want to just look at it and try to find a negative. A lot of people try to find a negative in your game and there aren't too many negatives I have. I don't fumble. That's one thing that I do not do."
Upshaw is a good football player. I think people just don't know where to play him. You talk to some teams, they say, well, he's only a defensive end. He's 280, he can only be a defensive end. Then others say, well, he's 6'1″ and a half and he's got short arms, he can't be a defensive end, he's going to have to be a linebacker. But he's 280 and he's not that explosive. I compare him to LaMarr Woodley. LaMarr Woodley wasn't even a first round draft choice himself. So this notion that everybody loved LaMarr Woodley is ridiculous; it wasn't true. LaMarr Woodley didn't go until the second round.
As stated above, Barron knows what he is doing. He lined up as both a free and strong safety at Alabama, alone in deep coverage and in Cover-2, in the box as a blitzer, short-zone defender, and force defender, and anywhere else a safety can find himself. Barron adjusted to sudden assignment changes because of defensive audibles and/or formation shifts; it was not unusual to see him start at deep safety, then race to the line to blitz after offensive motion. He should have no trouble mastering a complex defense.
Three letters formed the buzz word around Auburn football this spring: NFL. Players learned pro techniques from new coordinators with NFL backgrounds, Scot Loeffler and Brian VanGorder. Huddling and snaps from under center occurred. And Gene Chizik listed learning NFL terminology on offense and defense as the biggest change for Auburn players. "We have to show clips a lot of the NFL because when we install something, our kids have to know what it looks like," Chizik told listeners on his statewide radio show. "Next year, we'll show our own clips." It's no coincidence Auburn now sells NFL concepts. The factory down the road in Tuscaloosa, run by ex-NFL coach Nick Saban, continues to churn out elite NFL prospects at a rate never seen before in SEC history.
"When I made this decision, I sat in that office down there, and both of us looked at each other, and we both cried," Sunseri told reporters in Knoxville on Wednesday. "And it was hard. It was really hard. But the bottom line is everybody has to go and do what they're supposed to do in life and fulfill their dreams. He's fulfilling his dream, and I always wanted to be a coordinator, and I'm thankful that Derek Dooley gave me this opportunity to come up here."
The BCS conference commissioners have spent the past several months discussing potentially seismic changes to the sport's postseason. Considering the possible ramifications of such changes on the four current BCS bowls and the rest of the bowl industry, one might assume bowl officials would have a formal say in the matter. To this point, that hasn't been the case. "We're not at the table," said Ash. "Our [conference] partners are at the table." That will change a bit next week when commissioners, athletic directors, bowl officials and television executives convene at the Westin Diplomat in South Florida for the BCS' annual meetings. While bowl reps have received updates from their respective partner conferences these past few months (and have presumably reached out to others in the business to find out what they're hearing), this regular annual review will be the first time the four BCS heads have met with the entire group. Even then, each director will get only 30 minutes in the room.