"I think the most difficult thing in life in terms of being successful is consistency in performance, especially when you have success," Saban said. "Most people deal with failure pretty decent -- it motivates them, they want to do better. But when they have success, they want to feel a little entitled and 'I met my quota for this month, so I should get a little time off.' "This team has been a little better at handling and managing that. Maybe there's enough guys on this team who experienced that a few years ago. Because the most important thing about your team is that your team improves. We're not where we need to be. We have to work to improve."
"The thing that I was most proud of with this team was how they handled losing to LSU the first time," Saban said in his keybnote address at "An Evening of College Football with Nick Saban," a benefit for Team Focus. "We had a team meeting and we showed them all the plays and how the outcome of the game was completely controlled by what they did. . . . They were all convinced when they left the room that the better team really didn't win the game. "As big as that game was made out to be, they very easily could have changed what they had committed themselves to accomplish and thought they didn't have a chance to accomplish it. They never did that."
Barrett Jones' trophy shelf received another weighty piece of hardware Monday night. The Alabama offensive lineman received the Paul W. Bryant Award, an honor bestowed upon the school's top male and female student-athletes for 2011-12. Senior golfer Brooke Pancake also received the honor Monday during a ceremony at the Foster Auditorium. Jones, last year's Outland Trophy winner and a consensus first-team All-American, is already working on his master's degree in accounting after graduating August 2011 with a 4.0 grade point average. Pancake, also a first-team All-American in 2011, will graduate with a bachelor of science in commerce and business administration this May. Like Jones, she also carries a 4.0 GPA.
SEC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Amanda Locke - Alabama DP/P • Sr. • Mesquite, Texas
Locke led the Tide over the week at the plate and in the circle. The Mesquite, Texas native batted .545 (6-for-11) with three runs and six RBI. Locke added a double, a triple and two home runs to slug an incredible 1.364. The senior recorded at least one hit and one RBI in the three games against No. 13 Georgia, and had multi-hit and multi-RBI games in the final two decisions. On Friday, Locke nearly hit for the cycle as she hit a home run, a triple and a double while adding a walk in a 3-for-3 effort at the plate. She added two runs scored and two RBI. In the series finale against Georgia, Locke batted 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI. Also in the series finale against UG, Locke tossed her longest outing since her freshman season in 2009. The right-hander went 6 2/3 innings with five strikeouts. With her two home runs over the weekend, Locke is now tied with former Alabama All-American Whitney Larsen for third all-time at the Capstone with 48 career home runs.
Hightower feels like playing in the complex defense of Saban and Kirby Smart helps him. "Wherever he's at, he's always had success," he said. "If you go back and look some of the players he's put out at LSU and Michigan State, that shows a lot. They look at that. And they know that I have the athletic ability and know that I can come in in a week and get the game plan and be ready to go by Sunday. It's definitely something that helped me out."
Alabama will need one more great year to match the Hurricanes. Miami had six first-round picks in 2004, four in 2003 and five in 2002. The Hurricanes of the early 2000s are the only ones to have at least nine first-rounders in a two-year span, according to STATs LLC. Ohio State also had five players taken in the opening round in 2006, and Southern California did it in 1968.
Alabama, where McElwain used to coach, is one of the big producers of NFL players. Especially since Nick Saban became the Crimson Tide's head coach. McElwain said "the whole package" matters to him and to Saban. "Our responsibility is to develop these guys for the rest of their lives by what we do academically, what we do spiritually, what we do psychologically," McElwain said. "And if they desire a chance to play in the National Football League, it's our responsibility to put them in a system that's going to help them succeed. ... The guys at the top of the draft, it doesn't matter what system they were in. It's the back end, the later rounds, the (undrafted) free agents. Those guys might be the (best) measure of your developmental skills. Teams see them on film and see how what you do has a chance to translate to the NFL. We want (the players) to go as far as they can in any field they choose, and that includes the NFL."
What changed? What snapped? How did the sport's leaders decide that what has worked for them for so long is no longer working? As recently as four years ago, the BCS bosses last considered the postseason format. When Slive proposed a "plus-one," post-BCS game, he convinced only ACC commissioner John Swofford to vote with him. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said, "There is a strong feeling in the Big 12 that what we have is working well." That feeling is no longer around. Neither, for that matter, is Beebe. The Big 12, Pac-12 and Big East have different memberships and new commissioners. Interviews of administrators around the country, on and off the record, describe a gradual accrual of support for a playoff over the last few years until the most recent BCS Championship Game, Alabama's 21-0 defeat of LSU, tipped the scales.
How could anyone call any city but Tuscaloosa “Titletown?” Teams you know everything about are living up to and even exceeding the expectations. The football team won two national championships in three years. The men’s basketball team made the NCAA tournament for the first time in six years. The gymnastics team just won back-to-back national championships. Not to mention the gymnastics team added an individual championship both years, with Geralen Stack-Eaton winning the floor exercise last year and the balance beam this year, and the softball team is continuing its path towards yet another likely Women’s College World Series berth. Even the teams you don’t hear much about are winning. The women’s tennis team won the Southeastern Conference West Division title last season and is currently ranked No. 11 in the country, and I eagerly await the email that corrects me to tell me they moved up in the rankings while the papers were being printed.
If Peter King picked the first round correctly in his Mock Draft last week, nearly half of this year's newest crop of millionaires will have played high above recruitniks' predictions. Fifteen of the 32 players in King's Mock rated three stars or fewer out of high school, meaning evaluators felt they would, at best, be solid contributors at the FBS level.
Barron had hernia surgery after the season, causing him to miss both the Senior Bowl in his hometown of Mobile and the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, as well as Alabama's first Pro Day March 7. A couple of weeks later, however, Barron solidified his first-round status with a strong performance in a follow-up Pro Day workout. There, he turned in 40-yard dash times of 4.56 and 4.57, along with a 10'2" broad jump.
"Strengths: Is short and gets low and uses natural leverage, which helps him routinely beat offensive lineman. Gets most of his penetration on passing plays by pushing the offensive lineman backward into the pocket. Showed his toughness playing most of his senior season on a knee that required surgery. Weaknesses: Is mainly a space filler of a nose tackle. Chapman is hard to move off the blocks, but he's not a very agile lineman. Shouldn't be relied on as a pass rusher, which makes you think he may only be a two-down lineman at the next level."