April 14, 2012; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama offensive lineman D.J. Fluker (76) is blocked by defensive end D.J. Pettway (57) during the spring game at Bryant Denny Stadium. (Credit: Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE)
Q. Who was the OL that you hated going up against the most when you were playing DE ?
BL."That is an easy question. Have you ever met DJ Fluker? If he is not tired and out of breath, he is capable of killing someone with his bare hands. I have never felt that kind of power and explosion in another human being. Have you ever seen an anthill after it has been stepped on? You know how the ants just scatter everywhere? That is what the DE’s look like when they get called out to go against DJ. They all just scatter, bc we all knew what was fixing to happen to us and it was never pleasant. We used to try and get one of the young guys to pick a fight with him to tire him out before that drill."
"I think the consistency of success over the last five or six years, it seems like it’s come down to us and them – for sure the last three years," Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. Florida won the SEC regular-season title in 2008 and ’09. Alabama won it the last two seasons. This time, it will be settled head-to-head. Alabama is 45-5 overall, 21-4 in SEC play. Florida is 43-8, 20-5 in the league. The scenarios are intriguing, and myriad. If Florida sweeps, it takes the league title outright. Alabama wins the league outright if it wins two games or sweeps. If Florida wins two out of three, it shares the league title with both Alabama and Tennessee, which sits in the clubhouse with a completed league record of 22-6.
The Crimson Tide and the Gators will meet again this weekend to settle the league title. If Alabama sweeps or wins two games, it will win the SEC championship outright. If Florida sweeps Alabama, it will claim the conference title for itself. If the Gators win two games, the crown will be shared by Alabama, Florida and Tennessee. It all comes down to the last weekend of the regular season, and that’s just fine with Alabama coach Patrick Murphy. "Whoever did the scheduling did a really good job," Murphy said, "and then both teams have done a really good job, obviously, of setting themselves up for this weekend. We’ve done our homework, they’ve done their homework. ... When we saw the schedule, the first thing was we’re glad we’re at home, and the second thing was it will probably come down to us and them." Tim Walton, Florida’s coach, also likes the final-weekend showdown. "I think it’s not only good for TV, it’s good for softball, it’s good for the NCAA, it’s good for everybody," he said.
Haney makes it clear in his piece that he thinks the Crimson Tide are a legitimate contender in 2012 even with all of their personnel losses from a year ago. He just thinks they will be in better shape in 2013 to make a serious run. It's hard to argue that logic, but it's also hard to envision a scenario where Alabama isn't in the national championship race next season heading into November. Even if it loses early (possibly to Arkansas), Alabama could get right back into the mix by beating LSU at home that first weekend in November.
In recent years, there has been a groundswell to pay athletes who play in revenue generating programs (football and men's basketball), though such a plan would appear to directly violate Title IX. Aside from the difficulty of implementing a program when only half of the revenue producing programs at FBS schools actually cover their own expenses, such a proposal has a gender-nullifying affect. It puts female athletes and male athletes in nonrevenue producing sports on the same side of the battle: trying to salvage a system that can make room for them. The debate is no longer about finding value in women's sports. Instead it has become whether or not we value athletic participation among students who don't bring cash to the coffers. Though there are still plenty of critics who try to belittle women's sports, they seem like remnants of an ancient time.
"I've always been for plus one," Saban said. "I think one of the most difficult things in having a large playoff is how do you play the games? How do you have finals? How do you implement that relative to what our players already [do]? I know they have one in [Division] I-AA and Division II, Division III and all that. But I think that would be a little more difficult especially because the college bowl system provides a lot of self-gratification for a lot of young people in college football." He added: "If we played another game, we'd always be able to incorporate the best teams. So you would at least get the best teams and they would play. How they implement that, if they use the bowl system, I think that would be great. But I am not for extending the system into the next semester. I don't think that's fair to college football players. But I think that'd be great for the fans and I think that's what they want."
SHOULDN'T: The Coaches' Poll
The Coaches' Poll is a relic from a time that has long passed. Coaches don't closely study much beyond their own team and their future opponents. It's an open secret that sports information directors do the actual heavy lifting on most (if not all) Coaches' Poll votes with the coaches only editing those ballots as they see fit. Plus, the Coaches' Poll is a giant conflict of interest. Some coaches have incentives tied to poll finishes and most have some for BCS appearances too. Is a coach's vote definitely going to be valid if, by manipulating it, he can have a better chance at a couple hundred thousand extra dollars at the end of the year? It's an embarrassment that it's even in the current system. It doesn't belong in what comes next.
"As you well know TV networks like ESPN are now running major college athletic affiliations not the NCAA. Please stand by us as we work to make this frustrating situation a positive one for the University of Idaho, its vandal alumni, family and friends."
After being released by the Redskins, Robinson said he turned to God to help him find his path not just in professional football, but in life itself. "I just had to sit down and talk with Christ," said Robinson, who spent the fall of 2010 until March working at an insurance office in Athens, volunteering at the Huntsville Inner-city Learning Center, which is housed at his alma mater Butler High School, and working out at local gyms to stay fit. "Here I was with a wife and a family that I had to look after, and I needed guidance from a higher power." Robinson's mother said she also took notice of her son's strengthened faith in times of adversity. "From the day he started in the league to the point he is at now," she said. "It is a complete U-turn that is hard to describe and I am just thankful for that. That my son has the strength to never give up and is strengthened in Christ."
The Achilles tendon injury suffered by Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs illustrates the one NFL reality that is both inevitable and completely unknowable. Players will get hurt. We just don’t know who will be injured. A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the Ravens considers themselves lucky, given that the Ravens selected Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw with its first pick in the 2012 draft, after trading down from the 29th pick in round one. The Ravens could have gone in many different directions; it was pure fortuity that they opted to pick someone who plays a position of sudden and clear need.
"Offensive line is a top priority for the 2013 class," said BamaOnline recruiting analyst Tim Watts. "I think the staff is looking for early contributors and wants to strengthen their depth." So far, Alabama has locked up commitments from three highly-touted linemen: Huntsville star Grant Hill, Georgia native Andy Dodd and lifelong Tide fan Bradley Bozeman out of Roanoke. "That class is off to a good start but I imagine they will add two to three more players before all is said and done," said Watts.
"There is no exit strategy from the NFL," Plummer said. "It’s ‘You’re done.’ You don’t even get an apple and a road map. What needs to happen is mandatory counseling. In 15 years as a middle linebacker, I never would have thought of seeing a counselor. I saw one in my divorce, and I just called my counselor today. It can’t be optional, because macho players are taught to be invincible and they’re not going to do it. Make it mandatory."
The forensic pathologist who first identified chronic brain damage as a factor in the deaths of some NFL players flew to San Diego on Thursday to participate in the autopsy of former All-Pro linebacker Junior Seau, two sources with knowledge of the case told ESPN.com. The pathologist, Bennet Omalu, assisted in the autopsy conducted by the San Diego County medical examiner because of his experience with NFL players and brain injuries, the sources said.
Michigan's new Pro Combat uniform most prominently departs from traditional uniform design (and NCAA rules) in its inclusion of giant adamantium claws and knee-high leather cleats (see infographic). "The bureaucrats in Indianapolis won't like it, but I cannot sacrifice my vision for some philistine notions of 'safety' or 'fairness'", said Polyblend.
The New England Patriots are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Billy Neighbors, who played offensive guard for the Patriots for four seasons from 1962 through 1965. Neighbors passed away on Monday at the age of 72 in Huntsville, Ala.