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From @ChrisBrewer4: what is aj mccarron gonna have to do before people take him seriously? Guys getting no love from the national media.
I saw this question and immediately thought back to an exchange I had with someone via Twitter earlier this week after I tweeted about the trash-talking between McCarron and LSU's Tyrann Mathieu. I asked the question if this was the first time that two prominent college football players had ever gone at each other like that on Twitter? One Ole Miss fan took issue with me calling McCarron "prominent" and went on to say "Is McCarron really prominent? Mediocre at best ..." I pointed out to him that not only was McCarron the QB of the defending national champs, which essentially makes him prominent to begin with, he was also the Offensive MVP of the BCS title game after he shredded the vaunted LSU defense. As for the "love" from the national media, well, it's more "like" than "love" at this point. Is McCarron a true Heisman contender? He's probably in the third batch of candidates. He could end up in the discussion if he leads 'Bama to the SEC title, especially since the Tide have to overcome road trips to LSU and Arkansas. But if he's going to be talked about in the same sentences as Matt Barkley, Tyler Wilson, Geno Smith and Landry Jones and get to New York, McCarron is going to need to be more prolific since so many people feel like 'Bama wins with defense and a punishing running game. Greg McElroy was a really solid QB for 'Bama a few years back, but wasn't considered to be at the level of the elite quarterbacks in college football. Here's a stat barometer to keep in mind: McCarron was No. 25 in the country in passing efficiency, which considering that he plays in the conference known for having the toughest defenses, is not bad, but he's going to need to move up some in that category before he's talked about with the best of the best. Other celebrated QBs play in more wide-open systems and will amass better stats. McCarron needs to catch people's eyes with his efficiency. Then again, he would probably be just fine with a second BCS title ring and leave the gaudy stat lines to the other guys.
"When you're bringing a recruit here, it doesn't matter what sport it is, they're going to know they're coming to a level of excellence," Patterson said. "I don't think there's any better recruiting tool for any coach at the university."
"When I see Trent Richardson, Mark Barron or see Julio and his mom, we understand what it took. When they came to Alabama it wasn’t sexy to be at Alabama like it is now. When we were 6-6 it was a different Alabama than it is now. Everybody wants to come now, but back then you had to have blind faith and understand that the guy knew what he was talking about."
The unprecedented success that Alabama's student-athletes have enjoyed athletically this year has been well documented. Four national championships are three more than the Crimson Tide had won in any previous year. But that's only half of the success story. Student-athletes have been thriving as students, too. Seven Alabama athletes have been named Academic All-Americans so far this year. The school record is eight. Two members of the track and field teams are strong candidates. "It's been a stellar year on both sides," said Jon Dever, Alabama's assistant athletic director/student services.
Coach: Patrick Murphy
SEC finish: SEC champion
NCAA finish: National champion
Comment: Alabama became the first-ever SEC team to win the Women's College World Series, and the first NCAA softball champ ever without a player from California on its roster.
As University of Alabama teams accumulated titles in football, then gymnastics, then women's golf and softball, there seemed to have been a moment where Alabama had cracked the code and found the right formula, the combination of recruiting and coaching and facilities that worked in all four sports - and if it worked once, why couldn't it work again? And if it worked in those sports, why couldn't it work in others? While all the focus was on Alabama's championship teams, UA has had a chronic struggle in others, finishing at or near the bottom of the Southeastern Conference in several sports. That doesn't diminish the accomplishment of those championships, but it does increase the pressure on others. People - particularly fans - like the good feeling that winning brings. "The thing that excites me is the enthusiasm of everyone on this campus," UA director of athletics Mal Moore said Thursday. "You had people on the internet following the golf team, the women and the men. People got caught up in it. Then people were coming together all over the state to watch softball. ESPN told me four years ago that softball was their fastest growing sport, and you could see that in the way it has grown here. "We have a long tradition of winning in football, and we have had that in gymnastics almost since that program began. But it is important in other sports, too. I am proud of the oneness I have seen here."
Saban has taken some deserved heat for saying one thing about the meaning of a commitment and doing another, but in a practical world, it would be foolish of him to stop recruiting players that have committed to other schools for two reasons. 1. Other schools will continue to recruit those prospects. 2. Other schools will continue to recruit prospects that are committed to Alabama. Why should any coach engage in unilateral disarmament?
There are still 7½ months until signing day and don't believe for a minute that Nkemdiche will be getting any fewer texts and phone calls between now and February. Nick Saban, Les Miles and Mark Richt did not get where they are by throwing up their hands when a blue-chipper makes an announcement in June. Some of them, like Saban, lament the lack of meaning in the word "commitment," but they understand that such lamentations are wishful thinking. Others have proposed an early signing date, but many -- like Saban, Richt and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer -- have pointed to potential problems with such a move. The advantages would be allowing kids the opportunity to be done with the process when they've made a choice and allowing recruiters to spend time on new prospects without having to continue to recruit those who are already committed. But if you set an early signing date in December, you're forcing college coaches to put more focus on recruiting in-season. If you set it in the summer, you could lock recruits into a situation where a coach leaves or is fired later that winter, and you could eliminate some motivation for early signees to play hard during their senior year -- or at all.
Missouri wasn't ready when the Big 12 started in 1996. That's the candid assessment of Missouri Athletics Director Mike Alden, who arrived in 1998 and says the school waited too long to invest money into budgets, recruiting and facilities. Many years of mediocrity followed. During 16 years in the Big 12, Missouri captured two division titles in football and finally won the conference tournaments in men's basketball and baseball during its final season. So Missouri reassessed its facilities, recruiting and fundraising upon agreeing to join the SEC. The university wants to meet the reality of joining perhaps the nation's most competitive conference. "I think we'll be competitive," Alden said. "I say that with humility in that I think that our program and our coaches and our kids have done a great job of being very competitive. ... Our kids know, our coaches know, that we have to step up our game."
Terrell Suggs is months away from taking the field for the Baltimore Ravens. How many months, we don't know, but until he returns, his replacement will continue to receive attention. Rookie Courtney Upshaw has impressed coaches this offseason and looms as a "plug-and-play" option at outside linebacker until Suggs returns from his partially torn Achilles' tendon. Suggs has tracked Upshaw's progress in practice and offered encouraging words this week. "From what I've seen on film, he's playing pretty good," Suggs told Comscast SportsNet Baltimore on Thursday. "He's ahead of where I was when I came in my rookie year."
Jerod Mayo is already considered one of the best inside linebackers in the league. Brandon Spikes emerged as a punishing run-stopper and tone-setter toward the end of the 2011 season. And with the expected contribution of first-round pick Dont’a Hightower, who can play inside or outside and has a reputation for making plays, this unit may be primed to help turn things around.
Millen believes Hightower could be the piece that puts them over the top, you just don’t know yet what he’s going to be. "Hightower you don’t know yet what he is, or how they’re going to use him," Millen told me during a recent phone interview. "It’s still Christmas up there for them. They’re still unwrapping the package to see what their new toy does. They’ll figure that out and Bill that out as it goes. And you also have Chandler Jones, and seeing how to use him, and that kind of figures into it, too."