"I always say 'football is football'. You still have to run and jump," Howard said. "I hear people saying I can't do that stuff in the SEC, and I know it's going to be tough, but I really think I can do it. I go to combines with all of these top level athletes and come out on top sometimes and if I don't, still show that I can hang with them. I know it's not in pads, but I'm still catching the ball."
Also drawing raves was Autauga Academy tight end O.J. Howard, the No. 2-ranked player at his position in the country. "Howard was the talk of the event," Bone said. "He was a tough match-up for any linebacker and made several plays in double coverage. The national analysts raved about him all weekend, and he has a great chance to move to the No. 1 tight end spot in the country." The Crimson Tide commitment that may have helped his profile the most was Huntsville High offensive tackle Grant Hill. "He did a great job in the one-on-ones against some of the elite defensive linemen in the country. He displayed great mobility and strength. He was the anchor for the Southeast team in the three-man linemen tug of war and won the overall event," Bone said.
Under the new definition, the "Big Six" refers to the as yet undetermined bowls that will rotate as host sites for the semifinal rounds of a four-team playoff beginning in 2014. The four "Big Six" bowls that aren't slated for a semifinal game in a given year will maintain their traditional roles as destinations for the top non-playoff teams. It's like the BCS if the BCS made sense. And if Hancock is right about the proposed schedule – three games on Dec. 31, three on Jan. 1, with a primetime semifinal on each night – it stands not only to restore New Year's Day as an annual showcase for the best of college football: It could make the turning of the calendar more meaningful, and more successful, than ever. That's saying a lot, considering the soft spot almost every CFB fan past legal drinking age has for that date. But even nostalgia for hangovers past is beginning to wear a little thin. Aside from USC's insurgent victory in the 2004 Rose Bowl, the annual Jan. 1 smorgasbord hasn't featured a game with any sort of national championship implications – insurgent or otherwise – since 1998, when the newly formed BCS began spreading the major bowls thin across the first week of January. Since the addition of the fifth big-money bowl, the BCS Championship Game, in 2006-07, the winner-take-all, 1 vs. 2 showdown for the title has come at least days into the new year, and has naturally tended to blot out the sun for everything else that happens between that date and the end of the regular season. The result has been increasingly pathetic ratings across the board, culminating last year in record lows for both the title game and the Series as a whole.
"It would have been nice to see where we stacked up," said Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, who led the Oklahoma State Cowboys to a 12-1 season, culminating in a Tostitos Fiesta Bowl win over Stanford. "I can guarantee we would have crossed the 50-yard line." Yes, LSU only crossed the 50-yard line four times in its own shot at the title. But Browns running back Trent Richardson, now Weeden's teammate, said nobody -- not LSU, not Oklahoma State, not any other team -- would have been capable of matching up against Alabama's defensive powerhouse. "I know they're used to scoring a lot of points at Oklahoma State, but it wouldn't have been all those points," Richardson said. "Our defense is unstoppable when it comes to stopping people at the goal line or making people turn over the ball, we were No. 1 in the nation. Our defense shut up people a lot."
Ravens teammates say Terrence Cody is a unique individual, but perhaps it’s just jealously because he looks pretty good in a Cookie Monster hoodie. ("Kindergartener swag" as Bryan Hall said.) But Cody doesn’t shy away from his playful side, he embraces it and his love of comic books. Cody said he was a big fan of Marvel comics, but who tops his list as his all-time favorite? From the Ravens’ official website: "The Hulk is No. 1," he said without hesitation (and he even has a Hulk tattoo). "Then comes Batman. I’m struggling between Thor or Captain America. Captain America is America’s hero. Thor, he’s a god. It’s a tie between them. They’re both bada**es." So why the Hulk? "The Hulk is big, strong. He don’t care, he just wants to tear up things. That’s my mindset."
"I want to be in the hall of fame, and I want to be one of the most talked-about running backs in the NFL," Richardson said Friday during the symposium's PLAY 60 Youth Football Clinic at the Browns' headquarters. "I want my name to always be remembered in a good way, not in a dumb way or in a crazy way. For me, I'm always gonna work hard and make sure that my standards are set high."
Center Barrett Jones, tight end Michael Williams and defensive end Damion Square will give Alabama a veteran presence at next month's SEC football Media Days in Hoover. All three players are fifth-year seniors. They will join coach Nick Saban on July 19, the third and final day of the conference's unofficial kickoff for the 2012 season, at the Wynfrey Hotel. Alabama is slated to go first that day and will be followed by Tennessee, Ole Miss and Georgia.
I've been watching a lot of Mark Barron's college tape recently, and man is it fun to watch. He's physical, he flies around, he reads his keys well, he doesn't appear to ever be out of position and he has the speed and range to be an effective all-around safety. I expect the team to put Barron in position to make a lot of impact plays, and if he does that, he could easily be on that list.
If Crowell hadn't already spent much of his freshman season in hot water, if he hadn't by his own admission struggled with focus and maturity issues, if the arrest didn't drive home the point that Crowell doesn't seem to be learning from his mistakes, then maybe he could ask for one more last chance. He might have also been able to hang on by the proverbial thread if the charges were less serious, or didn't involve a handgun -- not every player would have been able to survive as many minor offenses as he has had. But even under Richt, maybe the reigning SEC Freshman of the Year would have.
Boise State argued that the history of scholarship reductions imposed by the NCAA was inconsistent with precedent. The school had self-imposed a penalty of three total scholarships, a penalty the program took last season. "Boise State contends that these penalties are excessive such that they constitute abuses of discretion in the situation presented by the case," the school’s appeal says. “… The Committee improperly increased the self-imposed football grant-in-aid restrictions ... even though the penalty is not warranted and is inconsistent with precedent and the circumstances of this case.” The appeals committee said prior precedent “should have been more fully weighed and considered.” In fact, the appeals committee says Boise State is right to argue that it received stiffer scholarship penalties than schools that committed more serious offenses.
Have you ever tried cheering for the Crimson Tide at moments that involve no football or football fans? It is great fun, and luckily for the majority of Americans, you don’t even have to be an Alabama fan to try it. Double coupon day at the grocery store? Passing grades on every midterm? High-speed near-miss on the interstate? The applications are truly endless.