1. Alabama: Four starters return (with 95 combined starts), there's size, there's athleticism and this line just screams first-round NFL talent, starting with mammoth tackle D.J. Fluker and guard Chance Warmack. Reigning Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones is moving to center, but with his versatility he should excel there. Add former top recruit Cyrus Kouandjio at left tackle and this is arguably the country's top offensive line.
1. Barrett Jones, Sr., Alabama: The reigning Outland Trophy winner is one of the most versatile lineman in college football. He played just about every position on Alabama's line last year and is moving to center this fall. He isn't the biggest lineman, but he's one of the toughest.
2. Chance Warmack, Sr., Alabama: He was overshadowed by Jones last year, but Warmack is an absolute stud. The athletic guard has great size, strength and mobility and some people at Alabama think he might be the best pro prospect on this extremely talented offensive line.
Alabama received the kind of respect you'd expect for the defending national champions in this year's preseason, coach-voted, all-SEC teams. Led by four players on the first team, Alabama tied LSU for the most representatives on the three teams with 11. Center Barrett Jones was one of nine players to make the first team for a second consecutive season. He's joined by three teammates: right tackle D.J. Fluker and linebackers C.J. Mosley and Nico Johnson.
Eight University of Alabama players were named to the watch lists for college football's Bronko Nagurski and Outland trophies this morning. Barrett Jones, the 2011 Outland Trophy winner, is joined on list of the award for the nation's top interior lineman by offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, guard Chance Warmack and defensive tackle Jesse Williams.
When the SEC decided to add Missouri and Texas A&M, league coaches who expressed approval because of the quality of teams joining are now having to deal with the reality of what it all means. While the majority of the national spotlight on SEC expansion has centered on football — the money-making entity of the league — what has gone largely unnoticed is the hardship placed on other sports. Missouri's wrestling program is now without a home because it's not a sanctioned sport in the SEC. And life will be much more difficult in sports where the athletes aren't transported by charter planes and whisked through the city with a police escort. "The one challenge of Texas A&M and Missouri is that neither place is easy to get to," Florida soccer coach Becky Burleigh said. "So it's going to definitely cause some fatigue in Sunday matches when you're spending the entire day traveling on Saturday as opposed to just a couple of hours."
The third annual Wallace Gilberry Camp powered by The Athlete Factory is set for Saturday at Spanish Fort High School, with former Alabama stars Trent Richardson and Mark Barron scheduled to appear. The camp and a celebrity basketball game at the Spanish Fort High gym Saturday night are free to the public, although donations will be accepted at each of the activities for The Prodisee Pantry, a non-profit community emergency food and disaster organization.
We already know that Tampa Bay rookie safety Mark Barron's first-year cap figure can’t be more than $2.63 million and the total value of his contract can’t exceed $19.1 million. So why does Barron, the No. 7 overall pick in the draft, remain unsigned? Largely because none of the first eight picks have reached agreements and it seems like everyone is waiting for someone else to go first. As ESPN football business guru Andrew Brandt explains in this podcast, the logjam at the top is all about offset language. "Teams want language in the contract, these are fully guaranteed contracts, saying that if they cut the player at some point and he signs another player, they are offset their guarantee,’’ Brandt said. "So they cut a player, he signs for a million dollars somewhere, that million comes off what they owe.’’
"The NCAA portrays themselves as this benevolent, non-profit collection of colleges that are doing good deeds, but all they're doing is destroying dreams and opportunities for young kids based on no facts at all. There is no empirical evidence that shows if you have math in your first two years that you are a better student for it or that if you have two English classes in your first two years that you're a better student for it. My question then is: If that in fact were to be true, then why don't you make everybody do that? If you hold us to the same standard as everyone else, I'll buy that, but they don't. It's a double-standard. And if these kids who have already been identified once as having certain issues for whatever reason, are now going to be hit coming out the other side with double jeopardy, it's wrong. It's immoral. It's unethical. "They (the NCAA) stand up on their high, white pedestal and spew out all of their stuff. I see these kids and get so upset. I know how hard many of them are trying, and that math barrier is hard for a lot of kids, and knowing that they could go to college and never have to take it at all, it's so frustrating for me."
If Ohio State can't play in a bowl game this season because former Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel lied to NCAA investigators about his players' receiving free tattoos, how can Penn State play in the postseason after former coach Joe Paterno helped cover up the horrific actions of a serial child rapist? If North Carolina can't play in the postseason this season because some of its players received improper benefits from agents and committed academic fraud, how can Penn State be eligible for the postseason after its former president and vice president, athletic director and legendary coach fostered a culture in which a pedophile used the school's facilities, sideline passes to games and bowl trips like candy to lure the young boys he molested? And if USC was banned from the postseason for two years and lost more than 20 scholarships because the school failed to oversee the compliance of its most high-profile players, how can Penn State go unpunished by the NCAA when the university's most-high ranking officials failed to even do what was morally right when they learned young boys were violated and the victims and others were probably still at risk?