STARKVILLE, MS - NOVEMBER 12: Tight end Michael Williams #89 of the Alabama Crimson Tide catches a pass and runs past linebacker Cameron Lawrence #10 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs for a a first down on November 12, 2011 at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)
Williams' spot on the field isn't changing, so someone needs to be ready to fill Smelley's shoes as Alabama's H-Back. The out-of-spring leader for that position appears to be Vogler, but players such as Jones, Calloway and Faciane shouldn't be ruled out of the mix just yet. Calloway is an intriguing option that will always garner some attention. Since he infamously flipped his commitment from Auburn to Alabama, Calloway has moved from running back to linebacker to H-Back. He's the most gifted athletically among the group, but his lack of experience makes it difficult to see him having a prominent role as soon as the season opener.
Alabama comes into the 2012 season with arguably the best offensive line in the country. They lost one starter from last years' National Championship team. Alabama led the SEC in rushing last year averaging 214.5 yards/game. They were tops in the SEC with fewest sacks allowed last season only allowing 17. Barrett Jones leads the way on the O-line and won the Outland Trophy last season. Cyrus Kouandjio is a name to remember too. He was having a stellar freshman campaign last season before he suffered a season ending injury against Tennessee. Bama's O-line will be the vocal point for the Tide's success this season, and will make McCarron's job that much easier running the offense.
In the wonderful world of coachspeak, there’s no game more important than the next. So getting major college coaches to take a public peek past the opener of a new season is typically a futile venture. But Arkansas coach John L. Smith showed he’s an exception to the rule Tuesday, when asked about Arkansas’ big test against Alabama on Sept. 15 during a interview ESPN’s SportsCenter. "It’s not the season, but it is crucial," Smith told ESPN’s Chris Fowler. "It’s vital that we go to the field and it’s vital that we win that football game. "For us to show everybody and to show ourselves that we have a chance, we’ve got to go win that game."
For the sake of the league's status as the undisputed best, someone is going to need to knock these two out of the catbird seat. The first step to being seen as a weak conference is to have one or two teams dominate it consistently. Remember USC and the Nine Dwarves, or when the Big Ten was the Big Two? One reason why the Big 12 never passed up the SEC in esteem (besides all the national titles) despite being almost even over the last decade is that the SEC's had a revolving door at the top while the Big 12 was Oklahoma, Texas, and the rest. Seeing LSU and Alabama fall doesn't appear to be in the cards soon, as Nick Saban and especially Les Miles have plenty of good years left in them and are entrenched in their jobs. Someone really will need to knock them off. For now, though, it's looking like the league is LSU's and Alabama's to run with 12 other tenants paying rent.
Sources said Georgia's schedule got harder. Sources said Alabama's schedule got easier. And if you're wondering why this is a big deal, it's because SEC coaches had already scheduled their non-league games based on whether they believed they had relatively easy or relatively hard league schedules assigned to them. Now everything is a mess. And though every coach who spoke to CBSSports.com said they'd deal with it if only because they have no choice, they made it clear they were bothered by the surprise email from the SEC office that came during this July evaluation period for recruiting. (ed.- Mark Richt has lost control of SEC basketball scheduling.)
You can call it recruiting or you can call it poaching. The reality is college sports has always been a cutthroat business. By now, I just shrug my shoulders at this stuff. Truth be told, coaches don't get fired for not graduating players. They get fired for losing football games. These guys are salesmen. I've seen up close how the recruiting process works, and if you think your favorite coach or school hasn't even negative recruited at some point, you're kidding yourself. They're trying to win football games and better their teams. They also tend to have sizable egos. They're convinced they can provide these players a better option than what those guys currently have. That said, I suspect this is just the latest chapter in a story that has left a whole bunch of people with mixed feelings about the game they love so much.