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Take a deep breath, count to ten...

...and post a picture of Brittany Snow.

mmmmm...Snooooowww.....what was all the fuss about again?

To our readers. I would like to apologize for my post on Friday. In the heat of the moment I responded to one vulgar, hate filled missive with another vulgar, hate filled missive, and as many have pointed out we should do better than that. We constantly try to keep things reasonably civil around here and encourage you all to make your comments and diaries respectful and not engage in the kind of flame war, pissing match posts that have turned so many of us off to message boards, and we (and especially in this case, I) have a duty to you to hold ourselves to that same standard. So to y'all, I am truly sorry for my language and tone. There was a better way to respond, but I took the easy way that gave me the most momentary satisfaction, and I do regret it.

I will be clear on this, though; this post is not meant in any way, shape, or form as an apology or act of contrition towards Brian Cook or any of his sanctimonious yes men that jumped on board the "let's take a break from trying to defend the questionable moral fiber of our own coach and bash Nick Saban for something we think he might do but have no proof that he has or will" bandwagon. I maintain that both of his posts were ignorant and ill informed, and that despite his constant whining about "the children, oh Lord, the children!" his motives for starting all of this were as pure as the driven Michigan snow (which is to say filthy and polluted). I will also be clear on this; this whole kerfluffle is by no means an SEC vs Big Ten thing, or even an Alabama vs Michigan thing. This is strictly a Roll Bama Roll vs Brian Cook thing.

Since this will be the last time we comment on this issue until the "checkbook is balanced," so to speak, at which point we will certainly keep you all up to speed on how the coaching staff managed to juggle the roster to see if any of the sinister accusations thrown our way had any merit, I would like to take the time to spell out, once and for all, our position in this matter.

1. Cook's initial post was nothing more than an ill informed shot taken for no reason at Nick Saban.

What seems to have been lost in all of the numbers games and denigration of the intellectual abilities of the good people of Alabama is that all of this started with Joe Tiller's comments about Rich Rodriguez:

"If we had an early signing date, you wouldn't have another outfit with a guy in a wizard hat selling snake oil get a guy at the last minute, but that's what happened," Tiller said.

Those comments were made after Roy Roundtree, a recruit who had committed to Purdue before receiving an offer from Rod and Michigan, decided he'd rather wear the Maize and Blue. And Cook was right to call out Tiller for his comments towards Rod and subsequent questioning of Roundtree's character:

Evocative imagery from the Big Ten's most crotchety coach, but Tiller wants to take away Roy Roundtree's ability to make a decision he wants to make. If Roundtree wanted to play for Purdue, he would.

Way to publicly knock the character of a guy who got an offer from Michigan he did not expect and decided to take it.

He's exactly right there. Tiller had no call to slam Rodriguez or Roundtree for this. Rod extended an offer after Purdue did, Roundtree accepted it, end of story, and that should have been the end of Cook's beef. He had adequately defended his coach and team against the foolish comments of a conference rival's coach. But he didn't stop there, did he? Of course he didn't. Instead, Cook felt the need to take the occasion of foolish and unwarranted comments made by Tiller to make some foolish and unwarranted comments of his own by claiming "Nick Saban's the Real Snake Oil Salesman Around These Parts." What did Nick Saban have to do with any of this? Nothing. Not a single thing (and I also found it amusing that he threw in the "Around These Parts" considering Nick Saban no longer coaches in the Big 10). And that is the beginning of where we (and the rest of the Alabama bloggers that have commented on this) take exception to Cook's singling out of Nick Saban and Alabama for a practice that is widely practiced throughout college football.

But that's not the only reason. To begin with, Cook decides to take aim at Alabama's recruiting class being ranked #1 in the country and stating that they are overrated based on sheer quantity. Pete Holiday has done a masterful job already of breaking down why that's simply ridiculous, so I'll let his argument speak for itself. But Cook also had some nastier implications to hurl Saban's way, all in the name of defending Rodriguez:

Around six guys who are playing for Alabama now or expect to be in the fall are going to be told to get bent by the time fall practice rolls around. But let's all complain about how nasty Rich Rodriguez is, why don't we?

Again, Saban had nothing to do with anything that transpired in the recruiting of Roy Roundtree or with Tiller's comments concerning Rod's role in it. That simple fact alone was enough to cause us to feel it necessary to respond, but it's the implication that Cook knows exactly what is going to happen at Alabama (and that what is going to happen at Alabama is sinister and damaging to the lives of both this recruiting class and the current roster) that really raised our ire. The fact is, no one knows but Saban and the coaching staff how the numbers are going to work and that, shockingly, doesn't include Cook.

Our biggest issue is his claims that deserving kids are going to be screwed over in all of this. Cook wants you to believe that some deserving kid that has kept his nose clean, bought wholeheartedly into the staff's philosophy, and done everything asked of him is going to get the axe in favor of some stud recruit. Do I think this is the case? No, I do not. Before last season and all during it there were warnings from Saban that the roster's talent level was nowhere near what it needed to be for a championship caliber team and that there were character issues all across the board. We saw stars from previous seasons sitting on the bench because they didn't do what their coaches asked of them while guys that wouldn't have seen the field at other top programs were getting quality playing time. If there is one thing I took away from this season concerning Saban's roster moves it's that he values loyalty and heart from his players and is going to put the guys on the field that do what they are asked and taught and have given complete and total commitment to the team and the staff over the guys who don't no matter how wide the talent gap is between them. So for Cook to insinuate that Saban is so cold hearted as to tell a deserving kid to "get bent" that's done everything asked of him, well, that's just not something I see happening. Of course, I can make that kind of assertion because I'm not a Michigan blogger with absolutely no knowledge of what I'm talking about trying to deflect attention from my coach, I'm an Alabama blogger that pays far more attention to what's going on with the Crimson Tide than I probably should. Cook had no reason to cast blanket proclamations about the "filthiness" of what is going on in Tuscaloosa when he doesn't cover Alabama football and therefor hasn't the slightest clue of the details necessary to make those claims, nor does he have any proof that these things are going to happen beyond a gut feeling based on nothing else but his apparently low opinion of Saban. I mean, I could claim that Cook is going to go on a mad gopher raping spree (to quote Cook, "Jesus, that's filthy.") based purely on my opinion of him, but that wouldn't make it true, and it's not something I would do unless someone actually gave me some sort of evidence that he does, in fact, have a sinister plan to acquire gophers and then have his awful way with them.

I cannot WAIT to see what kind of sick Google searches "gopher raping" brings in.

2. Cook's response to OTS's rebuttal devolved into the kind of condescending assault on the intellectual and moral worth of an entire state that we should have expected from him, all while being logically bankrupt itself.

Let's just start with the title "Alabama Fans Cannot Think Logically, But You Knew That Already." Right away Cook reminds us that he's a smarmy, holier than thou type that cackled with glee over the ludicrous "Saban to West Virginia" rumors and carries a gigantic chip on his shoulder concerning the fact that not only did the Confederate states continue to exist after the Civl War but also had the unmitigated gall to rebuild and start playing some pretty good football. His bile, of course, isn't completely reserved for the SEC or the South though, as anyone else that remembers his hysterical outrage at a post on Rodriguez meant purely in jest (and that he actually suspected was meant to be humorous but still went on the warpath over anyway) written by fellow Big Ten (Iowa) bloggers will attest. Cook is apparently a small, bitter man that patrols the internets day and night (don't forget folks, he actually gets paid to blog, which probably means he should get the same respect, by which I mean none, we generally reserve for the ignorant, blathering heads in the mainstream sports media that so routinely draw the malice of the blogosphere) not only making sure no one speaks ill of his beloved Wolverines and their coaching staff, but also making sure everyone knows that anything below the Mason-Dixon line is worthy of nothing but your contempt. So to say that I was shocked, shocked, by his attitude towards us or any of the other Alabama bloggers that had the nerve to call shenanigans on his ridiculous initial post would be a lie. It was expected, and he delivered.

And how did he deliver? With a well-worn debating trick: changing the subject. OTS's response was a fine refutation of each of Cook's claims, namely that the class is overrated, Saban is the worst offender, the number of guys who are not going to qualify, the use of medical redshirts on "marginally useful" players, and that six scholarships need to be forcibly extracted from current players. So what does Cook do? He posits an undeniable fact (that there are too many kids to fit on the 85 man roster, and room must be made to accomodate the incoming recruits) and then uses that as the basis of a purely speculative and hypothetical debate. In his eyes, if you can't deny that room must be made to reach the 85 man limit then you can't deny anything else he has to say. No one is denying that there is an 85 man roster limit, that Alabama is currently above it, and steps must be taken to correct that. As before, plenty of time has been spent on showing how this can be managed, but it's the implication that Cook knows in advance Saban is going to resort to "screwing" a deserving someone out of their scholarship is where we take exception. We can argue over who is deserving and who isn't, but the point is that none of us know what is going to happen until August, and that Cook simply isn't qualified to judge what is going on in Tuscaloosa. Just because you can look up a roster and work a calculator doesn't mean you should start chiming in on the ethics involved in a program you know nothing about. Are you really so vain that you feel like you can state as fact that Saban and the rest of the staff signed as many players as they did knowing full well that they would have to resort to nefarious methods to make room for them? Do you really think that Saban and the staff aren't fully aware of how many players are expected to transfer after the spring because they don't fit in the program anymore and will be encouraged to seek playing time elsewhere and helped in that process (like QB Jimmy Barnes, OL Alex Stadler, LB Zach Schreiber, and RB Jamar Taylor did last year)? Are you so certain that this staff is too dumb to know how a greyshirt works, and to have numbers on which signees were offered and accepted greyshirts? Are you so well versed in the culture of Alabama football and so intimately knowledgable about the character of each player and the efforts they've given over the past year that you can, without a doubt, believe that anyone the coaches decide shouldn't get a renewal is someone that deserves to have his scholarship renewed? No, you don't, so how dare you sit on your high horse and claim that the potential for unfair dealings is, in and of itself, something to be ashamed of, whether it actually occurs or not. That's an extremely ridiculous position to take (after all, there is the potential for me to kick someone's teeth out because I don't like the shirt they are wearing, but you can't arrest me for assault until I actually do it), and one that shouldn't have been taken at all.

So let that be the end of this until August when we can actually review what happened instead of foolishly presupposing the sins of Nick Saban and Alabama.