This isn't the case of just nabbing a hot recruit or two, according to one long-time NFL scout, who views the full-scale renaissance at Alabama as the result of a carefully orchestrated plan. He said Alabama has arguably the best football teachers at any level. "I don't know that there is a better-run team in the country than Alabama," the scout said. "I mean from top to bottom, A to Z, Saban and that staff have rebuilt that program into a legitimate football factory. They run that program with the organization and dedication of an NFL front office. And not just any front office -- a highly effective one."
At the top of the list coming into the year, there are several teams in the conference with which oddsmakers have set in the top-10 in terms of BCS Championship Futures odds at Bodog Sportsbook. At the forefront of that list are the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Crimson Tide are second behind only the Oklahoma Sooners on BCS Championship betting lines, and are atop the SEC Championship Odds at Bodog Sportsbook. Going off at 9/5, Alabama is the favorite to come out of the SEC, which might give them an inside track to the Super Dome in New Orleans on Jan.9, site of the national championship game.
Calloway even discussed how he coped with death threats, and a passer by who threw a cup at him from a car window yelling, "War Damn Eagle!"
I am curious how the lack of respect and the background chatter will affect Auburn this season. Will it be a distraction? A rallying cry? I have seen uncertainty wreck seasons, including more than one in Tuscaloosa. I have also seen adversity make a team stronger, if it had strong leaders. Which way will it go in Auburn this year? Unfortunately, I don't have a source that can tell the future, on the field or off it.
"That's why the school I'm going to is probably going to take two quarterbacks," Winston said. "It's not going to be a big deal. I don't have a problem with them taking two quarterbacks as long as they let me know and not tell me I'm the only guy. "I don't have a problem with it because at the end of the day you have to compete anyway. If they don't take two quarterbacks they're going to recruit another quarterback the next class. That's the whole recruiting process. I just want them to be real. I don't want lies. There is no need for them. This is my life."
But back to that game-changing first night. Winston sat on his bed, exhausted, and studied the playbook. When Trent Dilfer, the former Super Bowl-winning quarterback who serves as head coach to Elite 11 participants, made a second round of bed checks, he found Winston engulfed in the pages. Dilfer made a note of the time: 1:12 a.m. "He manned up," Dilfer said. "The next day, his eyes were bleeding he was so tired. But he was killing it. He didn't have to say anything, but his actions told me, 'Let me show you I'm not just a gifted athlete. I'm a surgeon.'
12. Alabama: There is more than just football in Tuscaloosa, baby! Move over Nick Saban as Anthony Grant has a terrific trio returning in JaMychal Green, Trevor Releford and Tony Mitchell.