As talented and highly-regarded as Dre Kirkpatrick was when he left Gadsden City High School in 2009, Southeastern Conference competition was something he wasn't yet prepared for. Looking back, Kirkpatrick sees that now. Around 30 pounds and a couple of years later, the University of Alabama junior has more of everything - perspective, size, experience, health. "This is really my first time ever being in the weight room since I've been in college, because my freshman year I had surgery, my sophomore year I had surgery," Kirkpatrick said. "I was never just fully healthy. This year I feel like I'm coming into the season pretty much healthy."
"What we have tried to emphasize this week is getting better as a team," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "We need to eliminate some of the issues and problems and things that definitely need correcting. I think the players have worked hard this week to try and do that. The most important thing is creating good habits in the way you practice. There is no switch to turn on when the game comes. That is really important."
University of Alabama coach Nick Saban said he expects to handle his quarterbacks this Saturday in a home game against North Texas in a similar way as he did against the Golden Flashes, and that means another opportunity for the redshirt freshman Sims. "We'll continue to work the quarterbacks as we did last week, which was two for one, because we want to continue to develop Phillip," Saban said. "We'd like to play Phillip if we get opportunities to play him. I do still feel both guys are good quarterbacks and there is some good competition there."
The 6-foot, 175-pounder out of Tuscumbia (Ala.) Deshler committed to Alabama out of high school but failed to qualify and has since been at Northeast Mississippi Community College waiting for his chance to return to Tuscaloosa. "Everything here is going well, things are going as planned," Belue said. "I absolutely want to retain my commitment to Alabama." He expects to graduate in December and enroll at Alabama in January. He will have three years to play two seasons. However, he is hopeful that he can made immediate contributions.
Saban said Wednesday he does not encourage players to enroll in January because he personally enjoyed his high school experience, including events such as the senior prom, and believes recruits deserve the same opportunity. But he acknowledged there is an advantage to early enrollment. "I think it's beneficial for guys to be here and go to school for a semester, sort of get acclimated a bit to be able to go through the offseason program and spring practice," Saban said. "That certainly gives them a lot more opportunity to learn, less adjustments to make in the fall and in the summer. "It's not something we really encourage, but there are advantages to it academically and athletically."
After problems regarding his transcript from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, Carter joined the Alabama team on Aug. 29, but he has yet to play. Carter did not travel to Penn State because Alabama learned late in the week that he had not been certified by Alabama. "I've got no new information to report," Alabama coach Nick Saban said after Wednesday's practice. "I don't know what to tell you."
"One thing that you do when you do have a sponsor - like Nike, who does a great job for us and we love them, so I'm not saying that in a bad way - is they will make an additional package of stuff for you if you do that," Saban said. "Like special gloves, and I don't even know what else goes with it. And the players really like that. "So the reason I agreed to the small changes that we had last year, which people couldn't even hardly notice, was so that we would be able to get the other package of thing to sell and for our players to have and all that other stuff. So it was a compromise on my part even to do that."
Left tackle (guard/center) Barrett Jones continues to practice with his left hand heavily taped. A finger or two appear to be in splints. This is nothing new. It's just remarkable how some - make that many - Alabama players play through small physical issues.
Why are freshmen off limits to the news media?
"I used to let the freshmen speak to the media," Saban said. "On several occasions, some very prominent guys - who I won't mention their names, who play in the NFL now - really put themselves in harm's way by some of the things they said and what they did and how they developed a reputation for themselves. I just felt like it would be better if we had an opportunity to help guys develop and mature in their ability to communicate with the press and do it so they represent themselves well. So it's really for educational purposes."
The SEC will not do in football what it has essentially already done in basketball and scrap the division concept altogether. The reason is simple: NCAA rules require that, in order to have a championship game, a league must have two divisions. That is why the SEC went to divisions in the first place. The most logical solution, if Texas A&M is indeed the only member of the league's 2012 pledge class, is to put the Aggies in the Western Division. There are other options, such as moving a team from the West to the East (likely, if Missouri actually becomes Team No. 14) but the current SEC configuration is clean and it's popular, and the less it is gerrymandered, the better. So, hypothetically, you would have a seven-team Western Division and a six-team East. That's where the heavy hand of mathematics curls itself into a fist and punches the schedulers in the nose. Why? Because there is no way to have an eight-game (or nine-game) SEC schedule in which every team in a seven-team West Divison could play every other team in the division and still play an equal number of teams from the East. It is a mathematical impossibility, insoluble even by a mind like Einstein's (or even Les Miles'.)
Alabama -- Predicted to be a national title contender, the Crimson Tide has dominated on defense and struggled to find an identity with an offense that's a work in progress. The upside remains promising. Stock: No change.
The Sept. 24 showdown at Bryant-Denny Stadium will be huge. I've been talking this week to a friend who covers the Razorbacks. I've been planning stories for next week to hype the big game. I just can't get excited about ... which team is coming to T-town this weekend? Ah, yes. The University of North Texas. Never mind that Alabama coach Nick Saban referred to the fourth-largest school in Texas (enrollment 36,000) as "North Texas State" the other day. The Denton, Texas, school dropped the "State" from its name in 1988.
"The trend in uniform design is more toward making costumes for superheroes than uniforms for athletes," said Paul Lukas, athletic uniform reporter for ESPN and editor of the Web site Uni-Watch.com. Mr. Lukas is often critical of both noisy fashion statements and the manufacturers and universities that make them. "Last night a very foolish school and a very foolish company showed just how desperate for attention they are," he wrote after the Maryland game.
NCAA officials have tried to assert their dominion—and distract attention from the larger issues—by chasing frantically after petty violations. Tom McMillen, a former member of the Knight Commission who was an All-American basketball player at the University of Maryland, likens these officials to traffic cops in a speed trap, who could flag down almost any passing motorist for prosecution in kangaroo court under a "maze of picayune rules."
But reality is that it will take a miraculous finishing kick for the Bulldogs to have a successful season and possibly save coach Mark Richt’s job. What does that amount to? Try 9-1 in the next 10 games.
University of Memphis defensive coordinator Jay Hopson, in his second season with the Tigers, has been replaced and his duties will be shared by defensive line coach Mike DuBose and linebackers coach Galen Scott. DuBose, 58, is a former University of Alabama head coach and also served as that school's defensive coordinator in 1996, one year before beginning a six-year run as head coach.
DiGeronimo confirmed reports to The Dispatch that former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor gave the cash envelopes to his three teammates. DiGeronimo said the money was intended as reimbursement for travel expenses. "However Mr. Pryor got the money, I take responsibility. I am responsible for those kids coming up here from Columbus," he said. "I handled it wrong. I should not have handled it the way I did."
The injury news wasn’t good for three Auburn players on Wednesday. Head coach Gene Chizik said defensive end Justin Delaine will miss the rest of the season with an injury and that he anticipates offensive linemen Aubrey Phillips and Ed Christian going on medical hardship, which would end their college careers.
NCAA personnel visited the University of North Carolina today to conduct follow-up work related to the investigation of the school's football program, UNC spokesman Kevin Best confirmed in a short e-mail message. Details of the reasons for the visit were not disclosed, and Best referred all other questions to the NCAA. In an e-mail, NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said that in order to protect the integrity of an investigation, the NCAA cannot comment on an inquiry.
Maggitt's father, Roosevelt Maggitt, said there were two main reasons his son did not sign with Florida: One, the Gators' history of player arrests (27 players were arrested from 2005-10); the other was bad vibes Roosevelt Maggitt received from a person he thought was Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Regarding Quinn, his irritation might be misdirected. He said Quinn bothered him by resting his foot on a coffee table at his home, but a spokesperson for Florida said Wednesday that Quinn never went to the Maggitts' residence.
Big 12 athletic directors were given a list of schools to contact a few weeks ago once it became clear that Texas A&M would be departing the conference for membership in the SEC. Arkansas and BYU were contacted but then, according to multiple sources, the athletic directors who were given the instructions did not reach out to the other three schools on the list -- Pittsburgh, Louisville and West Virginia of the Big East -- because Oklahoma president David Boren made comments that the Sooners were unsettled in their situation as a member of the Big 12 and were exploring their options.
Instead of letting players, friends and bosses help him through his brief illness, Bowden was more concerned Urban Meyer, Randy Shannon and Frank Beamer would get a recruiting edge with 17-year-olds. Sadly, when viewed through the lens of recruiting, Bowden's rationale as a then-77-year-old coach actually makes sense. "Maybe it ain't right, but that's the way the game is played," Bowden said on ESPN's "Outside the Lines." "Every coach is looking for an in-roads, something where I could get this good player, someway to get him to come to my school and not go to his school."