Preston Gothard? That's the name of Alabama's heartbreaking 34-28 loss in 1983 at Penn State. Thomas Rayam? That's the name of the Crimson Tide's heart-throbbing 17-16 victory in 1989 at Penn State. Gothard caught what would have been the winning touchdown pass as time expired, but he was ruled out of bounds. Most replays showed his catch should have counted, completing the greatest comeback in Alabama's rich football history. Rayam blocked a last-second, chip-shot field-goal attempt to preserve what at the time was an undefeated season.
The Williams family landed in full force over the weekend for the Crimson Tide's season opener against Kent State. "There are 16 of them," Williams said Tuesday. "Grandparents, parents, friends, aunties. If you hear a lot of crazy accents in Tuscaloosa this week, that's them."
If Penn State gets the upset it will be their biggest win since the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. The debate between Big Ten and SEC football has expired. The SEC has five consecutive national titles and the Big Ten has seen its best continuously handled by the Southeastern Conference. This game would have received top-billing in the past, now many college football fans and the press to feel it is a near-certainty that Alabama will win this game. Another Big Ten/SEC game, another SEC victory. What's new?
"We have had a couple decent days of practice, but I think it is really important our players understand and respect the quality of team that they are playing," Saban added. "We are playing a different team than we did a year ago. Focus is going to be a real key."
When these teams step onto the Beaver Stadium field on Saturday the uniforms they wear will be like a classic black tux. A black tux always looks good — and these uniforms are sharp and timeless. These are essentially the same uniforms these two teams wore in the 1979 Sugar Bowl (I know, Penn State wore white and Alabama crimson jerseys…but you get the point). It’s a throwback game without anyone having to make a big deal out of it. Lately, in the name of marketing, college football teams have been showing up to big events wearing uniforms that rate like the orange and powder blue tuxes worn in "Dumb and Dumber." They may seem cool in the moment, but when we look back years from now, well…
Paterno is in his 46th season as Penn State's head coach, his 62nd season on the staff overall. "JoePa" never defeated Bryant head-to-head on a football field, but he outlasted Alabama's legendary coach and hold the most wins in major-college football history with 402 victories. Paterno was asked this week about Alabama's first trip to Penn State and what Bryant meant to college football. His answer was first class, classic Paterno. "Overall, they've been awfully tough for us," Paterno said. "And you walk away after playing them with a lot of respect for how they play the game. "I always had a tremendous amount of respect for coach Bryant because he never gloated, never rubbed it in. With his kids, there weren't a whole lot of shenanigans and the whole bit -- just good tough football games."
"I don't know what the big dilemma is just because we make a few substitutions in a game when we're ahead 21-0 and get guys in to get experience," he said. "All of the sudden we have all these issues and problems, and that's why the offensive line (is) not playing well because they don't play together?" Saban asked. "Hell, they couldn't play together anymore than what they play. I'm not saying they all played well, and we certainly need to improve that, and there is competition at positions -- at every position. We have competitions for positions on defense even now as we speak practicing today."
Staying in good shape physically and keeping his weight down was one way UA defensive lineman Quinton Dial made an impact in spring drills after signing from East Mississippi Community College. And it's no small reason why he's part of UA's playing rotation on the defensive line this season. "I just made a commitment to eating right and staying physically fit and work hard, and conditioned when I had time off on my own," said Dial. "I gave up fast food, started eating a lot of grilled chicken and fish and stuff, salads." Dial played at over 300 pounds while at EMCC, but is listed at 6-6, 294 pounds on the UA roster.
9. Bryant-Denny Stadium (Alabama) Bryant-Denny Stadium fits 101,821 Crimson Tide die-hards and, sometimes, that’s just for ‘Bama’s spring game. There’s a reason an entire state is batty about Alabama football. The Tide have a tremendous history that includes dozens of national and conference championships. Six of those national title teams were guided by Paul "Bear" Bryant, for whom the stadium is partly named. It’s college football’s hallowed ground, and one of the sport’s most-recognizable venues. Just wear Auburn gear at your own risk.
Shifts in conference landscape, how does it affect different schools from west to east?
Saban: Any place you get exposure you get an opportunity to recruit. One reason our league has done well is because of our TV contract and how our commissioner Mike Slive has promoted the league. When you add a team to your conference that can add to exposure. When Penn State came in the league in the Big Ten it certainly enhanced our chances of getting players in the east.
You have four players on your roster from Texas. Would you want Texas to become a focus?
Saban: We already made a commitment to Texas a year ago by adding a coach. The players we've gotten from Texas have been very productive.
Adverse weather, expected to continue until Saturday, has caused some flooding in the region and has saturated fields that are generally used for vehicle parking during Penn State home football games. Fans planning to come to Saturday's game should be prepared for possible relocation of their vehicles to areas with paved surfaces that may be farther away from the stadium. Shuttle service will be provided for fans who may be redirected to offsite lots.
"I can't tell you how happy 'We Are' that Alabama is coming to visit us," Canzoneri writes. "Since Bama is the only one of three SEC football teams to venture north in the last 25 years, it is a big deal. I wanted to write the fans that are making the trip up to State College and let them in on where to go and what to do. My main advice is to bring two extra items, a liver and stomach would help. Believe me, you will need them."
His coaches and guidance counselor organized a bake sale fundraiser to help pay for travel expenses to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl scouting combine in January 2009. The story appeared in Sports Illustrated and ESPN.com. "Supposedly that's part of it," Cohen said. "That's why I was questioned. I know the cookie sale was still being brought into it.
"I would like to speak on behalf of all SEC teams," Montgomery said. "I just think we run the NCAA, period."