The tales of Anthony Grant’s legendary focus are not born from whimsical bouts of mythology. It’s real. With blinders of coaching affixed to his temples, a fiery motivator smolders beneath a Rushmoresque stoic façade. What you see is what you get. The only game in Grant’s day planner is the next one. He’s famously resistant to any effort to discuss a game other than the next one on his team’s schedule, not to local media and national pundits, not on his own coaches radio show, not to anyone. It’s like coaching in a pre-Christopher Columbus world. Ships that sail around the next game on the schedule immediately fall off the face of the earth and into an abyss. Okay, maybe a little mythology. His approach to the game at hand is similarly singular, free of distraction and emotional attachment, other than the desire to win the game. Thursday afternoon, faced with the prospect of returning to VCU Saturday in the Verizon Wireless Arena, a place he called home for three seasons from 2006-09, Grant was typically deflective. "I know I say this all the time and I know it sounds like a broken record to you, but that never goes into my train of thought, it’s never about me, it’s about our team," Grant said. "VCU has an excellent team that we’ve got to get prepared for."
Grant said this is just another road game for him and his team, and the Tide must focus on defeating a quality opponent. "As a coach, my responsibility is to get our team to understand what allows us to have success," Grant said. "We’ve got to get better as a team, and we’ve got to get prepared for a very tough game on the road. That’s really captured my full attention. That’s where my focus is." But Grant also said that once Alabama arrives in Virginia on Saturday, the emotions and memories might start to arise. "Probably at whatever time we get to the game [I’ll] get something from an emotional standpoint," Grant said. "You remember certain things once [you] get into town, but right now, to be honest with you, it really hadn’t been a thought."
Steele, the lone senior on this year’s team, had played in five games on the year, averaging 4.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 19.0 minutes per contest. He has not seen action since the Charleston Southern game on Nov. 23. The Birmingham native leads all UA players with 78 games played during his career.
Pac-12 officials are the most whistle-happy in college football this season. Five Pac-12 teams ranked among the most-penalized teams in the country, and 11 of the league's 12 schools were in the upper half for most penalties. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott addressed the high rate of penalty calls during a Q&A in late November on the Pac-12 web site. "It's come up a lot this year and I've asked our head of football operations and head of officiating to, once the season is over, do a comparative study," Scott said. "I'd like a thoughtful answer to that question. I suspect that it may have something to do with the style of play and number of plays that get run. There's certain things about West Coast football that is very exciting with the pace and number of plays. It's something that we'll look at more thoroughly."
"AJ knows he's a spoke in the wheel," Tony said. "He might be an important spoke, but he needs to, and I think he has always understood, that his job is not only to do well at the University of Alabama and help them win, but prepare them for life after he leaves so that they're in good shape." That's one of the many reasons why AJ's decision ultimately sat well with Tony and AJ's mother, Dee Dee Bonner, who will get one more year to watch their son quarterback their favorite team. AJ's younger brother Corey, formerly a tight end at South Alabama, transferred to Alabama last year and will be eligible to play in 2013. "Our job as parents are to support him and we do 100 percent," Tony said. "Me and his mom got our wish, we wanted him to come back and play another year, have another opportunity to play with his brother and work on some things he needs to work on for the next level. "Growing up in Alabama, it's just a dream come true. Having not ever played the game, but having two boys that play, is even that much better. We enjoy every weekend, we love going up there, we love the university, we love the fans. Their support is unbelievable."
EDGE I'm going with Alabama, but it is closer than the experts think. At this point, Zack Martin and Chris Watt are criminally underrated on the national scene. They might not be All-Americans but they are not that far off. That gives the Irish a left tackle-left guard-center combination that if it isn't on par with Alabama, it's awfully close. But what about that right side for Notre Dame? With so long to prepare Nick Saban is going to have a bulls-eye on that right guard and right tackle, and this is not good for the Irish. Christian Lombard has turned into a fine player in his first year of starting and Mike Golic has definitely improved and exceeded most of our expectations. Yet, this side is weaker than anywhere on the Alabama line. Notre Dame will have their work cut out for them against Alabama's talented defense but I'm excited for Tuitt, Nix, Kap, and Shembo to face off against the Tide's strong offensive line.
The school's $25.8 million expenditure ranks 4th among teams in the top-ten. The University of Alabama, the Irish's competition in the National Championship, are having success of their own off the field.. Earning $13 million more than the Irish, the Crimson Tide's spending is also far higher, with their expenses totaling $11.1 million more than Notre Dame.
Worst case: Golson underperforms under the bright lights, leading to another offseason of quarterback uncertainty, as Gunner Kiel and company await their chance. Alabama wins its third national title in four years going away, Nick Saban wins his fourth overall and the SEC's stretch of dominance continues for at least one more year, leaving many to wonder just how, or when, Notre Dame and the rest of the college football world can ever put an end to the conference's reign. Oh, and Nix elects to go pro afterward, too, leaving Notre Dame's defense without three of its best players after Te'o and Zeke Motta graduate.
If the Crimson Tide wins, Buttigieg will make a donation to the city of Tuscaloosa's Storm Recovery Fund and send Maddox a box of South Bend Chocolate Co. chocolates. If the Fighting Irish win, Maddox will make a donation to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Joseph County and send Buttigieg a slab of Dreamland ribs. "Alabama and Notre Dame have a storied tradition in football," Maddox said in a city news release. "Tuscaloosa and South Bend are alike in their love for their respective teams, and the people of our cities are lifted when our teams do well. A BCS championship game appearance puts our cities in a national spotlight and showcases the resiliency and strength of our communities."
"This will be a great opportunity for our program to go out and play the best," McElwain said. "The experience of playing Alabama in that environment will help our players and our program as it continues to grow, and we're looking forward to it. It is another outstanding example of what we're doing with our program in all aspects. When you come to play football at Colorado State you're going to get an opportunity not only to be the best, but to play against the best."