The University of Alabama defense has to be retooled. Gone are the two captains, the three leading tacklers, all but one of the secondary starters and the guy who for 54 games helped clogged the middle. Four former Crimson Tide defenders have a chance to be selected in the first round of next month’s draft, while more than half of the front-seven players who made it so tough to run against Alabama need to be replaced. Yeah, that’s not easy, but the process is already underway. "We’ve got to have that communication," linebacker C.J. Mosley said Wednesday evening. "The younger guys coming in now are doing good so far learning the defense, but it’s going to get complicated. It’s going to get harder. That’s why we’ve got spring and summer and fall camp to get ready out there, but once the defense gets together and has that communication like last year’s team had we can be as good or greater." Wait, did you say greater? "More great," Mosley responded. "Yeah."
Rising senior Damion Square is the veteran of the line. Just don’t look at him to fill the middle of the formation. "No, I am not that guy," the defensive end said. "I play on the edge … I play wherever they need me to play. But have another set of guys who are trying out at nose." Through three spring practices, a few leaders appear to be emerging. Jesse Williams, a starting defensive end last season who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 319 pounds, is taking reps at nose guard with the first team. Sophomore Brandon Ivory (6-4, 308 pounds) is also in the mix after filling in for Chapman (6-1, 310) when a knee injury kept him from the Georgia Southern game. Redshirt freshman Wilson Love (6-3, 276) and true freshman Alphonse Taylor (6-5, 340) also lined up at nose guard in the portion of Wednesday’s practice open to reporters.
The University of Alabama has the most profitable collegiate athletic department in the nation, according to research by BusinessofCollegeSports.com. The website's data, published Wednesday, shows UA as one of just 48 athletic departments that generated a positive net income for the 2010-11 academic year according to disclosures to the Department of Education. Profits were determined by subtracting reported expenses from reported revenue. Alabama showed a net profit of more than $31.68 million, with revenue reported at nearly $124 million and expenses reported at more than $92 million.
By the hundreds, high school football coaches are assembling this weekend for Alabama's 2012 coaching clinic. Alabama coach Nick Saban is proud of what the annual event has become. "We've grown our clinic to over 1,000 folks now, and it's because of the quality and what the guys get out of it," Saban said of the three-day event that began Thursday night. Big-name speakers are part of the draw. A chance to watch two Alabama football practices and interact with the Crimson Tide's coaching staff is a highlight. But Saban and his coaching staff probably are the featured attraction. "It's our way to give back to the people who give so much to us in terms of the way they inspire and gauge, and develop young players," Saban said. "That helps make our program all that it is."
The top-ranked Alabama softball team (26-1) looks to bounce back from its first loss of the season as it takes a break from conference play to host No. 25 DePaul (15-7) and Longwood (20-9) in the Easton Alabama Challenge this weekend at Rhoads Stadium. The Tide opens play against DePaul on Friday, March 23, at 6 p.m. UA continues play on Saturday with a second game against DePaul at 1:30 p.m., and follows that up with a game against Longwood at 4 p.m. Alabama finishes tournament play on Sunday against Longwood at 12:30 p.m.
University of Alabama gymnastics sophomore Ria Domier has been named to the ninth-annual Southeastern Conference Gymnastics Community Service Team, the league office announced this week. "Service to the community has always been one of the hallmarks of Alabama gymnastics and I'm extremely proud of the way Ria has embraced that aspect of our program," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. "She is a dedicated athlete who is in the midst of an extremely challenging major, but she has always made time to make the world around her a better place." The Scholastic All-American worked tirelessly in the Tuscaloosa community in the aftermath of last April's devastating tornado with the student-athlete directed Convoy of Hope relief project.
A look at the track record of the players during Patterson's tenure suggests the newspaper report probably is closer to the truth than Brock's estimate. When SI investigated whether major college football programs performed background checks on recruits, TCU was one of the few that did. A search of the archives of local media sources reveals that before the four were arrested last month, five other TCU football players had been arrested since Patterson became head coach in December 2000. That's nine in a little more than 11 years. Compare that to Urban Meyer's six-year tenure at Florida, which included more than 30 player arrests. Compare it to Mark Richt at Georgia, who has had both his starting cornerbacks arrested (one for marijuana possession, one for domestic violence) in the past two months and who has had several dozen players arrested during his 10-year tenure in Athens. Some of the accounting can be chalked up to the difference in municipalities -- programs in small college towns tend to accumulate more ticky-tack arrests because police have less to worry about than their big-city counterparts -- but in terms of serious crimes, Patterson's players have stayed clean at a more-than-acceptable rate. That's why Patterson didn't hide after the arrests. That's why he didn't shoot down questions about them. Patterson knows recruits and their parents will be watching and reading, and he wants them to know the arrests were an anomaly.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that last week's announcement of NCAA sanctions against North Carolina, including a one-year postseason bowl ban, would cause several 2013 Tar Heels' commits to rethink their decisions. In theory, it would seem to serve as a deterrent of sorts -- a reason to consider the possibility of playing for another interested program. In reality, it hasn't played out that way at all. Not only has UNC not lost any recruits since incurring penalties that include three years' probation and 15 lost scholarships, but the program has actually gained several prospects. Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett all-purpose athlete Donnie Miles and Charlotte Mallard Creek cornerback Brian Walker both committed to the team on Tuesday, eight days after the NCAA ruling. "[The sanctions] didn't affect my decision at all," Miles told TarHeelIllustrated.com. "I hated it for the seniors. They can't go to a bowl game. But everything will be fine."
James H. "Jim" Driver, 78, of Eagle, Colo., formerly of Columbia, passed away Monday, March 19, 2012, at South Hampton Place in Columbia after a brief illness. An avid Broncos fan, he abhorred Manning and evidently wanted out before a deal was done.