Mike Slive will retire as commissioner of the Southeastern Conference on July 31, 2015, after serving in that position for 13 years, he announced Tuesday. He also stated he is beginning treatment for a recurrence of prostate cancer for which he was treated in the late 1990s.
"I have been blessed in more ways than I can count and I will have as much passion for this job on my last day as I did on my first," said Slive. "I consider my health situation a temporary detour in a remarkable road that has allowed me to meet amazing people, experience incredible events and celebrate historic victories. I will relish my final year in this position and look forward to being the biggest fan of the SEC for many years to come."
As usual, the Tide open up with a neutral-site game against a Power 5 opponent. The trip to Georgia should generate some buzz, particularly coming before the midpoint of the season. And don't sleep on November -- aside from Charleston Southern, that's a tough stretch. (Yes, Vanderbilt, real SEC teams are supposed to be able to assume an easy win against Charleston Southern.) Oh, and Alabama faces three SEC teams coming off byes. I'm sure the Tide faithful will take this news in stride.
While I'm not ready to say Kiffin isn't the right guy to lead Alabama's offense, he has struggled in pivotal moments late in each of the last two games. The offensive output against Arkansas -- fewer than 70 yards rushing, two touchdowns -- was about as bad as it gets. But I think with Ryan Kelly eventually sliding back in at center, some of those issues will be settled. It's hard to imagine that running game with T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry will be kept down for long.
With that said, Blake Sims needs to play better. His confidence and decision making in recent games has been lacking. The fact that Amari Cooper caught just two passes against Arkansas is inexcusable. He's arguably the best player on either side of the Iron Bowl rivalry.
The offensive line, long the strength of the program, has been a mess, failing to push the line of scrimmage and often going backward because of penalties or miscommunication. In turn, the running game has suffered. Blake Sims had the fifth best QBR in the country through October, but over the past two games he ranks 75th. Amari Cooper can't even get his hands on the football anymore.
Last week, Sims was 2-of-6 targeting Cooper for 22 yards. The defense has been solid, but special teams has been uncharacteristically bad. Adam Griffith, who was 7-8 on field goal attempts heading into October, missed two key field goals in a 6-point loss at Ole Miss. JK Scott has been a revelation punting the football, but Alabama ranks 91st nationally in opponents' yards per kickoff return. All five of the Tide's fumbles the last two games have come on punt or kick returns.
Kickoff coverage struggled against West Virginia and Ole Miss and four of the past five field goals were unsuccessful. Then there are the troubles successfully fielding/returning kicks without fumbles. And though the punting has been exceptional in the same span the Tide blocked two straight extra points, Alabama's special teams has been a public whipping boy.
"You know, we've practiced special teams the same amount we've always practiced them," coach Nick Saban said. "Last year we were first in the SEC in special teams overall. I think we just have to make a better point of emphasis with our players because the problems are judgment and decision-making. That's something that's hard to create."
There were a few players moving around on the offensive line again. Leon Brown, who didn't start Saturday, was with the first team at right guard.
Arie Kouandjio watched drills Monday, but was back with the first unit at left guard.
After missing a few weeks with an illness, offensive lineman Grant Hill was working at second team left guard.
Ole Miss observed the old "there is a first time for everything" adage while holding Texas A&M scoreless in the first two quarters of a 35-20 win over the Aggies at Kyle Field. It was the first time a team coached by Sumlin, who is in his seventh season as a head coach, had zero points at halftime. It served as a microcosm of what the last two weeks have been like for a usually high-powered offense.
"There were a number of times today where we just got whipped," Sumlin said flatly after Saturday’s game. "It's kind of hard to fix that."
There are really two accusations against the Florida State quarterback; they are very different, and one continues to obscure the other.
One accusation is that he behaves like a doofus.
The second accusation against Jameis Winston is that he raped a woman.
We are conflating the two, and this is a problem.
As he hunts for another national championship, Winston faces a campus hearing into the sexual assault he was accused of committing in December 2012. Winston was never charged with a crime, and some would argue that this means Winston was innocent. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is one of those people. He said this weekend: "There is not a victim because there was no crime."
Fisher and many others miss the point. Whatever happened on the night in question, there was never a real chance of Winston being charged, because the investigation into Winston was botched from the beginning. This seemed clear last December and has become more obvious since. "Botched" might be too kind, actually. The investigation fell somewhere between blatantly half-hearted and deliberately mishandled.
Screw Jimbo Fisher. Two days ago, when he said "there is no victim" remark, he preceded it by saying "this country is based on being innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven innocent". This is an overreach, in my opinion. It is trying to apply a strict, legal concept to everyday life, and it's dumb. O.J. Simpson is guilty. A miscarriage of justice =/= innocence. You don't get to bastardize the legal process and then wear "well, you never proved it" as a shield against public opinion.
I've read the information that Jimbo and other FSU supporters so adamantly shove in people's faces as proof of Winston's innocence, the reports that will change your mind, if you'll just read it. It reads like rape. The account is vivid and disturbing.
Maybe I'm being overly harsh, but I don't care. When I see Winston doing a stupid shimmy on the ESPN highlights, I want to put a wrench through my tv. When I see people insisting that the police reports "show that the girl wasn't impaired", I want to pull my hair out, because no. They don't. And When I see a grown man who is in charge of mentoring hundreds of young men publicly declare that the young woman is not a victim (and thus a liar), I feel nauseous.
Tuesday practice footage
Landon Collins interview
OJ Howard interview