Since the SEC went to two divisions in 1992, only one team — Florida from 1993-96 — has won the conference championship in more than two consecutive years. Three other teams — Florida in 1992, Alabama in 1993 and Florida in 2009 — lost in the SEC championship game after entering the season as conference favorite. • The media's pick to win the SEC championship has done so only five times in the two-division era, a span of 24 seasons. One of those was Alabama in 2014. The others were Florida in 1994, 1995 and 2008 and LSU in 2007. • That means that in 16 of the last 24 seasons, the preseason SEC favorite did not even reach Atlanta. Alabama was the preseason favorite in 2000, and finished 3-8 and had its coach fired. Auburn was the preseason favorite last year, and finished in last place.
Making the case for and against Alabama in 2016: Cons really are schedule (which has a brutal road slate,) depth at key spots, and unsettled starters along the line. I still think LSU is probably returning the most complete team with the most proven starters. If Brandon Harris holds up, the Tigers could have a special season. That said, Alabama could have one of the conference's most dynamic offenses, outside of Ole Miss, and will almost certainly have its best defense again.
"That's benefited us," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "We like it because they [the USC Trojans] are a quality opponent. They do have a lot of good players, they're well-coached, and it gives our players something to really work hard in the offseason and fall camp to get ready for a big first game." What Saban didn't say is the reason for this article -- the spotlights trained on the big openers, watched by fans starved for football. "It started as a recruiting strategy by Nick," said Georgia coach Kirby Smart, who served on Saban's defensive staff for the past nine seasons, "which paid unbelievable dividends, because we go into [Atlanta in 2008 to play] Clemson, and just smash them that one game [34-10], and it kind of started the program, and it set a trademark. ... You go outside your footprint and have a great game. In recruiting, it helps and the national exposure you get you can't replace."
The Labor Day kickoff is one of the very finest you'll see. If you like those huge marquee games, thank recruiting and the CFB playoff.
Smith's September 2012 is one of the greatest months in college football history. He completed at least 87 percent of his passes in three games. Hawai'i's Colt Brennan, the most accurate passer in FBS history, never completed 87 percent of his passes in any game. Through four weeks, Smith's only remote competition in one Heisman scoring system was teammate Stedman Bailey. It didn't last.
Geno Smith did have a special start to the year, before the 'Eers imploded against any competent defense. This article runs down recent September Heisman winners and who's likely to make a splash early this season. I almost want to write an August Heisman article featuring every Auburn quarterback of the Malzahn era.
Of the 27 signees, 11 were drafted by the NFL. Another 10 either transferred or left the program with eligibility remaining. There were fewer big-name busts than the landmark 2008 class. Star power wasn't lacking in a class ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 by the major recruiting services. Trent Richardson was the bell cow as the No. 4 overall prospect, according to 247Sports. Dre Kirkpatrick, Nico Johnson and D.J. Fluker also went on to the NFL after getting five-star ratings as high school seniors. Five of the 11 draft picks went in the first round, led by Richardson's No. 3 selection in 2012. The future Heisman finalist committed the summer before his senior year.
2008 set the standard, but the 2009 class established the expectations of future superstar classes. It's hard to argue with this one as maybe the best class of the Saban era (remember, it also had Eddie Lacy and Kevin Norwood, among others.)
Cornwell, the 6-foot-5, 234-pound redshirt sophomore, throws a better ball than Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford, according to the quarterback coach who has worked with both players. "He's got the same accuracy as Sam Bradford," said Terry Shea, a former college head coach and long-time quarterback coach. "I thought Sam Bradford threw a very catchable ball coming out of Oklahoma. David throws a very catchable ball and has a tight spiral probably a bit tighter than Sam Bradford. They are very similar in a lot of ways."
Arm strength was never an issue with Cornwell: Inconsistencies, off-the-field buffoonery, and winning the team have have been.I still think we see Cooper Bateman start the season, but not finish it, as Alabama's trigger man. Barnett is the future, and this offense needs dynamism -- even if it's a risk-reward strategy. I think the future is sooner than we'd like to admit.
Alabama senior outfielder Haylie McCleney was named the 2016 Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete of the Year, earning a postgraduate scholarship established by the Board of Directors of the State of Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. McCleney owns a 4.0 cumulative GPA in exercise science at Alabama and intends on pursuing a master’s degree in the same field.
She is a two-time First Team Academic All-American and was named the Academic All-America Team Member of the Year for Division I softball last season. She is the Southeastern Conference’s H. Boyd McWhorter Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year this season and was the SEC’s Softball Scholar-Athlete of the Year last year.
On the field, she owns Alabama career records in batting average, walks and on-base percentage and ranks in the top 10 in slugging percentage, hits, runs and stolen bases. She is a four-time All-SEC honoree, three-time All-American and a top-10 finalist this season for the USA Softball Player of the Year award.
One of the very best Alabama student-athletes of all time adds to her ridiculous resume. Well done, Haylie.