Monday, June 25, 2007

Bama news in June

Here are some articles and opinion columns about the Tide from publications this month.

USA Today SEC Preview 6/25/07

Nick Saban and his coaching staff didn't spend their first spring practice at Alabama focused solely on evaluating personnel, installing new systems and determining depth charts.

They focused their time and energy instead on developing a foundation of discipline, purpose and mental toughness that has often been missing at Alabama in recent seasons.

In the process, Saban and his coaches have discovered some untapped resources, such as nose tackle Brian Motley. He started the spring on offense but moved to defense when injuries limited other potential nose tackles. Motley went on finish the spring as the team's most improved player, according to Saban.

A previously suspect offensive line also made progress in its first spring under veteran NFL assistant Joe Pendry, showing signs of building the sort of depth and effectiveness it often lacked the past two years.

A lot of work is yet to be done as offensive coordinator Major Applewhite continues to install a multiple-formation offense based on Alabama's available personnel, starting with quarterback John Parker Wilson and receivers DJ Hall and Keith Brown.

The same is true on the other side of the ball, where defensive coordinator Kevin Steele is putting together pieces for a 3-4 defense that will attempt to make use of versatile players such as a hybrid linebacker/defensive end.

"The bottom line is, the team's character is made up of individuals and what kind of character they have," Saban said. "We set the standard, but nobody can create it except for the individuals. It's their choice. It doesn't take any ability to have effort, it doesn't take any ability to show toughness. Don't just go out there and endure. Go out there and improve."

A standing-room only crowd of 92,138 fans attended Alabama's first spring game under coach Nick Saban, breaking the previous record of 51,117 set in 1988 at Birmingham's Legion Field. In both cases, admission was free. No official SEC records are kept but the previous best reported for an SEC spring game was more than 73,000 at Tennessee in 1986.

With the Tide moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4 base defense, the nose tackle becomes even more of an anchor position for the defense. Two possible candidates for the job, Lorenzo Washington and Byron Walton, were limited in the spring while recovering from offseason injuries.

With Chris Capps, the returning starter at right tackle, out all spring with a shoulder injury, B.J. Stabler got his chance to move from guard and work with the first team. However, a chronic knee problem that has led to two surgeries limited Stabler's availability in the spring. Sophomore Mike Johnson took advantage of the opportunity to make progress.


NT Brian Motley With Washington and Walton limited, Motley moved from offense to defense early in the spring and made surprising progress, particularly for a redshirt freshman. First-year coach Nick Saban called Motley the team's most improved player this spring.

RB Terry Grant With the departure of starter Ken Darby, the tailback spot is crowded with contenders. The Tide's leading returning rusher, Jimmy Johns, missed some of the spring working on his academics, while Grant, a redshirt freshman, emerged as a back who will get a serious look in the preseason.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It shows the passion that people have for the University of Alabama, and it certainly makes me feel great about being here as head coach." First-year Alabama coach Nick Saban on the crowd of more than 92,000 who attended the Crimson Tide's A-Day game.

2007 OUTLOOK: With the arrival of new coach Nick Saban, Alabama starts over with a more experienced head coach who has proven himself as a college head coach in the past. Saban and his new staff spent the spring trying to build a sense of mental and physical toughness that was often lacking in recent seasons under former coach Mike Shula. With only five returning starters on defense and an offensive line with a lot to prove after struggling the past two seasons, the Tide must buy into Saban's demands to improve on last season's underachieving 6-7 finish.

OFFENSE: New offensive coordinator Major Applewhite ran a spread offense at Rice last season but Saban, veteran offensive line coach Joe Pendry and Applewhite remain adamant that the new offense will be shaped to fit Alabama's personnel. The offense returns QB John Parker Wilson and WRs DJ Hall and Keith Brown but must establish a go-to tailback or two and improve up front to give the offense a more solid foundation.

DEFENSE: The move from a 4-3 base to a 3-4 scheme is based primarily on Alabama's depth problem on the defensive line. The three-man front won't be the team's exclusive defense. Instead, Keith Saunders will play the new "Jack" position, a hybrid of defensive end and outside linebacker that should give the Tide some versatility in the front seven and even the ability to transition from 3-4 to 4-3 on a play-to-play basis. The line returns two proven veterans in DEs Wallace Gilberry and Bobby Greenwood while MLB Prince Hall and CB Simeon Castille are quality talents.

SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS: K Jamie Christensen and P P.J. Fitzgerald return for the Tide but both must become more consistent and dependable. Sophomore return specialist Javier Arenas is a potential star, but veteran special-teams coordinator Ron Middleton has a lot of work to do to make an underachieving kicking game more productive.

ROSTER REPORT: Spring practice allowed the coaches to experiment with players at different positions. While the decision to move Brian Motley from the offensive line to nose tackle will be permanent, the coaches can afford to keep looking at players such as Ali Sharrief, who moved between running back and safety; redshirt freshman Taylor Pharr, who moved between offensive tackle and the defensive line; Cory Reamer, who moved between safety and outside linebacker; and Matt Collins, who moved between linebacker and the defensive line.

Steele right at home on Bama staff - Florence Times Daily 6/23/07
Coaching at Alabama is a dream come true for a man who spent much of his youth in Tuscaloosa.But it took several coaching stops along the way before Kevin Steele ended up back in Tuscaloosa as a member of the Crimson Tide coaching staff.His journey began when he played under Johnny Majors at Tennessee in the late 1970's. He then began his coaching career, serving as a student assistant, graduate assistant and then a full-time assistant with the Vols.

Saban, his huge salary worth risk - Paul Finebaum, Mobile Press-Register 6/19/07
University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban finally signed his eight-year, $32 million contract the other day and the Tide Nation rejoiced. But is he worth the money?
Absolutely not. In fact, he's probably worth twice that amount.
(This is a great column!)

A team player? - Anniston Star 6/18/07
If he hasn't already, new University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban will strongly — no, emphatically — urge his athletes to be team players in the reclamation project that is Crimson Tide football. He'll ask them to sacrifice, to go beyond personal stats to create a winning team.
So why isn't Saban, the U.S.'s highest-paid college football coach, heeding his own advice?

National media takes shot at Saban again - Montgomery Advertiser 6/17/07
You could've given me a million chances to guess this week's Nick Saban scandal and I would've blown them all before I got to Jimmy Barnes. The backup Crimson Tide quarterback left the team a few days ago and his dad, who is apparently a football coach somewhere, had some not-so-nice things to say about the way Saban is treating is players. It became, as is now standard with all things Saban, a national story. At least one national sports show picked up the story and discussed it at length. And by "discussed," I mean the host and guests bashed Saban for a good 15 minutes or so. Another national show or two covered the coverage of Barnes' departure.
If I had to boil this whole sordid situation down to a single word description, I'd say ridiculous fits pretty well.

Saban makes his priorities clear - Decatur Daily 6/16/07
Alabama's Nick Saban is a football coach, not a pitch man. His domain is the football field and film room, not the podium and banquet circuit. It's in his contract. Right there on page 11.
The Crimson Tide coach knows, after all, that he'll be judged on wins and titles rather than speeches and commercials, anyway. "Here's what everybody needs to understand: Why did I get hired here? To do what? Coach football, right? I'm a coach," Saban said Friday in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press. Saban and his wife, Terry, have already had some highs and lows during their first six months since leaving the Dolphins. The biggest high: More than 92,000 fans filling Bryant-Denny Stadium for a spring game, believed to be a national record for what essentially amounts to a scrimmage. "Never was there a more heartfelt moment by the Sabans (than) to see that kind of support for what we're trying to do as what there was at the spring game, with all those people coming to support the team," Saban said.

Board approves Saban's contract - Huntsville Times 6/14/07
Nick Saban's contract with Alabama is now official. The university Board of Trustees compensation committee unanimously approved the eight-year, $32 million contract this afternoon. Saban signed it Wednesday. Saban will make a base salary of $225,000 annually for the duration of the contract. His personal service fees (for doing radio and television shows) will start at $3.275 million for this year and will grow to as high as $3.975 million for each of the last three years of the contract. Saban will make $3.5 million in 2007 and will make $4.2 million over the last three years of the contract from 2012-2014.

Offseason pro football just a substitute - Cecil Hurt, Tuscaloosa News 6/13/07
On the other hand, measuring demand can be deceiving. Alabama athletics director Mal Moore recently announced that there were 6,000 people who were on the waiting list for Crimson Tide season tickets. That doesn’t mean that those 6,000, if shut out of seats in Bryant-Denny Stadium, will suddenly spend their newfound disposable income on the Birmingham Bunnies, or whatever they will be called.

Applewhite makes major move up the coaching ranks - 6/13/07
The ascent of Major Applewhite's college football coaching career has been rocketlike in speed, if not direction. At 28, only six seasons removed from setting nearly every career passing record in the Texas record book, Applewhite has ascended to the position of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Alabama. If that sounds quick, think about this: It's been only three years since Applewhite served at his alma mater as a graduate assistant, which ranks just above pizza delivery guy on the Division I-A coaching ladder.

Smith Only Soph on Preseason Outland Watch 6/12/07
The Outland Trophy has been awarded to the best interior lineman in college football since 1946. The winner is selected by the FWAA's All-America Committee, which selects the association's 25-man All-America team and picks the three Outland Trophy finalists and the winner. Andre Smith, who started at left tackle for Alabama as a true freshman and played more snaps than any other Crimson Tide player last year, was the only sophomore on the list.

Quarterback Jimmy Barnes leaving Crimson Tide Tuscaloosa News 6/10/07
Sophomore quarterback Jimmy Barnes has decided to leave the University of Alabama football team to pursue his career at another school.

Who do SEC fans hate - 6/2/07
Alabama coach Nick Saban talks with players before the team’s spring football game in April. Saban, who is making about $4 million a year, could be on his way to becoming the most hated football coach in the SEC.

In all honesty, Tide coach Saban should know better Montgomery Advertiser 6/2/07
I honestly believe the Univer sity of Alabama's football program is cursed. That's the only explanation for what's happened to it over the past several years. Nothing else fits. Nothing else makes sense. Look at the list of problems. You had one mediocre coach have an affair with his secretary and allowed all the gory details to seep out. You had another coach get caught with a stripper in his hotel room. There was another coach who didn't discipline anyone -- ever. And now, after millions and millions of dollars have been spent to hire a solid, seasoned, successful head coach -- a coach who's supposed to put an end to all the nonsense -- what's happened? More nonsense.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A new commercial...

Thanks to my friend Tom for sharing this new ad campaign with me!

Friday, June 01, 2007

They've got a name for the winners in the world!

My friend since high school, Sharp, sent me this e-mail. I have never heard of anyone besides Alabama being referred to as the Crimson Tide!

High School Crimson Tides
Glencoe, OR (Erik Ainge's alma mater)

Pottsville, PA

Concord, NH (Christa MacAuliffe's alma mater)

Edgerton, WI

Dunbar - DC's my addition...
Deacon Blues

This is the day
Of the expanding man
That shape is my shade
There where I used to stand
It seems like only yesterday
I gazed through the glass
At ramblers
Wild gamblers
That's all in the past

You call me a fool
You say it's a crazy scheme
This one's for real
I already bought the dream
So useless to ask me why
Throw a kiss and say goodbye
I'll make it this time

I'm ready to cross that fine line

I'll learn to work the saxophone
I'll play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whisky all night long
And die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues

My back to the wall
A victim of laughing chance
This is for me
The essence of true romance
Sharing the things we know and love
With those of my kind
That stagger the mind

I crawl like a viper
Through these suburban streets
Make love to these women
Languid and bittersweet
I'll rise when the sun goes down
Cover every game in town
A world of my own
I'll make it my home sweet home


This is the night
Of the expanding the man
I take one last drag
As I approach the stand
I cried when I wrote this song
Sue me if I play too long
This brother is free
I'll be what I want to be


Crimson Tide stuff for June

Here it is, June 2007. School is now out! My boys are now in bed. Tomorrow morning Joe has his last baseball game and we are all thinking about our upcoming vacation to Texas (Galveston and Dallas)! In the midst of all of this summer stuff, in Alabama, college foootball is never out of the sports pages!

Report: Alabama, Saban nearing completion of contractTUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama and Nick Saban are nearing completion of his eight-year contract, the richest in college football, The Tuscaloosa News reported Friday. "The final details are being worked out," University President Robert Witt told the newspaper at the Southeastern Conference spring meetings in Destin, Fla. "All the key elements have been agreed to."The Crimson Tide made Saban college football's highest paid coach in luring him away from the Miami Dolphins for an eight-year deal worth more than $30 million in January.

Mal Moore To Be Honored
Mal Moore, athletics director at The University of Alabama will be one of two recognized as the 2007 Distinguished Alabama Sportsmen at the 39th Annual Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet on Sunday in Birmingham.

Iron Bowl back where it belongs by Brent Maze, Clanton Advertiser
Although this year’s Alabama vs. Auburn game won’t be played on Thanksgiving Day, it is still going to be played on Thanksgiving weekend, and that’s good news for me. It’s been a while since I’ve had something to look forward to on Thanksgiving besides the food and annual family football game. The Alabama vs. Auburn game has been played before Thanksgiving for the last 15 years, but the game really feels more natural to be played on the Thanksgiving weekend.