Sunday, April 29, 2012

Will the Richardson pick pay off for Cleveland?

image The Birmingham News’ Will Grant weighs in with a popular opinion among sportswriters, citing a well worn mantra that a change in offensive philosophy in the NFL has made the tailback position almost irrelevant. Grant goes out of his way to note Trent Richardson’s abilities. No one disputes that Richardson was by far the best player at his position. Indeed, most observers recognize that Richardson may be the best tailback to come along in a very long time.

He joins an offensive team that will be led by either former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy or former Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden. Both players came from pass happy spread attacks.

The game of football is cyclical. Over the last decade, the argument made by Grant et al is valid. Teams have been putting more emphasis on the quarterback and the passing game, and teams that have taken running backs in the first round haven’t set the world on fire.

Go ten or more years back however, and you find the likes of Shaun Alexander, Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith, featured backs that lit up box scores with 1,000+ yard seasons. Defenses had to adjust and build units designed to stop the run.

Offenses adjusted right back, defeating run-stopping defenses with multiple wide formations. Ten years ago, third and one was almost always a running down. Now, an inside trap on third and one would be considered “trickeration.”

Defenses are adjusting again, with greater emphasis being placed on pressuring the quarterback and shutting down the corners. Teams are drafting defensive players suited for that purpose and you saw it in the 2012 draft. There’s a premium on pass rushers and shutdown corners. Interior linemen and inside linebackers are coveted too, but not like they were when defenses had to account for bowling balls like Smith and Sanders.

Could we be entering a new era? Surely, offensive wizards in the NFL aren’t going to let their defensive counterparts get the best of them. They’re going to adjust again, and the best way to defeat a pass-stopping defense is to run the football more.

It’s way to early to tell if Richardson’s physical gifts and abilities will make him such a special talent that the Browns’ pick was a no-brainer. It’s also too early to know whether the Browns are in the midst of a subtle philosophical adjustment that begins to swing the pendulum back to the Neanderball days.

If they are, the Browns made the right pick. Richardson is the product of an offensive system that runs right over you, and no one did it better than he and Alabama in winning two national championships. If they aren’t, and the Browns intend to go with the current flow of slinging the ball all over the field, the only beneficiary of Cleveland’s big bet will be Richardson and his family.

Whether this pick pays for the Browns or not, it’s sure going to pay Trent well.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mark Barron compares Alabama to NFL

Newest Bucs, Barron And Martin, Introduced
Published on | shared via feedly 
Mark Barron commenting on coming from Alabama to the NFL:
“Coming from the program I come from it is just kind of the mindset we have. We want to be the best at everything we do. You just go out and work for it and everyday at practice we work at being the best at what we do. I think that will carry over with that mindset. The way we did things at Alabama I think will make it an easy transition for me to come in and make an impact early. I think I will be able to bring the mindset of winning and wanting to be the best.”

Barron commenting on if he thought the Cowboys might take him:
“Yeah I was kind of thinking they (Cowboys) might try and get me. I wasn’t sure. The last few days things got kind of crazy and lot of people were talking about different things. So I wasn’t sure exactly what was going to happen. I thought they might try and get me. But I’m glad I ended up where I am.”

Barron when asked what his nickname was:
“I don’t really have nickname. Probably something about hitting. I’m sure there are a few out there. But I don’t have one popular nickname.”

Barron on how winning two national titles at 'Bama prepared him for the NFL:
“Everything we did, it was run like an NFL organization, so. Everything from the way we worked out to the way we practiced to the way we ran meetings it was pretty much like the way the guys in the NFL do it, so I think that will help me transition easy and help me come in and have an early impact.”

Barron talking about other positions he played before safety:
“I actually wasn't a full-time safety until I got to Alabama. Before that I played mostly offense up until my senior year, when we needed some help on defense and so I moved over.”

Barron when asked when he knew it was a position he could excel at:
“Through all my high school career, my coaches always told me I was like a natural safety or a safety period. So once I decided to take that next step I figured I'd be a pretty good safety.”

Barron when asked does the momentum of a game shift with a big hit:
“Guys always get excited when you have that impact on a play. When you have a player like that it kind of makes them play a certain way. So I feel like it makes a big statement because it lets the other team know you are there and you're about business and you're going to give 100 percent on every play. The big hit, I feel like it can change the game pretty good. I did it a few times this year. The thing about a hit is, it lets the other guy know you're coming. And your guys see that and it gets them excited. But the main thing about a hit is – in my opinion – it makes the other guy know how you intend to play.”

Barron when asked where did he think you were going to be drafted:
“Honestly, I wasn't sure. During the week, my names was being mentioned with a lot of different teams so I was kind of all over the place so I really just stopped worrying about it because I knew I wouldn't be able to figure it out. So I just said, let it happen.

Barron commenting when asked if he is better as a free safety or a strong safety:
“In my opinion it doesn't matter. I feel like I can do whatever I need to do. If the team needs me to play strong safety I can play strong safety, if they need me to play free I can play free.”

Martin when asked about his impressions of Mark Barron:
“He had some big hits out there. I'm glad he's on my team.”

Barron when asked about his impressions of Martin:
“I saw him a few times, not too much, but what I saw it seems like he's a fast guy, quick and shifty, so he can be a great asset to a team.”

Swagga: Confident Dre Kirkpatrick talks on Bengals

Kirkpatrick-Zeitler Transcripts
Published on Cincinnati Bengals : News Stories | shared via feedly

Initial comments:
DK: “I’m just honored to be here. I visited the Bengals a couple weeks ago and felt very relaxed. The whole organization welcomed me with open arms. I’m just here and ready to work.”

How big were the similarities between the defense you played at Alabama and the Bengals defense?
DK: “There are a lot of similarities. We played hands-on and they play hands-on. They play a little zone too, and we play a little zone. I’m used to both of those. Pretty much I’m flexible with the things they want me to do.”

Coach Lewis was talking about how you want to start. Where does your mentality come from?
DK: “First off, I want to be a team player. I’m not trying to come here and step on anybody’s toes. I want the veterans to teach me everything that they know. If coaches feel I’m mature enough and I know the right things, maybe I’ll touch the field.”

You’re now the sixth first-round draft selection in the Bengals secondary. How much are you looking forward to learning from those guys?
DK: “I’m going to be very honored. They’ve been through adversity. They know how to handle adversity, and I haven’t had those challenges yet. When I do get those challenges, I’ll have somebody to go talk to and maybe they can fill me in on some of those things.”

Which cornerbacks did you emulate when you were younger?
DK: “Deion (Sanders) was my favorite of all time, but Charles Woodson would be the one who I tried to modify my game off of. He’s big and can play the pass and the run. Those are some of the things I feel that I bring to the table.”

The running game is big in the AFC North. Are you ready to face your old teammate Trent Richardson (drafted by Cleveland) and to play the run?
DK: “I told (Richardson) last night that we had to break our ‘contract.’ We had a contract signed with each other (to be allies). Now he’s on the other side of the bandwagon. But he’s still my brother, he’s still my best friend and every time I see him at the end of the game it’s going to be nothing but love.”

A lot of teams threw away from your side in college, but you have to expect to be challenged as a rookie cornerback:
DK: “That’s what I want; I want to be challenged. I’m a competitor. If I get beat, I’m not going to be the one that hangs my head or complains to the coaches and makes excuses. I’m going to sit back, re-evaluate what happened, what went wrong, and hopefully I can fix it.”

Are you ready to play special teams?
DK: “I took pride in what I did on special teams. Those were serious moments for me at practice. It showed in the games. Hopefully when I get here, I’ll do the same thing.”

You’ve got some charisma and self-confidence, something a corner needs. Where does that come from?
DK: “You can’t teach it. It’s just something you’ve got to have. Some people don’t have it. My dad blessed me to have it, (and so did) the good man above. I like to have a lot of swag about what I do, confidence in what I do. When you see me out there, you don’t have to worry about, ‘Is he nervous?’ I’m not nervous, because I know what I’m supposed to do. I’m just going to try to trust my technique.”

So you won’t have nerves in the season opener on Monday Night Football?
DK: “That’s what I want to do. I’m used to the big crowd. I played at Alabama. We have one of the top fan bases in the country. So I’m going to be used to the crowd, and used to the people doubting you, trying to tell you that you’re not going to end up being anything. I’m just going to let my game speak for itself.”

Barron Makes Buccaneers Franchise History

Safety First: Barron Makes Franchise History
Published on Tampa Bay Buccaneers : News | shared via feedly
Before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Alabama safety Mark Barron’s name at the podium inside Radio City Music Hall Thursday night, there had only been nine other selected in the top 10 picks of the NFL Draft in the past two decades. Only four of them had gone earlier than Barron did at number seven overall.

Further adding to the rarity of Barron’s selection is the fact that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had never taken in a safety in Round One of an NFL Draft despite conducting 37 previous first rounds.  The card they turned in to the commissioner early Thursday night (displayed above) is certainly a one-of-a-kind in franchise annals.

The Bucs’ first-ever first-round safety? One of only a small group of safeties to be taken in the top 10 in more than 20 years? No pressure, right?

Well, if anyone can handle such scrutiny, it’s the iron-willed Barron.

Read the rest.

"Honored" Trent Richardson talks about landing with the Browns

Richardson, Weeden press conf. transcript - 4/27
Published on Cleveland Browns : News | shared via feedly
(On his reaction to becoming a Cleveland Brown)- “Just to let you know how I’m feeling, I haven’t been able to sleep. I am just so excited to be here. I love the feeling. All of the great running backs that have come from here, to try to follow in their footsteps and make a name for myself is going to be big.”

(On being in Cleveland)- “Just being here is an honor and a pleasure. To be a part of this tradition that they have here with these great running backs that they have had here and to try to make a name for myself is going to be big. I have a lot of respect to earn and I have a lot to prove. It is going to be a challenge for me and more of a big opportunity for me, especially around this community.”

(On if [he and Brandon Weedon] they knew each other prior to being drafted)- “Like he said, we followed each other. We really didn’t come in contact with each other, but once we did meet each other, we actually trained together down in Arizona. We just hit it off and just gelled down there in Arizona. When it came down to it, we are happy to be teammates.”

(On why he enjoys pass blocking)- “Pass blocking is just fun for me because growing up I was always the shortest. All of my brothers were bigger than me so I had to do something and make sure they stopped beating up on me all of the time. Pass blocking, it just comes natural to me and that it the fastest way to put yourself on the bench, if you do not know how to block nobody and I want to be an every down back. When it comes down to it, if they need me on third down to block somebody or second down to block somebody and even on fourth down to be in the game for special teams, whatever it takes. If they want me to be the PP (punt protector), I am going to be the PP. I don’t want to leave the field and I want to be one of those guys that is always going to have his name remembered in the National Football League.”

(On playing in a pro-style offense with Nick Saban)- “I think it is going to help me a lot, especially with the knowledge that I have learned and gained from being around a pro-style offense. Coach (Jim) McElwain does a real good job of getting us in good position to score touchdowns or to contribute to the team as far as getting first downs. With the offense running back coach we have had, he has been a hard-nosed dude that is not going to take nothing from nobody. He is going to make sure he gets the full potential he can out of you. Coach Saban, that is what he does too and I don’t expect anything less from the coaches here.”

(On if Nick Saban gave him any insight on Cleveland and Browns fans)- “He said, ‘You are going to love the community and the fans are going to be a lot similar to Alabama fans and they love the town and they are waiting for the football team to hit off.’ And he told me you are just going to love being around the atmosphere. It is going to be a lot like home when you are talking about college football. He said, ‘It is probably the closest place you are going to get to where the atmosphere is like college football.’ That is what I am used to and that is what I love. That is why I love to play this game, just the atmosphere and just being around everybody.”

(On his experience playing in cold weather)- “It gets pretty cold in Alabama in October. I haven’t had it that much. It has snowed up there twice since I have been up there. Like I said, football is football no matter what goes. Cold, hot, you still have got to put on your pads. You still have to put on your helmet and you still have to hit somebody, somebody’s got to hit you. Somebody’s got to score touchdowns and somebody has got to kick a field goal. Football is football no matter where I go. I just have got to make sure I get in shape for it and make sure I can be that player that is going to be able to play in that cold weather. When it comes down to it, this league that we are in here is not a league where a running back is not needed. You need a running back in this league here. When you look back at the old school teams that have won a lot of Super Bowls, you have a good running game with you.” 

(On challenges they face with trying to turn the offense around)- “Obviously, this organization felt really comfortable with us as players and I think that is exciting for both of us. I am speaking for both of us here, again. Yeah there is a lot of pressure that goes along with being a quarterback and running back in the NFL. They were so close last year. There were games that where they were close and came up a few points short. That is just the nature of NFL football. I think it is going to be a fun ride. I’ll tell you what, it’s exciting. Like I said earlier, we are ready to get to work and get to know all of the guys, we ran into a few of them down there in the cafeteria, and get to know the guys and get the ball rolling. We are excited about it.”

(On if he knew he was the Browns guy when they traded up and how did it felt to get that call)- “When I saw them trade up I kind of sensed it. That feeling right then when I got that phone call, it was a big relief because I have been through some stuff and my family has been through some stuff. Now my little girls don’t have to go through the struggles that I have been through growing up, like growing up and having to see their dad and their mom work two or three jobs like I did. My mom is a cancer patient and she fights that every day and she is a strong woman. My mom has done a lot as far as taking in kids that are not hers and getting custody of them, my cousins, and she keeps us all together. She keeps our family strong and she is still disciplining us today. That’s a real mom for you. She was a mom and a dad to us and she is still like that to us today. When it came down to it, I saw my mom and said ‘Mom, we are going to be in Ohio.’ When I told her about the trade, she was like, ‘Are you sure we are going to be there.’ She is making sure because we don’t want to get out hopes up too high because somebody else could have been taken with the third pick. From right then, in my head, before I left here, they said that, ‘You are our guy.’ In my head I was like, ‘They really want me and believe in me and I have got to make sure that I go do something to be an outstanding player. And make sure I am myself at the same time and make sure I can be that guy they can always depend on to put the team on my back when it comes down to it in the trenches.”

(On being compared to Emmitt Smith and their relationship)- “Being from the same hometown and from the same school, you have no choice. He was a Gator and I was a Gator in high school. The first thing, when people say something about Pensacola it is, ‘Oh you got Emmitt Smith from there.’ ‘Oh yeah we do.’ He represents us good when it comes to playing football and our relationship is pretty strong. He always tells me that anything I need, like conversation wise or any advice to, ‘Make sure you come and talk to me and make sure you use me as best you can.’ That dude, he is tremendous when it comes to knowing this game of football and just building a relationship with people.”

(On what advice Emmitt Smith has gave him)- “He is always telling me, ‘Just be you and just stay humble. Don’t worry about all of the bad and all of the clutter. Don’t let that get into your head.’ He always told me, ‘I am the leading rusher and records are meant to be broken so come get me.’”

(On if he can have an immediate impact as a rookie)- “Most definitely. That is the plan and that is the standard I am going to set. When it comes down to it, this town and this community, they expect the same thing and I wouldn’t be here if they didn’t expect the same thing. I am here to try and better the team. We want to win, everybody wants to win. This opportunity that they gave me, I really have to say thanks, because this has always been a dream for me. Coming from where I came from, people don’t make it out of age 18. I really want to thank them and try to repay them back and just try to play good football for them.”

(On being compared to Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew and Emmitt Smith)- “You hear comparisons and no, I am not near one of those guys. Those guys did a lot of great things in life, especially with the football in their hand. I can be one of those guys who you can mention my name with that type of back or be the Emmitt Smith type of back or the Marshall Faulk or all of those great guys. Even the great Jim Brown when it comes down to it. There is only one thing you can take to the grave with you and that is your last name. How your name is remembered, that’s on you. That is going to be on my, how I have my name remembered. Not by a coach telling me that you are going to be a great player. That is not going to help my name be remembered in the books. What I do on that field, that is going to be on me. How hard I work, that’s going to be on me. When it comes down to it, I have two little girls who have to eat and who have to have smiles on their face. I can’t let any man take meals from my little girls.”

(On what jersey number he wants)- "I can't wear number three in the league as a running back but you can wear 33. I'm going to let you all see and when it comes out. I'm not going to say too much about it but because I probably just gave everything away."

(On if he is conscious of his height when he is on the field because he is 5-9)- "I don't really think about my height. They have me at 5-9 but they were pushing my head down (jokingly). I just play football, I don't buy into who is big, who is fast or who is smaller. If you are going to run up to me, I'm going to give you everything I can and I know you are going to give me everything you can. When it comes to being shorter than everyone else, that might be a positive because I can hide behind the blockers and try to squirm through there. I don't buy into the size thing."

(On playing behind Mark Ingram at Alabama)- "When Mark and I or anyone around our house at Alabama, we don't call it playing behind anyone. We call it our rotation. We were playing beside each other. We competed every day, no matter what it was. We competed with anything and that made us better. In our room, we always built relationships and we built a family. We weren't out there hoping one would get hurt so we could go in. No, that's being selfish and that's how you mix your blessings. We were out there trying to make sure everyone was playing and eating. When it comes down to it, we want everyone to do the same thing and we want to win. We are here to better each other and make stuff happen. As far as winning a national championships, two out of three years wasn't bad."

(On his injury in high school)- "In high school during my freshman and sophomore year I didn't play football due to an injury I had. I had two screws in both my ankles and I didn't know where my life was going to be. I had my first child when I was a sophomore in high school, so it was going to be either I hung around a wrong crowd, which I wasn't raised that way, and try to get fast money. Or, I could go make something out of myself and go be a grown man and handle my responsibilities. I stood up to the plate and my little girls are happy now. I'm here today now and if you look around anywhere last year I wasn't on any college magazine that you could find. That was big coming from where I came from and seen the things that I've seen. A guy like me, who almost gave up and fought back due to injuries and becoming a father in high school, that's big. I was a child trying to raise a child. I'm not telling anyone to go out and have kids early, but that humbled and grounded me and made me realize that you have to do something that can change your kids and your mom's life. You need to do well for your family."

(On if his mother continues to help him)- "Most definitely. I have a lot of respect for my mom. Matter of fact, whenever I get ready to get my house here my mom will be here to help me with my kids. That lady is strong and she has done a lot for me and my family. When I got to college, to help me, my mom moved to Birmingham so I could be 45 minutes away from my kids. That way, I wouldn't just see them every one in a while, I could see them every weekend and sometimes every week."

(On if he broke both his ankles)- "No, I tore ligaments in my ankle."

(On how it happened)- "Just running sideline to sideline in a Wing T. I guess I was overdeveloped and hadn't grown into my bones yet. I was a big kid. I have no problems with them now. I haven't had any problems since then. Matter of fact, I got faster and stronger too. I'm here today in your face and I'm a Cleveland Brown."

(On if his mother is still taking cancer treatments)- "Yes, most definitely. She is healthy but it's a long way to go. That's something we have to monitor and it's something we have to look after. When it comes down to it, there is nothing like your mom, I don't care what they say. You can never get that back. I'm going to treat my mom like a queen like she deserves."

Excited Hightower talks about joining Patriots

Hightower: 'Excited and overjoyed' to join Patriots
Published on Extra Points | shared via feedly
Here's the transcript of Patriots first-round draft pick Dont'a Hightower's introductory news conference at Gillette Stadium, by the Patriots' media relations staff.

Q: How has this day been for you?
DH: It’s been pretty busy. I don’t know if I’ve had more than two hours of sleep including the plane ride and from last night. I’m definitely excited and overjoyed for being selected to come to New England and be part of this defense and part of this history.

Q: Do you anticipate the similarities between Nick Saban’s system at Alabama and Bill Belichick’s system to ease your transition?
DH: Definitely. I feel like it’s going to be more or less about me learning the terminology than learning a whole new defense, which is going to help me excel my game and play a lot faster knowing exactly what to do and how to do it being in a system similar to Coach Belichick’s as I was in Coach Saban’s for four years.

Q: Do you see similarities between Nick Saban and Bill Belichick?
DH: Definitely. I haven’t met with Coach Belichick too many times, but just being around him a little bit today and from meeting him at the combine, you can definitely tell those two are two peas in a pod – everything about them from the way they run the organization to the way they get down and talk to you as a man and put everything out on the table and let you know what’s going on.

Q: You said you have met Coach Belichick before but have not spent much time with him.
DH: Yeah, he and Coach Saban are close friends and I’ve met him maybe once before prior to me coming out to the draft, just in Tuscaloosa around the training facility at Alabama.

Q: Can you tell us about the tornado you got caught in? How close was it to your apartment?
DH: It was at my apartment. Me and a couple of my friends went down to a clubhouse. We were maybe 75 yards away from the tornado. Once it came, there wasn’t too much we could do. We went to the clubhouse and we were in the bathroom. One of my best friends, Michael Williford, started sliding away towards the door. I kind of grabbed him and we ducked up under the sink. Five or 10 minutes later it was over and we came out and checked how everything was gone.

Q: How scary was that?
DH: I couldn’t even explain to you how scary it was. You just never know when’s your last breath. That definitely put me in perspective and made me change as far as my thinking perspective. I’m definitely blessed to be here today.

Q: That was a close call for you.
DH: Yes sir.

Q: How do you describe your game?
DH: I think I’m tough, physical, hard-nosed. I’m a big hitter. I’m going t o get to the ball. When I get to the ball, I’m going to make sure whoever has the ball or whoever is around the ball, they’re going to feel me. I’m definitely going to be an intimidator, definitely want to be somebody who, not even the running back or quarterback, but even the offensive linemen want to know where I’m at on the field at all times. I’m definitely going to get to the ball.

Q: What stands out from you the most about Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes?
DH: Growing up when Jerod was at Tennessee, I kind of watched him a lot and took back his game and looked up to him a lot. I know what he’s all about. I’ve seen a lot of the success he’s had here. As far as Brandon Spikes goes, I’ve seen him for the two years that Alabama and Florida clashed in the SEC Championship for two years in a row. So I know how he plays too. He’s definitely done a really good job here in New England. I’m going to do exactly what I can to get on the field and as far as learning the playbook, I’m going to get into it as hard as I can. Hopefully those guys can help me and take me under their wing and teach me some things. I’m definitely looking forward to getting out there on the field with those guys.

Q: How often did you drop into coverage at Alabama?
DH: I dropped all the time. A lot of the teams didn’t want to run the ball on us. A lot of people don’t understand the coverage or the zone match to it. A lot of people think I don’t drop in coverage, but it’s just more complicated than it really is. Nine times out of 10, teams don’t really want to run the ball on us, so we’d have to go into a sub or down package.

Q: You are comfortable either going after the quarterback or dropping into coverage?
DH: Yes, sir.

Q: Can you take that defensive mentality from Alabama and instill it into your teammates as a rookie?
DH: Oh yeah. I don’t really feel like it’s going to be a problem here because it’s something that New England has always been known for – having a good defense. They fell short last year. They got to the Super Bowl with that defense which says a lot about the team and I feel like with me and Chandler Jones as an addition to this defense, I definitely feel like we’re going to turn things around and do whatever we can to make this team better to get back and win the Super Bowl.

Q: How much pride do you take in being an every down player and what goes into conditioning yourself to being available every single down?
DH: You condition yourself in practice and that’s where it starts. You practice how you play. A lot of people say that and don’t mean it, but if you don’t work hard at practice then you’re not going to do what you do in practice in a game. You can’t just turn a switch on in a game. It’s all about how you practice and I definitely take pride in being on the field and all that, especially if it’s four downs for special teams. I’m competitive and I’m passionate about football. This is what I like to do. This is what I love to do. I’m going to do whatever I can to be on the field, whether it’s special teams for the first couple of games or if I’m on the field for three downs and on punt return or something. I’m going to do what I can to get on the field.

Q: Do you already have a good relationship with Chandler Jones?
DH: Yeah. To be honest, the first time I met Chandler was at the Combine and we had, I don’t know if it was lunch or breakfast, but we just chilled for maybe 20 or 30 minutes. We’ve been talking since last night and we were just chilling downstairs. We just feel like we have a really good relationship.

Q: Have you ever been up to this area before?
DH: No, I’ve never been. I’m from Tennessee and I’ve never been further than Kentucky. This is definitely up there for me. It’s definitely going to help having somebody who knows the area a little bit better than I do.

Q: This is as warm as it gets.
DH: I might have to get used to it. My skin is still thin because I thought it was pretty cold down there when we were taking the pictures. It’s definitely something I’m going to have to get used to.
Q: How much of a point of pride is your positional versatility?

DH: A lot. I feel like that’s what’s going to have me on the field a lot this year. Me being able to play all the different positions, me knowing all the different positions at Alabama is really what helped me excel my game and get on the field a lot more at such a young age. But that’s something I’m definitely going to use here – my versatility, whether it’s getting after the quarterback, getting on the running back or dropping in coverage, just trying to throw the quarterback off. Hopefully I’ll be able to come into a role a lot like I did at Alabama, but it’s definitely going to have to be something I’m more comfortable with before [I get on the field]. I’m hoping Coach Belichick puts me in.

Q: What are your immediate plans going forward? Where do you go from here?
DH: Honestly, I have no idea. I don’t know when I’m leaving. I didn’t even know… I knew I was coming today, but I didn’t know what time. So I’m just kind of doing whatever they tell me to do. Whichever position they push me in, I’m going.

Q: What advice have the other Alabama players in the NFL given you?
DH: I played with Brandon Deaderick two years ago and I talked to Mark Ingram and Julio [Jones] and Rolando [McClain] and all those guys. The most they said was just enjoy the time you have right now and just kind of soak in the last days of being a rookie because once you come back in for OTAs, everything starts rolling. I’m just about to go ahead and get back to work whenever I get back to Tuscaloosa, so whenever I come in, I won’t be a step behind anybody.

Southeastern Conference Stars Shine in NFL Draft

image Charles Bloom, Southeastern Conference Associate Director for Media and Public Relations, has had a busy week, staying up late last night to compile an impressive array of data showing another reason why the SEC is the country’s premier league in college football.

Through the first three rounds of the 2012 draft, the numbers are impressive.

Sixteen players from SEC squads were selected during proceedings held Thursday and Friday, including nine in the first round, five in the second and two in the third. The Big 10 and Pac-12 had 14 players each, while the ACC had 12.

Seven schools had players selected on the first two nights. The only teams that didn’t place a prospect in the first three rounds were Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Tennessee.

Alabama led all conference programs with five players selected—two in the Top 10 overall. LSU had four, South Carolina had three and Mississippi State, Arkansas, Georgia and Vanderbilt had one each.

Defense wins championships and gets you to the league. Twelve of the 16 players selected were defenders.

As impressive as those numbers are, they’re not as good as last year’s showing. Through three rounds in 2011, a total of 20 players were selected from SEC schools. The 2011 draft also saw 10 selected in the first round—one better than Thursday night’s showing. The record for the most players taken in the first round is 11, set in 2007.

There were a few mild surprises through last night’s final selections of the third round. Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw slipped out of the first round and landed early in the second. LSU wideout Reuben Randle—regarded by many as the best pure physical specimen at the position—fell to the late second round. Randle had a great junior season but just wasn’t utilized as much in the Tigers’ 2012 SEC title run. The Ravens and Giants will get great values with those two picks.

Day three will conclude the 2012 Draft, starting at 11:00 CDT. There are still plenty of SEC gems to be plucked, including Alabama’s Josh Chapman and William Vlachos, Georgia’s Brandon Boykin and Orson Charles, Arkansas’ Joe Adams, Tennessee’s Malik Jackson and Ole Miss’ Bobbie Massie.

All of those guys are steals.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, April 27, 2012

BamaOnline: Phillip Sims has decided to leave Alabama

image Clicken zie heir.

This news is not entirely unexpected. Sims and 2011 eventual starter AJ McCarron battled royally for the starting quarterback position throughout training camps, and the matter wasn’t settled until two games into the season.

With McCarron’s development it was clear to all that Sims would remain the backup, a situation that would have essentially wasted his enormous talent.

Update: DailyBamaBlog has a statement from Sims:

“This was a very difficult decision because I’ve had a great experience at the University of Alabama and I’m thankful for the opportunity this program provided me,” said Sims. “I want to thank Coach Saban and the coaching staff for being with me and my family at this time. I wouldn’t change anything about my decision to come to Alabama and this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. The reason for me leaving is nothing more than a personal matter. I just need to be closer to home to support my family at this time and that needs to be my priority right now. I would still like to continue my football career, and hopefully I can do that and also be there for my family.”

I’m sure all Alabama fans will join IBCR in wishing him all the success he deserves, regardless of where he lands.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

South Carolina NCAA Case shows cooperation helps

image Despite being in the repeat violator window (stemming from a case dating to the Lou Holtz tenure), the University of South Carolina escaped severe sanctions by the NCAA for providing tens of thousands of dollars worth of improper benefits to student athletes.

The NCAA released the penalties today. Sanctions include:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Three years of probation from April 27, 2012, through April 26, 2015.
  • Reduction of total football scholarships by three (from 85 maximum) during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years.
  • Reduction of initial football scholarships by three (from the 25 maximum) during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years (self-imposed by the university).
  • $18,500 fine (self-imposed by the university).
  • Indefinite disassociation of both involved boosters and the local hotel (self-imposed by the university).
  • Limit of 30 official visits in football (from the 56 maximum) for the 2012-13 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
  • Limit of 50 official visits in men’s and women’s track and field (from unlimited maximum) for the 2012-13 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
  • Suspension of the head track coach during the 2012 Penn Relays (self-imposed by the university).
  • An assistant men’s basketball coach was withheld from recruiting in December 2011 (self-imposed by the university).
  • An assistant football coach was withheld from off campus recruiting during January 2012 (self-imposed by the university).

Note that almost all of the final penalties imposed by the league were self-imposed by the school.

In its report, the NCAA praised the school for its degree of cooperation in the case, stating that school “went beyond standard expectations” in cooperating with the Enforcement Staff.

This goes to show that when a school is caught with its hands in the cookie jar, the best course of action is to fess up and show how remorseful you are by singing like a canary. The result is usually a much lighter sentence than what is handed down when a school lawyers up and clamps down. That’s a risky strategy that paid off for Auburn, but left USC West with crippling sanctions and a post-season ban.

A contentious and adversarial investigative process doesn’t end well if when the Enforcement bulldogs find the red meat they’re looking for. Sooner or later, they’re gonna get you. Just like the IRS.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

NFL Draft: When was the last time Florida schools came up empty in the first round?

image You’ll have to go way back in NFL Draft history to find the answer to this question, but here are a few hints:

  • Paul W. Bryant was still coaching at Alabama.
  • Jimmy Carter was still President.
  • Adam “Pac Man” Jones hadn’t been born yet.
  • Pac Man the video game was taking the world by storm.
  • Coaches’ game day attire was coat and tie. No headphones.
  • Robert De Niro put on an Oscar winning performance in Raging Bull.

It was 1980, ladies and gentlemen. It has been 32 years since the first round of the NFL Draft failed to include a player from a school in the state of Florida. Between 1981 and 2011 (inclusive), at least one player from a school in the Sunshine State was taken.

Last night’s first round broke that streak. No Miami Hurricane. No Florida Gator. No Florida State Seminole. Not even a player from the myriad of directional schools that have popped up in the state since Bobby Bowden, Charlie Pell and Howard Schnellenberger prowled the sidelines in plaid slacks and white shoes.

Through many of those years, Florida schools dominated the first round. Call it a quirk of history if you want, but it’s a clear indication of how far the three major players in the state have dropped off in recent years.

This blog touched on the Florida Gators status yesterday. Click here if you missed it. The state’s ACC schools—Florida State and Miami—have taken different paths to mediocrity over the last decade or so, but the decline is evident on the field and it’s evident in the draft, too.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

''This is a seismic change for college football.''

BCS takes big step toward college football playoff
Published on Yahoo! Sports - NCAA Football News | shared via feedly
FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2012, file photo, the Coaches' Trophy is displayed before the BCS National Championship game between the LSU and Alabama in New Orleans. College football has taken a big step toward having a final four. BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said, Thursday, April, 26, 2012, that conference commissioners will present a
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive came here four years ago with a plan to remake the Bowl Championship Series by creating two national semifinals to determine which teams played for the national championship.

 Not only was Slive's proposal shot down by his fellow commissioners, he wasn't even allowed to call it a playoff.

Now, for the first time, all the power brokers who run major college football are ready to have its championship decided the way it's done from peewees to the pros. And the way fans have been hoping they would for years.

''I've always tried not to use the dreaded P word,'' Slive said Thursday. ''But now we're all using it. So what the heck.''
Read the rest here.

Warning to the overly optimistic BCS Anarchists and playoff zealots: Never underestimate the power brokers' ability to screw this up. If the Big 10 and Pac 12 dig in their heels and insist on a scenario that preserves their precious Rose Bowl, all of this could blow up and we're stuck with a tweaked BCS.

This is far from over. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

To Jim Brown, all running backs are "ordinary"

NFL legend Jim Brown calls Trent Richardson 'ordinary'
Published on Bama | shared via feedly
Former Alabama running back Trent Richardson is widely considered the best running back in this year's NFL Draft and the Cleveland Browns, who have the No. 4 pick in Thursday night's first round, have been mentioned as a possible destination for the former Heisman finalist. One legendary former member of the Browns franchise, however, said he would not be pleased to see his former team select Richardson that high in the Draft.

Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, who played for Cleveland from 1957 until 1965, was asked by ESPN radio on Thursday what he thought of the possibility of the Browns drafting Richardson in the first round.

"I'm not overwhelmed with it," Brown said. "The problem is that he's ordinary. I think he's ordinary."

Read the rest from Matt Scalici here.

LSU continues to churn out NFL-ready prospects

image Many eyes are on the Alabama Crimson Tide in this weekend’s NFL Draft. But LSU is as poised as any team in the Southeastern Conference to send its traditional boatload of top players to suit up on Sundays. Les Miles’ Tigers could see as many as seven players taken overall, with (likely) two going in the first round.

Cornerback Morris Claiborne is a likely top 10 pick, with many mock drafts putting him in Tampa Bay with the No. 5 overall. Defensive Tackle Michael Brockers is also projected as a first rounder in many mocks. Wideout Reuben Randle might also sneak up into the first round if Cleveland thinks adding a pair of sure hands to Colt McCoy’s arsenal makes sense.

Since Miles took over the program in 2005, the seven ensuing drafts have seen 37 players selected. The 2010 draft was the only one in which LSU failed to put a player in the first round.

There have been some noteworthy busts—Jamarcus Russell being the most famous flameout. But by and large, LSU veterans have become reliable producers on the teams that signed them.

Like many states in the southeastern US, Louisiana is rich recruiting territory. LSU is the only real big boy program in the state and routinely gets its pick of the top talent that the state has to offer. Rarely does a competitor steal a top drawer recruit from Miles.

Nick Saban built a fence around the state when he took over for Gerry DiNardo in 2000. Miles has not only maintained that fence, he’s fortified it.

It shows.

Miles takes legitimate criticism for his unparalleled ability to lay an egg in a big game. None stand out more than the 2012 BCS Championship. But he has two SEC titles and a national title, and Miles excels in all the other things that coaches are supposed to do. His kids (largely) stay out of trouble. They stay in school. They develop into very good football players and go on to make beau coop bucks in the NFL.

Sunday football games are dotted with former LSU standouts, including Patrick Peterson, Joseph Addai, Brandon LaFell and Chad Jones. From tonight through Saturday evening, a half dozen or more fellow Tigers will be selected and if history is any indication, they’ll be stars.

Tonight’s draft confirms Sporting News’ report on Gator football

image In today’s Gainesville Sun, reporter Robbie Andreu explores the gap between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Florida Gators, using this weekend’s NFL Draft as a measuring stick to show how the two programs have diverged over the last two years. The Tide could have as many as five former players taken in the first round. The Gators may get two overall.

Yet these are the two programs that in 2008 and 2009 played for everything twice, with each winning a berth in the BCS Championship and bringing home the crystal.

What happened?

Matt Hayes of Sporting News took a stab at the root cause. Not surprisingly, Hayes took a lot of heat from Buckeye fans for his indictment of former Gator coach Urban Meyer, now leading the Ohio State program. Hayes outlined a precipitous decline in team discipline and program control, noting that Meyer himself said that Florida football was “broken.”

In 2007, Florida had nine players taken in the draft with two first rounders. Every one of those were Ron Zook’s recruits. In 2010, another nine players were selected by the NFL. Heisman Trophy winning sensation Tim Tebow was the third player selected from the team. Three first rounders and three second rounders, with none taken lower than the fifth round.

“Over the last two years he was there, the players had taken complete control of the team,” one former player told Hayes.

When Meyer joined the fraternity of Southeastern Conference football coaches, a lot of rival fans wagged their heads and predicted that his quirky, trick-play offense would never work in the country’s best college football conference. Two BCS Championships later, most of those critics were silenced.

Meyer’s offense wasn’t the downfall of Florida football. It was recruiting, character evaluation and player development. Since Steve Spurrier  woke the sleeping giant of Florida football in 1990, the Gators have always recruited well. The state has a rich population of quality athletes and an equally rich high school football program that annually turns out high quality prospects.

Spurrier lassoed that talent and rode it to SEC Championships and a national title in 1996. Ron Zook followed him and recruited lights out, but failed to convert the raw talent to execution on the field. Meyer took over in 2005 and immediately vied for the SEC Championship, losing a spot in Atlanta in the SEC finale against a Spurrier led South Carolina team.

He then won everything in 2006 and did it again in 2008.

In 2009, Alabama broke Florida’s stranglehold on the SEC, beating the Gators in Atlanta and winning the BCS Championship in Pasadena. Meyer seemed to come apart, and so did the Gator program. However, it’s worth pointing out that the signs of the impending implosion were already there. No fewer than 30 players were arrested while Meyer led the program. Hayes’s report indicates that marijuana use was rampant in Gainesville, with several key players having failed drug tests.

Ohio State President derided Hayes’ report as “bad journalism.” He can call it whatever he wants, but any objective observation of Florida football since the 2009 SEC Championship loss to Alabama must reach the conclusion that Hayes did. Meyer broke the Florida football program and current head coach Will Muschamp is struggling mightily to reassemble the pieces and mold the program back into a perennial conference and national title contender.

At small schools with small recruiting bases—like Bowling Green and Utah—a coach can get away with paying less attention to the Jimmy’s and the Joe’s while he works on perfecting the X’s and the O’s.

That’s not the case in Big Boy football schools like Florida.

And, Ohio State.

Tonight’s first round of the NFL Draft will mark the end of a five-year streak of at least one Gator being taken in the first round. The only two players with legitimate draft prospects are Chris Rainey and Jaye Howard. Both are projected to be taken somewhere south of the second round.

That’s Urban Meyer’s fault.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Police arrest “career criminal” in Mobile mob assault case

image Mobile Police arrested a man they described as a “career criminal” in the assault of a man by an angry mob of people last Saturday. Arrested and charged with first degree assault and third degree burglary was Terry Bernard Rawls.

In earlier reports, officials and neighbors indicated that Rawls and the assault victim Matthew Owens had a long-running dispute. Officials also revealed that the victim had several run-ins with law enforcement, including charges of assault.

An address search shows that Rawls lives on the same street as the victim.

A mob of about 20 people were witnessed beating Owens after Owens had attempted to run off a group of kids playing basketball in the street in front of his home. The kids left, but shortly afterwards a large group of adults cornered Owens and allegedly beat him with chairs, paint cans and pipes. Owens was hospitalized in critical condition.

Witnesses told news reporters that one of the assailants said “that’s justice for Trayvon,” the young black male who was shot by a hispanic volunteer community watch worker last February, touching off a wave of national racial unrest.

The Mobile County District Attorney has not said how many people they expect to be charged, but indicated that other warrants were being prepared and/or investigated.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Jerry Jones gives his reaction to news of BCS considering not using bowls for playoffs

UConn Paper: Schools lose money in BCS

image In a very thorough investigative piece on schools’ financial exposure to BCS bowls, the UConn Daily Campus lays out the bottom line impacts of the extravaganzas and concludes what many already knew—the BCS bowls are not cash cows for their participants.

Specifically, large chunks of cash come out of program coffers for mandatory ticket allotments and mandatory lodging requirements, both stipulations imposed by the bowls themselves. The schools are unable to negotiate their own accommodations and face minimum required stays (eight nights for UConn’s trip to the 2011 Fiest Bowl, where it lost an estimated $1.9 million).

Other findings from the Daily Campus review:

  • Schools that participated in the BCS between 2010 and 2012 lost close to $130,000 on average. If you factor in the cost of unsold tickets that conferences bought up, that number jumps to over $400,000.
  • On average, schools spent $2.3 million at BCS bowl games, including $576,009 on transportation, $764,948 on meals and lodging, $420,778 on unsold tickets and $559,971 on other expenses, such as awards, entertainment, promotion and equipment.
  • The last three national champions all lost money. In 2010, Alabama lost $1.86 million at the BCS National Championship game. In 2011, Auburn lost $614,106, and this past year, Alabama lost $1.9 million.
  • More than half of all teams whose data was available (16 of 26) incurred greater expenses than revenue at their game. Five of those teams ended up posting small profits after their conferences helped buy up tickets, and the remaining 11 posted losses.

While it’s true that the participating schools have little chance of making money on a BCS Bowl trip, the real bottom line is that the bowl system is highly profitable for both the bowls and the conferences they’re aligned with.

At its annual Destin, Florida meetings In June 2011, the Southeastern Conference distributed a record $220 million in sports-related revenues, including $31.3 million from bowls. The revenues distributed did not include the bowl payout money retained by each of the participating schools, which came to about $14.2 million total.

The average (total) distribution was about $18 million each.

In what’s clearly a case of the “haves” vs. the “have nots,” the BCS and the revenue sharing system works pretty well for the SEC. Maybe it doesn’t work so well for other conferences and their member schools.

As this entry goes to the innnerwebs, the commissioners of the BCS conferences are meeting in a sunny Florida location, where they are expected to at least come up with a new and improved college football postseason that includes a four-team playoff (we’re optimistic that they will, anyway). That system has the potential to more than double the amount of revenue generated by the conferences and schools.

While it’s true that individual programs lose money in BCS bowls, they end up made more than whole when the final packages are handed out in the offseason.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

NBC reportedly asking for a cool million for Pats - Jets Thanksgiving matchup

NBC reportedly seeking $1 million for ad spots during Patriots vs. Jets Thanksgiving game
Published on National Sports Journalism Cente... | shared via feedly
Brian Steinberg writes, "NBC is seeking an ambitious sum for ad inventory in its new Thanksgiving-night NFL broadcast, a signal that discussions for ad time in football could heat up in the weeks leading to the annual upfront haggling sessions between advertisers and TV networks.

NBC will attempt to get 'pretty close to seven figures' for a 30-second spot in the game, which will feature the New England Patriots off against the New York Jets, said Seth Winter, exec VP-sales and marketing for NBC Sports Group.

The price tag is bold. Last fall, a 30-second ad in NBC's "Sunday Night Football" — the most expensive program for advertisers at the start of the 2011-12 TV season — cost an average of $512,367, according to Ad Age's annual survey of prime-time prices."

To continue reading, click here.

Mega Mock Draft has Five Bama Players Taken in First Round news: Seven-round mock: Projecting every pick in 2012 NFL Draft
Published on | shared via feedly

With the 2012 draft looming this weekend, it's time for a true mock draft projecting every round of action.'s Chad Reuter submits all 253 picks.

Reuter has five former Alabama Crimson Tide players going in the first round:

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson
14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Dre Kirkpatrick
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont'a Hightower
27. New England Patriots

Heartbreak: Reuter only has DeQuan Menzie and Josh Chapman going in later rounds, for a total of seven former Tide players selected.

Get the whole thing here.

BCS weighing changes, making the right decisions?

Source: BCS weighs neutral-site playoff format
Published on - College Football | shared via feedly
If Football Bowl Subdivision conference commissioners and the sport's other power brokers approve a four-team playoff to determine college football's national champion, the semifinals and the national championship game will be played at neutral sites and the BCS bowl games will be played closer to New Year's Day, a source familiar with the negotiations told on Tuesday.

Commissioners of the 11 FBS conferences, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick and other network TV and college football officials are meeting in Hollywood, Fla., this week to discuss the future of the BCS.

The source said he believed the commissioners "are too far out on a limb to turn back now," but said there were still many details yet to be finalized. A final decision on the BCS isn't expected this week, but the commissioners and other officials are expected to begin hammering out many of the details of a four-team playoff.
Read the rest here.

ESPN buried their lede on this story. While the locations and logistics of the semifinals and final game are important considerations, the main issue on fans' minds is how the four-team field will be selected and seeded. That question appears to be answered, but you don't find Schlabach's take on it until the ninth paragraph.

The Kramer Rule--requiring teams to win their conference to be eligible--appears dead.

The #SabanEffect needs its own hashtag

Handful of Alabama players poised for NFL Draft's later rounds, hoping 'Saban Effect' makes their wait shorter
Published on Bama | shared via feedly
For DeQuan Menzie, the "hot seat" wasn't all that hot when he sat down with NFL coaches and executives throughout his whirlwind path to this week's NFL Draft.

During his numerous visits with NFL coaches and general managers, Menzie was as comfortable discussing the intricacies of various defensive packages as he was running through the typical litany of physical tests. The former Alabama defensive back didn't break a sweat while his potential future employers fired question after question in his direction.

What play works in this situation? Who goes where when that happens? When this happens, what adjustment do you make?

Menzie said he barely let his interviewers finish before delivering all the right answers.
Read the rest of this great piece from Andrew Gribble.

Two key takeaways from this report:
  1. NFL coaches remain convinced that Alabama players are among the best prepared in the country to play at football's highest level.
  2. NFL coaches and scouts believe that even mid- to late-round draftees represent good value because they don't need much "coaching up."
Pundits are split on whether Alabama sends four or five to league teams in tomorrow night's first round of the  NFL Draft. However, as many as 10 are expected to be drafted somewhere during the seven-round, three day selection process. Whether it's eight or nine players selected in the first round over the last two years, the #SabanEffect is just getting rolling.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Alabama coach Nick Saban at 2012 SEC Spring Football Coaches Teleconference (Audio)

Hear Nick Saban talk about his preferences for college football post-season, the upcoming NFL draft, SEC expansion and the arrival of John L. Smith at Arkansas.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Rest in Peace, Clem Gryska

image Long-time University of Alabama coach and athletics administrator Clem Gryska passed away on Monday after brief illness.

A native of Steubenville, Ohio, Gryska was a football player at Alabama from 1945-48, earning varsity letters in 1947-48. He was a freshman on the 1945 team that defeated Southern California in the Rose Bowl by a score of 34-14.

Originally a T formation quarterback in high school, Gryska was recruited to Alabama by head coach Frank Thomas and finished the final two seasons of his playing career as an end under head coach Harold "Red" Drew.

Having lost most of his right hand in a childhood accident, Gryska did not qualify for military service in World War II and joined the Crimson Tide in 1945 after originally signing to play at Northwestern University. That began an association with Crimson Tide athletics that would span much of the remainder of Gryska's life.

After graduation from Alabama, Gryska served as an assistant football coach at Huntsville (Ala.) High School for two seasons (1949-50) before becoming head football coach at Emma Sansom High School in Gadsden, Ala., from 1951-53. Gryska then returned to Huntsville High School as head football coach from 1954-60 before joining head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's staff at Alabama in 1960.

Gryska served as head freshman coach and recruiting coordinator for Bryant at Alabama from 1960-76 before becoming an assistant athletic director for the Tide and, later, as an administrative adviser to the athletic department. After he retired from the athletic department, Gryska worked at the Bryant Museum on the UA campus for many years.

"He was a father figure to every player that came through here, a kind man," Moore said. "He was so involved with each freshman class, recruiting the players. He'll be missed by many. He had great connections to the high school coaches in the state. He did a super job of helping to coordinate our recruiting efforts through the years.

"He coached the freshmen every year. Everyone was scared to death and homesick. He was the father figure. He was dearly loved by every player."

Gryska was married to the late Alice Scott. The couple had three children - twins Ted and Debby, and another son, Greg.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, April 23, 2012

SEC West Coaches React to Arkansas’ Hiring of John L. Smith


image  image





Sarah Patterson to get her statue?

The University of Alabama Gymnastics Team won its sixth national championship Saturday night and its second straight. In February, this blog ran A Statue for Sarah, touching off a firestorm of fan support for immortalizing Gymnastics Coach Sarah Patterson with a statue on the hallowed ground of the campus in Tuscaloosa.

Athletic Director Mal Moore seems to have gotten our message.

As explained in this space more than two months ago, Coach Patterson has earned it and then some. She has reached a pinnacle that few before her and likely none afterwards will ever reach. Coaches don’t stick around for decades anymore. They move up, move on or move out.

Patterson—hired by then football coach and athletic director Paul W. Bryant—has been at the same post since Jimmy Carter was President.

It’s not “just gymnastics,” as a skeptic tried to explain to me a few nights ago. Coach Patterson instills a culture of winning that makes people successful after they graduate. There are hundreds of doctors, lawyers, mothers and business executives who have learned what it takes to persevere; how to make finish that last little detail like a stuck landing on the uneven bar dismount. They will all tell you the same thing—they learned how to win at Alabama.

Patterson isn’t just a gymnastics coach. She’s a life coach and she wins championships.

Championships on the floor. Championships in the classroom. Championships in the community.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Former Bama QB Andrew Zow Named Montevallo Head Coach

Former Alabama QB Andrew Zow is head football coach at Montevallo High
Published on Bama | shared via feedly
Andrew Zow will tell you that he had successes and failures during his career as a quarterback at Alabama.
Zow has accepted a new challenge as the head football coach at Montevallo High School. 

"The up-and-down career I had at Alabama makes me a better man today," the 33-year-old father of three said.

"My career was up and down because I didn't play every year on a fulltime basis. It made me understand being a team player. It made me understand being able to support your team even though you're not on the field." 

Zow has twice run his own business in Birmingham. But each time, he returned to football. 

Thursday, the Shelby County Board of Education approved Zow as a physical education teacher at Montevallo and the head football coach of the Bulldogs.
Read the rest here.

In our humble estimation, Zow is one of the best quarterbacks to play at Alabama. He really did have an up and down career through no fault of his own. When he was on the field and in his zone, the Alabama offense was unstoppable.

To this day, there hasn't been a deadlier pump fake than that of Andrew Zow. He could make the entire defense stop dead in their tracks with that pump, then hit a streaking receiver wide open for a first down or more.

Montevallo has them a good'un.

Former NFL Exec: Bama's Trent Richardson may be 'best player' in 2012 draft

Former NFL executive Bill Polian: Alabama's Trent Richardson 'might be the best player in the draft' - Cleveland Browns - Ohio
Published on | shared via feedly

ESPN analyst Bill Polian, the former president and vice chairman of the Indianapolis Colts, believes Richardson might be at the head of the 2012 class.

“The two quarterbacks, [Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III] -- because the nature of the position -- followed by Trent Richardson -- because he is such a dynamic player -- sort of set themselves apart,” Polian said this morning during a conference call.

“[Richardson] might be the best player in the draft. You could argue that. He has very few flaws. And even as nit-picky as we get at this time of the year, there’s very little to dislike about him or even very few nits to pick.”
Originally posted at

Sean Payton to Arkansas?

Could Sean Payton be a serious candidate for the Arkansas job as an interim coach?’s Will Brinson discusses the possibility with Jon Rothstein on the Tim Brando show, earlier today.


Rothstein asks a key question: Why would Arkansas—in the middle of an ugly PR crisis—hire a coach to teach life lessons for one year, when the coach himself is in the middle of perhaps the biggest PR crisis in the history of the NFL?

My sense is that Arkansas briefly considered the possibility and dismissed it because of that very question.

That doesn’t mean athletic director Jeff Long won’t bring in another coach with NFL creds. Another name being tossed around is former 49er and Lions coach Steve Mariucci.

There were reports earlier this week that Long was prepared to name a coach next week, perhaps as early as Monday. Those reports also suggested that Long would promote one of Petrino’s assistants to an interim slot and conduct a full search at the end of the 2012 season. But which assistant would take on the interim tag, risk a disastrous season, and therefore risk his marketability as a future head coach?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to bring in an experienced coach who’s currently out of work, let him attempt to salvage the 2012 season and start anew in December? I don’t see Payton being that guy, but that seems to be the most reasonable approach right now.

Or, maybe Long should go ahead and take my advice and hire Mike Shula.

Gulf Coast marks somber anniversary


On April 20, 2010, at about 10:00 pm CDT, the Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) Deepwater Horizon exploded and caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico. Aboard were a crew of 126. Eleven were killed in the explosion and ensuing firestorm and another 15 were seriously injured. The Deepwater Horizon was in the process of drilling a well known as Macondo, and the wellhead was located more than one mile below the surface.

Two days later, still burning nearly out of control, the rig sank to the bottom of the gulf, dragging the damaged riser pipe with it and beginning the worst oil spill in the history of US maritime oil exploration.

Here is a detailed timeline of events from the night of the explosion until the Macondo well was finally declared dead. That page remains one of the most frequently visited resources on this website and has been used by researchers, bloggers and journalists regularly for the last two years.

The well was finally capped on July 15, ending the continuous flow of crude from the mile-deep wellhead. The well was formally declared dead on September 19, almost five months to the day from the explosion.

The slow motion nightmare that saw 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the gulf included evidence of nonexistent engineering quality control, exploitation of the disaster by the Obama administration, a bungled federal disaster response, the extortion of a $20 billion fraud-ridden slush fund, crippling of major industries in the gulf and a list of comical new terms added to the dictionary, including Top Hat, Top Kill, Static Kill, Capping Stack and “A Whale.”

The spill also gave rise to an equally comical collection of conspiracy theories. Included among these were rumors that the rig was torpedoed or somehow bombed and sunk intentionally; wild theories about BP, Transocean and Halliburton looting the real well located hundreds of miles away; and an Armageddon caused by a massive explosion of methane and cracking of the earth’s crust. Perhaps the most comical of all was the yarn spun about the government and BP intentionally poisoning Gulf Coast residents by spraying them with Corexit, a soap-like chemical used to disperse the oil. In October 2010, this blog did an exposé of one organization that shamelessly sought to exploit such fears—Project Gulf Impact.

Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis are natural disasters. The Deepwater Horizon Spill was a man made disaster. It was caused by a horrific chain of fateful decisions leading up to the tragic explosion. AND it was exacerbated by an equally horrific series of decisions by an administration seeking to obtain maximum political and ideological advantage from the disaster. Its effects linger, as the maritime oil and gas exploration industry remains crippled, directly contributing to the economic malaise of the last two years.

The tourism and fishing industry are also still feeling the effects. To this day, tarballs created by the decomposition of the spilled crude are still washing ashore along beaches from Galveston, Texas to Apalachicola, Florida. Hundreds of fishermen, crabbers, oystermen and shrimpers have left the industry, unable to survive the closure of the hundreds of square miles of gulf waters to fishing. People are still fearful of swimming in the gulf and contributory bays and estuaries, and misperceptions about the safety of gulf seafood stubbornly persist in the minds of consumers.

imageMake no mistake about it. The Obama administration negligently allowed the Deepwater Horizon Spill to happen. It did so by allowing an equally negligent management and engineering team at BP and Transocean to ignore basic engineering quality control in an effort to cut costs. It made things worse by first refusing to even acknowledge the scope of the impending disaster and then by using the spill as a crowbar to gain political and ideological leverage over US energy policy.

Leftwing kooks—like the ones who founded PGI—used the spill to rail against “Big Oil” and develop wild conspiracy theories about intentional poisonings, mysterious ailments and massive coverups.

During the 2012 election, the Deepwater Horizon incident should be hung around this administration’s neck like the 300 ton blowout preventer, the device that failed and led to the explosion of the rig. George W. Bush suffered politically for Hurricane Katrina, a disaster he had no control over. Katrina’s scope was unimaginable. But the Deepwater Horizon was a disaster that could have been prevented, and incompetent leadership at the very top failed those 11 men, failed the people living and working on the gulf coast and failed the people who lost jobs throughout the country because of shameless political maneuvering and ideological arrogance.

Energy is the lifeblood of our economy. Oil and gas are plentiful in the Gulf of Mexico and represent a resource that this country can feasibly extract, process and use to drive economic growth and prosperity for the whole country. But the administration and its wacked out leftist supporters want you to believe that another Deepwater Horizon incident is just around the corner if we expand exploration in the gulf.

That is false. Maritime oil and gas exploration in the US was the safest in the world before the Deepwater Horizon incident and is even more so in its aftermath. What’s the likelihood of an incident like this happening in the Gulf of Mexico, vis-a-vis the chances it happening off the coast of Egypt or west Africa?

As we mark the 2nd anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon Incident, lets remember why it happened, and lets remember why the guy who played golf eight times between April 20 and July 15 needs to find another job.

Obama owns the Deepwater Horizon Incident and the Gulf Oil Spill. It’s his tarball.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Dr. Lou has a college football playoff plan

Holtz sounds off at Cotton Bowl HOF induction
Published on | shared via feedly
The key components to Holtz' plan is that the bowls would remain intact, but would regain the conference affiliations they had prior to the BCS.

"Let's not get rid of bowls, because you aren't going to tell my son (Skip) that when he was at East Carolina and he beat Boise State in a bowl game that that wasn't a great experience for his players," Holtz said."

You go back and say we're going to pick the four teams after [the bowls], all of a sudden every game has great interest, great impact. And all of a sudden there's going to be unbelievable interest in not just the one game, in all the games."

Holtz said his plan would not lessen the importance of the regular season and would actually put meaning back into many of the bowls that seem to serve only as television programming.
Read the rest here.

Interesting concept. However, it faces the same hurdles as a plan that would incorporate the bowls as part of a four-team playoff. It would be difficult for fans to make multiple trips to neutral locations over a span of two to three weeks.  These ideas would also result in significant expenses for the schools, most of which already lose money going to a single bowl.

Presidents seem much warmer to the idea of having the semifinal games played on campus with the championship game at a neutral site. That model is also much more fan friendly.

Petrino: It all started with a kiss

Petrino tells AD affair began with a kiss –
Published on | shared via feedly
Former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino sent candy to his mistress, called her a "close friend" and suggested the affair that cost him his job started with a kiss over lunch last fall, according to documents released Thursday.

Those details were in handwritten notes kept by a seemingly skeptical athletic director Jeff Long during his investigation of Petrino, who was fired last week. The notes were released as part of a Freedom of Information Act request made by the Associated Press.

At one point last October, Petrino and Dorrell were sitting in a car, eating lunch and talking and "she said are you going to kiss me," according to Long's notes of his April 10 conversation with Petrino. He then wrote: "Kissed on lunch outing."
Read the rest here.

Petrino is a snake but from the notes Long took in his meetings with the former coach, it sounds like Petrino is blaming Dorrell for instigating the relationship that led to his downfall. He's playing the victim, and few will find this convincing.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

“It costs more to comply with NCAA rules than it does to violate them.”

Do NCAA Rules Work?
Published on Players | shared via feedly
Chapel Hill, N.C.–That's the provocative question Kathryn Shea teed up here this morning at the annual meeting of the College Sport Research Institute. After studying decades' worth of major-infractions cases involving men's basketball, she's come away with a pretty strong view: Not only do the rules appear to do little to deter violations, but the NCAA has become more lax in enforcing the stiffest penalties over time.

Shea, an assistant professor of sport management at Springfield College, looked at an admittedly narrow set of data: 167 major-infractions cases involving recruiting inducements in men's basketball. But she came away with some striking findings:

Because colleges have little incentive to point out problems in their programs, few actually do. In her sample, just 13 percent of institutions self-reported the violations.
Read the rest here at

GulfCoastBamaFan will have more on this in an upcoming column.