04 December 2010
We took a little break from things after the disappointing loss last Friday, but as the Tide's basketball season gets into full throttle, and the Tide football team begins bowl practices, we are back to give you our thoughts on all things related to Bama sports.
We've remained mostly quiet on the Cam Newton front, and we'll probably stay that way. There simply isn't anything that we can add to the mix at this point. The whole situation has reached an unbelievable place where the rest of the sports world hates Auburn as much as Bama fans do. That's pretty funny. It will also be pretty funny when the sky falls on Auburn some time in the next few years and all of the facts of this case are released. Until more facts are available, we will sit back and hope that someone takes care of things on the field against the Tigers.
Bama had their shot to be the ones to do that, and things didn't exactly go according to plan. That is the kind of loss that will stick with you for a while as a fan, and hopefully it will stick with the players for a while, as well. If that game told you anything, it should be that you have to get a little lucky to win a championship. The Tide got their fair share of luck last season, and Auburn has gotten their luck this year. I am still dumbfounded that Mark Ingram's fumble managed to travel nearly 25 yards without bouncing six inches to the right. If it goes that six inches in the first 15 yards, Bama retains possession and likely scores again. Equally as shocking was Trent Richardson dropping a pass that would have been an easy touchdown. If Bama gets one lucky bounce and finishes one play, it's 42-7 at the half, and the Tide wins going away.
Those things didn't happen, though, and Bama simply couldn't finish the deal. It was pretty similar to how the game went in 2009, except you won't hear Bama fans bragging for the next 12 months about having won the first three quarters. Losses suck in general, and losses to Auburn suck even worse. Losing games where you give up the largest comeback in school history, to Auburn, to allow them to remain in the national title hunt is about as bad as it gets. Hopefully that will sit with the Tide this offseason the way that the loss to Florida in 2008 did, and we'll see a new motivation in 2011.
The season isn't over for Bama, though. While the bowl game won't have the same ramifications as last year, it will give the Tide a shot to notch another 10-win season. It will also give Bama a chance to tack another bowl win onto their historical mark. Most importantly, though, it will give the Tide seniors - and several juniors - a shot at closing out their careers on a win, rather than on that ugly loss.
It looks to be an almost certainty at this point that Alabama will end up in Florida on New Year's Day. All indications are that if Auburn wins, Bama will play in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, and if Auburn loses, the Tide will head to Tampa for the Outback Bowl. There is a slim chance that Bama could still end up in Dallas for the Cotton Bowl, if the Sugar Bowl declines to take Arkansas, or the Capital One Bowl decides to take LSU. And there is an even slimmer chance that Bama could end up in Atlanta for the Chick Fil'a Bowl if Auburn were to lose and the BCS folks decide that they want no part of the Cam Newton drama.
Wherever the Tide ends up, they'll play without Mark Barron. Turns out that Barron tore a pectoral muscle in the first half of the Auburn game, and managed to play the rest of the game despite it. That explains why he failed to make a play on Auburn's first touchdown of the second half, and also makes me marvel at just how tough of a kid he must be. He's had surgery now, and will be out two to four months. Will Lowery and Nick Perry will likely battle it out for playing time in his place.
One name that you won't see in the mix is B.J. Scott, as it looks like he is planning to transfer. The extraordinarily athletic Scott simply could not find a position at Bama, and it appears as though he'll head to South Alabama. He would be the best athlete on the team, in his home town. That's a good situation for any kid. Things have not been finalized, and he could end up sticking with the team, though that does not seem likely. This isn't a case of the Tide staff running off a trouble maker, either. B.J. has been a good student and a great team mate in his three years at Alabama. His on the field contributions have been limited, but his locker room presence will be missed.
The next few weeks will likely see a lot of rumors involving which Bama juniors are headed to the NFL. It seems at this point as though Marcel Dareus and Mark Ingram are absolute certainties to leave, with both of them projected to go in the first dozen picks in the draft. Julio Jones is likely to go, as his late season explosion has probably put him back into the first round. But Julio marches to the beat of a different drummer, and folks close to him indicate that it is not as certain a decision as some folks think. I'm still betting he'll go - $10-15 million in guaranteed money is tough to pass up - but I would not be shocked to see him return.
The big surprise looks to Marquis Maze, who appears to be leaning towards leaving. He'd likely be a second half of the draft pick, which makes it seem like a bad decision. There were rumors over the summer that despite being a good student, Marquis simply does not like school. He's a redshirt junior, who isn't really likely to improve his stock all that much. Yes, he will likely get more balls thrown his way in 2011, but he isn't likely to grow three or four inches, and that's the only way he'll move up. My hope is that he'll get feedback from the advisory board and decide to return.
There are three other guys that will have a big decision to make - Mark Barron, Courtney Upshaw, and Dont'a Hightower. Barron's injury would like keep him from participating the NFL combine, which would be his chance to improve his stock. If he heals quickly, he could still go, but it looks likely that he could return. Upshaw could go either way. He's got the measurables to get the scouts buzzing, but he's yet to have the type of on-field success to really be a first day pick. Hightower looks as though he would benefit from another year of distance from his knee surgery.
What could factor into the decision for both he and Upshaw is that Dont'a would be better served by making a move to the jack linebacker position. If Upshaw is leaving, that opens the spot for Hightower. If Hightower makes that move before Upshaw makes a decision, that could factor into his decision. I'm guessing we'll see C.J. Mosley be more than ready to man the mike linebacker spot in 2011, so don't be surprised to hear talk of this over the course of the next few weeks. It would not totally surprise me to hear some talk of it happening during bowl practice.
We'll let you know once any of these guys make their official announcement, though that likely won't come until after the bowl game. We will also be primed to give you full coverage of Bama's bowl practice, as well as some travel tips if you decide to go with the Tide to its bowl destination.
Look for the bowl announcement to come on Sunday, and practice will likely start on Monday.