Can Gottfried Turn Our Tide?

It took me hours to think of that title.

Our Crimson Tide basketball team currently sits at 14-12 overall, and 3-8 in SEC play. Even though this is uncharted territory for Gottfried and staff, I still get the feeling that he is capable of pulling off his usual magical turnaround (the Gottfried Rebound). Think about it: the season is a mess, fans are upset, and Gottfried is feeling the heat. Yet, some how…. some way, he always seems to have the ability to rise up like a phoenix from the ashes to win games you weren’t expecting. Could it happen this season? Or, will it have to happen in the 2008-09 season? We’ll have to wait for everything to play out before we know, but my guess would be on next year.

Speaking of next year, it is starting to look like a heck of a year on paper. Steele will be back, Hendrix wants to play with Steele again so he’ll be back, McDonald’s All-American JaMychal Green will be in Tuscaloosa, and Alabama will probably have a somewhat decent bench. If Gottfried can’t win with this amount of talent on the court, then all hope is lost for Mark Gottfried and staff.

Of course, talk of next year could be a total waste of time if we are blown out in the next few games. If that happens, then next year might not matter, because the fans will almost certainly give up on Alabama Basketball. Oh sure, we’ll have some good crowds for the interesting games, but the energy and excitement will fade away forever. That’s an ugly horror only comparable to the Hobbs nightmare.

How horrible that must’ve been

What’s that? You’re wondering if Gottfried will be fired this year? Unless there is just an apocalyptic collapse, I don’t see that happening. Cecil Hurt and others are hinting that Gottfried’s $3 million buyout is just too much to spend on a basketball coach at Alabama in the minds of those in charge, which means Mark gets at least one more year. So just sit tight, enjoy the games we have left, and try to imagine Julio Jones jumping over defenders when we’re down 9 with 2 minutes to go.

Pick A Title…. Any Title

I’m sure you’ve heard this entire “Saban is the the anti-Christ because he signed more than 25 players” business. There have been a number of people discussing the Brain Cook blog post on AOL FanHouse this past week (Pete Holiday, Roll Bama Roll, Capstone Report, Joe Cribbs Car Wash, Third Saturday in Blogtober, etc.), and honestly I’m just hoping it’ll go away soon so we can focus on other matters.

The issues of whether or not Saban can fit the 30+ recruits, will Saban kick off deserving players, and the medical redshirts are some things that has been tossed around a lot, so I won’t waste your time by crunching numbers until it can be deteremined wether or not it is possbile (honestly, it’s starting to feel like a requirement to talk about this if you are an Alabama blogger. When did the club rules change?!). Brain Cook has another blog titled “MGoBlog“; I suggest you go enjoy the subtle maize & blue goodness of it all.

You have to understand the average Michigan fan’s mindset right now. A year ago, Nick Saban was media enemy #1 when he changed his mind 2 weeks after emphatically stating “I”m not going to be the Alabama coach” (I admit, it wasn’t the proper thing to do. How one over-hyped lie makes you a lifetime liar, I’ll never know). Now, the only coach who is being attacked is Rich Rodriguez for shredding documents, leaving for more money, and claiming everyone else lied to him. They think to themselves, “Sure, Rich isn’t perfect, but he’s not an evil guy. He’s our coach, so leave him be!”

When you’ve been fed the ESPN spin that Saban is worse than Bobby Knight himself, it is probably a natural urge to take a pot shot at Saban to make your new coach look better. Of course, it could just be due to the fact that Saban used to coach at Michigan State.

As for others jumping on the bandwagon and attacking Saban’s recruiting, that’s really just par for the course that this point. Non-Alabama fans have been finding ways to discount Saban’s recruiting ability from day one. The early sentiment was, “Oh, he recruited well at LSU because it’s a one school state and all the talent there plays for LSU. He’ll never do nearly as well at Alabama because Tuberville, Fulmer, Spurrier, and Richt are all such great recruiters. Besides, the top talents want a sexy name, and Alabama is ancient.” Now that Saban has achieved similar recruiting success at Alabama, people are starting to say “Well, when you can offer immediate playing time, recruits are bound to go there. We’re already stacked for 2008.” and, “We don’t want a flashy 5 or 4 star when we could have a sold 2 or 3 who wants to be at our school.” Of course, there are Tide fans who talk too much as well, which annoys me greatly.

All in all, getting worked up over this won’t do anybody any good. Now, you can certainly express your thoughts and opinions on this topic, but don’t go all angry message board nerd on us…. please. I’ll always respect somebody who actually writes out an opinion driven thought instead of sensationalism.

Besides, it’s time to start proving our worth on the field this year and years on, which means bragging or bashing doesn’t amount to much in the end. Talk is ok for now, but doesn’t really mean much in November.

Lance Thompson Live

So yesterday, Alabama landed a top-flight recruiting class for the first time in a long time. Naturally, the coaches have recieved praise upon praise from Alabama fans and local media. Well, chalk up one more point for the Saban staff, as Lance Thompson was named the Rivals.com recruiter of the year.

Congrats Coach Thompson!

I’m so glad we could…. huh? Dangit! Ok, so I got the wrong picture.

Way to go Coach!

Saban Gets His Men

Obviously, most of the Alabama fan base was feeling pretty good about our current roster of commitments. But, I don’t think anybody expected Coach Saban and staff to pull in basically every single player left on our board that we needed (the Dareus bothers, Julio Jones, Jerrell Harris). So for the next day or so, we Alabama fans shall revile in our staff’s accomplishments, and then move on to either: A) screaming for Gottfried’s head, or B) Wondering when the first 2009 commit will occur. I won’t say too much about this top flight class after this post, but there are a few points of interest I would like to share with you:

  • Alabama signed 7 of the top 10 players in the state of Alabama, including every single player in the top 5. The other three signed for either Florida or Clemson. (Rivals.com)
  • Alabama signed 15 players who were offered scholarships by Auburn (Rivals.com).
  • Auburn signed 0 players who were offered scholarships by Alabama (Rivals.com).
  • Alabama has 3 five stars, 19 four stars, and 8 three stars on Rivals.com.
  • Alabama has 3 five stars, 17 four stars, and 10 three stars on Scout.com.

Do stars mean anything now? Of course not. What matters is getting as many of these recruits to Tuscaloosa as possible, which is looking pretty decent at this point. After that, you keep them out of trouble and coach the to success on the field. After all, the reason for recruiting is to bring in talent that fits into your coach’s ultimate plan. Hopefully, this class will become one of the most successful in the modern era of Alabama football.

For tomorrow, I am working on who I will support in the College Football Blogger Awards. I plan to offer them all my full support, and will openly campaign for them out of respect and possible boredom since basketball stinks and there is nothing else to talk about. Roll Tide everybody!

National Signing Day Topics

It has come down to this: Alabama currently has 29 commitments (2 will count against the scholarships for last year), we’re on the cusp of possibly taking the #1 spot on both Scout.com and Rivals.com, and Mike Huckabee said “Roll Tide Roll” on CNN (with Rocky Top and something about Bulldogs).

Obviously, a MNC from Scout and Rivals won’t land us a trophy or that mystical #13. But, it will give this program something it needs desperately; a shot on the arm. Yes, we’ll have the people who say “stars don’t mean anything!” and “You had an average star rating of #.## in 200-whatever! Look what you did with that talent!” I don’t care about that, because I know that we’re bringing in better players today than we were the last few years. Besides, that whole “well so & so was a 2 star” argument can pass for a dismissal of one or two prospects, but it can’t discount 25+.

Think about it, the highest rated Shula recruits never really got to Tuscaloosa. Chris Keys was a major headache, and Mike Ford couldn’t qualify academically (so he joined the Big East). I don’t mean to knock Shula’s recruits, because he certainly brought in some quality players, and found a few surprises (Javier Arenas is the best example). But Saban is getting more players that qualify compared to Shula, and I think that is going to be something that helps to “change the tide” if you will.

Moving forward, I would like to briefly add onto what I believe are a few of the key story lines for Alabama.

1. Alabama has overcome the LSU/Auburn pipelines in Mobile of the past few years

Even though there is still one recruit left to be determined in that area, Alabama has done extremely well in one of the biggest recruiting hotbeds of the southeast. Saban was the one to build such a strong Mobile to LSU connection, and he seems to be regaining it for Alabama, with a lot of help from Lance Thompson. Auburn has had success there over the last few years, which has been very useful for Tuberville’s Tigers on the football field. I mean just look at the list: Burton Scott, Mark Barron, Destin Hood, Ivan Matchett, Glenn Harbin, Robert Lester and Jermaine Preyear.

2. Alabama is slowly starting to reach recruits outside the southeastern U.S.

As you may have heard, Mark Ingram (RB from Michigan) committed to Alabama on Tuesday. While he wasn’t a 5-star back being offered by USC, ND, and Texas, we got a fairly talented legacy to move from the midwest to the southeast. Add that with Damian Square of Texas and one of the nation’s best Kickers in the nation out of West Virginia in Corey Smith. Are we going to beat USC, ND, and Texas for all of these national recruits? I doubt it, but we’re making some important strides….. it is a process after all.

3. We’re going against better teams for recruits than we have in the past

This might be where some of that whole “Stars don’t matter” mindset comes into play. I believe that a better judgment of a player’s potential doesn’t have to do with an inane formula or stars, it has to do with who else wants you. I know it sounds overly simplistic, but it isn’t a bad line of thinking. Yes, you’ll get a 2-star that’ll be a big time hit, and you’ll have a 5-star flame out. But, it’s usually a safe bet that most of the top players recruited by some good programs are going to be quality players.

4. It’s one more unifying cause for Alabama fans

People call us overzealous, delusional, and downright crazy. I think it’s a passion and connection to a unified thought that few people can understand. For so long we’ve had to be split down the middle over previous head coaches, even though we’ve tried our hardest to be united behind them as if there were no issues at all. Take Mike Shula; Alabama fans tried so hard to love this man (many still do to be honest), but it just never seemed to click. With Saban, Bama fans are showing a levels of fandome we haven’t seen in Tuscaloosa for a long time.

5. Alabama is back to being a name amongst prospects

I think this line speaks for itself.

Now the biggest issues become who qualifies (most should), who goes to play baseball (Destin Hood?), and what do we do with the ones that leave us over the 25 level mark (no Hope Scholarships for Alabama). Plus, let’s not forget that Florida is a Rivals Top 3 (much lower on Scout) and Georgia is a very solid Top 10 class as well (with teams like LSU and Auburn not too far behind). I’m not planning to win 4 SEC titles, but I am expecting to start being more consistent against the top teams in the conference from now on. It’s either keep up or go home in the SEC, and I think we’re finally starting to keep up.

Hats Off Mr. Eli

Even though you’re an awkward guy that talks like he has a 10 pound tongue, I have to give you a ton of credit for that big drive towards the end. I don’t think I’ll ever be sure how you got out of that sack, but you made some big time plays towards the end of the game. Be on notice America, we SEC fans have yet another SEC QB to add to the Super Bowl winners list. If only we could get a Big 10 knock in somehow…. yes, this is where I would insert a fark of Tom Brady mocking the Big 10 if there were such a fark. Get on it somebody!

Alas, there is still something that will bug us forever regarding this huge upset. We’ll have to put up with Mercury Morris for another decade, who has already been quoted on ESPN multiple times. If only there were some way to get Alabama fans excited….

julio.jpg
Julio Jones? In Tuscaloosa with a group of UA commits? He came on his own free will you say? Woo!

Yes, Julio came to Tuscaloosa for an unofficial. I’ve tried not to talk about recruiting too much before signing day, but this is interesting. Some “Julio!” chants were started, or at least I have been told that was what happened…. but don’t invest too much into small visits like this until it is all said and done. I fully expect the internet to break in the state of Alabama the moment he announce. Keep your fingers crossed I suppose.

I Like Chris Jackson Already

Why? Well, he’s got good taste. Just check out what he wore for his commitment press conference (yes, I just gave him a compliment based on his outfit….. sue me). When it comes to college garb, many guys can get away with liking the mixture of a crimson sports coat and a black or gray v-neck sweater. He seems to be starting things off on the right foot. Of course, his best outfit will be that crimson jersey and helmet. Welcome aboard Mr. Jackson.