Daily Archives: November 19, 2012

Old ESPN Alabama/Auburn commercial

This ESPN commercial from about six years ago helps explain the Alabama-Auburn rivalry. How many of you will be like this when you’re in an assisted living facility?

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Mike Price calls it a career at Texas-El Paso

Mike Price coached Texas-El Paso from 2004-12 but after two winning records in the first two years, he had seven straight losing seasons. (AP photo by Victor Calzada)

Former Alabama coach Mike Price announced his retirement today at Texas-El Paso, the school that gave him a job after he was unceremoniously fired from the Crimson Tide after an embarrassing drinking episode in Florida.

Alabama picked Price to coach the football team when Dennis Franchione left for Texas A&M after the 2002 season, but Price never coached a game.

Click here to read the story, but here’s a teaser:

Price, who coached Drew Bledsoe and Ryan Leaf in 14 years at Washington State, was a surprise choice to replace Dennis Franchione at Alabama after the 2002 season. He was set for a seven-year, $10 million contract when he admitted he drank heavily and went to a strip club after attending a golf tournament in Florida in the spring of 2003.

Price sued the school for $20 million over his firing, but a judge threw out the lawsuit, noting the fact that Price never signed the contract. He also sued Sports Illustrated over a report that alleged he had sex with two women in his hotel room. That lawsuit was settled.

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Flashback: Tiffin’s kick decides the 1985 Iron Bowl

Note: Every evening this week, we’ll give you video of an exciting moment in Iron Bowl history. Sorry, Auburn fans, this is The Daily Bama Blog, so they’re all from Crimson Tide wins. Check back every day.

Van Tiffin‘s memorable kick decided the 1985 Iron Bowl, but Alabama set up the game-winning field goal with a drive that was just as amazing.

Before Tiffin booted Alabama to a 25-23 win, the Crimson Tide got the ball at its own 20 with 57 seconds to play. Maybe the most incredible part of the series is that Alabama suffered a quarterback sack, and usually, a negative play like that with so little time to play will ruin any comeback.

Even so, Alabama rallied. Auburn’s Heisman Trophy winner, Bo Jackson, celebrated a birthday on that day, which spawned a popular T-shirt: Happy birthday Bo from Van Tiffin’s toe.

If you would like to read an excellent story about the game, click here to read a piece written by Keith Dunnavant for Crimsonreplay.com.

We have video for you of the last drive. Somebody recorded it years ago off television, but the quality is fine.

Here’s the play-by-play of the final series:

Yard line, down-distance, play result
UA 20, 1-10, Mike Shula pass incomplete
UA 20, 2-10, Shula sacked for minus-8 yards
UA 12, 3-10, Shula to Gene Jelks for 14 yards
UA 26, 4-4, Al Bell 20-yard run
UA 46, 1-10, Shula pass incomplete
UA 46, 2-10, Shula to Greg Richardson for 19 yards
AU 35, 1-10, Van Tiffin 52-yard field goal good

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Nick Saban talks to reporters Monday afternoon

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Nick Saban had his regular news conference Monday, and here are the highlights:

Opening statement: “We aren’t going to spend a lot of time on the last game. I made comments after the game. The players actually competed well in the game. They played hard, had a good competitive spirit and we got to play a lot of players which are all positive things. Obviously there are some things that we could do better and things that we need to learn from to continue to improve.

“Players of the week were Anthony Steen, Chance Warmack and Michael Williams on offense, Nico Johnson and C.J. Mosley on defense and on special teams Brent Calloway and Landon Collins. John Fulton is going to be able to practice some today. We have a couple of guys out there that may not be full speed today but we expect everybody to be ready to practice and be good by tomorrow.

“I want to make everybody understand that we are not in any conversations about anything other than the game we are playing. Unless we win the next game, we don’t have another game. We are trying to work our way into a conversation by how we play. We are not trying to hold a position. We are trying to create one by what we do and how we play. Everybody in this organization needs to understand that we are dismissing all talk about anything except playing Auburn. The Iron Bowl is a big deal. It’s a legendary game that people remember for a long, long time and still talk about games that happened in the past that had huge impacts and effects on the future of what happened. They are traditionally very tough games. It’s important that we play our best game.

“I also think that Auburn is playing their best football of the year. They can run the ball effectively. They have two really good runners. The new quarterback, Jonathan Wallace, started the last three games and has been very effective as a runner and a passer. They’ve got some good skilled guys outside. They have a talented front seven on defense who has some pass rushers. They play very well, probably one of the best teams we’ve played all year when it comes to special teams. We have a lot of challenges and a lot of things we need to do that we need to prepare well for this game, practice well for this game”

On the wide receiver position: “It has been difficult at times because we lost a couple guys at the position. We are playing a couple of freshman; some of them playing very well, sometimes not as well as we like. They’ve been productive at times and we are satisfied and pleased with the progress that they’ve made but we want to continue to improve. We also like to get the guys that have a little more experience healthy enough that they can go out there and prepare for the game properly, practice like we need to practice so we get a little more continuity in what we are trying to do. Kevin Norwood is fine, so we will get him back this week. That was the most recent guy with an injury problem. Hopefully we will be a little better this week.”

On the linebackers this year:C.J. Mosley has obviously been the most productive guy at that position for us. We end up playing a lot of nickel and dime based on the kind of offense we’ve had to play against. He’s very productive in all those things. Trey DePriest and Nico Johnson have done a good job. They haven’t gotten as many opportunities because, again, it’s a little bit the style of offenses that we’ve had to play against. They will both get an opportunity to play this week.”

On if there is a rotation between Cyrus and Christion Jones on special teams: “No there’s not a rotation at all. Christion Jones is going to be the punt return guy. I wanted to try to get Cyrus more experience at doing it. We didn’t take Christion out because he misplayed a ball.”

On if Saban uses the results of the top-two teams losing this past weekend as a motivating factor for his team to prove that anything can happen: “I think what we try to stress to our players is to learn from your previous experience. What I see happening is, people get emotionally stressed out relative to their circumstances, which is where they are ranked, who they are playing and all of the sudden you get tentative and don’t play aggressively. You don’t prepare the same way, you are worried emotionally, which affects your ability to focus and you don’t play as well. None of these things are bad things — there is nobody taking anybody out and shooting them behind the barn, because we have an opportunity to play in this game. We have an opportunity to play in this game and maybe another game and that’s a good thing — that’s something that everybody worked hard to create.”

On the decreased number of forced turnovers: “If I knew the explanation and could fix it, we would. We emphasize turnovers, we emphasized turnovers the same way in the first half of the season, which I used to get asked questions, ‘What are you doing different this year that you didn’t do last year when you didn’t get turnovers?’ We did the same things then that we do now and we got turnovers. We are doing the same things now that we did in the first part of the season and we are not getting turnovers.”

On if Saban enjoys this week: “I enjoy coaching. I enjoy the challenges. I enjoy working with the players trying to prepare them. I look forward to the opportunity that we have created for ourselves. It’s what great competitors or people that like to compete really enjoy doing. That’s what you work for — to have an opportunity to win a division, win a big rivalry game, whatever the emphasis might be — that’s what we work for, that is what’s fun.”

On AJ McCarron’s rebound after two sub-par SEC games: “I think that we have not thrown the ball as well in the last couple of games — I’m not talking about AJ, I’m talking about as a team. I think some of it is contributed to the fact that we haven’t had a lot of continuity at wide receiver, we have guys playing different positions. Amari Cooper was out at the LSU game and Kevin Norwood was out the last game. We just have had a lot of different circumstances going on and I think it’s important for guys to be able to go out and work together and sort of have an anticipation and expectation when you have to make quick decisions, process information quickly, people have to be where you expect them to be.”

On T.J. Yeldon’s season so far: “T.J. has played extremely well for us at times. I think he has been very mature about the role that he has – the way he has managed it and handled it as a young player. He has done a really good job for our team, for the most part. Again, we talked about ball security, that’s for every player on offense and I think there’s fundamental things we can try to do to improve that.”

We have some video from the news conference as well. These are highlights, too, not including everything Saban spoke about.

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Milliner, Jones up for big awards

Alabama’s Barrett Jones won the Outland Trophy last year. (AP photo by Dave Martin)

Dee Milliner has 45 tackles, two interceptions and 14 pass breakups. (Copyright photo by Annie Bates)

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Two Alabama players are up for major awards: Defensive back Dee Milliner is one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, and center Barrett Jones has a chance to win the Outland Trophy for the second straight year.

The Outland goes to the nation’s top interior lineman, and if Jones he takes it again, he will be one of only two players to win it two years in a row. Nebraska’s Dave Rimington won it in 1981 and 1982.

Jones, a senior, won the trophy last year as an offensive tackle, but he has switched to center this season. Rimington played center.

This year’s list of finalists includes Jones, Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel and North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper.

The Thorpe Award goes to the nation’s top defensive back, and Milliner made the list of finalists with Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks and Fresno State’s Phillip Thomas.

The only Alabama player to win the award was Antonio Langham in 1993.

Both awards will be presented Dec. 6 on ESPN.

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Thoughts from Monday’s practice

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Alabama worked out in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts Monday on a relatively cool evening.

Except for the quarterbacks and freshman receiver Chris Black, nobody wore a black non-contact jersey. Even defensive back John Fulton (turf toe) practiced and ran around without apparently problems. Receivers Kevin Norwood (leg) and Kenny Bell (foot) looked fine. Running back T.J. Yeldon (ankle) didn’t go through most drills, but he looked fine otherwise.

In a sense, it’s amazing how Alabama has avoided those injuries that would slow down an important player but not take him out of the lineup. If you look at the first team, it looks about like everyone thought it would at the start of the year.

But on the other hand, seeing Black out there is a reminder of how much deeper this team could be without the season-ending injuries Alabama has suffered.

Running back Dee Hart (knee) likely would be returning punts. He also was valuable on kick coverage. Jarrick Williams would’ve added depth at safety and special teams.

Running back Jalston Fowler (knee) would’ve given Alabama a weapon at H-back. Walk-on Kelly Johnson has served as an admirable blocker in the position, but Fowler is a much more experienced handling the ball. Also, imagine him at fullback and the flexibility he would’ve added to that position.

At receiver, Black (shoulder) and DeAndrew White (knee) would’ve been part of the top rotation. Again, Alabama lacks some flexibility without them on the field.

But as for Saturday’s game against Auburn, everyone else is expected to be available.

We’ve got video for you of the running backs going through a drill. You’ll see Brent Calloway get told to run the drill again by assistant coach Burton Burns. Also, watch the right side of the video. Strength coach Scott Cochran stalks Yeldon to knock the ball away from the unsuspecting freshman. However, teammate Eddie Lacy beats Cochran to the job and knocks away the ball without much trouble. The video is a little dark at first but improves.

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Tide names its players of the week

Alabama’s coaches picked seven players for weekly honors, including linebacker C.J. Mosley for the ninth time in 11 games.

On offense, linemen Chance Warmack and Anthony Steen joined tight end Michael Williams. On defense, it was linebackers Nico Johnson and Mosley. Brent Calloway and Landon Collins took special teams honors.

The up-to-date players of the week through 10 games:

Eddie Lacy, Michael Williams
Three: Amari Cooper, T.J. Yeldon, D.J. Fluker, Chance Warmack
Two: AJ McCarron, Kevin Norwood
One: Barrett Jones, Cyrus Kouandjio, Anthony Steen

C.J. Mosley
Four: Dee Milliner
Two: Adrian Hubbard, Nico Johnson
One: Robert Lester, Deion Belue, Vinnie Sunseri, Denzel Devall, Xzavier Dickson, John Fulton

Special teams
Cody Mandell
Three: Cade Foster
Two: Dee Hart, Jeremy Shelley, Christion Jones, Cyrus Jones, John Fulton, Vinnie Sunseri, Landon Collins, Brent Calloway
One: T.J. Yeldon, Nico Johnson, DeAndrew White.

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Saban: Chizik has done a good job

Alabama head coach Nick Saban, left, pats Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley on the back after the Crismon Tide beat the Vols 44-13 in Knoxville. (AP photo Wade Payne)

Tennessee fired Derek Dooley this weekend, Auburn’s Gene Chizik sits on the hot seat, and Alabama’s Nick Saban said he realizes he’s not that far away from the same trouble.

“I fully understand that two years from now if we don’t continue to have a good team, then I’ll be in the same seat that other people are in now,” Saban said today at his regular news conference. “It’s the nature of the beast in our profession.”

Dooley spent three seasons at Tennessee. He worked for Saban as an assistant coach for five years at LSU and two with the Miami Dolphins.

“There’s a lot of attention to what we do,” Saban said. “I think there’s a high expectation for what we do. Derek Dooley is a good friend. He’s been very, very loyal for seven years working on our staff. Regardless of what he did or didn’t do at Tennessee, he’s still someone who is a professional colleague and a good friend who we would love to help in any way we can.”

As for Chizik, Saban said, “I personally think Gene Chizik has done a really good job.”

“All I know is playing against him, it’s always a tough game,” Saban said. “They’re always well coached and they’re always well prepared, and that’s all I can really comment about. I think that sometimes that the standard that everybody wants all of us to play to is not something that is a continuum. It’s a process that’s constantly evolving and sometimes you get a few things that happen maybe that don’t go in your favor, it can affect the kind of results that you get. And some of them you can control and some of them you can’t. Whether I like it or not, it is the world that we
live in.”

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Saban won’t say if Tide has deal set for game to face former assistant

Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain is 3-8 in his first season at the school, with wins over Colorado, Hawaii and Nevada-Las Vegas. (AP photo by David Zalubowski)

The Denver Post is reporting Alabama and Colorado State have agreed to play in 2013 and 2015, but Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban isn’t ready to confirm that.

“When we sign a contract to play a game, we’ll announce it,” Saban said at his regular news conference today. “That’s up to our administration. Whenever that happens, I think that’s up to them, it’s not up to me. We’re still looking for a game next year. I will confirm that.”

The Post is reporting the framework is there for the two games in Tuscaloosa, and Colorado State will receive more than $1 million a game. Alabama’s schedule next year includes eight conference games, a contest against Virginia Tech in Atlanta and home games against Georgia State and Chattanooga. Colorado State would fill the 12th and final spot on the slate.

Colorado State is coached by Jim McElwain, who was Saban’s offensive coordinator at Alabama during 2008-11.

“The rumor that’s out there about Alabama is just that right now, it’s a rumor,” Colorado State athletics director Jack Graham told the Post.

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Criminal charges against Rolando McClain dropped

Oakland Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain (55) with teammate Matt Shaughnessy (77). (AP photo by Lynne Sladky)

Criminal charges against former Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain have been dropped.

In addition, ESPN is reporting McClain, now with the Oakland Raiders, won’t face a penalty or suspension from the NFL. According to the network, the league was waiting on the court case to complete. Since the charges have been dropped, there will be no disciplinary proceeding against McClain.

Click here to read The Decatur Daily story by Seth Burkett about McClain’s criminal case. Here’s a small taste:

A Morgan County judge dismissed charges against Oakland Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain after the alleged victim, a plaintiff in a corresponding civil suit, told the court earlier this month that he no longer wishes to pursue his criminal case against the NFL star.

It was unclear what agreement, if any, between McClain and his accuser led to the charges being dropped. Those connected with the case declined comment.

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SEC honors Alabama’s Trevor Releford

South Dakota State guard Nate Wolters (3) and Alabama guard Trevor Releford (12) scramble for a loose ball. (AP Photo/2K Sports)

The Southeastern Conference has named Alabama’s Trevor Releford as its player of the week Monday.

Releford, a 6-foot-0, 195-pound point guard from Kansas City, Mo., averaged 18.0 points, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals in leading the Crimson Tide to the 2K Sports Classic championship. The Tide beat Oregon State and Villanova along the way. Releford was selected the tournament’s most outstanding player.

Releford had 14 points and five assists in a 65-62 win over Oregon State and 25 points in a 77-55 win over Villanova.

The Crimson Tide (4-0) will face Charleston Southern at home Friday night.

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Opinion: As Tide celebrates BCS twist, Iron Bowl is next

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Alabama beat Western Carolina, and the area along University Boulevard known as The Strip saw its biggest celebration Saturday night since the Crimson Tide won a national title last January.

One popular three-minute mashup of various fan videos online show Alabama center Barrett Jones making a cameo about two-thirds of the way through. Walking through a throng of fans on The Strip, he was slapping hands and yelling, “Whoohoohoo!”

If only a win over the Catamounts had caused this. Of course, it happened because previously unbeaten Kansas State and Oregon lost Saturday night, which shook up the BCS standings. Notre Dame is No. 1 in the new standings released Sunday night, followed by Alabama at No. 2. It appears the Tide now has all obstacles to the BCS National Championship Game out of its way.

But Alabama still has more games to play before a prospective trip to Miami to play for the national title.

The annual showdown with Auburn is Saturday. The Crimson Tide players began working on the Tigers on Sunday at 4 p.m. Apparently, Nick Saban‘s 24-hour rule in which players can enjoy wins don’t count when it’s Stanford beating Oregon, even if the Tide’s guys might have a little Upset Saturday hangover.

Saban said all the right things about the Tigers after his team dispatched Western Carolina 49-0: “Obviously, we are going to have a difficult game next week. You throw everything out the window in terms of records when you play rivalry games. It’s going to be important that we have a good week this week.”

But is it possible Alabama might overlook Auburn and focus instead on a Miami trip? If not that, maybe Alabama will look to the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 1 against Georgia, which is third in the BCS standings?

And is it possible it might not matter if Alabama overlooks the reeling Tigers, who have only three wins in 11 games this year?

According to Vegasinsider.com, the betting line opened Sunday afternoon with Alabama as a 34-point favorite. Earlier this year, the Crimson Tide was favored by only four points more than that over Western Kentucky. Alabama promptly overlooked the Hilltoppers and still won 35-0.

Covers.com’s betting archives go back to 1985 and show no game in which either team was favored by more for the Iron Bowl. Alabama was a 21.5-point favorite last year, winning 42-14. The Tide also was a 15-point favorite in 1992, winning 17-0.

This marks the fourth time Alabama has entered as a double-digit favorite in the last five years, and the Tide won each of the other three: 2008, 2009 and 2011.

Also, this is a series that doesn’t have many true upsets. If you examine both teams after each season is done, how many times did the better squad not win the Iron Bowl, regardless of the betting line?

Definitely in 1949 (Auburn win) and 1984 (Alabama win). Maybe in 2002, too. Alabama finished that year ranked 11th by The Associated Press, while Auburn was No. 14. The Tigers won the Iron Bowl, and they were an 11-point underdog that year, by the way.

Possibly in 1972. Still, the Tigers finished the season ranked No. 5 by AP, while the Crimson Tide was No. 7. If Alabama had the better team that year, it wasn’t by much.

But if there’s a serious worry for Auburn on Saturday, it’s that Alabama team hasn’t been beaten up by the schedule to this point. After some early season injuries, the Tide has remained relatively healthy for the last month.

Running back T.J. Yeldon sprained his ankle against Western Carolina, and that’s the most serious issue. Saban he could’ve played but didn’t as a precaution. Wide receiver Kevin Norwood rested the leg injury that has bothered him. Running back Eddie Lacy (neck) and receiver Kenny Bell (ankle) did less Saturday than they would an ordinary practice.

So, if Alabama parties too much, doesn’t work enough on Auburn and sets itself up for a fall … the Tide still will win and advance to the SEC Championship Game.

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