published Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Commissioner excited by 'interest in the league'

By Michael Casagrande

sports@timesfreepress.com

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Mike Slive didn't even try to hide the smile on his face.

Times are good for the Southeastern Conference commissioner. Speaking at the league's basketball media day in Birmingham, Slive was more than happy to brag on the recent accomplishments.

From the television contracts to the high expectations surrounding the apparent return to glory for basketball in the conference, Slive had a reason to grin.

Even the excitement over a few off-field, seemingly non-issue stories speak to the SEC's ability to capture the public's imagination. Those issues include Tennessee football's attempt to wear orange jerseys Saturday at Alabama and South Carolina's complaint over the Tide kicker's use of white tape to mark the spot for field goals and extra points.

"It just goes to show you the interest in the league, the competitiveness of the league," Slive said. "There isn't anything that happens in this league that doesn't create interest, speculation, curiosity and further adds to the excitement that we have. In my office I tell my staff, 'If you don't like this, just wait five minutes. We're going to have something else to deal with.'"

Tide players healing

Alabama coach Nick Saban said the minor injuries that kept a few of his players off the field last Saturday are healing.

Javier Arenas (ribs), Josh Chapman (abdominal), and Dre Kirkpatrick (back) all practiced through the week and appear to be available for Saturday's visit from Tennessee. Saban said linebackers Cory Reamer and Chris Jordan had "bumps and bruises but are working their way through it."

Ticket scam alerted

Ticket buyers, beware. That's the message from the University of Alabama.

The school issued a news release Thursday warning fans of phony football tickets that have recently found the resale market.

"Unfortunately, those tickets -- sold on the Internet and by individuals around the stadium and on campus on game day -- led to some fans being defrauded," the release stated. "With this in mind, the UA Athletic Ticket Office would like to remind fans that any person who purchases a stolen or counterfeit ticket may be denied admission at the gates and any individual trying to gain entry with a ticket found to be fraudulent could be subject to investigation."

Changing numbers

It's not the color of the jerseys worn by Alabama's Jerrell Harris and Chris Rodgers that is changing. Just the numbers will be different Saturday.

Because of shifting special-teams assignments and the rule preventing two players from wearing the same digits if playing at the same time, Jerrell Harris is trading his No. 5 for a No. 10. Rodgers will now don the No. 1 instead of No. 8, also worn by Julio Jones.

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