published Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

5-at-10: Bama leaves no doubt today or in the future, MLB Hall of Fame and Saban's greatness

  • photo
    Alabama's Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix (6) intercepts a pass over Notre Dame's DaVaris Daniels (10) during the second half of the BCS National Championship college football game in Miami.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Tide swamp Irish

Anyone have any questions?

That escalated in a hurry; heck, Mosley may have killed a guy.

Wow, Alabama's 42-14 win over Notre Dame was impressive and overpowering and at times it seemed personal. This Tide team has heard for more than a month about how they were not this or lacked that and even how Notre Dame's destiny was stronger than Alabama's budding dynasty.

Hogwash.

Alabama was determined and dynamic. It was powerful and precise. It took the fight to the underdog Irish and took the fight right out of them. Alabama rolled to a quick 14-0 lead after two possessions and the thought was the game was over at that point. In truth, you could make an argument that the game was over 20 minutes before that.

Entering the stadium from the same tunnel, Alabama stormed and danced and bounced onto the field as Notre Dame stood and waited to enter. The Tide had energy and spirit and most of all confidence. The Irish, including emotional leader Manti Te'o stood silently and nodded, and other than Te'o the team looked at best reserved and more likely intimidated.

Maybe it was a quiet confidence the Irish were trying to embrace. Maybe it was bad timing that the teams crossed at the mouth of the entrance. Maybe it was a Notre Dame team so focused they were unaware of the Tide.

We don't think so. We think it was an Alabama team eager that was almost giddy to get on the field that was ready to show Notre Dame its immediate future. And whether they were trying to show a steely resolve, the head-nodding looked like the Irish were almost resigned to their fate.

And it was a fate that was as relentless as it was ruthless.

And yes, maybe we bought into the unknowns about the Tide and the still-true-this-morning accomplishments of Notre Dame. And yes, we certainly over-invested in an Irish defense that was exposed as unable to stop Alabama's running backs without a safety walking to the line and unable to cover Alabama's receivers in space. And yes, we were ready to turn the TV off even before Brent Musberger went completely creepy by commenting over and over again about the looks of AJ McCarron's girlfriend. (Hey Brent, stop it. You sounded like that awkward uncle that talks about Kim Kardashian a little too much or watches Dances with the Stars with the sound down because, you know, he likes the dancing.)

There is one thing that we should have talked more about and based all predictions on — when Nick Saban has that much time to prepare, the opposing offense is going to struggle. Mightily. Saban flipped the script on Irish quarterback Everett Golson (and on Irish coach Brian Kelly, who got kind of pants in his BCS moment). And yes, Alabama had more talent on the field than Notre Dame, but not by as huge margin as the score, and the game was not as close as the final score. Heck, we're not completely sure Alabama was the most talented team in the SEC this year, and we mean that as a compliment. Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M each could likely have three first-round picks in April's draft.

So yes, our early bowl predictions of an Alabama romp were more accurate than our pregame picks of a tight game and the under. Going 0-2 on picks in the final game of college football season is a sour way to end even though we went 86-38-3 against the spread this year. (We finished 69.4 percent this year. We were 58-30-2 last year against the spread, so in the last two years picking college football against the spread we went 144-68-5, which is right at 68 percent. You're welcome for the consistent stream of extra entertainment.)

————

More of the same

Do not expect anything less of this Alabama team next fall either. In fact, if tackle D.J. Fluker returns, the offense may even be better considering the return of some injured receivers.

Here's our entirely too early top 25 for next year.

There are still some underclassmen who have to make decisions about returning to school or entering the NFL draft, but for the most part the BCS race will still run through the SEC. Alabama is going to be loaded — and it is only going to add to its stockpile of weapons come this signing day.

In fact, let's have an-all-too-early projection of the SEC races next year. Deal? Deal.

WEST

Alabama — Until someone other than Cam Newton takes it from them, Alabama starts up front.

Texas A&M — This is how good the SEC is: The team to beat nationally may not even be the odds-on favorite in its own division since the Tide will go to College Station and reigning Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. (Side note: After celebrating for 48 hours and knocking back an extra Oatmeal Creme Pie or three, here's our guess at Saban's to-do list is: Go recruit; Punch Aubie; Recruit some more; Check Kirby's early plans to stop Johnny Football; Recruit; Correct Kirby's plans to stop Johnny Football.)

LSU — The Tigers are getting hammered by underclassmen leaving for the league. Three defensive linemen — Bennie Logan, Sam Montgomery and longtime 5-at-10 fav Barkevious Mingo — leading tackler Kevin Minter, All-American safety Eric Reid, top corner Tharold Simon and running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford are all leaving early.

Auburn — These Tigers could be the surprise team in the league next year if new coach Gus Malzahn can turn one of the quarterbacks into a functioning asset.

Ole Miss — Hugh Freeze's bunch is certainly on the rise after two big wins to close the season 7-6.

Mississippi State — Not sure whether it's a good thing or a bad thing for Dan Mullen when an eight-win season in Starkville feels this empty.

Arkansas — We like the coaching staff Bret Bielema is assembling. As for the talent, well, that's going to need some more work.

EAST

Georgia — Aaron Murray returning means Georgia's offense could be special, and it greatly confounds the choice of who is your preseason pick for All-SEC quarterback — Johnny Football, McCarron, Murray.

South Carolina — Not to be outdone, Steve Spurrier has two QBs most teams would love in Dylan Thompson and Connor Shaw. And Spurrier also has defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who every NFL team would love to have.

Florida — There's a load of talent and a lack of playmakers in Gainesville.

Tennessee — Yep, we said it. The Vols are bowl-bound in 2013.

Vandy — The Commodores are moving in the right direction, but there were some key veterans lost off this historic Vandy team.

Missouri — The Tigers could move up if James Franklin (no the other one) stays healthy.

Kentucky — Hey, no sweat here. It's hoops season and Coach Cal is starting to mesh the pieces.

————

The ballots have been cast for the next class of baseball’s inductees into the Hall of Fame. It’s easily the most star-studded list of candidates in our lifetime.

Check these out:

Barry Bonds, the home run king. Mike Piazza, the best hitting catcher of all time. Roger Clemens, baseball’s Cy Young champ. Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, the duo that pumped life into the game after the strike that canceled the 1994 World Series.

It’s a big-time list to be sure and it even includes some repeats such as Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell and Jack Morris and Tim Raines and even Dale Murphy and Don Mattingly and Fred McGriff that deserve consideration.

And in large part because of the stain of steroids, there likely will not be a single player that will receive the 75 percent of votes needed to get in.

No matter what’s your feeling about or how you view steroids, there likely will be very few new members in baseball’s shrine of the games greats because of the ripples of the tainted pool of performance-enhancing drugs.

Please don’t take this as excusing the sins and mistakes, but at what point do we allow the greats from that era to join the greats from other eras? It’s going to have to come, because a Hall of Fame without Barry Bonds is in truth as tainted as the steroid era, especially when we’re dealing in large part with rumors and whsipers about who did or did not use PEDs.

Do we think Barry and Roger used steorids? Of course. Do we believe they are Hall of Famers anyway? Yes we do.

————

This and that

— Congrats to Onetimer (first) and Harold (last) for winning the Bowling for Bowl Success extra-ganza. Please e-mail your contact info and we'll get the prizes shipped and/or delivered. And congrats to StuckinKent for his newest addition to the StuckinKent clan. E-mail us your address and we'll ship that Best of Preps hoops tournament T-Shirt.

— RGIII gets the final word on the levels of his injured knee. It likely is going to end with almost all the alphabet soup — ACL, PCL, MCL, et al — being torn.

— Speaking of injuries, Chris Clemons and Seattle's kicker were also injured in the swampy mess that was Washington's field last weekend. C'mon NFL, be better than that.

— Kudos to the folks that decided to move the Howard-Tyner game to Saturday afternoon. Even with 12 cops at last week's Howard-Brainerd game there was still gun fire in the parking lot. Hey, keep looking for solutions gang.

————

  • photo
    Alabama head coach Nick Saban is hugged by AJ McCarron, Barrett Jones and Cyrus Kouandjio after the BCS National Championship college football game against Notre Dame in Miami. Alabama won 42-14.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Today's question

The true star of Alabama's third BCS title in four years was not AJ McCarron, who had four TD passes, or McCarron's girlfriend or Barrett Jones, who acted like McCarron's girlfriend in a second-half slap fight with the QB that offered the game's most intrigue in the final two quarters. It wasn't MVPs Eddie Lacy or C.J. Mosley either.

The star of the Alabama dynasty is Nick Saban. The man that hates Gatorade baths and on-field interviews as much as death and taxes. The man that speaks continually about the process in tones and precision that you know it's coming and still nod your head. The man that even the most ardent Auburn or UT fan who is filled with 55-gallon drums of Bama hate must respect. The man that, as our paper asked Sunday, is likely underpaid at $5.48 million for coaching a football team.

So we ask you this morning, is Saban the best college football coach ever? And, is this Alabama dynasty the best in all of sports in the modern era (post 1985)?

We think yes on both counts, but are willing to listen. And we've done this before, but who's on your Mount Rushmore of SEC football coaches?

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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John_Proctor said...

With apologies to Grantland Rice, the best comment I have read about last night's game.

"But reality, like Eddie Lacy, hit hard Monday night. Outlined against a blue-black January sky, the Four Horsemen got run over by a locomotive."

The game was karma's payback for the 24-23 game in 73.

January 8, 2013 at 10:31 a.m.
patrickd said...

Saban said it best. Georgia was 5 yards away from where Alabama is this morning. This is the golden era of this conference. Makes Bama's run even more remarkable to me.

January 8, 2013 at 10:53 a.m.
Astropig said...

Jay,

Saddest day of the year.CFB is over.

We're watching an all time great run by the Bammmers here. I know it hurts if you pull for another SEC team,but it's kind of fun to watch history being made. Saban's in the all timer mix here. I would put him in the company of Neyland, Bryant, Dodd , Mc Kay and Rockne.(Of course, Steve Spurrier would say, "How many has Rockne won lately"?)

At least three SEC teams gave Bama a better game than the number 1 team in the nation (LSU had them beat, aTm beat 'em in Tusky and Georgia coulda,shoulda,woulda in Atlanta). I think that this shows just how far ahead of the pack the SEC is. Its a whole other world in the fall.Can't wait for OSU to make it to the big show and get pantsed next January.

AJ's a lucky guy,but Musburger is a creep.(And he was a creep before he started mooning over McCarrons squeeze).Could you even IMAGINE Keith Jackson being that unprofessional? I turn down the audio when Musburger and Herbstreit do a game that I want to watch.

Looking out 8 months, the SEC is going to be scary-good this year.The top 6 teams (Bammy,Florida,LSU,Cackalacky,Georgia,A&M) can play with anybody.The next level could be pretty good,too (Aubie,Missouri,Arkansas, Ole Missy),but would cruise through the ACC,Big Least or other leagues.The bottom feeders (UTK,UK,VU,State)might (with the exception of Kentucky) make a minor bowl,causing a minor controversy when bowl invites are handed out.It's a good problem to have for Mike Slive.

HOF- Easy call here. There are some morally repugnant men in the Hall Of Fame. The juicers on this list are selfish, dishonest poseurs that have (apparently) cheated the fans,their teams and ultimately,themselves for years. They are physically brave,but moral cowards for not admitting their misdeeds.These weasels have hid behind half truths,"no comment"s and evasions for years. It's time that lovers of the game hold them accountable and I hope that they do.No HOF. They cheated.

January 8, 2013 at 11:03 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

So when does North Dakota State and Alabama get to play next week for the "real" National Championship?

All kidding aside, I would love to see Alabama be NDSU's paycheck game for next year just to see how they would really stack up despite the lopsided outcome. If anything superfans vs. superfans.

Of course, having gotten a taste of National Championship light, I'm also stoked about the idea of a Mocs/NDSU match-up for next year (I call shotgun on the convoy).

I did not watch a single minute of the game (Can't really say on here what I was watching). But I did read a few hightlights regarding Brent Musberger. I first read about this so-called relationship weeks ago via AOL/Huffington Post and the one picture I saw the both of them together they looked so planted it was unreal. My spidey sense literally says "arranged for media playout" Like they do with those adolescent couples going all the back to Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.

Most Miss American contestants are dating shipping tycoons from Europe. Not the QB for the University of Alabama. But what do I know.

I like Kim Kardashian but only in five minutes chunks. Simply because she knows how to work the Louboutins (three car payment price tag be darned).

Outside the SEC territories (sounding a Tokien-ish there), the rest of the country appears to have soured on this victory. One of my Texas friends wrote on his Facebook page last night "There was a PSA after the game on anti-bullying. Hey Alabama! Take the hint!"

January 8, 2013 at 11:13 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Not that it matters, but when will Tennessee and A&M finally play each other in college football? I know Tennessee is in the east and A&M is in the west but that is one game I really want to see.

January 8, 2013 at 11:22 a.m.
orangeguy said...

Is Saban the best CFB coach ever? By today's terms (championships), absolutely. Though there's plenty to be proud of winning 400 games over a career, Saban will go down as the greatest ever simply because of his domination in the uber-competitive era/conference he coached in. That said, I'll chip in $100 on his next NFL contract.

Best dynasty in all of sports since 85? I'm not an NBA guy at all, but MJ, Phil, Shaq, & Kobe might have something to say about that. Also, Patriots & late 90's/ early 2000's Yankees were special. Much harder to dominate pro sports too.

January 8, 2013 at 11:34 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

My computer rankings initial preseason picks will be out sometime relatively soon. I need to do some research to get every team and all that.

Remember, Notre Dame started #7 in the preseason computer rankings this year, the highest I saw anyone rank them preseason. I thought they were way overrated. Then again, Tennessee was #18 and Oregon was #23. Oops. Then again, the rankings did pick Stanford to win the Pac 12 North over Oregon, something almost no one else was predicting. And then the Cardinal did it. So I need to tweak a little bit, but the preseason rankings were pretty good in the end.

My bet based on what I know? You're Way Too Early Top 25 is right- Oregon and Alabama are #1 and #2. In some order. Oregon and Alabama jostled for the number one spot for a lot of the year in my rankings, with Notre Dame never rising over #3.

January 8, 2013 at 11:42 a.m.
orangeguy said...

SEC Rushmore: Bear, Neyland, Dooley (Vince, obviously), & Saban.

Spurrier would be up there with one more national title.

January 8, 2013 at 11:46 a.m.
Blueoval said...

JMC, I'm glad A&M is not on UT's schedule next year, that could be ugly. Not sure how far you are from College Station but you might want to check out the A&M/Bama game next year.

UTC is on the Vols schedule for a game in Knoxville in 2014.

January 8, 2013 at 11:50 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Oval, I'm a very long way from College Station. I know it would be a bloodbath by current standards but its something I would like to see in the future.

In other news...

Keyon Reed: Boot to the head.

I'm just waiting for Russ to get back from Nashville (hopefully with a brand new OC fresh out of the box).

I hate the fact Russ gave him a second chance already and...geez. -.-

Finally, love the fact the "Big Game" didn't generate big ratings. I guess I wasn't the only one watching back to back Pawn Stars and eating Pizza Rolls.

January 8, 2013 at 12:05 p.m.
chas9 said...

Fashion Police report #2: Yesterday I complained that Skylar's chin hair is scrawny. There's nothing thin about Bama's uber-talented offensive lineman Warmack (#65), but his jersey is so skimpy that his globular full monty belly showed up too often during the game. An ugly sight. Next time he orders a jersey, he should go for the extra tall, not the extra short. Leave the bare midriffs to the cheer girls.

If I were a betting man, I'd bet on VU having a better season in '13 than UT. And I get why the coaches poll rank Gawga above The Aggies, but if they played today, my money would be on Johnny and his boys.

And it's time for Muff Burger to hang up his spurs.

January 8, 2013 at 12:06 p.m.
chas9 said...

Does the Catholics Come Home organization really think Granny Clampett will attract more Catholics than he will repulse?

January 8, 2013 at 12:12 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Johnny P —

That's a good line. Who wrote it? (Always like to give credit when it's due.)

And that was a serious trucking last night.

P-Davi —

Yes, the fact that Saban is rolling the SEC when the SEC is at an all-time apex makes it even more impressive.

Astropig —

Yes, we'd like to see Urbie's troops line up next year and get pants, too. Great call about the juxtaposition of whether Keith Jackson would do that. And sure, this is a different time, but c'mon you're the lead voice of college football be better than saying "Hubba Hubba" at the 21-year-old QB's girlfriend. If Corso and the studio show guys do it, OK. The interwebs yahoos like the 5-at-10, OK. But the lead announcer on the BCS title game? Poor taste, and did anyone else notice how quickly Herbstreit tried to avoid that stinker?

JMC —

That anti-bullying line made us laugh out loud. We spent a large part of youth as a large youth eating Pizza Rolls and Chef Boyardi Raviloi.

Orange —

We can see MJ's run, and maybe the Yankees. That said, we're not so sure a dynasty in the pros is harder than college. If you land one transcendental star like MJ or are willing to outspend everyone like the Yankees you have a tangible edge. The NFL is a different beast and what the Cowboys did in the early 1990s was special.

As for your Rushmore, we agree on three of the four. Spurrier is miles ahead of what Vince did in our view.

Oval —

Johnny Football is going to be tough to handle for several teams next year. And how often do you think Texas coach Mack Brown is reminded that Manziel wanted to be a Longhorn but Texas didn't offer him a schollie?

9er —

We can see the Aggies being legit, but there are several holes to be replaced and are they ready for the spotlight as opposed to the creeper tag.

And the Mrs. 5-at-10 were stunned by several things in regard to Alabama guard Chance Warmack:

a) That apparently they forgot his XXXXXXL jersey and had to go to the gift shop and buy an XXL replacement;

b) the size of his boiler — WOW. Just wow.

c) Dude was covered in sweat before the opening kickoff

— 5-at-10

January 8, 2013 at 1:12 p.m.
John_Proctor said...

Mike Rosenberg on the Sports Illustrated website, Inside College Football, about 15 minutes after the game ended. It's the last line in the article.

January 8, 2013 at 1:42 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

That was the worst slaughter of the Irish since the Battle of the Boyne (look it up ... and besides, the potato famine line is way too easy and way too overused).

I should have known something when Brian Kelly said, in the always on the ball and hard-working David Paschall's story, that the team that makes the most mistakes will win. Well, the Irish made the most mistakes (aside from the refs). And they did not win.

Saban simply outcoached Kelly by letting him make all the mistakes. He had a decent hand and overplayed it. Saban had a very good hand and played it spectacularly.

For all the talk of the running backs, the offensive line and the stalwart defense, how much money did A.J. McCarron make for himself last night? He gets overlooked and four TD passes is sometimes misleading. But he makes big throws when the Tide needs them and he puts the ball right on the money, be it a 5 yard pass or a 55 yard pass. He ripped up the Irish Achilles heel of a secondary.

As much as I despise Mr. Bonds and Mr. Clemen$, their record of work prior to alleged performance enhancing use merits Hall of Fame inclusion. I cannot say the same for Mr. Sosa or Mr. McGwire. At least Sosa in his younger days could steal a base and had a strong arm. McGwire's career batting average was equivalent to the best grade point average to be found in Delta House.

January 8, 2013 at 1:57 p.m.
orangeguy said...

Jay: on my Rushmore I'm holding SC against Spurrier at the moment. He's done far more than any other SC coach has done there, but i feel he should have done more by now. With the best player in the country next season & a nice load of returning talent, it may be his last chance to do something really spectacular in Columbia. Had he stopped after the boatload of SEC titles & 1 natty at Florida, he probably gets the nod from me over Dooley.

January 8, 2013 at 1:58 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Johnny Football Proctor —

Thanks, we're going to go read it now.

Spy —

Yes, it's apparent having been in that BCS moment is an edge for coaches as well as players and Saban's experience was evident. Did you see that on Saturday he had the hotel disconnect ESPN from all of his players' rooms because he thought they were getting caught up in the hype. Micromanaging? Maybe. Winning? Definitely.

And McCarron may start next year atop Kiper's QB big board. He's got the size (6-4), he's got a strong arm (not a Tyler Bray cannon, but still pretty strong), he throws a nice touch passes especially to the side line, and the kid is a winner.

Orange —

The Evil Genius has posted back-to-back 11-win seasons in Columbia, and in truth if this was the 1990s, he likely would have won a conference title in the last few years.

That said, you have a point about how will he handle the expectations he's not created USCe.

— 5-at-10

January 8, 2013 at 2:11 p.m.
Stewwie said...

My off the cuff, too early SEC prediction for next year:

East: SC, GA, FL, Vandy, TN, MO, KY

West: AL, A&M, MS, LSU, MS St., AUB, AR

Jay, let's assume that Ohio State was eligible this year. Had the 4-team playoff been in effect, the Buckeyes would have gotten in along with Notre Dame and Bama. But who do you think gets that 4th spot and why? Has there been any guidance given for the selection committee on how many (if any) conference champs should be required to make the playoffs? I have a feeling that this 4-team deal will be a disaster and support for an 8-team field will develop pretty quickly because of it.

Congrats on the new baby, Stuck.

January 8, 2013 at 2:27 p.m.
Livn4life said...

"They are who we thought they were!" -Denny Green when Chicago made the big comeback; me when I saw how the Alabama offense rolled over the Irish defense last night. Obviously, they were NOT who Dr. Lou thought and a number of others across the country. No bones about it, the Irish may have come to play but the Tide came to win and decisively. Thus they did, game over. Saban, best all time; well that is a lot to decide. I say he is one of the best but because of differing factors all ALL-TIME is really hard to determine. He is tops in the modern era hands down and I am no Alabubba Homer. They looked ready for anyone last night and won. Finally, I hope you are right about the Vols and Bowl bound next year but hope it is not a 6-6 team. I want to keep my JohnnyVolFandom in order. Peace in 2013!

January 8, 2013 at 2:30 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

A&M would have been a better opponent but in the upcoming playoff format they'd have not even qualified. Four teams just won't cut it.

It may have already been noted, this isn't a stunning observation either, but we were way to close to getting Ohio State vs Notre Dame in the final.

January 8, 2013 at 4:41 p.m.
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