5-at-10: Alabama's unprecedented roll, sports tattoos and a college hoops lament

5-at-10: Alabama's unprecedented roll, sports tattoos and a college hoops lament

February 5th, 2013 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Don't forget the Friday mailbag.

From the "Could be 4 down territory" wing of the "Talks too much" studios, let's do work.

Alabama's unprecedented Roll

Alabama Coach Nick Saban

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Nick Saban and Alabama have put together a modern-day college football dynasty that may be the best in the history of the sport.

And yes, we know there are longer stretches of unbeaten runs or teams that won more titles in more extended spans. However, this Alabama run is in the toughest division of the toughest conference in the history of the sport, which also has way more potential champions today than ever before.

We have said before that Saban's genius and greatness comes from the two simple facts that he demands perfection and he recruits enough nuclear talent to be able to be perfection's guardian.

In fact, Saban's ungodly ability to stockpile pieces - he and Alabama likely are on their way to their fifth recruiting national title in six years - has even done the unthinkable and made a Derek Dooley football quote insightful. "They draft, we recruit," Dooley said last year about Alabama, "and they get the first 25 picks."

Among those picks was Reuben Foster, the five-star inside linebacker who switched back to Alabama after decommitting from Auburn, which he picked after decommitting from Alabama. Confused yet? Well buckle up. Foster's roller coaster will be a text book case of why people loathe recruiting, a realm in which Trojan Horse promises and empty pledges are common and the mood swings and emotions of fans and the future of multi-million athletic programs can hinge on the decisions of teenagers.

But beyond Foster's trail to committing to Alabama on Monday - he committed to Alabama, decommitted and moved to Auburn, committed to Auburn by reading a letter that was almost verbatim to the letter T.J. Yeldon read from when he flipped from Auburn to Alabama before signing day 2012, got a massive AU tattoo on his right arm and decommitted after Trooper Taylor and the previous staff were dismissed, and there are even some who think Foster still may go to Auburn - his words sounded a clear and foreboding message to the rest of college football. Saban is the Honey Badger in recruiting - he takes what he wants.

Foster said, "It was a business decision," and looking back on the talent Alabama is pumping into the NFL right now, who can argue that. Heck, Saban is doing the unthinkable and getting five-star kids to come and wait their turn. Look at Foster. If he had picked Auburn, physically he would be the most talented linebacker on Auburn's roster. If he could pick up the Tigers' defensive schemes, he likely would be starting this fall. At Alabama, Foster will be lucky to be third team considering C.J. Mosley and Tana Patrick are back at the "Will" spot and super-recruits Trey DePriest and Reggie Ragland - five-star guys like Foster in previous recruiting cycles - are penciled in at the "Mike" position.

Heck, the same holds true for Vonn Bell, the five-star safety from Ridgeland that is down to Tennessee, Alabama and possibly Ohio State. Of his SEC options, if Bell picks UT, he's the second-most polished defensive back on the roster behind Brian Randolph. If he picks Alabama, he'll cover kicks this fall.

So it goes and to the recruiting victors go the autumn spoils of victory. And in recruiting, Nick Saban is the biggest victor since Victor French.

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About that tattoo

Getting ink is uber-popular nowadays. We got no beef with it actually. If someone wants to get a tattoo, fire that needle up.

But the cautionary warning of Foster and a few others are worth repeating: Tattoos are permanent, barring some expensive and potentially scarring procedures.

That said, let's look at some of sports more infamous tattoos. Enjoy. War Ink.

Reuben Foster's AU - He said he's going to keep the tattoo in honor of his cousin Ladarious Phillips, a former Auburn player who was shot and killed last summer. Sure that will fly over swimmingly in the Alabama locker room this summer during workouts, huh?

Former Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler's "Live Life to it's Fullest" - Yes, rule No. 1 of tattoo writing is everyone needs an editor, and it shouldn't be the biker waiting in the lobby to get another dragon on his back. Osweiler's tat translates to "Live Life to it is Fullest," and while we all make grammatical mistakes, mistakes on a family-oriented, interweb-based sports column are by comparison the lightest of No. 2 pencils. Mistakes in tats are Sharpies.

Packers tight end Andrew Quarless "Gods Gift" - Take your pick here. Gods Gift... maybe Osweiler stole his apostrophe. And dude, if you're going to get something as boisterous, well, it's tough to be a special-team contributor with Gods Gift on your arms.

DeShawn Stevenson's No. 2 on his back and the Abe Lincoln on his neck - OK, the No. 2 on Stevenson's back is a little awkward in the locker room because he's now wearing 92. As for the Abe Lincoln neck tat, well, kudos to his flair for history. That said, he had every intention of getting MLK Jr. but former teammate Gilbert Arenas beat him to the tat chair and landed a boss MLK Jr. tat so he settled for the $5 tribute.

Marquis Daniels' "Only the Strong Survive" - All we got here is wow.

With honorable mentions to Mike Tyson, who single-handedly stopped tens of thousands of folks from getting a face tattoo, and Terrelle Pryor, who has the most damaging tattoos considering his free ink derailed the Ohio State program and indirectly allowed the SEC streak to continue, which continued the Tide's roll, which lured Reuben Foster and his AU tat to Alabama. Wow, that Terrelle Pryor tat is all-powerful. It's like the Yoda of ink - "There is no try, only tat or tat not."

If you were going to pick up and get a tattoo this afternoon, what are you going with? Discuss.

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College hoops lament

As we move beyond the football world to games where the ball bounces properly, has there been a more disappointing college basketball season among the teams in our region.

The UT Vols? Barring a miracle SEC run, they are at best NIT-bound and even that may be a stretch considering their turnover struggles (as Downtown Patrick Brown details here).

The Georgia Bulldogs? SEC ace David Paschall shares the intel that a Bulldogs basketball game is a cacophony of snores and sneaker squeaks.

The UTC Mocs? Well, the apathy and frustration around the stagnation of that program is well-defined and well-known. Is there a fan base anywhere that feels as helpless as Mocs basketball fans, considering there is no solution in sight?

Even the normal casual options of a Vandy run or a Georgia Tech surge are nearly impossible.

Heck, we were even in the office talking about how there's an outside chance that UNC and UK could miss the tournament in the same year since 1974. (And to let you know how different that NCAA tournament was, when only conference champs made the field, UNC entered the NIT that season 22-5 with all five losses coming to Maryland or N.C. State - the top two teams in the country.)

Sigh, so it goes that we're looking to you Michigan and you Oregon for entertaining hoops and NCAA potential.

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This and that

- Speaking of recruiting, the story of this recruiting class so far has to be the work done by Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss. According to the 247sports.com rankings, there's a real chance Ole Miss could land the top three players in the country tomorrow. Wow.

- As great as the NFL's MVP race between Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning was, we've got another doozy setting up in the NBA. Kevin Durant and his throwback transcendentalism against the bulldozer ballet that is LeBron James. We'll get into this more as we speed toward spring training, but these two have the chance to be on the Magic-Bird level of elite rivaling contemporaries in their prime.

- FYI, LeBron went for 31 points, eight boards and eight assists on 13-of-14 shooting in Monday's win for the Heatles. His one miss was a 4-footer.

- Pitchers and catchers report next week. Giddy-up.

Derek Dooley

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

- Derek Dooley may be the single luckiest guy around. OK, let's set this up. Dude signs an eight-figure deal to coach Tennessee football, stinks on a historic level and gets paid to go away. Where does he land? In Dallas, working for America's Team as a wide receivers coach for a six-figure salary while still getting UT checks. Odds the Cowboys draft any of the former Vols receiving standouts of the catching firm of Patterson, Rogers and Hunter? We'll say pretty good. Odds the Cowboys draft Tyler Bray? We'll say less than zero.

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Today's question

Feel free to chime in on the tattoo question. And feel free to offer a possible tattoo idea for the 5-at-10 (easy Spy, and remember the family-oriented nature of our platform).

If you'd like another topic, well, we're on the cusp of National Signing Day, and we follow recruiting. Hey, we love the draft - you know this - and recruiting is close to the draft only different.

Any predictions for Wednesday? Have any questions about your team? And remember, we're taking a 5-at-10-like feel into the recruiting realm tomorrow and will be posting all day on our running recruiting updates.

Discuss.