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

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

January 8th, 2013 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

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/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.

----

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/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?