A Few Things: Musings on Crimson Tide sports


Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve tried like mad to find a loss on Alabama’s 2013 schedule, and the only one that even comes close – on paper at least – is the obvious one: at Texas A&M. But let’s be honest. The Aggies aren’t gonna make any real adjustments from last season’s game. And even if they do, that isn’t gonna be the thing that wins or loses the game.

It wasn’t scheme or coaching or anything philosophical that beat the Tide in November. It was Johnny Football, and he isn’t gonna be any different this season than he was last. He is what he is, and the Aggies will win or lose with him doing the same ole same ole.

Problem is, Nick Saban and Company figured out Johnny Football after 15 minutes when last the two teams met. And the Bama defense shut him down for the most part after that. Texas A&M will likely score more than anyone else the Tide plays, but it would be a shock if they put up more than 24.

The only way Alabama loses this game is injuries, turnovers, or a Bill Curry-esque decision not to travel to the game in the first place. If The Crimson Tide play normal, Bama wins. Prediction: Alabama 34 to 23.

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The NCAA has always been filled with money-grabbing, self-righteous hypocrites. But one of the most shameful examples is the way it shackles college baseball players and coaches.

It’s bad enough that teams are only allowed a total of 11.7 scholarships when they need 20 to 25 players to field a viable team. But what’s worse is that states with a lottery or some other state-sponsored scholarship – which includes every Southeastern state other than Alabama or Mississippi – can give grant or scholarship money to in-state baseball players without it counting against the 11.7 total.

This is beyond insane, and it makes it hard for teams like Alabama to keep in-state kids at home. Why should a kid from Birmingham take half a scholarship to Alabama when Georgia or LSU can give you a full ride? For teams like LSU to be able to give money to their best in-state players, and to do so “off the books,” is one of the biggest mockeries, among many, in NCAA athletics.

It needs to change. Either give schools more scholarships – 12 to 15 a year with a 30 max, for example – or else count every single dime given to a player against the 11.7 total, regardless of where the money came from. As it stands now, it’s one of the most inexplicable and hypocritical rules in college sports.

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The Alabama basketball team will very likely not get asked to dance. And if not, it won’t be the lack of big wins that keeps them out. It will be the inexplicable, head-scratching losses. Mercer. Tulane. Auburn. Win those three, and the Tide is 20-5 and a virtual lock for the tournament.

Instead, the kids may end up sitting at home. Here’s hoping the kids learn something from that, because it wasn’t coaching that cost the Tide those games. It was pathetic effort on the part of kids who are getting a free education to play the sport they love. They should be ashamed of themselves for the sheer lack of effort in those games.