Friday, September 05, 2003

University of Alabama Football Report for 9/5/03

On the phone Bird Dawg reminds me that, when paying a bet, men who run numbers are the most polite in the world. He exemplifies the high etiquette of all people who want your money in their pockets. It’s the reason street musicians smile and loan officers do not.

Politeness can sometimes bleed into flattery. So the Dawg omits mention of my doubts for the Brodie to focus instead on Alabama busting the spread.

How did I know Shaud Williams would have an ESPN GameDay kind of day, he asks. How did I foresee his two touchdowns, his 177 total yards? How did I envision that Williams, like blasting caps miners stow away for fun – small but noticeably explosive, would force USF’s linebackers to pull back, to hesitate, and most dangerous of all – if they ever had hope of stopping our blessed Saint of Rainbow City from tossing 200-plus yards through the air – to think!

(More importantly, he asks, don’t I want to let it ride?)

The football player, more than most athletes, cannot afford the luxury of thinking. The stakes are too high and the game too violent for that indulgence once players take the field. Shaud Williams was not thinking when he ran that punt into the end zone; he simply was. To return a kick means just that: return the kick.

That is why the Sooners are dangerous. It is why they are ranked #1. It is why they are a touchdown favorite on Bama’s home field – easily the friendliest place in the world where visitors expect to be smacked in the mouth. Some of these young men have not thought in four years.

How can you lay a spread, I ask Bird Dawg, for a team openly named after cheaters? He gets the joke right away; like most good bookies, he’s a historian. But sometimes, hopefully tomorrow, rather than learning from the past, odds makers merely live in it, like a widow whose heart holds an excess of love for which the present leaves no outlet.

Roll Tide.

Monday, September 01, 2003

University of Alabama Football Report for 8/29/03

Well, we're 24 hours away from the first step. Last year, in a back-up role, in an option offense, the Brodie threw for over 1000 yards.

Now he's the starter in a pro-style, throw-to-set-up-the-run (as best we can tell, since no one outside a crimson jersey has seen them in action) scheme. Some Rasputins are saying the Brodie breaks UA's career QB yardage record of 5000+ by the end of his junior year. And embarrasses it if he sticks around his senior year.

Furthermore, he's the son of Bear's All-American John Croyle, so he's a kool-aid drinker when it comes to the school and its tradition and its pomp. He very well may stay all 4 years.

Exhibit A: a quote from the Brodie on the subject of the offense's play calling, "Sometimes it's like you are reciting a poem out there."

Lord, can a heart this pure survive college football in the 21st century? I hope he can handle the pressure, much less live up to the hype. My over/under with the Bird Dawg is .500 -- 2 TDs to 2 INTs is my guess. We'll see how the Brodie fares under the scrutiny of wagering.

Incidentally, Bird Dawg is setting the line at 17 Bama but says the smart bet is USF and points. He is not a man of faith, a necessary sin in the bookie's trade.

Roll Tide.