Friday, December 16, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 12/16/05

'tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
-- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

That makes one wonder if Lord Tennyson followed football recruiting.
-- Cecil Hurt, Tuscaloosa News

It took a few months and came down to a decision by a teenaged home-schooler, but Florida finally beat Alabama. However, there’s no telling if it was a 31-3 blowout or a nail-biter to the end. Tim Tebow – his bulk, his arm, his hype, and his PR team in tow – heads to Gainesville.

College football recruiting carries the reputation as a pretty dirty business. Exhibit T in the case includes constant text messaging from Gator head coach Urban Meyer (TT – if U R w8ing 2 +h3 last m1nu+3 4 yr ch01c3 i th1nk +ha+z soo kewl!!! U l00k’d Ho++ on espn2 LOL!!!– UM) and last minute private jet trips from Tuscaloosa to Saint Augustine.

On the bright side, I’m sure, somewhere, somehow, someone was wagering on this.

Roll Tide.

Friday, December 02, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 12/02/05

Like the season, the Brodie is all wrapped up

It’s a tough time of year all around. My usual wintertime cocktail of Maker’s Mark and Tylenol Flu is wearing off. And bad news is just around the corner. Following this weekend’s conference championship games, the ramp-up and let-down begins: minor bowl games, major bowl games, BCS bowl games… nothing.

Or worse than nothing, recruiting news. Already, after being left for dead behind a non-existent offensive line versus Auburn, Brodie Croyle has been replaced in the hearts of some fans by the next top prospect yet to play a down. The arm is always golden-er on the other kid.

How will Croyle measure up?

With a football program like the University of Alabama’s, the question of legacy should be taken seriously. Croyle, due to his father, was already considered one, but what will he leave behind? To some, Our Blessed Saint of Rainbow City is little more than two seasons of broken bones and four Iron Bowl losses. Though reprehensible, there is an appealing binary logic to these types of fans I envy. Winners make everyone beautiful.

Other, more holistic, fans will remember his performance against Florida, his perfect sideline toss in the waning moments of the Tennessee victory, his video game-like numbers against South Carolina. They will remember the bits of the promise fulfilled.

But those seeking an objective correlative to hold their proper metaphor should look before this season to two years ago, when Alabama was at the bottom of the SEC, the bowl possibilities already lost, and Croyle took the field each Saturday wearing a brace that held his left arm to the rest of his body. For that and more he deserves whatever honor he claims.

The boy has suffered enough. I won’t add to it.

Roll Tide.

Friday, November 18, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 11/18/05

Van fuckin' Tiffin!

More is thy due than more than all can pay.
Macbeth. Act i. Sc. 4.

This week, word came from the president’s mansion at the University of Alabama that Mike Shula will receive a contract extension and pay raise at the conclusion of this season. Whether that season ends with 12 games or 13 depends on – of all people – L’Orgeron or Houston Nutt. I cancelled my suite in Atlanta.

Twenty years ago this week, a future motor-home salesman became a folk hero by kicking a football half the distance of the field to pull ahead of the Auburn Tigers as time expired. Every Alabama fan I know remembers where he or she was as that ball tumbled through the air. Bo Jackson remembers where he was. As does Alabama’s current head coach, who distributed the ball between Jelks and Bell to get the Tide (barely) into position that day.

Alabama’s current quarterback has better aim and a stronger arm but a weaker line and younger receivers. Moreover than the wishbone formation, last week’s loss to LSU reminds us that football is miserably a team sport. No matter how great eleven men’s desire, it cannot compensate for the tandem necessities of experience and ability. Most infuriating was that the Bayou Bengals even appeared – dare I speak the word – outcoached!?!

Bertrand Russell said of parenting, “…there is an egoistic element, which is very dangerous: the hope that one's children may succeed where one has failed.” What then to make of the children whose parents succeeded? This year will not be one Mike Shula can name his own brand of steak sauce after, and Brodie Croyle likely won’t be dazzling orphans with a shinier championship ring than his dad’s.

For scions of success, the best advice is make your own mark. Just do your best. Just take advantage of your opportunities and apply your effort in honest exchange.

Just -- for the love of God -- beat Auburn.

Roll Tide.

Friday, November 11, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 11/11/05

According to the self-similarity principle, once the defining attribute of a group is identified, said group should exhibit the same strata and complexity representative to other bodies separated by a different attribute. To put it another way, there are just as many would-be poets, percentage-wise, among housewives as lumberjacks. Everything comes down to the foggy math of fractals and representations.

According to 2004 campaign disclosures, the two presidential candidates spent millions of dollars on predictive polling firms – not one each, but every last stinking one of them. How these companies sweep up their numbers and boil down a poultice for the politicos saying, “you can win here,” or “don’t spend a dime there” is proprietary data. Once you work for one company, you can never – ever – work for a competitor, even though they all get hired anyway.

According to the financial pages, only one mutual fund has ever outperformed the general stock index in long-term growth. In other words, all the hand wringing and selective prioritizing over a few dozen stocks isn’t as shrewd as investing one buck in every company across the board. Inflation is smarter than Harvard business grads.

Here’s the kicker though: Take the housewives and lumberjacks; who has a higher percentage of axe-murderers in their midst? A member of both groups may have some time alone with a pen and paper, but only one has an axe in his hand after drinking too many with Sven and the boys.

And the reason the polling firms protect their data collection methodology so tightly and why all of them find work every four years is surprising: They’re always wrong. Always. Their formulas are just as likely to come from voodoo as Big Blue. No one wants to expose the gears on a machine that may not even work.

And don’t bother Warren Buffett with math. He’s got a good thing going.

So according to Vegas, Bama is a three-point underdog at home against LSU, flying in the face of fractal geometry and sociological convention. No matter though, because unlike the political predictors, the oddsmakers have a better track record.

For this reason, the new bookie doesn’t care to talk sports much. It’s all so much math homework to him. And he don’t cotton to esoteric bullshit about moral uprightness and the shaping of men’s souls either. If born to another life, his head for figures would have taken him through MIT then on to some nameless underground facility that requires keycards and eye scans just to use the toilet. As it is, he drops cigarette ash in the parking lot of his mother’s fish place, helping her stay afloat by catering to numbers junkies like me.

If you ever find yourself east of the river and very hungry, I recommend the good woman’s double-catfish filet sandwich (a.k.a. ‘the Escalade’), but it is not to be ordered on a whim. This sandwich is big enough to share but good enough not to. Her son will be the large man with the shaved head. He’ll be wearing an appropriate sports jersey for the current weather and may be wrestling his muscled thumbs over the keypad of a platinum Blackberry when you walk in.

If you ask too many questions, he will ignore you. But if you ask just the right number, he’ll pull one of his three cell phones out of his pocket, the one with a Las Vegas area code, and he will put your money where your mouth is. He will tell you, “it’s all about the numbers,” but don’t you believe him.

Roll Tide.

Friday, November 04, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 11/04/05

In a bizarrely positive sign for race relations in America, a small number of grumbling Mississippi State fans, in the tailspin portion of an awful season, are calling for Sylvester Croom’s dismissal because of long-simmering Southern prejudices – not against African Americans, but against the West Coast offense.

However, don’t adopt “It’s a Small World” as your school’s fight song just yet, college football fan. If he sticks to his schedule of one hot-button issue per season, and having exhausted religion and race already, Fisher DeBerry will be asking incoming Air Force recruits to take a virginity pledge throughout the 2006 football season. Furthermore, tomorrow’s game against the Bulldogs reminds fans that Coach Croom is the first and still only black head coach in the SEC, one of only three in all of college football. Notre Dame, who hired (and fired) Division I’s first black head coach, has to fend questions for why a 5-2 first-year coach receives a 10-year extension when the 7-0 first-year coach didn’t.

Coach DeBerry’s job, like Croom’s and Willingham’s, is to win football games. So it’s hard to fault him for being ignorant about things beyond his scope of influence. But when looking across the landscape of football and seeing a high percentage of African-Americans on the playing field, it’s not too much to ask that he occasionally ask why that is and follow his logic more carefully.

Scientists who know us better than we’d like to know ourselves, slicing our cells to the point of infinite complexity, say that there’s only a fractional difference between Karl Marx and King Kong. Furthermore, there’s no genetic difference between any race and the next, making the idea of ‘race’ itself questionable and leaving it worthless within the bounds of the research lab.

Why is this fact not more fully popularized? For starters, not everything of consequence lives in a Petri dish. After you’ve taken in the game tomorrow afternoon, hop on the interstate and head south. Tell the folks living in tent cities around the gulf that race doesn’t matter.

If there are no ‘real’ differences between different races, then the existence of race isn’t flattering for the species. It means that, over time, we’ve proven ourselves damn near incapable of living together peaceably, that given half a chance and a scapegoat of geographical or climate preference, we’ll invent reasons to dislike and dismember one another to the point that, over the eons, we’ll begin to breed into ourselves superficial physical characteristics that consume our attention and become the basis for later preferences.

None of this answers the DeBerry dilemma: Why are those black kids so fast?

Well, coach, let’s begin with what we know. The bigwigs at the Genome Project say it’s not because their skin is darker than yours and their parents’ hair looked way cooler in the 1970s. In fact, they’ll tell you that assigning race to the question is about as useful as asking which side of the bed did the fast kid wake up on.

That rules out biology and leaves you with the sciences where race still is studied, not as a genus but as a culture. For there to be a disproportionate number of African-Americans to exhibit athletic prowess in relation to other races, it would mean that, as a culture, black people in America have emphasized athleticism as a positive cultural totem, a recognition of status.

This offers DeBerry his answer, and also explains the vacuum of great Chinese polka musicians, but opens the door for a cruel truth. What horrors have been done to a people when parents and grandparents and great-grandparents emphasize outrunning other races as a good thing?

In 1967, when many college football programs were introducing African-American players to their rosters, the University of Alabama’s team was still segregated and Bear Bryant’s favorite player Pat Trammell, who turned down the fledging NFL to become a doctor, died of cancer in his thirties.

For the next few seasons the coach seemed buried in his own skin. Bryant’s teams eked out winning seasons, but just barely. And despite his heroic status, Bryant had to fend off pressure to resign for the first time in his career. Then it all turned around; then the team integrated. And onto the spring practice field came players who, despite the Guvnah’s removal, never thought it possible they would attend the University of Alabama. But there they were, certainly not because their families had connections or enough spare dough to donate a wing to the library, but because they could play football as well as any other kid and better than most.

When asked how he handled having black players on his team, Bryant, who grew up in conditions so poor that his family didn’t notice when the Great Depression started or ended, replied, “Easy. They’re just like me.” Good answer, coach.

Roll Tide.

Friday, October 28, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 10/28/05

Though many Sikh travel to the Golden Temple of Amritsar, Guru Nanak told the faithful that the “real pilgrimage” is to meditate over the word of God. They’re the minority though. Islam has the Hajj. Masada and the Wailing Wall are polestars for Judaism. Jerusalem grabs top billing in a triple-header. Every cult rebuilds Heliopolis to its own floor plan. For example, it’s homecoming weekend in Tuscaloosa.

However, as the homers stumble between the bars and barbeque stands, they know that the real pilgrimage, the real return to hallelujah, took place in last week’s victory over hated rival Tennessee. Cornelius Bennett was there. Barry Krauss was there. But my attention turned to another man who was there and to the men who were not.

In 49 states, Alabama’s head coach is best known, if known at all, for his last name, for being Don’s son. In Alabama, his last name might as well be “Georgia” because before he came home as the coach that’s how the fans remembered him. “Mike Shula? Yeah, he beat Georgia!” Even now, the pull between the player and the coach can be seen, not surprising in a town so anchored in the past. At his weekly press conferences, populated by some beat reporters who’ve seen him on a football field since he was in high school, Mike Shula is not afforded the title of his office. The old men with digi-recorders and memo pads never call him ‘coach’ – every question begins “Hey, Mike…”

Perhaps the press is gun shy. After all, the rogue’s gallery of post-Bryant coaches is mostly a forgettable lot. Among them are occasional bright spots, but mostly it is a long, cold shadow, stretching into the horizon to snuff out the sun.

You can call me Ray, or you can call with a better question!
Ray Perkins (1983-86)
As taciturn as he was aloof, Perkins is best remembered for tearing down Bryant’s observation tower on the practice field and for telling callers to the weekly Alabama head coach’s radio program, “Hey Coach,” that their questions were stupid.

Can I interest you in a copy of ESPN’s College Football Encylopedia?
Bill Curry (1987-89)
Bill Curry and his sweater vest never won over the home crowd. Some say it was because of his superior air when dealing with the public. Others say it was because he came from Georgia Tech, a school whose fans once threw whiskey bottles at Coach Bryant and then accused him of playing dirty. All agree the jinxed know-it-all should have beaten Auburn at least once!

I’d still kick Namath off the team!
Gene Stallings (1990-96)
The only post-Bryant coach to win a national championship (so far), Stallings was like the methadone version of Bryant – looked like him, talked like him, coached like him. He is also the inspiration for the cruelest football comment I’ve ever heard when a fellow Bama fan stated, after Terry Bowden had be fired from Auburn, that Stallings’ kid would have a better shot at a head coaching job than Bobby Bowden’s.

Will coach for food
Mike DuBose (1997-2000)
We all have our favorite DuBose moments, but deciding on just one is both, as he used to say (and say and say again), “a challenge and an opportunity.” Perhaps it was his winning an SEC title by beating Florida twice in the same year. Perhaps it was when he lowered his big ol’ Elmer Fudd-ish dome in shame, admitting to diddling one of the secretarial pool? No, I think his representative moment came during a post-game press conference where this strange little snake handler from Opp blamed Jesus for a loss.

You hold the rope. I’ll head to Texas
Dennis Franchione (2001-02)
Many locals harbor ill will toward Texas A&M’s current coach, labeling him a self-centered, lying, hypocritical fraud – but not I. Why just this morning, as I strolled through the neighborhood, taking in a refreshing autumnal breeze, and led my dog for a walk, she sniffed a clear spot of grass, arched her back, lifted her tail, scrunched up her hind legs and I thought of Dennis Franchione.

UTEP? You bet!
Mike Price (A-day game, 2003)
In perhaps the oddest libel case ever, Mike Price accused Sports Illustrated of lying when they published a report that he became intoxicated at a strip club, paid dancers to return to his hotel room, and then engaged in sexual activity with them. His defense? He claims he became intoxicated at a strip club, paid dancers to return to his hotel room, and then was too drunk to engage in sexual activity with them. We wish Coach Price well… elsewhere.

It’s good!
Mike Shula (2003 – Present)
Perhaps it’s just as well that Mike Shula is on a first name basis with the press. In fact, hardly anyone calls him “Coach” and if when people mention “Coach Shula” it means his dad is in town. He is so thoroughly a “Mike” – an ordinary guy working under extraordinary circumstances. His postgame effervescence after the Ole Miss win, where he gave a shout-out to hospitalized Tyrone Prothro and called him “buddy” wasn’t the kind of stoic coach’s stance Alabama fans expect, but there were no complaints. In fact, it only endeared him to the fans more. What did you expect? That’s Mike for ya.

When Bear Bryant died, author Allen Barra wrote that now future generations of Alabamians will grow up without knowing what it’s like to have John Wayne as their grandfather, but this didn’t stop them from trying. This didn’t stop them from being disappointed. Perkins and Curry didn’t stand a chance. Stallings was an adequate substitute, but that didn’t prevent him from throwing a hissy fit with the AD and walking out the door. DuBose was woefully unprepared for the main stage, which hamstrung his tenure from the start. Franchione, for all his belly aching, was accepted by the faithful – you don’t hang a man in effigy when you don’t care. The less said about Mike Price, the better.

So here we are. So we don’t have John Wayne for our grandfather anymore. But we do have something. Future generations may now know what it’s like to be Don Shula. There’s Mike, doing the best he can with what he has. There’s our boy. And don’t fuck with him.

Roll Tide.

Friday, October 21, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 10/21/05

Insert your own joke here

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 146

If you are expecting someone to play the victim, stop reading. No one cheering a team ranked in the top five by everything that matters, a team with the leading rusher in the SEC, the best defense in the SEC, and the best quarterback in the SEC can legitimately lay claim to that title. Even the Svengalis of the neon lights have Alabama as a (slight, but growing) favorite.

No. Broken bones aside, there are no victims here. Then what to make of Phillip Fulmer? Is his noblesse oblige to be believed? Should all be forgiven? Has he even sinned?

Sadly, the time of heroism in sports is dead. Even today’s language of sport denounces its ambition. You, heralded athlete, may be a ‘legend’ but not a ‘hero’. You may mindlessly chuckle with Stephen A. Smith, but you may not inspire. You may attack your fanbase and seek unwilling congress with the waitstaff, but, by God, you will wear pressed slacks while doing so! In such a world, sport is derided as so much juvenilia. And by such a standard, let us place Fulmer where he belongs.

In the sixth grade playground of today’s sporting landscape, Phillip Fulmer is not the popular kid. He is not the bully. He is not even the class clown. But he is the kid who sees you cheating on your spelling test and can’t wait to whisper it to the teacher after class. You can expect nothing more of him.

To ruin a line from Nietzsche: Bear Bryant is dead.

But if the dancing man is right and all our life is a dispute over taste and tasting and all guilt nonexistent, then maybe some small measure of the new can be worth savoring. Last week, in a game they could have lost, Alabama won in what Mike Shula termed, “a great way to win.” That way, not to be confused with the Florida blowout, was to drive in the final two minutes, mostly tossing the ball to unknown bench players, and setting up a last-second field goal for a kicker who’d missed one earlier in the game – all against a team they were supposed to manhandle.

But for those two minutes, there it was: the empty gestures you’ve read about come to life, the will to power. So for any statistical advantage or motivational mumbo-jumbo Alabama may have to lead themselves to victory over Tennessee tomorrow, its best chance may be that they simply will not lose.

Roll Tide.

Friday, October 14, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 10/14/05

Let reign that fire that doth purify man

You’ve heard the stories. He’s played hurt all his life, always playing with kids bigger than him, beating them most of the time. He missed a year of high school with an injury, lost two more in college. His mother can barely stand to watch the games. She still worries about him playing with the bigger kids.

His father walked away from football to save the world, turned his home into a safe house for boys who know too well how to take a beating. You’ve heard those stories, too. One of the kids his father brought in, burned and scarred (maybe hot coffee? maybe steam from a radiator? maybe something worse than you want to know), didn’t have a change of clothes and then the boy walks in, offers his own. That’s the story his father still tells today, even after he’s seen the boy grow up, seen the boy win the games he walked away from.

What do you know of sacrifice? Like most, probably nothing. Per usual, you’re feeling mixed up in a bar, feeling bad about a player’s broken leg, feeling good about your team beating the number five school in the nation. Feeling damn good, on the whole. You’re feeling optimistic before you feel drunk, and this is a new and wonderful thing.

And there he is. And there’s the arm that put him on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the arm that had football coaches in his home even when he was too hurt to play, that arm touched by God.

Then he teaches you a lesson.

Brodie Croyle has more reason to hate the University of Alabama and its football program than any other man on the planet. It has lied to him, maimed him, and left him unprotected to the jackals’ fangs. It has asked so much of him and rewarded him so little. Yet he stands there, shows you victory, and afterwards shows you how to rejoice. As the father builds up the boys who are no one’s sons, the son will restore his father’s house.

This is your place, he tells you. Do not speak of sportsmanship when all you have are market researched clichés and cable television highlights. This is how you lead men. This is how you become iconic in a world gone numb. Hold yourselves up, he tells you. Hold yourselves higher still.

Who may stand against him? Who is Ed Orgeron, this thick-neck babbler with his rants and burlesque motivations? Who is that plump rat from Knoxville who can’t trust or lead young men? Who are these scant teams held in higher esteem by the collected sportswriters of the Associated Press?

Look upon his work, ye mighty voters of the Downtown Athletic Club of Manhattan, and tremble!

Roll Tide.

Friday, October 07, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 10/07/05

Give this man a damn ESPY

And thus equipd they softly pass

Like shadows on the summer grass

And drive away in troops together

Just as the spring wind drives a feather

They ride oer insects as a stone

Nor bruize a limb nor brake a bone

John Clare
A Cottage Evening

Friday, September 30, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 9/30/05

So ready is the iron to burn, that it takes, under certain circumstances, even less time to catch fire than gunpowder.

Michael Faraday

The Correlation of the Physical Forces

Delivered before the Royal Institution of Great Britain, December 1859

The test of any great idea is its ability to withstand falsification. Under control conditions, can the hypothesis be observed in supportable evidence? Can causal factors be accommodated within its framework and other possibilities be excluded? Thus is a theory borne.

A common attack on science is to take issue with its persnickety refusal to call things sacred, to always apply tests to what it observes rather than give up the ghost. “What do you know for certain?” they ask the scientists. “Only process, never ending process” is the cold answer.

But to call a theory an idea and no more is unjust. To all known observation, the theory stands true. To any action taken, the theory holds. To every new idea, the theory sets fire – until it doesn’t.

Look out your window, neighbor. Mother is calling her children in from the yard for there are lessons to learn. Too few of them are made of marble. Too many of them slither from her den into the world where you live. It’s not that she’s tired of answering questions. She’s sick of there being questions at all.

Urban Meyer took his first step toward genius by splicing two schemes adopted out of desperation (Louisville’s spread attack with Air Force’s triple option), evolving them into a new beast to roam the earth via land and air, telling his quarterback to hit the treadmill and tossing deadweight to his receivers. The spread option is the Frankenstein’s monster of college football, where most other teams wind up as the little girl it drowns in the river. He’s created a schizophrenic hydra – at once old-school tough and scoreboard friendly – that’s surely the result of a sick mind.

Appropriately, Meyer’s initial SEC lab results are divergent. At home against Tennessee, his offense gasped and choked its way to an American League squad’s hit total. On the road against Kentucky, his team looked like they were playing against air.

The prophets in the desert don’t sweat genius, though. To them, intellect is only as good as points allowed. To them, the line began at four, then – as the money rolled in – chipped away half a point, then another, so that now a field goal yet to be kicked stands locked in their minds as the only difference between Florida and Alabama.

Which is preferable, that mistakes are avoided or overcome? A new hypothesis is taking hold in Tuscaloosa, bouncing along one mind to the next. The miserable finishes of recent years are expected but not delivered, and in there place stands a beautiful possibility half realized in Columbia conjoined with an ugly determination served against Arkansas last week. And now, into this memory of a shadow of a ghost of what it means for a football game to matter enters Urban Meyer and his mad experiment.

Everyone, find your lab partner.

Roll Tide.

Friday, September 23, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 9/23/05

These violent delights have violent ends

And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,

Which as they kiss consume.

Romeo and Juliet (Act II, Scene iv)

After a near perfect performance against South Carolina last week, even Mike Shula’s harshest critics are warming up to him. That’s not all: The AP has lifted Bama back in the rankings. Some fans are even contemplating travel plans to Atlanta. But not everything in our garden of delights smells so sweet.

For example, one suspects that if the Crimson Tide relies too much on this. And not enough on this. Then, after the Arkansas game, fans may be seeing this.

In Tuscaloosa, Brodie Croyle may walk on water, but he goddamned better not run with the football against an SEC team again!

Also, the Alabama coaching staff has tried their best to keep the team focused on the game plan, keep them from looking ahead to next week’s showdown with Florida. Even after their lost weekend on the West Coast, the Arkansas Gatorbacks– uh, I mean – the Florida Razorbacks – damn! I mean – the Florida Gators – oh, hell!

OK, let’s face it: If Bama plays half as well as they did last week and Arkansas plays twice as well as they did last week, tomorrow’s game will still be a crime scene. The Tide should run away with this game, and the touchdown spread is nothing more than so much Vegas sucker bait. But Alabama is a young team and there’s no guarantee that they will be half as good against soon-to-be ex-Razorback coach Houston Nutt’s squad as they were against the Gamecocks.

So this game is dangerous and near meaningless, unless Alabama loses. Then all the delights from this past week come due, and all those people warming up to Coach Shula will add fuel to the flames.

Roll Tide.

Friday, September 16, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 9/16/05

A new federal law requires that any school receiving funding from the Department of Education must devote classtime this week observing Constitution and Citizenship Day, which happens to fall on Hank Williams’ birthday and Alabama’s SEC opener. Perhaps the thinking behind this is to create little Madisons throughout the homeland or perhaps to make the children better aware of which rights are being erased as they age.

No matter. As long as the 21st Amendment holds, I should do fine.

All the talk around Crimson Tide football this past week has centered on Tyrone Prothro and ‘The Catch.’ When considering that this weekend marks not only Alabama’s first conference game, not only its first road game, but also its first encounter with Fun-n-Gun 2.0 (horribly renamed Cock-n-Fire), that’s one hell of a catch. So says ESPN, so say we all.

However, the Ol’ Ball Coach ain’t what he used to be. His disastrous run in the NFL (with that team whose name must give fits to the NCAA oversight committee) tarnished a bit of the Visored One’s reputation, but may have opened his eyes to more efficient blocking schemes. Thus, South Carolina sure didn’t look like a bunch of Lou Holtz recruits against Georgia last week and will certainly test the Tide secondary tomorrow. Thank God they can’t run worth a damn.

It seems like only yesterday that Spurrier was the hotshot offensive genius at Florida while South Carolina was trying to become a contender by hiring a former national championship coach. Now, Florida has their new hotshot offensive genius and South Carolina’s still trying. The more things change…

Oddly enough, one thing that won’t change is the color of the Alabama jerseys. The Gamecocks have elected to wear road white in expectation of Columbia’s energy-sapping heat by kick-off. If Spurrier’s coaching machinations have been so reduced that he now relies on the Weather Channel for an advantage, then might I offer some help?

Tomorrow’s forecast calls for heat, humidity, and scattered visor tosses into early evening.

Roll Tide.

Friday, September 09, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 9/9/05

With Cajuns sprinkled about the country and the President covering his ass, Southern Miss comes to Tuscaloosa for the final installment of their long home-and-no home series with the Crimson Tide. Sadly, for a school willing to take the payday and (mostly) the loss in this series, a game in Hattiesburg isn’t just outside the contract, it’s inside the recovery zone – the Golden Eagles are drying off in… Memphis?

With the exception of Tulane, no Gulf Coast school has faced the obstacles from last week’s disaster as has Southern Miss. But like the mythic ideal of ladyhood the school’s name implies, her players, tough and dignified, have responded better than could be expected and could produce a few gasps from the Tide faithful in attendance tomorrow.

Last week against a directional school, the Tide rolled in flat and led by halftime only by the blessing of a scoring defense. In the second half, the offense caught up somewhat but there’s no doubt that the loudest cheer of the game was for Coach Shula – not for any schematic adjustments at the half (you don’t need to be John McKay to know Ken Darby should run the ball), but for benching Our Blessed Saint of Rainbow City with a fourth quarter lead and letting John Parker Wilson (whose name could either push his career path toward Southern school’s quarterback or Presidential assassin) eat the lone sack Alabama’s prepubescent offensive line allowed.

However, under the early season principle of ‘showing as little as you have to on offense and as much as you can on defense’, this was a good win, as are they all. And while nothing’s worse than losing, winning isn’t everything.

Before last week’s season opener, 300 Alabama fans decided to stay in the parking lot and listen to the game on the radio instead of taking their seats in the stadium. The seats weren’t empty though. They were given to 300 people in Tuscaloosa’s Red Cross shelter who escaped Katrina. Reports are sketchy regarding a blog writer with a drinking problem who allegedly taught Louisiana children the “Rammer Jammer” cheer before stumbling back toward the Quad.

Build people a home.

Give people some food.

Give people some money.

Mail the food there yourself.

Roll Tide.

Friday, September 02, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 9/2/05: Season Kick-off Edition

Here’s the deal: The waters have risen. Gunmen roam the streets of the Big Easy. The cops who haven’t turned in their badges watch the bodies of the poor float by and heed their marching orders. The recovery’s over; protect the stores.

Heaven helps those who help themselves.

You’re just as likely to hear that spittle slip through the lips of a Red Cross volunteer as you are a looter. You can’t afford to drive your car anywhere, you’re living in a football stadium for saints in the city of sin, and you wait your turn on a bus headed for, God help you, Texas.

Then, on a small battery-powered TV you see the President. He praises his staff for their excellent response and scolds the people who didn’t vote for him. Thankfully, a gun’s fired somewhere behind you and you don’t have to hear the rest.

You’re learning something about your country, hombre. More and more things you thought were yours don’t belong to you at all. This is a luxury liner continent and you happen to live in steerage. If you were lucky enough to be born a chain outlet instead of the poor slob you are, you’d have someone to look after your interests.

But you’re a renter in the world of owners and sometimes things that should make sense don’t. The man behind you lost his house but he’s stealing a plasma TV. At least his kids are swiping fishing rods and cans of chili, so there’s hope.

If those kids make it, one day they’ll tell this story to no one in particular and if they can run 40 yards fast enough or put on enough weight before they’re 17, then a man from a university will pretend to give a damn and take them away so they can fulfill the need of lesser maniacs to cheer when the right color of jersey makes a good play.

But you can wait for that. What you can’t wait for is the moment when everyone who could escape your city comes back and expects things to be the same. You don’t know what you’ll do then, but just like the storm, you know you’ll be there to see it.

Friday, August 26, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 8/26/05

To have had the experience is well enough; one must also interpret.

-- Howard Nemerov, The Melodramatists

As classes start and two-a-days end, rumors are circulating throughout Alabama that in 2007 the Crimson Tide will face the Florida State Seminoles (or whatever they may or may not be called by then) in the not-so-neutral neutral site of Jacksonville, birthplace of Lynyrd Skynyrd and current home of Hitler’s yacht.

Lots of people – fans, columnists, broadcasters, advertisers – hope that Bobby Bowden will still be walking the sidelines by then if said game takes place. I have a more practical hope: that Jeff Bowden is still there.

But as this season approaches, it’s important to remind ourselves of the past if only to forget it. Alabama’s highly ranked defense from last year hasn’t stopped anybody yet. 2004’s National Champion USC hasn’t gained a yard so far. Yet football fans are so full of optimism this time of year that often you’ll see dozens of them roadside at a time, walking along the highway, their cars abandoned miles behind them and out of gas. All certain they would have made it a few more miles despite the needle being buried under the E – all of them still smiling yet on the cusp of anger.

Perspective is hard to come by. In Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva destroys the universe at the end of each eon, burns it into fine ash, then drowns it beneath the cosmic waters where it churns and shifts until it grows anew, over and over again. Even in the creation stories, there was never an absolute nothing. Man was created from the rearrangement of earlier men. Death was created just to lighten the load. Every ending a new beginning: roll with the dharma, partner.

Death doesn’t come off so chummy for the Carpenter’s customers. Less a part of the natural order than a punishment, the end of the book tosses it out altogether. The whole system’s linchpinned around it. That’s why you don’t see church women wearing miniature golden mangers around their necks and why the Road Warrior didn’t try to cash in with a Christmas movie. It may also explain why TV preachers feel so comfortable offering advice to the CIA’s Black Ops team.

Shiva’s got a good thing going for Bama fans though. Check the SEC roster for unknowables and you’ll find quite a few teams rebuilding the universe with new coaches (Florida, LSU, Ole Miss, South Carolina), some doing it with new quarterbacks (Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky), but you won’t find Alabama, who has already had its ride through choppy waters

Only Brahma knows, true believers. Brahma, whose four bodies – the evening twilight, the night, the day, the morning dawn – serve as vessels for the power of men, bookends life with the Destroyer and reassembles each living thing based on its karma before the fires consumed it. And as such, each team is built on the promise of the one before yet is independent. For an Alabama team that hasn’t had a winning season in two years, moral victories only go so far. It’s time to cash in some karma.

Roll Tide.

Friday, August 19, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 8/19/05

Two-a-days began this week in Tuscaloosa, and early reports are cautious but hopeful. In intersquad scrimmages, every good play on one side of the ball means a bad play on the other, a zero-sum game no matter who’s keeping score. Coach Kines had his men running laps and earning their degrees in push-ups after the first scrimmage. As a man born on a train, he expects constant movement from his squad.

And speaking of moves, the pride of Brookhaven, Mississippi, Jimmy Johns has decided (with momma’s approval, of course) to join the backfield this season, and not as a quarterback. On one hand, there’s a bad omen in his switching to running back in that – compared to the other incoming freshman – he’s hard to miss, not a compliment to most runners. However, his brickhouse physique and eagerness to contribute (he even wants to play special teams!) are probably the reasons he’s being considered for this year’s roster in the first place.

The Johns move and the offense’s success in scrimmages this week portend at least some evolution of the Crimson Tide offensive strategy. With a converted quarterback and wide receiver both filling in spots on the tailback depth chart, even the less than creative can see the potential. Is it too much to ask for one halfback pass out of the wishbone? Even if it is against MTSU?

But evolution is a tricky thing. And changes based on circumstance rarely coincide with an ultimate goal. Over the eons, how many paramecia stretched forth their cilia only to be absorbed into the larger trichocysts of another? Seemed like a good idea at the time, I’m sure.

And sometimes imbalance may be preferable to natural selection. Current ecological thinkers posit it would be good for the long run to “re-wild” the Great Plains. Does middle America need rhinos in the breadbasket? Would you trust this man with a cougar in Kansas? There’s little doubt of that happening though. He’ll never convince the school boards to listen.

It’s a shame that the creationists don’t accept evolution; it could warn them about unexpected consequences. When they successfully teach a generation to assume an intelligent designer rather than induce knowledge from the world around them, what happens when they take their assumptions further? If one assumes the world is so complex that there must be someone (wink, wink) behind it all, then one would also assume, looking at the world’s savagery and brutal necessity to spill blood, that whomever this designer may be (nudge, nudge) he at best doesn’t care much for us poor slobs or at worst harbors a serious grudge. What happens to the creationists’ concerns then? Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. At a point, they must suppose, the long run can screw itself if the short term gain is good enough, which brings us back to Jimmy Johns.

In the long run, it may be best to redshirt Johns, make him listen to recordings of Kenny Stabler reading the playbook while he sleeps, and start him under center to see what happens when you put the ball in his hands 100% of the calls instead of 50%. But for right now, the coaches are at least humoring the short term gains (pun intended) he could rack up on the field now.

When Jimmy Johns turned 18, the federal government said he was old enough to be drafted into its military and state of Mississippi said he was man enough to get a tattoo. Thankfully, option two is the only one being exercised for the time being. On his right arm, his – now former – throwing arm, Jimmy Johns has a tattoo of Mississippi with a marker placed over Brookhaven. Above it reads “Rep your city.” The tattoo first saw action in the Mississippi state championship, which Johns’s team won, but after the game, the Crimson Tide’s latest addition to the backfield went back onto the field the celebrate – by playing touch football with the elementary school kids. No word on whether he played QB for both sides.

Rep your city.

Roll Tide.

Friday, August 12, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report: Off-Season Injury Report

Ken Darby, RB:
Injury: Sports hernia.
Status: If he averages a first down over 100 yards per game for the next two seasons, Ken Darby, excuse me… Kenneth Darby would become the all-time career rushing leader at Alabama, ahead of Shaun Alexander, ahead of Bobby Humphrey, ahead of Johnny frickin’ Musso! Numbers don’t lie.

Tim Castille, FB:
Injury: Reconstructed knee.
Status: Younger brother Simeon will be wearing the famed ‘deuce’ jersey this season, but big brother may still get the extra drumstick around the Castille family Thanksgiving table this year if he’s able play in and out of the backfield as he did last year. His rehab has gone slower than the other 2/3 of said backfield and he’ll return to his starting role a couple of games into the season, but a bigger and more experienced Le'Ron McClain will help fill the need and keep Tim fresh. Also, in the ‘jumbo’ package, Alabama will field in excess of a quarter ton of running back.

Brodie Croyle, QB:
Injury: Torn right anterior cruciate ligament (current); separated left shoulder (2003) torn left anterior cruciate ligament (2001); delusional sense of invulnerability at odds with evidence (current – perhaps chronic).
Status: Indeed, after three seasons at Alabama, the Brodie has thoroughly exhausted the number of limbs to which he can injure. We have abandoned “if” and accepted “when” Our Blessed Saint of Rainbow City will hit the turf not to return. Brodie Croyle, for all his promise, has become a shadow. He is gone before he has left. However, he does not seem to know that, and thinks his destiny is to pull Alabama back to its traditional place among the premiere programs in collegiate athletics. But destiny, like any mistress, appears lovely at a distance (ask UTEP’s coach). I fear how much of himself he is willing to sacrifice, how much blood he is willing to spill. Lee Corso, put down that elephant head and do not speak ill of him.

Joe Kines, Defensive Coordinator:
Injury: Age that doth ravage all man.
Status: Here is where I would like to put in one of Coach Kines’s amusing colloquial metaphors, like “dancing with the broomstick at midnight” or “grabbing a hog by its what-it-wants” or “hitching your trolley to a burning barn,” but 1) I’m not sure which ones are obscene and 2) Grampy Joe got a much deserved pay raise and may switch the team’s defense to a scheme-crazed 3-3-5 this year. Oooh, I’m all a-tingle!

Mike Shula, Head Coach:
Injury: Stage fright.
Status: One hopes he will never be so comfortable as to start telling Ray Perkins stories around the players. However, like the team, Coach Shula seems on an upward trend. Take this quote from the missus, who after giving birth to their second child the weekend of the Tennessee game two years ago, made this comment regarding their expected third, “We planned better this time. This one is due just after signing day.” She sure sounds like a coach’s wife.

Alabama, University of:
Injury: Weight of high expectations.
Status: Scheduling Duke won’t help. Beating Tennessee, LSU, and/or Auburn will.

Alabama, State of:
Injury: Weight of low expectations.
Status: Admit it. Even you don’t wish to hear a Southern accent going into surgery.

College Football:
Injury: (in ascending order) Corporate sponsorships; corrupt boosterism, Philip Fulmer; the BCS; the NCAA.
Status: One hundred years ago, people in this country viewed athletics as ennobling. Sport was a virtue unto itself, not a proving ground nor a disqualification of it, the triumph of will through the physical body over the limitations of the physical body. Football specifically was singled out as a tactician’s sport, a communal effort of individual sacrifice for a shared goal. That, of course, was before a gang of brutes from the Old South won the Rose Bowl and forever changed the image of the game. After that game, the emphasis increasingly became on the size of the physical not the drive behind it. The men on the field were now unthinking behemoths, not knowing soldiers. How else to explain their victory?

You lose the game but protect your dignity: It’s not that ‘civilized’ men couldn’t compete with those crimson-clad savages; it’s that they shouldn’t. While we’re on the subject of tactics, it should be acknowledged that that’s an old one. Much like when black jazz players parlayed the Baroque and Classical melodies over new rhythms in front of white audiences – musical ability was no longer an earned skill but a talent, a ‘gift’. Read the scouting reports on those teen sensations out of Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida sometime. There are lots of gifts going around still.

And nowhere are those ideas more prevalent than in the National Collegiate Athletics Association. Forget your conspiracy theories and loopy bylaws, the NCAA should be dismantled for one reason above all others: it hates football.

Poppycock, you say! Maybe, but it’s disturbingly plausible. While the NCAA busies itself with cosmetic issues and general prickishness, college football continues to toss young men through a meat grinder of a free NFL farm system. The men are compensated with a free education, yes, but if they chose a demanding program that could increase their preparedness for post-football life (which in most cases begins as post-college life), they are punished. If they seek benefits related to being a football player, they are punished. If they don’t remember to spin three times to right while hopping on one foot and singing the reprise from “Hail Britannia!”, they are punished.

Why limit the scholarships offered by a school when that only tosses more players onto the field more often, more tired, and more vulnerable? Why penalize a program for illicit monies changing hand by reducing the money it can take in and thus making it a target for more of the same? Why place the burden on new hires and new players not connected with any malfeasances when the perps skate and the rats rejoice? As much as I wish it were not so, my fear is the NCAA hates football.

They hate football for being so loved. They hate football for being so important to so many. They hate football for being self-contained. And most of all, they hate football for hording all the cash.

I’ll admit it: Having sports teams named after ethic groups (and especially ethic slurs) is a selfish, shallow and rotten thing. But for the most part, it’s one we can live with. It causes offense but not injury. It’s one of those things that most people know is wrong but seldom discuss, like the fact that Tina Turner’s music was much better when she was with Ike. But ask Tina about priorities. The mean things a man says are never as bad as the mean things the bastard does.

In college football, there are Tigers, Bears, and Nittany Lions. There are Angels, Blue Devils and Demon Deacons. There are Jayhawks, Sooners, and Volunteers. And, yes, there are Irish, Illini, and Seminoles. And while it is wrong, of course, to let those outside a people take that people’s very name for their own use, shouldn’t the NCAA know that the way to settle it is to let those people handle it themselves and not, yet again, have an outsider tell them what’s in their best interests?

In all of college football, perhaps in all of sport, there is only one team named after itself, not its region, not its history, not its shared proximity with another culture. Before being called the Crimson Tide, the University of Alabama’s varsity football squad was called just that. But after a game in which they played through a torrential rain – and kept playing through it – they were born anew. The players came out of the sludge and muck and muddy water a new thing, evolved from an earlier physical form to become their own self-referential myth, already telling their observers that what you see here may be limited in influence, yet is important unto itself. Let’s play ball.

Roll Tide.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 04/06/05

An Oklahoma Seminole (an actual Seminole, not a punk from the panhandle) and his son are offering Bigfoot safaris in the riverbeds along the Texas border. Like a casino, this endeavor is not for locals and, as such, man-ape hunters have come from all over for a shot at the big money, the farthest from Great Britain.

And just as the Trump Atlantic City offers $5 lobster buffets as apologies for stealing your money on the slots, the Seminoles offer much peripheral entertainment to compensate for the highly probable lack of Bigfoots (Bigfeet?).

For starters, there's a night out on the Rez, which consists of encircling a fire and watching the old guys summon the beast through song. How does one serenade a Bigfoot? My guess would be Delta blues, something with lots of cheating women and sliding guitars. If you were a hulking man-beast lost in the wilderness, those would be the waters you'd wallow in.

The morning brings the hunt, and your guides march you through calf-deep mudbanks, eyes open for the beast's territory, until you make camp in absolute nowhere and the Seminoles teach you the secret of the Bigfoot mating call throughout the night. If such a creature exists and conforms to the size and scope of its legend, why would one wish to play the tease with it?

Bunk, you say? Oh, people believe what they will and see what they expect. The Brits themselves offer nothing but praise for the experience, stating that while on their morning trek they came across an incredible odor, a foul vapor mixing wet deer and something certainly subhuman.

You and I may think Queen's lads have simply paid two locals to walk into the woods and fart on them, but that would be unkind.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report, Special Edition: Spring Practice Baedeker

Day 1

Eavesdropping on Alabama’s spring practice drills offers a cracked door’s peek onto the upcoming season, yes, but has the added benefit of providing escape from Nashville, which is under siege now by the unstoppable Paris Hilton.

Ms. Hilton and her cohort, America’s national wingman target, Nicole Ritchie, have taken to Music City to film the next installment of their unreal reality series, The Simple Life, in which they, according to local news reports labeled “The Hunt for Paris Hilton”, shop at malls, eat at bakeries, and hustle their fame.

For those who believe in spheres, who keep eyes open for an astral plane or manage their own variety of checkbook karma, Paris Hilton may well be the most powerful force in the universe. How else to explain how she uses celebrity to remain impervious to the fleeting rags of itself, like a man who cannot swim preventing his own drowning by drinking the volume of the pool? It may be unfair to identify Ms. Hilton, whose appeal is her own deficit of talent, as under-qualified, but so be it. To her credit though, she comes off as genuine in real life as she does in her sex videos, and you can’t say that about just anyone.

Around town I’ve started unconsciously cataloging Ms. Hilton’s mannerisms in an attempt to nail down the precise drug upon which she’s strung out. No natural human chemical setting accounts for the permanent detachment between her limbs and her gaze. Some additive must stage-manage that awareness without comprehension.

Heroin? No. She’s too active.

Cocaine? Not active enough.

LSD? Too dull.

It’s a puzzle that’s been rolling around in my head like a ball through a Rube Goldberg machine. As the mousetrap snaps and the balloon lifts a lit match across the bomb’s fuse, I’m comfortable thinking she must be on X. Or maybe pain killers.

Day 2

Using the football practice schedule as our calendar, Tuscaloosa in the springtime will never draw in the tourists. An ambushing wind gusts from sunrise on and the ground is harder than calculus. Downtown continues to scrub itself into meaninglessness. But it is a great town for keeping habits and that’s all these not-quite-spring drills are good for, instilling patterns into men and watching them plot their course.

I have a few habits of my own to keep up, which results in grab-bag philosophizing from locals and their liquor schleppers. Bartenders deal medicine so much they come to think of themselves as doctors. But in the barroom, we patients write our own prescription when we walk through the door – if we could replace the conceited bastards with vending machines, we would.

A few old guard stations still elbow in between the gentrified floor plan of the new downtown. What’s great about college towns is their constant jogging in place. They metamorphose without moving, like give a face lift to a corpse.

This is especially true in Tuscaloosa, whose very heart is a relic of charred mounds buried deep beneath fresh sod. The love of history here borders on necromancy and, on whole, is a little creepy. Hence, the bars. The best way for the living to cope in such a place is to become a little dead.

Old blue laws stated, and have since been repealed, that no alcohol be sold within one mile of the University. In the sixties, a San Franciscan measured that exact distance from the campus perimeter, signed a lease, and turned a warehouse into a bar.

Day 3

Coach Shula proclaims Our Blessed Saint of Rainbow City too fragile to withstand full contact drills, and as such, he will remain just out of reach. As metaphor, this is almost too perfect for elaboration.

This decision, however, is as strategically wise as it is poetically. Tempers rise on the practice field though the temperature doesn’t. On a team thinned through sanctions and injuries, many players are trying to outrun freshmen recruits who haven’t stepped inside city limits yet. Paranoia motivates as well as anything else.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

University of Alabama Football Report for 01/13/05

Bad luck wind been blowin’ on my back

I was born to bring trouble wherever I’m at

With the number 13 tattooed on my neck
-- Danzig, “Thirteen”

“And herein lies the tragedy of the age: not that men are poor,—all men know something of poverty; not that men are wicked,—who is good? not that men are ignorant,—what is Truth? Nay, but that men know so little of men.”
-- W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

“I felt it was finally time for me to decide what I really wanted to do in life.”
-- Spencer Pennington, on leaving the University of Alabama football team

Sometime today Matt Leinart will decide if he wants to become a millionaire in two months or in one year, and seconds after that he’ll be either decried or praised for it in a dozen newspapers. Earlier this week, the University of Alabama’s Faculty Senate suggested an end to athletic scholarships. And last night, Spencer Pennington decided to play baseball.

Leinart, with a Heisman trophy and a National Championship (sorry, Eufaula) in his curriculum vitae, should represent all that is good in college football. Yet he runs a pro-style offense, for a pro-style coach, and they both may have pro-style ambition. To those critics who say college football has become little more than the NFL’s pro bono minor league, Leinart provides good evidence.

My alma mater’s suggested finale on rewarding talent seems no more than sour grapes from the elbow-patch crowd. If super-string theory proves correct, there may well be an alternate universe where special team coaches and defensive coordinators gripe about how ballet dancers get all the attention simply because alumni will throw any amount of money at a choreographer who ensures the school’s tradition of demi-plié in fourth position.

But on this world, Spencer Pennington, who will never play professional football or win any awards for quarterback, is walking away from football. He doesn’t need football: Football gave him two concussions and damaged an arm that once drew a six-figure contract from the Chicago Cubs. And frankly, the team may not need him: He began the year at third string and only started because Our Blessed Saint of Rainbow City got broke and the Californian choked. Reports have two high school prospects coming in on angels’ wings, one of whom playing on network TV already.

Friends of mine from the campus trolling days have a son entering his teens now. He is nothing but hormones, elbows and chin stubble, and he has taken to Alabama football obsessively. Doing the rudimentary math, I hypothesize that this is because he was likely conceived on school grounds and is, therefore, locked by blood.

“We’re not happy about this,” his mother says, ‘this’ being his idolizing young men whose lives will peak before they reach 24. But what of those men whose lives never peak, whose lives are a plateau of dissimilar disappointments linked only in that they did not risk failure for success?

Brodie Croyle scares the hell out of me. He was born into destiny. He has the hopes of an entire state on his shoulders each time he runs onto the field. Joe Namath takes his phone calls and the bastard doesn’t even have the decency to sweat. Thank God he doesn’t check off the safety on every pass else I’d fear he wasn’t human.

In his last football game, Spencer Pennington went temporarily blind in one eye. He spent halftime vomiting in the locker room. He also had his career best day under center and came one pass shy of going out a winner. He damn near died for your sins. He is so thoroughly human. He is your son. He is college football.

Roll Tide.