Friday, January 02, 2009

University of Alabama Football Report for 1/02/09: Sugar Bowl Edition

The judge smiled. It is not necessary, he said, that the principals here be in possession of the facts concerning their case, for their acts will ultimately accommodate history with or without their understanding.
--Cormac McCarty, Blood Meridian

For a season that began with a player's arrest for felony cocaine distribution, ending with a player's (or player's father or player's uncle or player's neighbor's great aunt's high school sweetheart's mechanic) signing early with an agent might seem too mundane to address, but such is the carnival of today's college football.

An aside: the state of Alabama take meddling with football players so seriously that were a sports agent found guilty of speaking with an underclassman within the state’s borders, said agent would face a mandatory prison sentence.

Therefore, if you are a fan from some other region of the country and are worried that maybe blowing the Christmas bonus on bowl tickets and spending your holiday season away from friends and family just so you can cheer on your favorite team in some tourist-trap makes you an unreasonable person, congratulations. Alabama has once more upped the obsession ante and you’re sane for another year.

Andre Smith (or his father, or his uncle, et cetera, et cetera) might be sane too, albeit unpopular at the moment.

The physics professors tell us that the average football lineman endures the equivalent force of three headlong collisions per football game. That’s headlong car collisions.

So, from a certain point of view, you can’t blame the big man for walking away from his last car crash and, rather than cramming himself into the next available hatchback with bad breaks, slipping into the limo at the drive-by teller’s window instead.

That point of view is not widely shared at the moment.

Nor will it be. Not while there’s another game to be played.

At the end of Bear Bryant’s Building a Championship Football Team, a dense, technical book filled with coaching instructions for everything from basic tackling drills to goal-line defense, the old coach turns unexpectedly poetic.

He tells of his first Texas A&M season and of the young men, the famed Junction Boys as they would be called, who survived those brutal practices and Bryant’s only losing season to eventually win the conference by their senior year.

Over one hundred players started that first season with them, three-fourths of those quit during the first weeks, and only eight made it to their final, championship season. In the book’s closing, he lists each of them by name and adds, “As for the boys who dropped out because the going was too tough, who can remember their names?”

Another aside: the 2008 Alabama Crimson Tide football team fields only nine scholarship seniors, the second lowest number in college football.

Antoine Caldwell.
Marlon Davis.
Bobby Greenwood.
Rashad Johnson.
Travis McCall.
Will Oakley.
Nikita Stover.
Nick Walker.
John Parker Wilson.

Of those who may have come in with more promise but less dedication, more ability but less heart, more accolades but less of whatever it takes to suit up in a school’s colors, survive the car crash, and get back on the road . . .

I know which names will be remembered.

Roll Tide.