More Competition For McElroy

Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy was a little sheepish when reporters spotted something hidden in his sweatshirt during an interview earlier this week. It was nothing to be ashamed of. A book.

"This is part of the Rhodes deal," Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy said. Not an extra benefit, no extension of the nefarious NCAA violations in which Bama student-athletes received extra books.

It's a pretty safe bet that McElroy is the only quarterback in the state who has been reading Liaquat Ahamed's "Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World," a tome on the financial crash of 1929 that led to the Great Depression.

McElroy said that after Bama's rare Thursday night game that the team was "looking forward to having the weekend off."

McElroy didn't work long in Bama's 63-7 win over Georgia State Thursday night, but he worked well, completing 12 of 13 passes (tailback Eddie Lacy dropped one) for 159 yards and two touchdowns in a little over a quarter of work. His 92.3 per cent completion rate was an Alabama record for a minimum of 10 completions in a game. (He broke his own recod of 86.7 per cent when he was 13-15 against North Texas last year.)

McElroy also threw two touchdown passes Thursday night, moving him into third place for his career with 36 and tying himself and John Parker Wilson for second on the single season record with his 17th touchdown pass this year. The record is 18 by Wilson.

The good work in a Thursday game notwithstanding, McElroy is not really getting the weekend off. For one thing, Alabama will begin practice Sunday for next Friday's game against Auburn.

But there is more than that.

"Yeah," he said, "I'm not going to have the weekend off. I'll probably have the most intellectually grueling experience of my entire life. And I'm looking forward to that. I'm just glad it doesn't alter my game-day approach in any way, shape, or form. I was a little nervous about that."

On Saturday, McElroy will be in Birmingham for final interviews as two Rhodes Scholars from the states of Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee are selected. The prestigious Rhodes Scholarship providing graduate study at Oxford College in England is based primarily on academic achievement, but also considers other attributes, including athletic success.

McElroy said he has been preparing for the Rhodes competition "for months, doing mock interviews and trying to keep up with daily world affairs and current events and things of that nature. Being well-rounded is such an important part of becoming a Rhodes Scholar. I've tried my hardest to know what is going on in the U.K. (United Kingdom) and abroad, as well as things that are going on economically all over the world."

McElroy earned his undergraduate degree in marketing prior to the start of his junior season and is completing work on a master's degree in sports administration. He has received numerous academic honors.

Late Saturday afternoon in Birmingham, "They'l call everybody in and tel them pretty much as you sit around a big table who is a Rhodes Scholar and who is not. That's supposed to be a pretty uncomfortable moment, but I'm looking forward to it.

"It's been such a great ride. Alabama has been such a special place for me. Having an opportunity to represent the school is probably the best thing about it."

McElroy even threw a bone to sports reporters.

Of the weekly interviews with sportswriters, McElroy said, "Football-related questions I don't think will necessarily translate, but the interview practice has definitely been beneficial."

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