Football, Basketball Sunday Thoughts

Things to think about on the day following Alabama's celebration of its 14th national championship and of the Crimson Tide basketball team's losing effort at Kentucky, probably because one could take hope in the events, or see the glass as half empty.

Confetti was still floating to the turf at Bryant-Denny Stadium following the celebration of the Crimson Tide's 2011 national championship when pundits began the analysis of Alabama winning the crown in 2012. Winning any national championship is difficult, but that doesn't mean the Crimson Tide shouldn't be among the favorites for the title next season.

True, there are some who were outstanding players for Bama who will be in the National Football League next year. But the men who replace the likes of Trent Richardson, Courtney Upshaw, William Vlachos, Mark Barron, Dont'a Hightower and company will have at least as much experience as A.J. McCarron had in replacing Greg McElroy last fall.

Next year Alabama will be the only team in the country with the BCS National Championship Game Offensive MVP at quarterback.

Yes, Alabama has to go on the road to Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and LSU. How many coaches at those schools are jumping up and down with delight because Bama is coming to town? Here's a hint: how many points did LSU score in the BCS National Championship Game?

Alabama is one of two schools that twice successfully repeated as national champion (Oklahoma is the other). The Crimson Tide won national titles in 1964 and 1965. As everyone knows, Bama went 11-0 in 1966 but was denied the title as the vote went to Notre Dame, which had thrown in the towel in settling for a tie with Michigan State.

Alabama also won crowns in 1978 and 1979. Those titles could easily have been preceded by a championship in 1977, but again the vote went to Notre Dame. It doesn't deserve to be forgotten that in 1977 Alabama went to Los Angeles and defeated No. 1 ranked Southern Cal. The Tide's loss that year was at Nebraska. Notre Dame's loss was 20-13 to an Ole Miss team that Alabama had beaten 34-13 the week before. The Rebels were a 5-6 team. It was as if the Irish had lost to Iowa State.

So not only is it possible to win two in a row, it is possible to win more than that. Bama has won two of the last three national championships and wasn't that far off in the year prior to the 2009 title and had a team that could have beaten the number one team in 2010.

Alabama has good players, though perhaps not experienced players, and the Tide has well-paid coaches who can be expected to prepare those players. Anyone tuned into Alabama-LSU in New Orleans knows the result of good players who are well prepared.

Speaking of Alabama's football coaches, two of the key members of the 2011 staff were absent from the Saturday celebration. Jim McElwain is at his new head-coaching job at Colorado State and Sal Sunseri is now the defensive coordinator at Tennessee. Instead, the Tide's two new coaches, Lance Thompson and Doug Nussmeier, introduced themselves. Not long after the celebration, they would be introducing themselves to prospects, primarily prospects for next year who were in attendance with the 32,000 fans.

One of the questions regarding the 2012 season is the condition of upcoming junior linebacker C.J. Mosley, who had one of the highlight plays of the BCS National Championship Game when he intercepted a pass thrown by LSU's Jordan Jefferson, and who was carted from the field after suffering a dislocated hip.

Upcoming senior linebacker Nico Nico Johnson met with reporters following Saturday's celebration event and was asked about Mosley. "He's doing fine," Johnson said. "He's walking. He just had a dislocated hip."

Repeat: "He just had a dislocated hip."

The Tuscaloosa News does an excellent job of football coverage and the newspaper's advertising department is excellent in putting together special sections to keep the sports reporters busy. A half page ad in the newspaper's special section on the national championship celebration was from Kent State University, where Nick and Terry Saban earned two degrees each. An accompanying photo in the ad showing Nick Saban as a Golden Flash (number 12) looked like his helmet didn't have a facemask. Closer inspection revealed he wasn't wearing a helmet; that was a thick mane of black hair.

Just before the football celebration started, Alabama's basketball team was just getting over the disappointment of being unable to upset second ranked Kentucky in Lexington. The Crimson Tide of Coach Anthony Grant should be able to gain some confidence for that performance.

I don't know the4 first coach who bristled at the notion of a moral victory, but it has been picked up by everyone, and Tide basketball fans were among those "not into moral victories." It wasn't a moral victory. It was a loss. But that doesn't mean it was a loss on the same level as losing to Dayton, or even to Mississippi State on the road or Vanderbilt at home.

The "moral victory" concern seems to me to be on par with the coach adage of "We don't worry about what we can't control." Really. I can't control what goes on in Afghamistan, either, but that doesn't mean I don't worry about our service personnel there.

Speaking of basketball, I thought at least 10 Southeastern Conference coaches should have been at least as infuriated as I was following Alabama's loss to Vanderbilt Thursday night when the Commodores shot 29 free throws and Bama only 10 in Coleman Coliseum. After the game, Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings smirked that he was disappointed in the free throws discrepancy. "We shot 44 against Georgia," he said. Kentucky is the only other SEC school that gets that favorable SEC officiating.

I was shocked when I saw that Mississippi State had upset Vandy in Nashville Saturday. .And I was astounded that Vandy had a free throw total of 5-9. That's the whole team for the whole game, plus overtime. I wondered if maybe the SEC officiating crew didn't show up. Perhaps the SEC officials will try to make it a level court.

Hey, we can dream can't we?

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