Indy Bowl casualties, through no fault of their own?
Which two players currently have the most cause to hate the NCAA? Try Shaud Williams and Anthony Madison.
Both players worked their rear ends off this season, laboring on the scout team to prepare Alabama for Saturday's opponents. In fact, both Williams and Madison were frequently singled out by their coaches for their outstanding work simulating opposing star players.
Williams turned in memorable (and helpful) weeks of practice as UCLA's DeShaun Foster and Tennessee's Travis Stephens. And when he wasn't playing tough pass defense against the starting Tide receivers, Madison was taking a turn at quarterback, emulating the Cyclone's jitterbug-quick QB, Seneca Wallace.
But neither player made the trip to Shreveport.
Why? Because NCAA rules say that couldn't; that's why.
Madison is a freshman partial qualifier, while Williams transferred in from Texas Tech. So while both are on scholarship and were very much a part of this year's team from July through December, neither was eligible to play on Saturdays.
And according to the NCAA, ineligible=no bowl.
Makes you want to fire off an angry e-mail to the NCAA, doesn't it?
Indy Bowl deficit?
There were a couple of less-well-known names that were not reported, but Marvin Brown, Antonio Carter, Dante Ellington and Lannis Baxley were the players named by the media. Academic troubles (thought to most likely mean that they didn't pass the required six semester hours, according to SEC rules) kept the four off the Bama bowl roster.
Not playing in the game was bad enough, but according to NCAA rules only eligible players are allowed to make the bowl trip. So the unfortunate athletes not only missed the game, but also the Independence Bowl's gifts to the athletes, travel expense money and bowl items provided by The University.
In all, being ineligible cost each athlete somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,200. Not an insignificant sum of money for any college student.
Bowl depth chart at wide receiver worse than known?
Obviously the absence of Antonio Carter had an impact on the playing rotation at wide receiver. But what most fans don't know is that the Tide was hurting far worse than was known to the public.
Sam Collins and Dre Fulgham, both vitally important members of Bama's two-deep roster at wideout, were each suffering from fairly serious and very painful shoulder injuries.
As the saying goes, "Pain don't hurt."
Bama's post-season all-stars
As BamaMag.com reported earlier this week, tight end Terry Jones Jr. and receiver/kick returner Freddie Milons have both been invited to the prestigious Senior Bowl, held in Mobile, Alabama. Because of its location, Senior Bowl officials have always tried to include as many athletes from Alabama as possible. But the inclusion of Jones and Milons was no favor. Because along with receiver Jason McAddley, both athletes also received invitations to the NFL's Official Scouting Combine.
McAddley will compete in the Hula Bowl, which is interesting. In the past, few Tide players were invited to that older (though less prestigious) all-star contest. But the new coaching staff has contacts that were helpful in garnering McAddley's invitation.
Quarterback Andrew Zow and outside linebacker Aries Monroe will compete in the Rotary Gridiron Classic all-star game, scheduled for Jan. 26 at the Florida Citrus Bowl. That contest is relatively new, and features a team of native Floridians versus a Team USA. Both Bama athletes will compete for Team Florida, coached by Lindy Infante, a former University of Florida assistant and coach with the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts.
Of course Zow is originally from Lake Butler, Florida and Tallahassee is Monroe's hometown.
By the way, note that even though Monroe played defensive end at Alabama, the pro scouts are listing him as an outside linebacker prospect. Whether he can master the new position is problematic. But even though Monroe is an excellent athlete, his size (6-4, 239) precludes any thought of him playing as a down lineman in the NFL.
Other pro hopefuls?
Several other Tide seniors are continuing to work out vigorously, hopeful that they can get a chance at playing pro football. That group includes Reggie Myles, Shontua Ray, Victor Ellis and Darius Gilbert.
There has never been any question about either Myles' or Ray's athletic ability. In Myles' case, he obviously hopes his late-season success was enough to turn some heads.
And if Ray is completely recovered from his knee problems, don't assume he won't be able to land a spot on someone's roster as a special teams player. His combination of speed and strength are hard to find.