The Things That Don't Matter

This is Tennessee week, but there have been distractions. Some are legitimate. Alabama moved ahead of Florida into first place in the Associated Press poll this week. That's a topic of conversation. All of a sudden, Bama tailback Mark Ingram is a candidate—perhaps the leading candidate—for the Heisman Trophy. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk.



By mid-week, though, it would be expected that Alabama would be focused on Tennessee and the Vols on the Crimson Tide.

Uh-uh.

First of all, Tennessee Coach Lane Kiffin announced that he was asking Alabama for permission for the Vols to wear orange jerseys this week. An NCAA rule permits both teams to wear home jerseys if there is written permission from the conference and the home team agrees to the proposal.

Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore said he called Tennessee Athletics Director Mike Hamilton and informed him that Bama preferred Tennessee wear white.

But Tennessee said Alabama could wear crimson next year!

We'll wear white, Moore said.

At Wednesday's regular media briefing, Alabama Coach Nick Saban was asked what part, if any, he had in the decision.

Short answer: None.

Saban answer:

"That was Coach Moore's call. I have never anywhere I've ever been had anything to do with uniforms. I think the tradition from my perspective – the tradition of the school, the tradition of the expectations of all the people who see Alabama come out in whatever they come out in, or LSU come out in whatever they come out in. And everyone always comes to me and wants to know ‘You want to change the helmet, you want to change the jersey, you want to change the uniform, you want to change this, you want to change that?'.

"It's not my decision. I don't want anything to do with all that, because to me it's bigger than me and it's bigger than the coach. So when anyone here asks me about that, I don't have any feel for it, nor do I want anything to do with it. Coach Moore asked me about it and I said, ‘Mal, it's your call. It doesn't bother me.' As long as we wear our traditional thing, I'm not worried about the other team and what they wear. I know some guys go places and they have gold jerseys and the team's always worn white, or whatever, and they change this and that. I'm not into all that. Maybe I ought to be, but I'm not.

"Terry (wife Terry Saban) picks out my clothes. I don't go shopping, I don't like to shop, I don't buy anything for myself. Maybe that's part of it."

The other big issue came from outside Alabama-Tennessee. South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier wasn't satisfied to take his licking and look ahead to his next game. He whined that Alabama had cheated him! The nefarious crime? Alabama's holder, P.J. Fitzgerald, was putting a small piece of tape on the field where he intended to spot the ball for Leigh Tiffin field goal and extra point kicks. That is, indeed, a violation of the rules. You can't mark the spot. It carries a five-yard penalty.

Saban was asked about "Tape-Gate."

"It's a five-yard penalty," Saban said. "Would we be having this conversation if it was somebody lining up offsides?

"First of all, I didn't know anything about it. But since it happened, we did research, and over half the guys in the league this year use something to show the kicker where they're going to spot the ball. Could be a piece of grass, could be a piece of mud, could be anything. And we researched last year and South Carolina's very good kicker used it. (Editor's Note: This may have been in 2007.)

"I wasn't aware of it. I'm not upset with anybody. I'm glad someone made us aware of it because I wouldn't want to get a five-yard penalty for such a critical offense.

"And I don't want to get caught up in anything like Watergate, because that wasn't really about the crime, it was about the cover-up, We're not trying to cover this up and I don't want to get in trouble over that because this is really important. I'm glad someone thought it was important enough to bring it to our attention so we could get it corrected."

On another subject, Alabama will host Tennessee in a Southeastern Conference football game at 2:30 p.m. CDT Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. CBS will televise the game.

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