Inside the Bloggers' Unwashed, Unshaven, Studio 2011: Alabama Edition

Much like oversigning, Dumbo was a concoction of the SEC. We're onto you, Walt Disney.

That’s right boys and girls, ITBUUS is back for a second season. For those of you just getting acquainted, here’s how it works: I ask opposing bloggers of teams on Penn State’s upcoming football schedule a few general questions about their team: Some snarky, some not-so-snarky. They then write me back with clever responses. Sounds simple? That’s because it is. It’s the only way I’m going to get any meaningful posts up given my busy real life schedule, deal with it.

Reprising his role from last year as our Alabama Representative is Elliott Roberts from the Bama Sports Report. Apologies for the lateness, as this was supposed to originally go up last Friday. But hey, better late than never, right?

1. Obviously, times are tough in Alabama given what has transpired in the last couple of months. How is the recovery process coming along? Do you feel that Bama fans/students will look to their football more than ever as a source of healing and moving back to normalcy similar to how Virginia Tech did in 2007?

BSR: Times are a bit rough in Tuscaloosa right now and the recovery is… well, slow but steady. Very few places have started outright rebuilding – there’s still too much debris laying around in the area. I live in Tuscaloosa, and it still hurts my heart to drive through the areas where the storm hit. But, the outpouring of support from all over has been amazing.In the days right after the storm, there were cars and trucks from all over. I talked to a nurse from New Orleans who’d loaded up her Jeep with all the supplies it could carry and drove up the weekend after the storm. Folks from another Bama blog (rollbamaroll.com) organized a truck from California and stopped several places along the way to bring an 18-wheeler filled with relief supplies. Scores of stories like that are all over the place, and it’s truly inspiring.

The difference between these storms and Virginia Tech’s situation lies in the breadth of geography impacted here. Tuscaloosa has received the lion’s share of the attention from the April 27th storms, but communities all over Alabama were hit by these storms. Hackleburg, a town in northwest Alabama was practically wiped off the map. Cullman in the north-central part of the state saw tornadoes in the morning, and rain and more high winds in the afternoon. Pratt City, just outside of Birmingham, was just annihilated.
None of that is to say that it was worse than what happened in Blacksburg – just different. And the people of this state are  looking forward to football season with an edge bit of desperation this year. Anything is a welcome distraction.
2. Alabama has opened up as a 9-point favorite on the road at Penn State. This, despite the fact their new QB will be making his road debut in Beaver Stadium of all places. Apparently, Trent Richardson and an experienced/talented defense should negate the QB problems?
BSR: Nine points, eh? Wow. That’s a lot to give on the road no matter where it is, especially when you’re talking about Beaver Stadium and Penn State. However, the quarterback worries me less than it should. This team will be built around Trent Richardson and rushing the football. The offensive line is in great shape and as long as the QB is able to keep Bama in the game, I’m not concerned about the position. That’s at least partially due to the fact that I was terribly worried when Greg McElroy took the reigns in 2009 with no experience. And the Tide promptly rolled to a national championship.
This defense is probably more talented. I don’t say that lightly. I don’t know if they’ll be better, but they do have more talent.
3. Phil Steele has Alabama ranked #1 in his magazine this year. Are you flattered by this or do you feel the same way an NFL fan sees his favorite team’s star player on the Madden cover?
BSR: A bit of both. I’m not a huge believer in curses. But expectations can be a heavy yoke for a team to carry (see Alabama football, 2010 vintage). Hopefully, after the disappointing season they put up last year (and it’s stupid to suggest a 10 win season is disappointing – yes, I’m saying I’m stupid), the team has learned to manage those expectations. Plus, it’s always fun when the spring and summer mags have you highly rated – you get to read more about the team.
4. The SEC is talking about reducing the number of reducing the number of recruits per year to 25. Good call, or RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE?
BSR: It’s about 90% public relations and about 10% genuine concern. To the point that it’s generated very little positive publicity (most pundits seem to recognize it’s just PR), it’s bad policy. I agree with some that oversigning can be a problem, but disagree that it’s some sort of national tragedy. If the worst thing that happens to you in life (or even just in college) is you’re pushed off the football team and transfer somewhere else to play ball, you’re doing okay.
5. Time for an obligatory basketball question: Do you feel Bama was robbed of an NCAA Tournament bid? Is Anthony Grant on the path to turning Bama into the Florida of the West?
BSR: When you lose to St. Peter’s, you never really have a legitimate gripe. However, to see Georgia in (a team Alabama beat twice in the 8 days before the selection meeting) and Alabama out was baffling. The answer that head-to-head was overrated as a metric was even more baffling. See, I had just started to get over that, and now I’m irritated again…
But in reality, if you schedule cupcakes, you have to pound said cupcakes, and Alabama did not. The reason for the scheduling was I’m convinced Grant thought he was a year away from putting a good team on the floor, and the guys gelled and played really well down the stretch. Next year’s schedule is going to be much tougher, and Grant has signed a top-10 recruiting class to go with it. I don’t know that Alabama will ever be the Florida of the West, but they’re going to be in great shape as long as Grant is at the helm.

LIGHTNING ROUND: Time for a little word association. Name the first word(s) that come to mind for the following:

  • Bear Bryant – Ain’t never been nothing but a winner.
  • Mike DuBose - Ain’t never been a winner.
  • Rammer Jammer - Yellow Hammer!
  • JoePa - Legend.. wait for it… dary.
  • Denzel Washington Jay Pharoah’s awesome impression [TIM'S NOTE: Damn! Thought I set him up perfectly for a 'Crimson Tide' reference.]
  • Daniel Tosh - Hilarious asshole.
Last but not least: Tell us a brief story (no more than a few sentences) and finish it with “Roll Tide.”
BSR: I’m old enough to remember the last trip Alabama made to Beaver Stadium. The Tide was up 17-16 in the last minutes of the game. Penn State took the ball, and drove all the way down the field on the strength of Blair Thomas’s incredible running – Alabama simply had no answer. Time was running down though, and late in the game, instead of plowing ahead with Thomas, Joe Paterno had no choice but to send in the kick team for a chip-shot field goal. It was all but a gimme. Then, Thomas Rayam happened…

Roll Tide!

[TIM'S NOTE: Well, Elliott sure knows how to end these types of sessions on a high note. And by 'high note' I mean a swift kick to the PSU fan bases's crown jewels. We thank Elliott for his participation and wish 'Bama the best of luck this season..September 10th notwithstanding.]

Cross-posted at Black Shoe Diaries.

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