June 7, 2010

Summer Opposing Blogger Q&A: Alabama Edition (Yes, It's a Working Title)

Fun Fact: Disney's "Dumbo" was inspired by Alabama's mascot. That's right friends, the media's SEC bias goes back much further than you think.

Miss me, yet? Well too bad, because I'm back with a brand new segment to help add some spice to LBU's summer opponent previews, which should give us enough writing material until they actually start playing the damn games, and what better way to do so than with a good ol' fashioned Q&A session?

I meant to start this segment last week before realizing there are no Youngstown State blogs. I tried to do the next best thing and schedule an interview with a Penguin (Youngstown State's mascot) but they were all busy being chased by psychos in golf carts. Hence, this series shall commence with Alabama week.

This week's brave interviewee is Elliott Roberts, who writes for the Bama Sports Report. It won't be the last time you'll read about him either on this blog, as he plans on getting us back with some questions of his own as the time gets closer to the PSU-Bama showdown. Without further ado, here's BSR's responses to our lengthy list of questions:

LBU: One thing us college sports bloggers share is that we're all long-time, passionate fans of our respective schools, and we like to remind the Internet of that several times a week. Give us a brief background behind your Bama fandom and how Bama Sports Report was conceived. Bonus points for any social faux-paus you may have committed in the name of your fandom.

BSR: Well, we've all been Bama fans longer than we could stand. There's no exciting origin story, other than being birthed into this world. There was never any other option. In fact, I was once told by my mother that I could choose to attend Auburn, but I shouldn't bother calling home.

Social faux-pas? Well, they're too numerous to mention. I was listening to an Ole Miss game via the internet at a weekend business meeting in Utah once - Alabama was in dire straits. When they scored a touchdown to take the lead in the closing moments, I actually screamed during the meeting...You might imagine how pleased my boss was.

The BSR began a couple of off-seasons ago, when I noticed my brother (nxojkt on the site) was posting longer and longer diatribes on the Rivals Alabama site and via e-mail to all our friends. I'm a web developer by trade, so I thought "Hey, why don't we put this up someplace and let everyone read it at their leisure?" So, yeah, it was mostly born by me wanting to get off my brother's e-mail distribution list.

LBU: Only two defensive starters return for the Crimson Tide. What is the level of panic over this amongst the fan base? Do you expect them to be able to re-load with the talent at hand or will the offense be forced to step it up this year as a result?

BSR: Well, the panic level is, in my opinion, way too low, replacing nine defensive starters is never any fun, especially the playcaller/on field coach all-everything middle linebacker (Rolando McClain), and the top two corners - both high draft picks (and every other corner with any experience).

The talent is there, for certain. Nick Saban has done an amazing job recruiting, and there are kids who will one day be quite good who will step in. The question is simple. Will they be good enough for the early season test against the guys from Happy Valley?

LBU: Speaking of offense: It's safe to say Bama has an embarassment of riches in their backfield with Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson on the depth chart. Is there a scenario other than having them split carries evenly that will keep them both satisfied?

BSR: The backfield is, in fact, stacked. Mark Ingram is the returning Heisman Trophy winner and probably isn't the back that most fans are most excited about. Trent Richardson is a very very hard runner with great speed too. In addition to that, redshirt freshman Eddie Lacy was a very highly regarded talent coming out of high school and the coaches love him too.

The upside is that these guys are all team players and exceptionally patient (by all accounts). There are going to be lots of runs (although maybe fewer than last year) and Saban likes to rotate backs to keep folks fresh and find the hot hand. I predict harmony and big yards for the Tide backfield.

LBU: As a Penn State basketball fan myself, I can relate to you as far as cheering for a school where basketball is an afterthought. Unlike PSU though, Bama has taken actual steps towards trying to improve their program. How satisfied are you thus far with the Anthony Grant era? Do you see him having an amount of success akin to his mentor at Florida?

BSR: If Anthony Grant is able to achieve even a scintilla of the success that Billy Donovan has had at Florida, Alabama fans will be out of their minds happy. The name of the game in college basketball (and football for that matter) is recruiting. Grant's offseason has been good but not quite great in that area. And, for better or worse, fans have seen two big men transfer out of the program.

If Grant is able to get Alabama back to a reliable member of the field of 64... err... 68... then the fans here will be happy (at least, for a while). I'm optimistic that Grant can do it. The team last year improved greatly from the beginning of the season to the end, and if he can keep that upward momentum, there's a good chance he can make Alabama a perennial contender in the SEC West.

LBU: It is widely speculated that Nick Saban never smiles. Can you refute this, or is he truly a real-life version of George Costanza's mother from Seinfeld who never laughs, not even a "tee-hee?"

BSR: Nick Saban is, contrary to his public face, a guy with a sense of humor about everything not related to football. There is no one more focused than Nick Saban: He is handsomely compensated to win football games, and he takes that very seriously. As a result, he's got a pretty decent track record.

But, when he's in the living room of a recruit or his springtime barnstorming tour of the south (the "Crimson Caravan"), he's as affable a guy as you can imagine, because being so advances his one goal: To win football games.

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