Trying to kick off July right. With 60-some-odd days left until the start of the season, I'm hopefully going to be able to generate more content here. Unless my computer craps out again: always a possibility. Anyway, to that end, here's an assortment of notes...
***The big news of the day for Tide fans is that the long-rumored move of the Georgia State game is officially a reality. The game will now be played two days earlier than originally scheduled, on Thursday night, November 18th. While the relocation of a "gimme" game might not seem like a big deal outside the state of Alabama, it has huge ramifications in terms of the Iron Bowl on Friday, November 26th. With the previous scheduling, Alabama would have been playing Georgia State on Saturday the 20th while the Awbarn Family sat at home on a bye week, giving the Fam 12 days to prepare for the game but Alabama only 5 days. Of course, nobody practices on Thanksgiving, so it was really more like 11 days vs. 4 days. I wasn't a math major in college but I think that means Auburn would've had nearly a 3-to-1 edge in preparation/recovery time.
A similar scenario played out last season, with Bama playing Chatanooga while Auburn was on a bye prior to a Friday Iron Bowl, resulting in a much tougher game for the Tide than anyone had anticipated and a strong Moral Victory for Cheeze Nuts and the Family. (It's quite odd to rip out someone's heart and serve it them for a belated Thanksgiving dinner, only to find that they like the taste.)
So this is a boon for Alabama's hopes of a repeat championship. I think this will turn out to be good for Georgia State, as well. They have no chance of keeping it within 50, whether they play on Thursday or Saturday. But now its much more likely that this game will end up on TV somewhere on the SEC Network than it would have been on a Saturday, or at least more likely that someone besides Alabama fans will pay attention to it for more than 5 seconds. And besides the big check, that's why a school like Georgia State plays these sorts of games: exposure. "Hey, look, high school kids, you can still play the big teams if you come play for our little program." So it works out for them.
Now let's just work on getting the Iron Bowl moved back to Saturday. NOBODY likes it on Friday. I hate it. All fans hate it. The players hate it. Saban hates it. Chizik probably loves it, but your win-loss record has to break .500 before you get a say on anything.
***In future scheduling news, there's a lot of smoke swirling around a potential Bama/UCLA game at Jerryland in 2012. The Tide is off the market for neutral site games in '10 and '11 due to a home-and-home with Penn State, but Alabama is very interested in getting back into those games. Saban has become a big fan of playing neutral site openers following the success of playing in the Chik-Fil-A Kickoff game the past two seasons. Even beyond winning the games and the way those early tests groomed his young teams for later challenges, they turned out to be surprisingly useful recruiting tools, especially in Georgia. So I imagine a game in that fertile Texas recruiting territory looks awfully appealing to Saban as Bama recruiting continues to spread nationwide.
As a prospective opponent, I'm nonplussed with UCLA, although I can see a lot of Bama fans getting psyched up to avenge the 2000 Debacle in Pasadena that signaled the beginning of the DuBose nosedive. Maybe Neuheisel will have the Bruins up to speed by then. Of course, nothing is even close to being a lock. Bama has already been linked with Texas Tech, Miami, and Notre Dame, among others. This may just be the next in a line of iterations. The only thing that seems certain is that Alabama will be playing in Dallas to open 2012.
***I'm told not to expect too much big news on the recruiting front any time soon. (Now that I've said that, there will probably be a big commitment tomorrow.) Most of the prospects left on Bama's recruiting board are elite guys who, at least as of now, aren't expected to make (public) decisions until the All-Star circuit in January at the earliest.
***By my count, Bama is still one or two guys over the 85 scholarship limit, so expect July to be a big month for attrition and rumors of attrition. (Oversigning.com can bite me, by the way.) I'm told it's hurtful to speculate on which players could be leaving, so I guess I won't name names. But I have my ideas.
***Former Bama safety Justin Woodall is giving up his NFL aspirations to try his hand at baseball. Allegedly he threw in the mid-90's before giving up baseball to focus on football prior to 2008 season. In retrospect, that seems like a really odd choice for such a marginal football talent, but I guess he got some rings out of it. Woodall looked really good in a jersey, but he was by far the worst starter on last year's defense. There's been a great deal of hand-wringing among fans over who will replace him this coming season, but if Robert Lester or Rod Woodson can just be "serviceable," there won't be a dropoff at that position.
THAT IS ALL.