Posted by Adam Jacobi
NEW ORLEANS -- Hey, folks. If you haven't read my feature on AJ McCarron, the first quarterback to win the BCS Championship as a sophomore or freshman, please do so here. Generally, when you think of the phrase "game manager" in relation to a quarterback, it sounds like a euphemism for "guy who can't throw more than 20 yards," but McCarron was phenomenal in his guidance of the Alabama offense against an insanely tough LSU defense, and a most deserving Offensive MVP for the Championship Game (see McCarron at right, accepting his award). So the fact that he's a redshirt sophomore playing like a four-year starter can't be celebrated enough.
Here are a few more thoughts from New Orleans while I'm down here.
Honey badgers aren't cornerbacks: The "honey badger" nickname works for Tyrann Mathieu. It totally works. People complaining about Brent Musberger using it on television (I didn't watch the game on TV, but there were a lot of tweets grousing about it) (UPDATE: he did it 14 times) need to realize that this is a hipster's argument about music or a big-city homebuyer's argument amount gentrification, writ completely small. If something is enjoyable and underused, people will flock to it and you don't get to claim it to yourself anymore. Social nature abhors a fun vacuum.
That all said, Tyrann Mathieu is fantastic at injecting himself into plays that he's not supposed to be involved in and forcing turnovers and touchdowns. He is also 5'9" and LSU's third-best cover corner. So Alabama decided to run and throw right at this small defender, and surprise! He wasn't nearly as good on an island, without an opportunity to wreak havoc in the backfield.
When Alabama wasn't gearing its offensive attack toward Mathieu, it was using timing and blocking to ensure that he couldn't provide much value to LSU unless he was in coverage, and even then, he was routinely targeted to great success. Alabama basically didn't let him play Honey Badger, they made him play cornerback, and Mathieu is not a good cornerback yet. If Mathieu is running away from the line of scrimmage, he's probably not about to accomplish much. Lots of teams never figured that out this year. Alabama and Nick Saban did.
The peanut butter burger at Yo Mama's is a life-changer: I had several recommendations to go to Yo Mama's right off of Bourbon Street and try a burger that featured a combination of toppings I had never even thought to mix together by themselves, much less on top of a hamburger: peanut butter and bacon.
People. You can't even imagine. Why is the inventor of that sandwich not President of Foodworld? Foodworld is a country I just imagined in my head right now but it needs to be a real thing and this hamburger is why.
Oh, they're all really just friends in the SEC!: Speaking of Bourbon Street, I spent a few hours there over the course of the week (as pretty much the only person between 12 and 55 practicing moderation) and it's akin to being a blood cell in a clogged artery. To be surrounded by people who by and large don't share your mental state is a disorienting feeling, and if someone had a phobia about being accidentally jostled by a drunk frat boy who doesn't know where he's walking, Bourbon Street would probably set off a life-altering panic attack within a matter of seconds.
And yet, even for the tens of thousands of people I walked by, I never saw anybody lose their temper at an opposing fan. Oh, there were plenty of "ROLL TIDE"s and "TIGAH BAIT"s and "BAMA NUMBER ONE"s and "GEAUX LSU"s, but generally that was the full extent of communication between the two fanbases: one catchphrase at a high volume directed at an opposing fan's face with a smile, the other fan returning with his own catchphrase, and off the two go -- usually without so much as breaking stride.
It's not terribly intellectually stimulating conversation -- heck, "conversation" is a stretch to describe it at all -- but to give so many people from these two fanbases the drunkest nights of their lives and cram them all together into one crowded quarter ought to be a recipe for testosterone-fueled disaster, and that just didn't happen. Clearly, New Orleans is magical.
The AJ McCarron effigy idea didn't really work out too well: If you missed it on the Eye on College Football Twitter feed or the Eye on College Football Facebook page, here's a photo from Monday's tailgate of an AJ McCarron effigy, laid out on a stretcher with a pair of crutches, giving that poor, lonesome Bama fan a sad:
(Right click, open picture in a new tab for bigger version. Photo via US Presswire)
Now, I'm having a hard time deciding if I don't like this. Rooting for injuries is something that's pretty uniformly against the code of football fandom (exception that proves the rule: Oakland Raiders fans). As gallows humor goes, though, it's pretty well-executed, while being cartoonish and inattentive to detail enough that it doesn't come across like a warning from a serial killer. Plus, there are crutches there, so clearly this was a lower-body injury they foreboded for McCarron and not something life-threatening.
Now, "you're still not supposed to cheer for someone to mess up their leg, either" is still a perfectly valid argument, but it should also be noted that someone for Alabama did in fact have a nasty leg injury during the game: C.J. Mosely, who suffered a dislocated hip as he was tackled after making an interception in the second half. LSU fans didn't stand up and applaud Mosely's agony at that point, so it's not as if the McCarron injury proves that LSU fans are all bloodthirsty morons. They're not. This was just a dark taunt by one particularly resourceful tailgate, and while it's not particularly tasteful, the notion of SEC football fans never expressing any enmity for an opponent, not even in jest, also seems antithetical to the sport. This isn't the Pac-12!
(Quick aside: I only heard this idea advanced in passing conversations a couple times, but let's put it to bed right now: the notion that Jordan Jefferson intentionally injured Mosely is preposterous. Bas Rutten himself can't tackle someone who's running and wreck the person's hip on command, and to suggest a quarterback could do so just beggars belief. We all on the same page there? Good.)
And finally, I will miss you, NOLA. I've never been down here before. The motive has been there for years and years, but I never had the means and opportunity until now. The city did not disappoint. Case in point: on the first night I came down here, I sat in a bar full of gregarious men, beautiful women, and dogs. Literally, there were at least five dogs on leashes, right there in the open-air bar, watching the Saints game with the rest of us. A room in back held a $7 buffet, and the food was terrific. Of course it was. It's that night -- the locals, their bar, their dogs, their team, their food, their joie de vivre, their everything that I'll miss about this city when it's time to head back north.
I could never live down here, of course. The summers are sweltering enough in Iowa, and one resident's protestation to me that "you get used to it in no time" sounds like textbook Stockholm Syndrome. But the next time it's -10 and my eyes are frozen like Audrey Griswold's -- knowing Iowa, that'll be in about two or three weeks -- there's going to be one happy place my mind goes from now on: New Orleans.
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