Tag:Alabama
Posted on: January 12, 2012 4:05 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 5:57 pm
 

LSU losing Claiborne and Brockers

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Though LSU lost the BCS National Championship Game to Alabama, there's still plenty of reason to be optimistic in Baton Rouge because the Tigers are a young team that will be returning most of its starters on both sides of the ball. However, Morris Claiborne and Michael Brockers will not be among those returning.

The school announced on Thursday that both players were leaving school to enter the NFL Draft.

“There are different times for guys to leave our program and the things that both of these men have done is have consistent growth as people and as student-athletes academically,” said Les Miles in the school's release. “Both men have been very humble in their approach to learning football. It started at a level much less to the level they are at now. They improved and improved and became tremendously competitive. They have put themselves in a position to enter the NFL Draft early at an advantaged position.

“Mo is expected to be in the top 10 players if not in the top five players selected in the NFL Draft. The opportunity to improve his draft position really doesn’t exist. I think Michael Brockers has the potential to improve his overall draft position but is making in my opinion a decision that allows him to fulfill an obligation to his family. Both men have done everything we have asked them to do, and they have both represented this program in an exemplary way both on and off the field. We are going to miss them. They are quality men. I have been fortunate to call up a huddle with these guys in it. I can tell you that their teammates will miss them as well.”

Claiborne is widely considered to be the best cover corner in all of college football, even if Tyrann Mathieu received more national attention for his playmaking ability. Which is why Claiborne won the Jim Thorpe Award this season, given to the best defensive back in college football. Claiborne finished the 2011 season with 51 tackles and had 6 interceptions and 6 passes broken up.

He's the top-ranked cornerback in CBSSports.com's position rankings, and is projected to go as early as third overall and no later than sixth in our mock drafts

Brockers is a redshirt sophomore who had 54 tackles, 10 for a loss and 2 sacks from the defensive tackle position. He also blocked a field goal and had an interception.

Get caught up on the early-entry announcements HERE, and all the latest rankings, mock drafts, and breaking news check out the NFL Draft Home 

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Posted on: January 12, 2012 2:23 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 2:28 pm
 

Alabama losing talented duo to the NFL

Posted by Tom Fornelli

if Alabama plans on defending its national championship, it'll have to do so without two of its most talented players from the 2011 team. It was announced at a press conference on Thursday afternoon that running back Trent Richardson and defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick were all leaving school to enter the NFL Draft.

While both players are great, Trent Richardson is the biggest household name, as he went to New York this season as a Heisman finalist. Richardson rushed for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Tide in 2011 and finishes his Alabama career with 3,860 total yards and 42 total touchdowns. Richardson is ranked as the top running back in the 2012 draft class by CBSSports.com, and is projected to go in the first five picks of the draft.

As for cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, he's not exactly a slouch. Kirkpatrick had 29 tackles and broke up 9 passes this season while also forcing 2 fumbles. He did not have an interception in 2011, but that's because opposing quarterbacks tested him as little as possible. CBSSports.com has Kirkpatrick ranked as the second best cornerback prospect in the 2012 draft, behind only LSU's Morris Claiborne. He's expected to go within the first ten picks of our mock draft.

So if it wasn't already clear, this is a lot of talent leaving Tuscaloosa early, and it doesn't even include the seniors like Courtney Upshaw and Mark Barron that are graduating. Of course, this is where we point out that Alabama had four players drafted in the first round of last year's NFL Draft, and that loss of talent didn't stop the Crimson Tide from winning a national title this season.

Get caught up on the early-entry announcements HERE, and all the latest rankings, mock drafts, and breaking news check out the NFL Draft Home 

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Posted on: January 12, 2012 12:01 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 12:02 pm
 

LSU's Russell Shepard entering NFL Draft

Posted by Tom Fornelli

In a rather surprising decision, LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard announced that he was leaving school to enter the NFL Draft on his Twitter account Wednesday. Shepard said that it was "a hard decision to make" but that he had "to do what's best for me and my family." Whether leaving school to go pro is doing what's best for Shepard and his family remains to be seen.

He wasn't expected to leave school, and as a result, he's not even listed on CBSSports.com's top draft prospects at wide receiver. Even if he had been listed, there's no guarantee that Shepard would be drafted.

After coming to LSU as a quarterback, Shepard was moved to wide receiver, and while he had a fair share of rushing attempts in his three years with the Tigers, Shepard only caught 52 passes for 478 yards and 5 touchdowns. Only 14 of those receptions, and 4 touchdowns, came this season. This is due to the suspensions that Shepard had to deal with in 2011.

There was a housing issue that he was cleared of, but he was suspended for three games due to an NCAA violation after talking to the NCAA about his relationship with Willie Lyles. It was because of this suspension that he was passed on the depth chart by freshman Odell Beckham Jr. who joined Reuben Randle as LSU's starting receivers.

And that's likely the reason why Shepard has decided to leave the school. For further evidence, you don't have to look past his Twitter account once again. Shortly after LSU's 21-0 loss to Alabama on Monday night, this tweet appeared in Shepard's timeline.



The next tweets on his timeline were the ones that explained he was leaving school, so I hardly think it's a coincidence.

Shepard has until January 18th to withdraw his name from the NFL Draft should he choose to do so. 

Get caught up on the early-entry announcements HERE, and all the latest rankings, mock drafts, and breaking news check out the NFL Draft Home 

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Posted on: January 11, 2012 12:33 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 4:17 pm
 

2011-12 All-Bowl Team

J. Darin Darst

Another season gone and another SEC team has been declared BCS Champions.

And after 35 bowl games, it's time to look back and remember some of the great individual performances of the past month. Here are the best in this year's All-Bowl Team:

QB: Geno Smith, West Virginia (Orange): The junior had quite a homecoming in South Florida, setting three Orange Bowl records. He threw for a record 407 yards and accounted for seven total touchdowns (six passing, one rushing) in the Mountaineers' 70-33 thrashing of Clemson. Smith finished 32 of 43 passing, while also rushing for 26 yards on five carries.Geno Smith

RB: Terrance Ganaway, Baylor (Alamo): All the attention was on Robert Griffin, but the senior had quite a game. He rushed for 200 yards on 21 carries and scored five touchdowns -- all in the second half. He scored on runs of 89, 1, 1, 4 and 43 yards.

RB: Stepfan Taylor, Stanford (Fiesta): Another running back in the shadow of his quarterback, Taylor had a strong performance in the loss to Oklahoma State. In his best game of the season, the junior ran for 177 yards on 35 carries, while scoring two touchdowns (1 and 4 yards).

WR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia (Orange): Not to be overshadowed by teammate Smith, the junior receiver had his own amazing Orange Bowl. He set a bowl record with 280 all-purpose yards, including 117 receiving yards on 11 catches. He also recorded four receiving touchdowns. Austin, who was a member of the CBSSports.com All-America Team as an all-purpose player, also finished with a 23.4-yard average on five kickoff returns.

WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State (Fiesta): The junior playing in his final college game, went out with a bang. He had eight catches for 186 yards (23.3-yard average) and scored three touchdowns. Blackmon was a huge part of the Cowboys offense, scoring on catches of 43, 67 and 17 yards.

WR: Patrick Edwards, Houston (TicketCity): In an era of huge offenses, it's only fitting to have three receivers on this year's All-Bowl Team. The senior had one of his best games of the season, catching 10 passes for 228 yards with two touchdowns in the victory over Penn State. Edwards scored on passes of 40 and 75 yards.

TE: Ladarius Green, La.-Lafayette (New Orleans): The senior has had quite a career at Louisiana-Lafayette, but before bolting off to the NFL, Green helped the Rajin Cajuns win their first bowl game. He had five catches for 121 yards and scored on a 20-yard reception.

Offensive Line: Nate Potter (LT), Joe Kellogg (LG), Cory Yriarte (C), Chuck Hayes (RG), Charles Leno (RT), Boise State (Maaco): The offensive line not only blocked for Doug Martin, who ended up with 151 yards rushing, but didn't allow a sack in Kellen Moore's final game of his college career. Potter, Yriarte and Hayes go out with Moore as one of the most successful senior classes in history.

DL: Whitney Mercilus, Illinois (Fight Hunger): In his final college game, the junior recorded five tackles, including three for a loss and 1.5 sacks against UCLA. The Bruins were held to 18 yards rushing and Mercilus was a big reason for that.

DL: Cordarro Law, Southern Miss (Hawaii): The defensive MVP of the Hawaii Bowl led the Golden Eagles with seven tackles, 4.5 for a loss and recorded two sacks.

Courtney UpshawDL: Mike Martin, Michigan (Sugar): The senior had a strong performance, recording 10 tackles and 0.5 sacks in Michigan's victory over Virginia Tech. The defensive end helped limit the Hokies to just one touchdown.

DL: William Gholston, Michigan State (Outback): The sophomore had a great game against Georgia, recording seven solo tackles, including five for a loss, with two sacks and a fumble recovery.

LB: Kiko Alonso, Oregon (Rose): The junior recorded five tackles, including 2.5 for a loss with 1.5 sacks. But his biggest play of the game was when he intercepted Russell Wilson late in the third quarter, which set up Oregon's go-ahead touchdown. Alonso earned defensive MVP honors from the Rose Bowl for his outstanding play.

LB: Courtney Upshaw, Alabama (BCS championship): The defensive MVP of the BCS Championship game, Upshaw was the leader for the Crimson Tide, allowing LSU to cross the 50-yard line only once. Upshaw finished with seven tackles, including six solo with one sack.

LB: Khaseem Greene, Rutgers (Pinstripe): He led the Scarlet Knights defense with 13 tackles, including seven solo, to go along with three tackles for a loss and a forced fumble in the victory over Iowa State.

DB: David Amerson, N.C. State (Belk): The sophomore added two more interceptions to his total, giving him an ACC record 13 for the season. Amerson also returned one for a 65-yard touchdown and recorded five tackles in the victory over Louisville.

DB: Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt (Liberty): One of the best defensive backs in the SEC went out in style, recorded eight tackles with two interceptions while being named defensive MVP for the game.

DB: Dexter McCoil, Tulsa (Armed Forces): The junior had one of his best career games, recording 10 tackles and two interceptions against BYU. McCoil actually intercepted a third pass from quarterback Riley Nelson, but it was nullified after a Tulsa penalty.

DB: Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama (BCS championship): The leader of the Alabama secondary recorded four tackles, including two for a loss, while shutting down LSU's Rueben Randle in the BCS championship game.

Eric PageP: Paul Hershey, Ohio (Idaho Potato): The senior had six punts for 300 yards (50.0-yard average), including three inside the 20 (two inside the 10). With 4:23 remaining and Ohio down by a touchdown, Hershey nailed a 49-yarder down to the Utah State 7. That punt allowed Ohio to play the field position game, getting the ball back at their own 39 and scoring the game-winning score with seven seconds remaining.

K: Jeremy Shelley, Alabama (BCS championship): Shelley had quite a redemption game against LSU the second time around. The junior hit five field goals -- 23, 34, 41, 35 and 44 yards in the championship game to help Alabama build a 15-0 lead.

KR: Eric Page, Toledo (Military): One of the best kick return man in the nation, Page returned four kick returns for 153 yards (38.25 avg), including a 87-yard touchdown in the victory over Air Force.

PR: Joe Adams, Arkansas (Cotton): Adams did it again, returning his fourth punt this season for a touchdown, breaking a 51-yarder in the victory over Kansas State.

All-Purpose: De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon (Rose): The freshman had quite a game against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. He rushed for 155 yards on two carries, scoring both times. One of those runs was a 91-yard burst. Thomas also had 125 yards on four kickoff returns, to go along with 34 yards receiving on four catches.







Posted on: January 11, 2012 1:08 am
Edited on: January 11, 2012 1:10 am
 

SEC Recruiting Reset

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Now that the 2011 season has come to an end it's time to move on to the next phase of the college football year: recruiting. With the SEC 
Recruiting Reset we fill you in on what you may have missed in the SEC and what you should expect to see between now and signing day.

TOP THREE CLASSES

1. Alabama. The new national champions continue to roll on the recruiting trail with what's currently nation's No. 1 class. The Tide already have five commitments from the Maxpreps Top 100 and 26 overall, nearly every one a blue-chipper. In particular, don't expect the passing game lockdown on display vs. LSU to change anytime soon; the highest-ranked three of those top 100 recruits are all defensive backs, and athlete Cyrus Jones (the No. 88 overall prospect) could play in the secondary as well. Sweetest of all is that much of the Tide's success has come at the expense of their SEC West rivals--the Tide just stole top safety (and No. 12 player overall) Landon Collins out of Louisiana from LSU, and flipping powerhouse running back T.J. Yeldon in mid-december was a huge blow to Auburn.

2. Florida. The bumpy transition from Urban Meyer to Will Muschamp meant that the Gators' 2011 class wasn't up to the program's usual standards, but that's not going to be an issue in 2012. Five of the Gators' 18 commitments are top 100 prospects, led by 6'6" five-star offensive lineman D.J. Humphries, No. 14 overall. Though (as always) the Gators are getting a huge boost from their home state -- as with Seffner (Fla.) five-star running back Matt Jones -- Muschamp hasn't hesitated to take the Gators national again, landing Humphries from Charlotte, linebacker Antonio Morrison (No. 76 overall) from Illinois, and tight end Colin Thompson from Pennsylvania.

3. LSU. As long as Les Miles is on the Bayou and winning games, there's going to be too much talent in Louisiana for the Tigers to not finish with one of the nation's best recruiting classes, and that's true again this year; 14 of the Tigers' 21 commitments are from their home state, with six more hailing from Texas, Georgia, or Florida. What is a surprise is that the single commitment from outside SEC country just so happens to be the headliner: top-ranked quarterback and No. 2 overall recruit Gunner Kiel, who'll be expected to solve the passing woes on display in the Superdome by no later than 2013.

TOP PLAYERS AVAILABLE

1. Stefon Diggs -- Many of the top local prospects across the Southeast have already made their decisions -- or have said so publicly, anyway -- but that doesn't mean SEC schools aren't still battling away over available prospects in other parts of the country. One of those is Olney, Md. wideout Stefon Diggs, a total-package burner who ranks as the cuntry's No. 18 overall prospect. Though Diggs has been highly noncommital about his recruitment and has discussed possibly waiting past Signing Day to sign, Auburn received one of his early visits and Florida has long been considered one of Diggs' favorites. The Tigers and Gators will have to fight off a long list of national suitors for Diggs' signature, however.

2. Josh Clemons -- This 6'5" safety/wide receiver prospect (and the nation's No. 54 overall recruit) hails from Valdosta, Ga., only minutes from the Florida-Georgia border. So it's no surprise the two schools believed to be battling it out over Clemons are, you guessed it, Georgia and Florida. The Gators may have a slight edge, but in a race still far too close to call, expect Clemons to take his decision down to the wire.

WORK TO DO

1. Ole Miss. No one will blame Hugh Freeze if the Rebels don't boast a top-25 class after their miserable 2-10 season and coaching overhaul, and early signs -- like the commitment of highly prized in-state defensive end Channing Ward -- are good. But he still needs to find a way to get his first class's numbers up; the Rebels are currently sitting on an SEC-low 12 commitments.

2. Auburn. The Tigers currently check in at No. 16 in the Maxpreps rankings and have four top-100 recruits, so it's not as if there's alarm sirens going off for Gene Chizik or anything. But with just 15 commitments as of Tuesday, Auburn is banking on a big finish with lots of big names choosing the orange-and-blue. If those names go elsewhere, Chizik could be left with the league's eighth- or ninth-best class.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 10, 2012 4:40 pm
 

ACC Recruiting Reset

Posted by Chip Patterson

Now that the 2011 season has come to an end it's time to move on to the next phase of the college football year: recruiting. With the ACC Recruiting Reset we fill you in on what you may have missed in the ACC and what you should expect to see between now and signing day.

TOP THREE CLASSES

1. Miami - Head coach Al Golden's goal was a 30-person recruiting class, and the Hurricanes appear well on their way with 31 verbal commitments. Defensive end Jelani Hamilton will add depth to a young defensive line next season, while top-rated running back Duke Johnson should have an opportunity to wow Canes fans early with Lamar Miller on his way to the NFL. The Hurricanes already have a class that ranks in the Top 10 nationally, and still could close with a few more names before signing day.

2. Florida State - Some shaky commitments from top recruits Mario Edwards and Jameis Winston have knocked Florida State from the presumed top recruiting spot in the conference. Both elite prospects could likely end up with the Seminoles, but with only 15 commits any defects hurt the class. But with four of MaxPreps' Top 100 on board, Jimbo Fisher has assembled yet another impressive group of highly-touted recruits.

3. Clemson - Dabo Swinney's recruiting prowess was on display in 2011, winning an ACC Championship while usually playing 20+ redshirt or true freshman per game. The 2012 class is shaping up to be another strong one, highlighted by safety Travis Banks and highly-touted defensive tackle Carlos Watkins. The Tigers are still in the play for several top recruits, including Ronald Darby (below), and could see their ranking improve in the coming weeks.

TOP PLAYERS AVAILABLE

1. Ronald Darby - After de-committing from Notre Dame, one of the nation's top cornerbacks has re-opened his recruiting to several schools including Clemson, Florida State, and Maryland. In addition to being a top-ranked defensive back, Darby is also a gifted return specialist and can have an immediate impact on any team he joins.

2. Jameis Winston - One of the nation's top quarterback prospects scared Florida State fans when his supposed firm commitment softened in recent months. Many still expect Winston to end up in Tallahassee, but a late push from Alabama and a career in Major League Baseball have threatened Florida State's chances to sign the dynamic signal-caller.

WORK TO DO

1. North Carolina - The combination of a less-than-smooth coaching transition and an impending ruling from the NCAA has created a difficult recruiting environment for new head coach Larry Fedora. One unforeseen challenge in the final weeks includes signing a quarterback. Backup quarterback Braden Hanson will transfer to North Dakota and top QB prospect Patton Robbinette, scheduled to enroll for the spring semester this week, has decided to flip to Vanderbilt.

2. Boston College - Head coach Frank Spaziani felt his seat in Chestnut Hill heat up after the Eagles' 4-8 record in 2011 resulted in the program's first bowl-less postseason since 1998. The first opportunity to win back support comes in recruiting, and Boston College is currently looking at one of the least impressive classes in the conference. Both in current number (14) and caliber of commitments.

Keep up to date with all the latest recruiting news leading up to National Signing Day with our Eye On Recruiting Blog with Bryan Fischer. 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page. 


Posted on: January 10, 2012 3:47 pm
 

When getting it right goes wrong



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Given the debacle that was Monday night's BCS Championship Game, and the ratings that accompanied it, there are no doubt a lot of people outside the southeastern United States who woke up on Tuesday morning wishing they had been given the chance to watch any game but the one they were given in the Superdome. Personally, as a fan of great defensive football, I was looking forward to the game even after already seeing the first meeting.

"The offenses can't play as poorly again the second time around," I thought to myself.

Well, at least one couldn't. Then there was LSU and Jordan Jefferson. Around what was roughly Jordan Jefferson's 89th attempt at running the speed option to the right, only to be swallowed whole by Alabama linebackers, I began to feel as though I were the victim of Chinese Water Torture. One more attempt and I would start spilling my darkest secrets to whoever wanted to hear them just so that LSU would try something different. Anything different. Like maybe gaining four yards.

Instead what we saw was years of work and research by Ivan Pavlov and his classical conditioning theory thrown out the window. Turns out his dogs were smarter than anybody running the LSU offense.

It was also around this point that I began thinking to myself that I'd rather have seen someone like Oklahoma State getting a chance. And while I've done my fair share of trying to prove Oklahoma State's credentials during the regular season on this blog, even then I was always under the impression that Alabama and LSU were the two best teams in the country.

I would just like to have seen what an offense like Oklahoma State's could do against a defense like LSU's, a defense that wasn't exactly stellar on Monday night if you weren't paying attention.

Which is a view point that Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy also shared following last night's game.

"I will say this," Gundy told the USA Today. "I bet you there'll be a lot of people wish they'd given us a shot to see a different kind of game.

"We'd have thrown it 50 times. You like to think Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon could have put together some touchdowns. Get the ball thrown down the field and open some things up. Try to make it exciting, and see what happens."

Surely the Cowboys, with Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, could have put just as many points on the board against LSU as Alabama did. Combine that with Oklahoma State's defense, which was never terrible as the numbers lead one to believe, and maybe even the Tigers could have dented the scoreboard as well.

Of course, this is where you start to hear the "we've already seen what an offense like Oklahoma State can do against LSU, just ask Oregon and West Virginia" response. A response that completely ignores the fact that, while high-scoring, Oregon's offense is entirely different from Oklahoma State's, and that West Virginia's is in its infancy.

It's also an argument that conveniently omits that we'd already seen what happens between LSU and Alabama going into last night's death march as well.

Instead what we get is an Alabama team that, despite how talented and dominating it was during the season, couldn't even win its own division being crowned national champion. An idea that even when it's correct -- and it is correct -- makes absolutely no sense in a sport where every game is supposed to count.

Sometimes getting it right can go wrong.

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Posted on: January 10, 2012 3:32 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 6:32 pm
 

2012 BCS Championship: Last thoughts from NOLA

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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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com