Category Archives: Alabama

Alabama Governor Bentley Sticks Foot in Mouth, Again

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley seems to like the taste of his own toes. He sticks his foot in his mouth so often that people down south have taken to calling him “Goober” after the character on the Andy Griffith Show who just could not keep his mouth shut even though he rarely knew what he was talking about.

But that’s Alabama for you, where the state’s history is rife with goofy governors, especially Republicans like Guy Hunt and Fob James.

This time, the mainstream Associated Press picked up Bentley’s comments suggesting that Massachusetts Mormon Mitt Romney might want to release his tax records if he wants to be president as President Barack Obama has been saying regularly on the campaign trail of late. It was Saturday at the National Governors Association conference in Virginia, and a reporter just happened to spot Bentley and ask him whether he thought Romney should release his tax returns. The governor said yes – adding that he believes in transparency and releases his own tax returns every year.

“If you have things to hide, then maybe you’re doing things wrong,” Bentley reportedly said. “I think you ought to be willing to release everything to the American people.”

After Democrats seized on his words and the comments began to be picked up on blogs, Facebook posts and Twitter Tweets, Bentley later stuck his foot even further into his mouth, saying he still believes Romney’s taxes should be released and he believes in transparency, but his staff issued a statement insisting he wasn’t implying that Romney had anything to hide.

“I believe my comments were taken out of context, they were not reported in their entirety, and I want to make sure the record is set straight,” Governor Bentley said in this statement. “I believe in trasparency, and that was the basis for my answer. I personally choose to release my own returns each year, and there was no effort to imply that Mr. Romney has anything to hide.

“While I believe in total transparency, I also believe much of the rhetoric surrounding Mitt Romney’s personal finances is nothing more than an attempt by Democrats to distract from the real issues of the presidential campaign,” Bentley said. “The real issues are the economy, employment and getting America back on the right track. I fully support Mitt Romney and his vision for our country, and I will do everything I can to help get him elected.”

Woops. Too late, and wrong.

Romney’s record on the economy is not only fair game in the campaign, it is sort of critical for voters to know what kind of president he would be if elected. If his record as a business administrator are any indication, he will outsource jobs overseas, hide his personal wealth in overseas accounts, and then lie about it, according to the AP.

Bentley has his own political problems back home in Alabama. Perhaps he should stick to trying to set things right in his home state. He has made the state the butt of national and international jokes once again as a racist place for passing a discriminatory and draconian immigration law in a state where illegal immigrants are hardly a problem at all compared to California, Arizona and Texas.

He presides over a state in which all three branches of government are run by a rapid, right-wing Christian tea party that has damaged the very thing everyone seems to value most: the business recruitment climate. They have ruined public television and are hell bent on destroying the unions, just like the Republicans tried to do in Wisconsin. They are trying their best to run off school teachers and even turn the public schools into Christian schools.

They are going to join a few other so-called conservative states in defying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, even though a conservative U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law.

All of this begs a few questions on this Sunday morning.

Are people still trying to secede from the rest of the country and the world by creating a safe little poor place for only uneducated, white Christian radicals to live?

Doesn’t it sort of remind you of the Civil War all over again?

Why would any half-way intelligent person want to live and work in Alabama?

Perhaps it’s time to make that move out West, my friends, or at least escape to the mountains of North Carolina or Virginia.

If some smart, progressive Democrats don’t get it together and take back over this state — and soon — they will see a brain drain like nothing they have seen so far. Most of the kids from Alabama who manage to get out and get an education today don’t come back anyway. They know there are better opportunities elsewhere where a higher percentage of the population can at least think for themselves.

While many talented and intelligent people have come from Alabama, it is becoming an almost unbearable intellectual wasteland of morons and dingbats, even on the political left. What is an educated person to do? Get out, that’s what.

How Much Heat Can We Take Before We Attack Global Warming?

How to Save the Planet and Fix the Economy Too

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The Big Picture

Just how hot does it have to get before the people of the United States finally acknowledge that global warming is happening? When are we going to stop arguing about it and start doing something to at least slow it down from getting even hotter?

We have known about this for at least a couple of decades. The science was settled on this back in the 1990s when I wrote a doctoral dissertation about media coverage of global warming.

There is no doubt that humans are causing the warming of the planet with our insatiable demand for electric power from the burning of fossil fuels, which causes greenhouse gases to build up in the atmosphere and trap heat around the planet.

What will it take to convince the corporations that profit from electric power generated by the burning of coal, natural gas and oil? What will it take to convince the Republicans? What will it take to convince the Christians?

Once again this summer, temperatures have soared over the 100 mark in the United States and around the globe, setting more records, just as we have seen over the past 20 years. From Philadelphia and New York, to Louisville, Kentucky and Birmingham, Alabama and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the heat baked the landscape like a plague.

At least 30 deaths were blamed on the heat, including nine in Maryland and 10 in Chicago, while officials said the heat caused highways to buckle in Illinois and Wisconsin. Thousands of mid-Atlantic residents remained without power for more than a week from deadly summer storms and extreme heat, including 120,000 in West Virginia and some 8,000 in the suburbs around Baltimore and Washington, D.C. In the Washington area, Pepco asked customers to conserve power, saying the heat was stressing the system.

This heat wave and an accompanying drought — and freak storms and massive power outages — will continue to spread over the next couple of months. But the Republicans in Congress and the states would rather try to defeat President Obama at the polls by lying to and exploiting their conservative constituencies than to tell people the truth.

Corporations like Southern Company, which controls Alabama Power and Georgia Power, would rather spend their money on campaign contributions to Republicans who oppose doing anything about global warming — or air pollution and water pollution for that matter — than to get onboard and try to help reverse the warming of the planet and the inevitable changes in climate.

As for the Christians, who tend to vote Republican, they just seem to figure that when the entire planet catches on fire, some god will snatch them out of the flames and save them and take them to another planet in the universe where they can live in what they call “heaven,” while the rest of us burn.

I’ve often wondered if these Christians, like our not so esteemed governor of Alabama Robert Bentley, really believe there are separate planets in the universe reserved for the white Christians and the black Christians? Is there another planet set aside for the brown Christians and the yellow Christians?

Since scientists have not found a suitable new planet to house any of us yet — or a way to travel there — would it not behoove us to try to slow down the warming of the planet, the melting of solar ice caps and the rising seas until we might find such a place?

Or is god a space alien like the Mormons believe? Yeah, that’s the ticket. Let’s elect a Mormon for president and put off doing anything about global warming for another eight years and see what happens. Morons.

If the U.S. Supreme Court had not handed George W. Bush the presidency in the year 2000, we could be a long way down the road of doing something about this by now. But no, we just have to keep on having a silly argument that drags on for years and serves no purpose except to make a few people richer, while the rest of our lives just continue to get worse.

Now I know a lot of people on the left, including a lot of environmentalists, are no fans of President Obama. But if everybody does not get onboard and prevent the election of the Massachusetts Mormon Mitt Romney to the White House in November, we may see the world end as we know it in our lifetimes.

At least science and merit are back to some extent in the federal government, although we’ve got a long way to go to get rid of all the bureaucrats Dick Cheney hired. Maybe we can do that in a second Obama term.

Otherwise, we might as well fool ourselves like the Maya did by committing human sacrifices and polluting their own water supply. Oh, but we learned this week that the Maya calendar doesn’t end on Dec. 21, 2012. Maybe it ends by the end of Romney’s second term? Let’s ask Nostradamus why don’t we?

Or, perhaps it’s time to stop fouling our own nest and to take responsibility for conserving this planet so there can be future generations.

If we would make up our minds to get on with a program to change this warming trend, it would not cost us jobs or hurt the economy. In fact, fixing the power plants we have and building new, cleaner ones would create millions of new high paying union jobs and save the economy.

And while we’re are it, if we really wanted to fix the economy, there are two other things we could do right away — if we could find the political will. Get rid of the ridiculous Cold War trade restrictions on Cuba, and legalize marijuana. Trade with Cuba could save the Southern states from economic ruin, and the taxes we could collect on pot would immediately save us a billion dollars on law enforcement and eliminate the budget deficit overnight.

I’ve got it. Why don’t we end the war on drugs and start a war on global warming? Would that help people understand?

We can do these things. But not if we cower to the corporations, listen to the Christians — or elect Republicans. We must first face reality in our politics.

Alabama Prevails Over Texas for National Championship

There’s an empty spot on the walk of fame at Alabama for Nick Saban, who brought Alabama back to the national championship in the Rose Bowl and coached the university’s first Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram

by Glynn Wilson

The University of Alabama Crimson Tide is back on top of the football world, hanging on to prevail over the Texas Longhorns in a game of unexpected twists and turns, including the early hit by Marcel Dareus that knocked Quarterback Colt McCoy out of the national championship game in the first quarter.

Dareus later scored on a 28-yard interception return just before halftime, earning him the award for defensive player of the game.

“I was thinking about grabbing the guy with the ball, but then I said, `Let me just grab this football.’ I wasn’t even thinking about the highlight,” Dareus, a native of Birmingham who played at Huffman High School, said after the game. “I was so excited. My legs were weak, my muscles were crazy, and I made it.”

This Alabama team will go down in football history for going through 14 games undefeated and for Mark Ingram’s Heisman trophy, Alabama’s first. Ingram earned offensive player of the game honors for running for 116 yards and two touchdowns. His roommate, Trent Richardson, ran for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

The No. 1 Crimson Tide held off a rally by second-ranked Texas and beat the Longhorns 37-21 on Thursday night in the BCS title game with help from a late fumble recovery by Courtney Upshaw at the Texas 3-yard line. Ingram scored a clinching touchdown from 1 yard out with just about two minutes left in the game.

The victory makes Alabama head coach Nick Saban, now called Saint Nick in Alabama, the first coach to win BCS titles at two universities, Alabama and LSU.


Note: This post originally appeared in our sister publication, The Locust Fork News-Journal

Tom Campbell: A Witness To History

(Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared in our sister publication, The Locust Fork blog.)

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Guest Column
by Tom Campbell

NEW YORK — Few people ever have a chance to be arms’ length from greatness. As a lifelong fan of Alabama football, I feel lucky to know that I’ve been a witness to an event that will become a part of Alabama’s fabled history.

To have had such an opportunity twice is remarkable. On both occasions, I tried to burn each detail into my memory because I knew the events before me were celebrating a legacy of pride and greatness.

Two celebrations of excellence of historic proportions for the storied University of Alabama football program will endure in my memory.

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Tom Campbell
Mark Ingram will carry the Heisman experience for the rest of his life

Over 25 years ago, as my last official act as student body president at the University of Alabama, I attended the funeral of Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. As sad as Bryant’s funeral and grave site procession were, the Alabama family celebrated a man whose impact upon his players, coaches, university and fans proved immeasurable.

Economic times were hard then, and folks rallied around the prowess and class surrounding the football institution Coach Bryant built. During a time when people were losing a lot — jobs, bonuses, homes — Alabama football offered fans in the community something to be proud of and helped people feel like winners. Despite the celebratory remembrance of Bryant’s life and career, this event nevertheless marked an end.

Now, decades later, in the midst of a terrible economic climate, I had the opportunity to observe another event crucial to the history of Alabama’s football program as a special assignment reporter for the Locust Fork News Journal. However, this celebration, at the announcement of the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, marked a new beginning rather than an end.
Before the announcement of the Heisman winner, the press was treated to a banquet dinner in Times Square. Surrounded by the five finalists, their esteemed coaches and a legion of legendary figures from football history, I felt like the room was filled with electricity and promise. Pluck and grit and winning attitudes really had made a difference in the lives of these young men and their proud coaches, and I was inspired to see the culmination of a football season filled with talent, drive and teamwork.

In each of the five young finalists, Tebow, Ingram, McCoy, Gearhardt and Suh, I saw student athletes brought to this level not only by their physical prowess but also by the humility and class that comes with winning character. Each finalist was being celebrated for personal greatness. Each young man was supremely self-confident. But to a man they exuded gratitude for their God-given talent and appreciation for the coaches, programs and teammates who allowed them to shine. None appeared to express an air of entitlement or arrogance.

Of particular interest to me personally, was of course Mark Ingram. The Flint, Michigan, native turned Alabama standout sat before me with poise and polish. This young man had a brilliant turnout in what may well be a National Championship season, and it was easy for me to forget that just a few miles east of Times Square, Ingram’s father awaited transfer to prison — that Ingram achieved this accomplishment amidst personal turmoil and hardship.

Equally hard to believe was the fact that Ingram has achieved this honor as a sophomore. I wondered if he would follow Tim Tebow as the second Heisman winner to earn that distinction as a sophomore.

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Tom Campbell
Alabama’s Nick Saban winks as if he knows a secret after Ingram dodges a question about the Heisman Curse

Before the result was announced, the pride Coach Nick Saban exuded for his player proved infectious, and I found myself forgetting my journalistic objective for attending the Heisman banquet in the first place as I hoped to hear those two words revealed, “Mark Ingram.”

Would this be one more mark of greatness for the University of Alabama football program? Would Ingram prove himself a formidable opponent on the national stage? Would Saban continue to create his own legacy at Bama, marked as much by the quality of the character of his players as their domination on the football field? Would their affiliation with the University of Alabama continue to be a rallying point of pride and celebration for fans in a time of financial difficulty for many in our state?

And the answer was yes.

Mark Ingram was awarded the Heisman — a storybook beginning for what surely will prove to be a heralded football career.

And I was fortunate enough to witness another legendary chapter in the story of the Alabama football program.

Roll Tide!

Explosive New Story Lends Credence to Siegelman Appeal

New Reporting May Show Bush Was ‘In the Loop’

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Glynn Wilson
Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman in front of the federal courthouse in Montgomery, with Sephira Bailey Shuttlesworth, wife of Birmingham Civil Rights icon Fred Shuttlesworth, in the background.

by Glynn Wilson

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy will get another day in court Dec. 9 in Atlanta, when a three-judge appeals court panel will hear oral arguments in a rare hearing that is likely to result in the case being thrown out, perhaps by Christmas.

We are working on a longer news feature about the case as an advance on the hearing, and will go into some detail about the arguments before the court.

But an explosive new story in Time magazine confirms what we have been reporting all along, and reveals critical and startling new evidence about the political, unethical, and, if true, illegal activities on the part of the Bush-appointed U.S. attorneys and career prosecutors in Montgomery.

The Time lede:

Next month in Atlanta, a federal court will hear the high-profile appeal of former Alabama governor Don E. Siegelman, whose conviction on corruption charges in 2006 became one of the most publicly debated cases to emerge from eight years of controversy at the Bush Justice Department. Now new documents highlight alleged misconduct by the Bush-appointed U.S. attorney and other prosecutors in the case, including what appears to be extensive and unusual contact between the prosecution and the jury.

For more on this breaking story, see the piece in our sister blog, The Locust Fork News Journal.

Championship Weekend

by Paul Rockne

It’s Championship Weekend for Southeastern Conference football – and for several other leagues as well – with the surprising Arkansas Razorbacks representing the Western Division and the not-so-surprising Eastern Division champion Florida Gators going head-to-head for the SEC title Saturday in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

The Hogs and Gators would figure to grab all the football headlines this week … but they didn’t as the Alabama Crimson Tide captured the media attention – almost pushing the SEC championship game into the background except in Arkansas and Florida – by abruptly firing head coach Mike Shula and announcing a nationwide search for a new coach.

The word “again” belongs at the end of the last sentence. The slap-in-the-face firing of Shula brings the Alabama football program back around to where it has been all too often in recent years – in a search for another head football coach. Tide Athletic Director Mal Moore is currently engaging in his fourth search for a new coach in his tenure.

Shula may have deserved being fired but the feeling from here is that, considering the mess he inherited with Dennis Franchoine’s sudden departure for greener pastures, the Mike Price debacle and NCAA probation, he deserved at least another year. With the losses this year being as close as they were, many oh-so-close to being a victory, the odds were good that the Tide could/would have produced another 10-win season in ’07.

Shula was, obviously, both disappointed and surprised when Moore made the Sunday night call. After all, Shula had done what he had been hired to do – clean up the Alabama image. He never embarrassed the university on or off the field. There were no drunken nights along the T-Town strip, no accusations from secretaries, no rumors of affairs or any other improprieties. He worked hard, recruited hard and gave the best he had for four years.

On the other hand, long-time Bama fans couldn’t have been surprised at Shula’s fate. After all, Shula went 0-4 against Auburn. Bill Curry was fired as the Bama head coach for not being able to beat Auburn – and his overall record was much better than Shula’s. When Bear Bryant was being interviewed for the head coaching job in Tuscaloosa, the first question asked of him was: “Do you think you can beat Auburn?” Despite the loss to Mississippi State and the mediocre record this year, if Bama had beaten Auburn in the ’06 Iron Bowl, Shula would still be captain of the Tide football fortunes.

But whether Shula should or shouldn’t have been let go is not as important as how he was treated. The slap-in-the-face manner in which the whole affair was handled will make it harder to find and hire a good replacement – in fact, only another Bama grad or former player should even consider taking the job.

Some big-time names have been named as possible replacements for Shula – Steve Spurrier, Nick Saben, Rich Rodriguez, Bobby Patrino, Paul Johnson, Jim Grobe, Houston Nutt – but most have been quick to deny any interest in the job. That could be how they really feel or just part of playing the game. But if they have been watching events closely as they unfold, the above-mentioned coaches who are all successful in their present positions with their present teams will think twice – or more – times before they sign on the dotted line with the University of Alabama.

The powers that be at Alabama waited until late Sunday to hand Shula his walking papers and made Shula look like a naïve fool in the process. After twisting in the wind for eight days following the Iron Bowl loss, the former Tide QB and son of one of the winningest coaches in NFL history, told his players and assistant coaches at an early Sunday evening meetinig not to believe the rumors of his impending demise and to get their minds on the upcoming bowl game. Less than two hours later, he was gone.

That insult, that slap in the face, should serve as a warning to candidates in the present coaching search. If the way Moore and Company treated Shula is the way it treats one of its own, how will they treat an outsider with no ties to the Bama family?

Perhaps Alabama’s only hope is a second resurrection – Bear Bryant coming back for a second go. But who knows? In these days of instant gratification and lack of patience, Tide fans might not even give Bear a break.

Oh yes – the SEC Championship Game. It will be played Saturday (today) at 5 p.m. in the Georgia Dome. Florida is a 3-point favorite. The two teams have met just six times before, with the Gators holding a 5-1 edge. It will be the fourth SEC title game matching two teams ranked in the top 10.

This weekend’s championship college football TV schedule kicked off Friday night with the Conference USA title game, in which Houston defeated Southern Mississippi.:

Saturday’s championship week lineup is as follows:

Connecticut at Louisville, 11 a.m. (WCSS)
ACC Championship Game, Georgia Tech vs. Wake Forest., noon (ESPN)
Army vs. Navy, 1:330 p.m. (ABC)
Division II title game, Delta State vs. North Alabama, 1:30 p.m. (CSS)
Stanford at California, 2 p.m. (FSNS)
Southern Cal at UCLA, 2:30 p.m. (ABC)
SEC Championship Game, Arkansas vs. Florida, 5 p.m. (CBS)
Troy at FIU, 6 p.m. (CSS)
Rutgers at West Virginia, 6:45 p.m. (ESPN)
Big 12 Championship Game, Nebraska vs. Oklahoma, 7 p.m. (ABC)

College Football Preview: Iron Bowl Or Not?

Editor’s Note: A controversy rages in Alabama over whether to continue calling the Alabama-Auburn game the “Iron Bowl.”

Over at Tuscaloosa News columnist Tommy Stevenson’s new blog, he’s asking the question.

We raised the issue last year in this story, which should tell you where we come down on the subject: It ain’t “The Iron Bowl” no more.

What do you think? Sign in below and give us your comments. Onto the story…

by Paul Rockne

It’s Traditional Rivalry Week for Southeastern Conference football.

Photo by Glynn Wilson

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Funny, when Paul “Bear” Bryant was alive, it was hard to get a picture of him where you could see his eyes, especially on the football field. Now, with the sun behind Bryant-Denny Stadium, it’s hard to get a photo of his new statue with his eyes in the picture…

There are three of these throw-out-the-record-books games, in which the outcome is the be-all and end-all for rabid fans, on tap this weekend – headed by the Iron Bowl, which annually pits Alabama against Auburn.

In the state of Alabama, polls have shown that over the years some three-fourths of the population – young and old, women and men – watch the Bama-AU battle if it is offered on TV. This year it is being carried live on CBS (not a good omen for Alabama, which has fared poorly on that particular network in the past few years).

Outside of Alabamians, few football fans in the other 49 states will be tuned into CBS Saturday because they will be tuned into the big No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Michigan game over on ABC that will determine the Big Ten title and put the winner into the BCS national championship game.

The Tide-War Eagle game is more important than life or death to a good number of the teams’ fans. While it doesn’t quite mean that much to the teams and players – winning or losing won’t mean a winning or losing season for either and a win won’t put either into the Western Division title game – it does have it’s importance to both.

For Alabama, it will mean stopping a four-game losing streak to Auburn. A Bama win would also be big in that it would be the first-ever for the Tide in Tuscaloosa. Right now Auburn owns a five-game winning streak in T-Town, owns the Alabama home field. Add to that the fact that, so far, Bama Coach Mike Shula is 0-for against Auburn. No coach can last for long at Alabama if he can’t beat Auburn – and Shula knows that.

A win for Auburn would erase the two losses this season and send the Tigers a-bowling with a good taste in their mouths. It would also be win No. 10 for the season for Coach Tommy Tuberville’s team. And it would probably mean a new version of the “Fear the Thumb” T-shirts that AU unveiled after last year’s Iron Bowl triumph.

People outside Alabama have a hard time understanding exactly why the “Iron Bowl,” if we should still call it that, is such a big deal (although ESPN announcers have been debating among themselves if it is or isn’t the nation’s fiercest rivalry, thus giving the game more national attention).

Remember, this is a series that was put on hold for 41 years over a dispute – following a tie game – over a referee and per diem money paid to players to travel. Alabama owns a 38-31-1 edge in the series, with the lone deadlock coming in that final game before the 41-year break. There have been 22 shutouts in the series (meaning a close, low-scoring game benefits the Tide?), while Auburn owns a 4-1 record in one-point games in the series (meaning a close game is a good omen for AU?).

One final historical fact does seem to lean the Tide’s way. This is the eighth time since the series was rekindled in 1948 that both teams come into the Iron Bowl off losses. Alabama holds a 5-2 edge in games that followed the double losses.

The other two other rivalry games set for Saturday include Ole Miss (3-7, 1-5) at No. 9 LSU (8-2, 4-2) and No. 22 Tennessee (7-3, 3-3) at Vanderbilt (4-7, 1-6). The schedule also includes one big non-rivalry matchup – No. 5 Arkansas (9-1, 6-0) at Mississippi State (3-7, 1-5). Arkansas can clinch the Western Division crown with a win over the Bulldogs, or a win over LSU next week.

Other league games on tap this week include a trio of cremepuffs with the SEC taking on two Sun Belt Conference squads and one Divison 1-AA team: No. 3 Florida (9-1) will get no computer points for its national title game bid with a win this week. The Gators host Division 1-AA Western Carolina (2-8). South Carolina (5-5) looks pretty assured of getting that sixth win to become bowl eligible as the Gamecocks host Middle Tennessee (7-3). Kentucky (6-4) will be at home against Louisiana-Monroe (2-7).

Saturday’s weekend TV football lineup, other than pay-for-view is as follows:

Miami at Virginia, 11 a.m. (WB)
Yale at Harvard, 11 a.m. (WGN)
Iowa at Minnesota, 11 a.m. (CSS)
Maryland at Boston College, 11 a.m. (ESPN)
Michigan St. at Penn St., 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
Buffalo at Wisconsin, 11 a.m. (ESPNU)
Oklahoma at Baylor,11 a.m. (FSNS)
Tennessee at Vanderbilt, 11:30 a.m. (Lincoln Financial)
Charleston Southern at Coastal Carolina, 12:30 p.m. (SS)
Army at Notre Dame, 1:30 p.m. (NBC)
Michigan at Ohio State, 2:30 p.m. (ABC)
Auburn at Alabama, 2:30 p.m. (CBS)
Alcorn St. at Jackson St., 2:30 p.m. (CSS)
Kansas St. at Kansas, 2:30 p.m. (FSNS)
Bethune Cookman at Florida A&M, 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
San Diego St. at TCU, 3 p.m. (VS)
Arkansas St. at Troy, 6 p.m. (CSS)
Washington at Washington St., 6 p.m. (FSNS)
Virginia Tech at Wake Forest, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
South Florida at Louisville, 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
Rutgers at Cincinnati, 6:45 p.m. (ESPN)
California at Southern Cal, 7 p.m. (ABC)
UCLA at Arizona St., 9:15 p.m. (FSNS)

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Connecting The Dots: Writing, Art and Freedom…

Good writing is good writing … it sets you free, if you are an artist.
- Anonymous

by Glynn Wilson

TUSCALOOSA, Ala., Nov. 11 – It is an almost surreal feeling to be standing in the cold fog within earshot of Bryant-Denny stadium during an Alabama football game and there’s not a person in sight. Not a soul yelling “Roll Tide.”

At this moment Alabama is hanging in there with LSU and only trailing by a touchdown in the first half. But there is not a sound around the campus in the dark.

Except for the voices coming from the TV.

Half of the inhabitants from here are on the road too, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Sipping on just enough Jamaican rum to keep the bones warm, I am watching the game and at the same time trying to think some more about what I might say to journalism students at the university about the state of writing for the Web.
Continue reading

New College Football Feature…

Editor’s Note: Due to the dwindling quality of online news coverage that makes it easy for readers to scan and find out about upcoming events, we are launching this new feature for football season 2006. Each Friday, we will carry a column from a legendary Southern sports writer who wishes to write under a pen name here to prevent career problems at the corporate news organization he is affiliated with. Do you ever find yourself just trying to find an easy place online to find out what games are coming up, what time the games start, and what television network will be carrying them? Then check back in here every Friday afternoon or Saturday morning and we’ll have it for you. It’s easy to print out. Just hit the print button in your Web browser.

It’s Not A Big Game Weekend, Unless You Are A Tide Or Hog Fan

by Paul Rockne

After a big week of big games in college football last weekend, this week’s schedule is a letdown. Not that there aren’t a few interesting matchups … especially if you are an Alabama or Arkansas fan, for instance, but the meaningful meetings on the college gridiron are few and far between.

On the Southern scene, the Crimson Tide will travel to Arkansas for what is always an important meeting of these two similarly-clad teams (often, it is hard for viewers on TV to tell which team is which because their colors match up so well).

“This game usually always decides a lot about your year,” said the Hogs’ head coach, Houston Nutt, last week. And he’s right. Historically, the winner of the early-season meeting between the Tide and Hogs will battle for the SEC West title, while the loser is relegated to the second rung of the standings.

And while the Alabama-Arkansas game doesn’t have the glamour of last week’s West matchup between Auburn and LSU, it could produce the same type of glued-to-the-screen drama. The cumulative score while these two division rivals have been splitting their last eight games at 4-4 has been just as even … Alabama 191, Arkansas 191.

And with both teams having trouble scoring points while playing solid, for the most part, defense in their first three games, it looks to be another defensive slugfest like last week’s AU-LSU headliner.

The similarities between the two teams this season are uncanny. Both sport close conference opening wins over Vanderbilt and a win over an early-season creampuff. The main difference is that while Bama was opening its season with a close win over Hawaii, the Hogs were being beaten badly by Southern Cal.

Part of both teams’ offensive problems stem from the fact they each have new starters at quarterback – Bama going with sophomore John Parker Wilson and Arkansas with true freshman Mitch Mustain.

Arkansas (2-1 overall, 1-0 SEC) has been named the pre-game favorite, by a narrow 2-and-a-half-point margin over the still unbeaten (3-0, 1-0) Crimson Tide.

The Bama-Arkansas game is the main CBS game for the weekend – highlighting the weak week’s schedule – with game time set for 2:30 p.m. After an absence from the TV lineup in two of the first three weeks of the season, Bama will be on national TV for two weeks in a row. CBS has announced it will broadcast the Alabama at Florida game from Gainesville next Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

No. 2 ranked Auburn (3-0) will not be on the tube anywhere – not even pay for view – as they host the University of Buffalo Saturday.

Speaking of the War Eagles, Auburn fans have been saying “all the way to Glendale (site of this year’s BCS national championship game)” since last week’s win over LSU. The thinking is that now all Auburn has to do is to win out to make it to the title contest.

But Auburn, as well as anyone, knows that winning out is not enough – not if more than two teams make it through the year unbeaten. And this could be one of those years.

After three weeks of the 2006 college season, 29 teams are still on the unbeaten list. The include, by conference: SEC – Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Florida; ACC – Boston College, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest; Big East – Louisville, Rutgers, West Virginia and South Florida; Big Ten – Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin; Big 12 – Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M; Conference USA – Houston; Mountain West – TCU; Pac-10 – Arizona State, Oregon, Southern Cal and UCLA; Western Athletic – Boise State; Independent – Navy.

This week’s college football TV schedule kicks off tonight, Friday, with Northwestern at Nevada at 7 p.m. on ESPN2). Saturday’s weekend TV lineup, other than pay-for-view is as follows:

Wisconsin at Michigan, 11 a.m., ESPN
Minnesota at Purdue, 11 a.m., ESPN2
Cincinnati at Virginia Tech, 11 a.m.
North Carolina at Clemson, 11 a.m., ESPNU
Iowa at Illinois, 11 a.m., CSS
Louisville at Kansas State, 11 a.m., FOXSS
Colorado at Georgia, 11:30 p.m., WJCT
Alabama at Arkansas, 2:20 p.m., CBS
Penn State at Ohio State, 2:30 p.m., ABC
Arizona State at California, 2:30 p.m. FOXSS
Connecticut at Indiana, 2:30 p.m., CSS
Rice at FSU, 2w:30 p.m., ESPNU
West Virginia at East Carolina, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2
Western Carolina at Furman, 6 p.m., CSS
South Florida at Kansazs, 6 p.m., FOXSS
Miami (Ohio) at Syracuse, 6 p.m., WAPNU
UCLA at Washington, 6 p.m., TBS
Kentucky at Florida, 6:45 p.m., ESPN
Boston College at North Carolina State, 7 p.m., ESPN2
Notre Dame at Michigan, 7 p.m., ABC

The biggest game on the grid schedule this week will not be played on Saturday and it will not be a college game either. This week’s big game will the first game played in New Orleans’ Super Dome since Hurricane Katrina. After playing a whole season on the road, the Saints return to the Dome in triumphant fashion for what is actually an important division win. Coming to town is arch-rival Atlanta and the game Monday (7:30 p.m. on ESPN) will be for first place with both teams sitting at 2-0.

The Sunday NFL television schedule has Carolina vs. Tampa Bay at noon (FOX), Jacksonville at Indianapolis at noon (CBS), New York Giants at Seattle (3:15 p.m. FOX) and Denver at New England (7 p.m. NBC).