Alabama's latest would've-should've-could've title win; riffing with Redmill and a few other thoughts and observations on a Friday morning.
Eddie Lacy had more to do with Manti Te'o's rough night than "Lennay".
*While we're all busily retracing the steps that got us to this point in Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's version of Weird Science (at least Gary and Wyatt's "Lisa" was real, even if just for a weekend), how about we just skip right past the BCS Championship Game?
Fall on either side of the Duke of Dupe's story you'd like. If it makes his supporters feel better, paint him as an unknowing participant in an elaborate hoax.
As for his detractors, who have already pegged Te'o as the anti-Tebow, knock yourself out. I'm not here to defend or call him out for being involved in the most bizarre football-related hoax since Southern California was voted No. 1 in the 2012 preseason poll.
Now, as for those who are convinced that Notre Dame's chances of beating Alabama in Miami Gardens were compromised by Te'o's mental state upon learning of the hoax in the days leading up to the game, I've got a special seat for you -- right along side the Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists.
Simply put, Te'o could have played with Dr. Kevin Elko in his ear two Monday nights ago and it would have mattered not.
In the days leading up to the championship game, I compared Te'o to LSU's Kevin Minter, a comparison that may have slighted Minter more than the other way around. While no one is arguing that Te'o isn't a nice player, the question has to be asked: without his "story", would he have been a runaway winner for nearly every defensive award out there?
To be fair, Te'o didn't have the people around him that Minter had in Baton Rouge. I spent some time on the field during pregame at Sun Life Stadium. Notre Dame had perhaps a dozen players who looked like Alabama's players. At LSU, they all do.
Did Te'o play his best game against the Crimson Tide? Probably not, but the same could have been said about Georgia linebackers Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones after the SEC Championship Game, too.
The common denominator in both contests, of course, was the Alabama offense. Crazy thought, I know, but perhaps the Crimson Tide was just that good in both games.
As much as we love to point out why teams lose games (Colt got hurt; Les didn't stretch the field enough; Te'o's imaginary lover, etc ...), sometimes the other team goes out and wins them. And as was the case with Texas and LSU before it, Notre Dame found itself in the wrong matchup at the wrong time.
Now let's back to more important matters. Like exhuming "Lennay".
*Riffing with Griff Redmill, starting offensive guard for the Crimson Tide from 1998-200.
TRips: You guys dig out of the snow up in North Alabama?
Redmill: We were actually headed out on a family road trip to see my brother in Texas. Took us three and a half hours to go the first 30 miles. Made it to Jackson, Mississppi (last night). Eight hours to go in the morning.
TRips: Thoughts on your latest trip to Sun Life Stadium. I guess a little more enjoyable than the last go around (an Alabama loss to Michigan in the 2000 Orange Bowl)?
Redmill: The outcome was definitely more enjoyable than 2000. But the Orange Bowl was such a great event for us to be a part of and I really enjoyed the whole experience. This trip brought back a lot of those great memories.
TRips: Where did you guys stay for the 2000 Orange Bowl? No Fontainebleau?
Redmill: I believe we stayed at the Wyndham in South Beach.
TRips: South Beach a big distraction or is that overblown?
Redmill: To say our guys really loved the South Beach scene would be overblown. A bunch of country boys didn't exactly fit in with the night scene you'll find there. However, we had plenty of fun in Miami. Looking back, I don't think we treated the bowl experience with the same attitude that Coach Saban's teams historically do. We always felt like it was a reward/vacation. The game was secondary to the experience.
TRips: Were you surprised with the ease in which Alabama's offensive line handled Notre Dame's front seven?
Redmill: I have to say I was a little surprised at how well we handled them. I was expecting a much more even match up. But I think all of Alabama's players did an amazing job of intimidating their opponent from the start with their physical play. Alabama was clearly ready to establish the tone of the game. I think Notre Dame wilted for that very reason after about the sixth or seventh play of the game.
TRips: In terms of difficulty/importance, rank the three offensive line vacancies UA must fill between now and Virginia Tech.
Redmill: Tough to rank because all three guys have different attributes that made the 2012 line great. But if forced, I'd rank them in the following order:
1. Chance Warmack - He was the best OL of the bunch. His ability to maul people in the run game, especially on the Power O play we run so well will be extremely hard to replace. Also rarely saw him get beat in pass protection.
2. Barrett Jones - His ability to identify defenses and change schemes is something I've never seen a college player be able to do. His ability to play multiple positions and his leadership skills make him very hard to replace.
3. DJ Fluker - I really hate to rank him third because I spent a lot of this year marveling at the way this guy can absolutely physically dominate people. I have to put him third because even though he's improved his game exponentially over three years, there are still some weaknesses in his pass pro that the other guys didn't have. But I'd put my money on DJ every time if I knew he could get his hands on you.
TRips: How much will having a veteran quarterback help the offensive line in 2013, especially early in the season?
Redmill: It will definitely help. A new guy in the lineup is always looking for a leader that instills confidence. There's nobody on that team more battle tested than AJ (McCarron). He'll help that group come along.
*When it comes to celebrating a championship, put me down as being more of a parade guy. A route lined with fans both young and old right through the heart of campus creates an atmosphere that 25,000 people in a 100,000-seat stadium can't.
*A lot of talk that Te'o's NFL stock will be affected by the hoax. Bottom line: pro teams have invested a lot more money into guys with more questionable backgrounds than Te'o's. With the passing game ruling the roost on Sundays, coverage linebackers are all the rage in the NFL these days and Te'o picked off seven passes in 2012.
*What would you pay for video of USC's alleged intrasquad skirmish following the Trojans' loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl? Footage of a shirtless Ed Orgeron screaming "Wild boys!" would make it Netflix worthy.
*Most promising stat line from the Alabama men's basketball team's 75-43 win over Mississippi State on Wednesday night came from forward Nick Jacobs, who scored 16 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. The question is, when will UA be able to count on those kind of numbers from the sophomore on a consistent basis?