A.J. McCarron proves he’s more than a ‘game manager’


Unfairly, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron was labeled a game manager. Coincidentally, he earned it in last season’s BCS championship game against LSU when he played solid, mistake-free football. With an All-American offensive line, a stable of elite running backs and a defense stocked with talent, the pressure’s never really been on the second-year starter to lead a two-minute drill or make the big throws.

But, eventually, it’s going to happen. Every team needs their quarterback to win at least one game for them. Down 17-14 to LSU Saturday night in Death Valley with 1:34 remaining, the Tide needed McCarron to be more than a game manager. And he was. A lot more. The junior completed four of five passes over 72 yards in 43 seconds, the final one a screen pass to running back T.J. Yeldon for 28-yard touchdown.

It was a perfect play call. Less than a minute later, No. 1 Alabama did what few teams have done against Les Miles: go into Baton Rouge at night and come out with a 21-17 win over the No. 5 Tigers.

John will have a special “Fifth Quarter” sifting through the aftermath of what was easily the best game of the day coming up here in a bit; this here is all about McCarron.

He wasn’t all great. McCarron was hot and cold all night and the Tide usually went as he did. In fact, if not for his game-winning drive, this would have been about the proverbial light coming on for Zach Mettenberger. The first-year starter for LSU played his best game of the season, throwing for 298 yards and a touchdown. It was the way college football pundits all over the country thought Mettenberger, the supposed “missing piece” for the Tigers, should have looked all year.

Mettenberger deserves a lot of praise for the way he played tonight, and if you’re going to assess who had the better game between the two QBs, Mettenberger would win that distinction. But McCarron won what really mattered, when it mattered. Now, and with all due respect to the likes of Tennessee and Mississippi State, the Tide have a victory over its first “real test” of 2012. There shouldn’t have been any mistake before, but there’s certainly none now: Alabama is playing like the best team in the country. Keep winning and a second consecutive BCS championship appearance — the third under Nick Saban — is guaranteed to be in play.

Who knows what challenges Alabama will face to get there — maybe they won’t — but they’ll have a chance as long as McCarron’s taking snaps.

After tonight, he’s going to be known as a game-changer.

Former USC assistant coach wants to depose Mark Emmert as part of lawsuit against NCAA

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March Madness may not be the only thing on NCAA president Mark Emmert’s mind this week.

According to the LA Times, attorneys for former USC assistant coach Todd McNair are asking a judge to order Emmert to take part in a deposition with them prior to the start of the long-running legal case involving the association next month. The NCAA president had been scheduled to be deposed in February in Indianapolis but the session never appeared to come about.

“We suspect you are seeking it in order to harass President Emmert and place undue settlement pressure on the NCAA,” Kosta Stojilkovic, an attorney representing the organization, wrote in an email obtained by the Times.

McNair was a former running backs coach at USC and was one of the key links the NCAA used to levy heavy sanctions against the Trojans in the Reggie Bush infractions case nearly eight years ago. However McNair subsequently sued the NCAA not long after he was let go by the university, claiming that his career was ruined as a result of the case.

Documents that have slowly been released as part of the lawsuit have shown the Committee on Infractions did stray from protocol in the case in order to punish USC and after years of appeals, it seems McNair is finally getting his day in court not far from the campus where he once coached at. It remains to be seen if the most recent legal maneuvering on both sides will result in Emmert becoming part of the trial but, billable hours appears as though they will remain undefeated as both the NCAA and McNair redefine the motto ‘Fight On.’

College GameDay joins ESPN’s coverage of 2018 NFL Draft

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Not so fast NFL friends, College GameDay is crashing the party.

ESPN and the NFL league office announced on Wednesday that Kirk Herbstreit and the rest of the GameDay gang will be heading to Texas to cover the 2018 NFL Draft for the first time ever. While we’ve seen the crew setup shop for big games before at AT&T Stadium, this broadcast will be a little different with the excitement from fans coming about players leaving college.

“ESPN has presented the NFL Draft for nearly 40 years and we take great pride in finding new and exciting ways to continue to elevate and differentiate our coverage,” ESPN Executive Vice President Burke Magnus said in a statement. “The draft is the perfect intersection of college football and the NFL, so giving fans the opportunity to experience Round 1 through the lens of College GameDay makes perfect sense.”


The team should have plenty to discuss next month in Dallas between presumptive No. 1 overall pick Sam Darnold and human highlight reel Saquon Barkley out of Penn State likely going atop the draft. If you’re annoyed at some of the NFL analysts who are dropping analysis that doesn’t quite lineup with what you’ve seen on the gridiron the past few years in college, this is certainly a nice new option to have when it comes to the opening night of the draft.

Entire NFL showed up to Penn State’s Pro Day and a WWE scout did too

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All the movers and shakers in the NFL world descended upon Happy Valley this week to watch top five pick Saquon Barkley and others work out at Penn State’s Pro Day.

As much as the Nittany Lions made sure to publicize the fact that all 32 NFL teams were in attendance, the school was nothing but detailed when noting which scouts were on hand for 40 yard dashes and agility drills. One interesting name was on that list however and it wasn’t the scout from the CFL but one from the… WWE?

As good as Barkley and the rest of Penn State’s early draft picks were in college, it may be a more intriguing draft story to find out who the WWE is scouting among the crop of recent Nittany Lions. Former college football players have found plenty of success in the WWE over the years and it probably isn’t too surprising that the wrestling conglomerate is eyeing the sport as a minor league farm system for real if they’re sending scouts to Pro Days now.

Heck, it’s probably only a matter of time before there’s a wrestling/football combine hitting the airwaves not long after the NFL edition takes place in Indianapolis. The XFL reboot isn’t going to sprout up from nothing after all.

Iowa basketball player making move to football, although his gridiron destination is unknown

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Iowa basketball’s loss could be Iowa football’s gain — maybe.

In a press release, it was announced that Ahmad Wagner has decided to leave the Hawkeyes men’s hoops program “to train and get my body into football shape so I can be ready for when I decide where I will finish my athletic and academic goals.” The 6-7, 235-pound Wagner played three years of basketball at the Big Ten school, starting 25 of the 96 games in which he played.

Below is Wagner’s statement on his decision, released through the university’s athletic department:

I have had recent discussions with my family and the coaching staff, and ultimately decided to leave the Hawkeye basketball program and end my college basketball career so I can finish my collegiate eligibility playing football. A person of strong faith, I am following God’s plan and I am eager for this next chapter. I leave the Iowa men’s basketball team with new friendships and incredible memories that I will forever treasure. I want to thank coach McCaffery, staff, and teammates for helping me grow both as a basketball player and person.

“My plan now is to train and get my body into football shape so I can be ready for when I decide where I will finish my athletic and academic goals. Thank-you Hawkeye nation for your support and welcoming me when I first stepped onto campus.

If Wagner opts to remain at UI and plays for the football Hawkeyes, he would have two years of eligibility that he could use beginning with the 2018 season.  The same goes for a move to an FCS program.  If he were to opt for another FBS school, however, he’d have to sit out the 2018 season, which would leave him with one year of football eligibility to use in 2019.

Wagner played one year of high school football, helping to lead Wayne High School to the Div. 1 championship game in the Ohio state playoffs his senior season.  As a wide receiver that year, he caught 58 passes for 1,028 yards and 17 touchdowns in earning first-team all-state honors.

According to the LandOf10.com’s Scott Dochterman, Kentucky offered Wagner a football scholarship while Ohio State was interested in him as a football player as well.