McCarron

Alabama-Notre Dame: some storylines

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If you were a Hollywood script writer looking to pitch a movie based on a college football championship being played in a land far, far away, it would be hard to come up with a better pair of protagonists than Alabama and Notre Dame.

For any director, it’s a cinematic smörgåsbord replete with plotlines as far as the stomach can see.  The North vs. the South on a gridiron battlefield.  Two of the winningest programs in FBS history, with the Irish tied for second all-time with Texas and the Tide seventh.  Mystique for miles, from Knute to Bear, from the Gipper to Broadway Joe before the bright lights and big city, from 14 claimed national championships for the Tuscaloosa school to 11 claimed by the one from South Bend.

And, it just so happens, the two best teams after the dust had settled and the curtain had fallen on the 2012 regular season.

Simply put, it’s already the most highly anticipated title game of the BCS era… and we’re still weeks away from the Jan. 7 showdown in Miami.  Suffice to say, myriad words will be dumped onto a computer screen to feed the hype machine over the next five weeks, with storylines far surpassing even the schools’ healthy win totals.  Here are but a few of those that may or may not have an impact on which team hoists the crystal into the South Beach sky at game’s end.

Are you experienced?
In a lot of ways, Alabama and Notre Dame are as evenly matched as any two teams that have faced each other on this stage recently.  One area where the Tide has a decided and lopsided advantage?  Big-game experience.  The No. 2 Tide (12-1) will be gunning for an unprecedented third BCS title in four years while the Irish’s biggest game under Brian Kelly prior to this year was, what, the Champs Sports Bowl against Florida State after last season?  From handling the weeks-long layoff to dealing with the media circus to a 60-minute game of this magnitude and carrying such immense ramifications, Nick Saban has been there, done that while Kelly is just getting there and has never done that.

Waking the slumbering echoes
In the 14-year history of the BCS, No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0) has appeared in just three of the marquee bowl games, with the last coming after the 2006 regular season.  Their national championship drought stretches back even further; the last time the Irish finished a season on top, Ronald Reagan was in the White House, a gallon of gas would set you back $1.08 and Lou Holtz was shtomping acrosh the Irish shidelines.  Since then, “Flounder Like an Irrelevant Program Today” has marked the once-proud program’s trudge through more than two decades of mediocrity.  Following a 16-win run to end the last three years of the Charlie Weis era, though, the tide, so to speak, began to turn for the Irish.  In the two years after Kelly was hired in December of 2009, the Irish posted back-to-back eight-win seasons.  In the third year under Kelly — the same year four other Irish coaches won their first/only national championships at the school, incidentally — the Irish have made a resounding move back onto the national stage.  And relevance in the way that matters most.

Exorcising historical ghosts
While they’ve met but a handful of times through the years, Notre Dame has had Alabama’s number when they have taken the field.  In six meetings, the Irish own a decided 5-1 advantage.  Included in that total?  A perfect 4-0 record against Tide teams coached by the legendary Bear Bryant.  The two teams first met in 1973, with the last coming in 1987.  The first two meetings came in the Sugar and Orange Bowls in back-to-back years, with the Irish winning both games by a combined three points over Tide teams that were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, at the time.  Alabama’s only win came during the 1986 regular season, a 28-10 decision in Birmingham.  Of course, the last time the two teams met with this much on the line, Saban was a graduate assistant at his alma mater Kent State while Kelly had yet to enter high school, so the historical angle will be gummed to death in the coming weeks due to lack of teeth.

Chasing the Bear
More than three decades after his death, there’s still nothing that epitomizes and encapsulates the Alabama football program more than Paul William Bryant.  In his 25 years as the Tide’s head coach, the Bear won a school-record 232 games and staked his claim to five* national titles.  While Saban can inch up on but never truly surpass Coach Bryant in the hearts and minds of Tuscaloosans, he can take a step closer to the coaching immortal’s accomplishments; with a win over Notre Dame, Saban would have four national championships on his résumé — one at LSU, three in the Bear’s den.

(*I don’t acknowledge 1973, much like the coaches didn’t acknowledge the postseason)

Record eyeballs glued to boob tube?
The highest-rated game in BCS history was the USC-Texas Rose Bowl affair following the 2005 season, which drew a 21.7 Nielsen rating.  Notre Dame drew a 10.3 rating for its “meaningless” regular season game against USC this year that was roughly half of that record, and equal to the 2012 SEC title game.  Alabama plus Notre Dame plus five weeks of hype?  Records will be shattered.

AP tiebreaker
Depending on which way the polling winds blow, and if it’s favorable in their direction, Alabama claims (I think) 14 national championships.  Notre Dame claims 11, with both teams using various polls to dignify their historical national championship status.  The one certainty in all of the title claiming?  There are two teams that have each won a record eight Associated Press titles — Alabama and Notre Dame, of course.  Jan. 7 in Miami, as it turns out, will turn into a tiebreaker for the ages that no one ever anticipated.

Degenerates speak
In the week leading up to the SEC championship game, Alabama had been listed as a 9.5 favorite over Notre Dame should the two teams ultimately meet in the BCS title game.  With the game officially set?  The odds range from 8.5 to 10, depending on the book.  Notre Dame may be undefeated, but they’ll go into the title game as decided underdogs in the eyes of both the sports books in general and the betting/viewing public in particular.

Former 5-star Chris Casher no longer on Florida State roster

TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMBER 16: Chris Casher #21 of the Florida State Seminoles runs in a fumble made by Terrel Hunt #10 of the Syracuse Orange during the Second half at Doak Campbell Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Tallahassee, Florida. The Seminoles beat the Orange 59-3.(Photo by Jeff Gammons/Getty Images)
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It seemed clear by now Chris Casher would never fulfill the promise he arrived to Tallahassee with five seasons ago.

Rated the No. 3 defensive end in the class of 2012 by 247Sports, Casher suffered a season-ending injury two games into his 2012 campaign, then never accumulated more than 28 tackles in a season before moving to tight end before this season.

“He was a very, very good receiver out of high school,” ‘Noles head coach Jimbo Fisher told the Palm Beach Post this spring. “He is a really good basketball player. He has a lot of natural offensive skill. … catches the ball and has natural hands.

“When I played quarterback, I knew who I wanted to throw it to. And the guys that caught my eye. So our guys have been bragging about him. We’ll see what he does.”

But Fisher confirmed Friday Casher is no longer on the roster.

Casher was placed a one-year probation by Florida State for his involvement in the Jameis Winston sexual assault case and, according to USA Today, was briefly detained alongside Winston by FSU police for carrying a pellet gun on campus.

The reason for Casher’s departure was not known at press time.

Louisville LB Trevon Young to take medical redshirt

LOUISVILLE, KY - OCTOBER 24:  Trevon Young #91 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrates a defensive stop against the Boston College Eagles at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on October 24, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Louisville linebacker Trevon Young will miss the 2016 season to continue recovering from a dislocated and fractured him suffered in the Cardinals’ Music City Bowl victory over Texas A&M. Head coach Bobby Petrino confirmed the news Friday at ACC media days.

“We’re going to miss Trevon,” Petrino said 93.9 The Ville, via Card Chronicle. “He’s very, very good player, particularly on third down. He put a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks, made some big plays to help us win games. He was really stressing out about trying to come back for this season, and he just got to a point where he didn’t better for a while. So I think it’s been a relief to him to know that he’s redshirting. His mother tells me that it’s really helped relieve some anxiety that he was going through. He still has a very bright future ahead of him.”

A senior out of Council Bluffs, Iowa, by way of Iowa Western Community College, Young finished the ’15 season with 32 tackles, 10 TFLs and ranked 33rd nationally with 8.5 sacks. He was an Honorable Mention All-ACC performer.

Young has not used a redshirt season yet, meaning he will be automatically eligible to return in 2017.

 

ACC has no immediate plans to move football title game out of Charlotte following HB2

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 05:  Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers runs the ball against Donnie Miles #15 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the 2nd half during the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Championship at Bank of America Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The NBA moved its All-Star Game out of Charlotte earlier this week out of backlash to controversial law House Bill 2, but ACC commissioner John Swofford said at his conference’s media days there is no immediate plan to follow suit with the league’s football championship game.

“We had a long discussion about this issue in May at our spring meetings, and at that time made the determination as to where our championships would be held for the ’16-17 year,” Swofford told ESPN. “Whatever we do won’t be because of what the NBA does. And I don’t mean that disrespectfully. We’ll do what we think is right and best for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Right now what our schools want to do is to see how this plays out and where it ends up, because it’s still in process to one degree or another and the courts may well ultimately decide that.”

Many view the passing of HB2 as discriminatory to the transgender community. Others view it as a necessary law to protect women and children.

The ACC said in May it would monitor the situation and require “commitments to provide safe and inclusive environments from sites for which there are current commitments for ACC championships.” Swofford said Thursday the conference would revisit the topic at its meetings in October.

“The next time we’re together is October for our fall meetings and, depending on what’s happened at that point in time, I’m sure our schools will want to have some further discussion about it,” Swofford told the Charlotte Observer.

The ACC has held its football championship game at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium since 2010. The Charlotte championship games have been significantly better attended than their predecessors in Jacksonville and Tampa.

The ACC has agreed to hold its title game in Charlotte through 2019. The ACC’s men’s basketball tournament has commonly taken place in Greensboro, N.C., but moves to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center over the next two seasons before returning to Charlotte in 2019 and Greensboro in 2020. The ACC is headquartered in Greensboro, N.C.

UGA RB AJ Turman transferring to FAU

BOCA RATON, FL - OCTOBER 31:  Florida Atlantic Owls players celebrate after defeating the FIU Golden Panthers in the game at FAU Stadium on October 31, 2015 in Boca Raton, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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You’re likely aware of the injury trouble beset upon Georgia’s running backs room in recent years. There was Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall and Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, each of whom spent his fair share of time on the shelf.

But also dealing with injuries over the past two seasons was A.J. Turman. Turman redshirted in 2014 and did not accumulate a carry in 2015.

In an odd way, Turman’s biggest mark on Georgia football didn’t pop up until he decided to leave. His case became the tempest for Kirby Smart‘s restrictive transfer policy. Initially, Smart released Turman to schools only in Florida but not Florida or Miami. He eventually relented, barring him only from SEC schools and Georgia Tech, but Turman has decided to move on to Florida Atlantic.

“It was hard at first, just leaving Georgia and everything, the fans and all my good friends. I love Georgia, I still do. I just feel like it’s the best thing for me,” Turman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I was blessed to have the opportunity that a lot of schools were still interested in me. I took a lot of visits.  … It’s been a long journey, but I’m just glad it’s at an end, and I can go on and play football.”

Turman will have to sit out 2016, but hopes to gain back a year through a medical redshirt. “And it’s looking like I should be able to get it,” he said.