AJ McCarron, Barrett Jones

AJ McCarron: ‘I was never an Alabama fan’


As AJ McCarron was born, raised and went to high school in the state of Alabama, and lived less than three hours or so from the Tuscaloosa campus, one could easily assume that the Tide’s starting quarterback would have grown up as a fan of the state’s flagship football program.  Or, at the very least, have some idea about the storied history of the football program for which he plays.

On each of those counts, one would be wrong.

Speaking at the BCS championship game media day Saturday morning, McCarron was asked by a reporter in attendance about legendary Tide head coach Bear Bryant.  McCarron’s response, while refreshingly honest, likely left many of Finebaum’s finest choking on their breakfast grits.

I was never an Alabama fan,” the second-year starter said. “I don’t know the history, at all.”

While that may be a jarring admission for some to read or hear, it’s not at all surprising.  For one, McCarron has never been shy in admitting that he “grew up a big Miami Hurricanes fan” and that he aspired to be a quarterback at The U one day.  Two, and I can speak from very personal experience, the past — whether it involves sports, politics or history in general — is not high on the to-do lists of a lot (most?) of kids these days.

Alabama fans, though, can take heart in knowing they’re not alone if they’re thinking that the young man who’s on the verge of a second straight BCS title ring may have been a little “off” growing up.

“I just remember thinking ‘You freak, we’re Alabama fans,'” McCarron’s mom, Dee Dee Bonner, told the Sun-Sentinel in an interview this week when asked about her son’s early non-Tide fandom. “‘What are you talking about?’ Because we raised him to be an Alabama fan.”

Raised that way or not, he is now, and is one of the big reasons why the Tide has a chance at an unprecedented third BCS title in four years.  That alone atones for any “youthful indiscretions” on McCarron’s part.

Dabo Swinney confirms Wayne Gallman will play vs. FSU

CLEMSON, SC - NOVEMBER 07:  Jalen Ramsey #8 of the Florida State Seminoles misses a tackle against Wayne Gallman #9 of the Clemson Tigers during their game at Memorial Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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It’s now officially official.

In discussing what he described as a “dirty” hit that knocked him out of the North Carolina State game Oct. 15 with a concussion, Wayne Gallman indicated Monday that he would be available and play in Clemson’s huge showdown with Florida State this Saturday.  A day later, the running back’s head coach very emphatically confirmed the back’s availability Saturday coming of the football program’s by weekend.

He’s going to play great,” Dabo Swinney said. “He practiced the whole practice and didn’t miss a rep. He’ll play great on Saturday.”

Gallman currently leads the Tigers in rushing yards (489) and rushing touchdowns (five).  Because of the concussion, Gallman was limited to a season-low 14 yards on two carries.

In last year’s 23-13 win over the Seminoles that clinched the Tigers a berth in the ACC title game, Gallman rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown.  His 25-yard touchdown run with 2:34 remaining iced the win.

Bovada still puts Ohio State second behind Alabama in title odds

STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 22:  Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes walk to the field from the locker room before the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 22, 2016 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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I tried (in vain) to explain to my Ohio State-leaning family and friends that Saturday’s loss to Penn State wasn’t the end of the world.  Sunday, Kevin explained as much.

Tuesday, one wagering website revealed it doesn’t see the postseason sky falling on the Buckeyes, either.

In its latest set of odds, has placed the Buckeyes at 9/2 to win the 2016 College Football Playoff.  While that’s longer odds than the 11-4 OSU was getting a week ago, just one team sits ahead of them: Alabama at 8/5, slightly shorter odds than the 9/4 the Tide got last week.

Michigan (6/1), Clemson (7/1), Louisville (9/1) and Washington (9/1) are the only other teams to receive single-digit odds.  The Wolverines, at 7-1 Oct. 18, are the only one of that quartet of teams to see their odds shorten.

Below is the complete set of 2016 College Football Playoff championship odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:


Brian Kelly ‘disappointed’ AD had to offer public vote of confidence

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 26: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish yells at a referee during a game against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Notre Dame Stadium on September 26, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Umass 62-27. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Dreaded or not, most people would appreciate  public display of support from their bosses.  Brian Kelly, though, is not most people.

With Notre Dame off to its worst start since 2007, many an observer opined that Kelly could be on the hot seat this year, and most certainly will sit on it heading into next season.  With speculation swirling, Jack Swarbrick looked to put the kibosh on such talk.

Brian will lead this team out of the tunnel opening day next year,” the Irish athletic director said last week. “I can tell you I continue to have complete confidence in Brian. … I get to see the program day in and day out and I continue to have great confidence in Brian and confidence in our future as a program.”

Kelly had, to say the least, an interesting response to Swarbrick’s public backing.

“Well I was disappointed actually,” the coach told Matt Fortuna of ESPN.com “But anytime that your athletic director has to come out and say that, as a head coach you’re disappointed that any kind of comments like that have to be made. So I didn’t ask him, that was his decision, but I clearly understand what he was doing. He was probably sick and tired of being sick and tired, too.

“But for me it’s disappointing, certainly, that you have to make those comments.”

After a 10-1 start to the 2015 season, the Irish have lost seven of their last nine games.  Included in that is a 2-5 start to a 2016 season that’s seen Kelly fire his defensive coordinator and throw his players under the bus for good measure.  Former Irish football players have sounded off and taken aim as well.

Emails indicate LSU thought Florida was using hurricane to duck playing Oct. 8 game

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 17:  Leonard Fournette #7 of the LSU Tigers prepares to run the ball against the Florida Gators at Tiger Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Well, this has the potential to get mildly interesting.

With Hurricane Matthew bearing down on the area, the LSU-Florida game originally scheduled for Oct. 8 in Gainesville was initially postponed.  A week later, the SEC announced that the game had been rescheduled for Nov. 19 in Baton Rouge after South Alabama (LSU) and Presbyterian (UF) agreed to be bought out of their respective game contracts for that date.

Some, though, initially thought that UF was looking to duck playing LSU after the latter offered to host the Gators that October weekend; play in Gainesville either Sunday or Monday; or even having the game played at a neutral site.  In that vein, through a public records request, WRBZ-TV in Baton Rouge obtained interoffice emails from LSU which showed the athletic department staff, as well as regent R. Blake Chatelain, was “frustrated with the handling of the postponed football contest against Florida earlier this month.”

In particular, athletic director Joe Alleva intimated that Florida didn’t want to play, period, because it would potentially help the Gators in their divisional race.

From the television station’s report:

Although, in an exchange with Chatelain, Alleva suspected Florida knew avoiding a game with LSU secured their spot in a playoff.

“… If they lose they would lose the east. Their schedule is easier than Tennessee (sic) if they wanted to play we would be playing here or there,” Alleva wrote after Chatelain questioned why Florida would want to avoid a game with the Tigers.

Chatelain wrote, “Florida would want to play as much as us… Would they not?”

Alleva initiated the conversation with Chatelain by writing, “This is a joke” when he forwarded news of the SEC announcing the Georgia-South Carolina contest had been delayed a day for the storm.

“What a joke,” Michael Bonnette, the communications director for LSU Athletics, chimed in.

Around that time, it was thought that Florida could gain an advantage over SEC East rival Tennessee by playing one fewer conference game and potentially claiming the division and a spot in the conference championship game by virtue of a better winning percentage than UT despite losing in the head-to-head matchup.  However, in announcing the rescheduled game, the SEC revealed that both LSU and Florida would have been ineligible to compete for the SEC title this season had the game not been played.