The Swami

Alabama-A&M: the Predictions

25 Comments

Less than a day and a half from now, the curtain will have fallen on the Alabama-Texas A&M mega-rematch, one of the most hyped regular season matchups of at least the last decade — especially to those who have already forgotten the ‘Bama-LSU clashes the past couple of seasons.

Regardless, it’s easily the most highly-anticipated regular-season matchup of 2013, with storylines ranging from Johnny Manziel looking to repeat his 2012 coming-out party to the Tide seeking to avenge its only loss from its second straight title-winning season.  Already the highest-priced ticket for a regular season college football game in history, some that cover the television side of sports expect the game to attract a record number of eyeballs.

It’s being hyped as must-see TV, and rightly so giving the recent past between the two schools and the potential future BCS ramifications for each.

Since even Charles Barkley is offering up a quasi-prediction, we here at CFT figured we’d do the same.  So, without any further or unnecessary ado, here’s how Chris, Kevin and I see the instant classic shaking out.

And, as if you needed any prompting, flame away in the comments section — and offer up your own predictions that can be openly mocked as well.

CHRIS HOUSTON
The take: With the Tide having an extra week to prepare, I can’t see a repeat of last year happening, when the Aggies jumped out to a 20-0 first-quarter lead. Instead, I see this as a back-and-forth slugfest that will be close most of the way, with the winner being the team that can produce the most explosive plays during crunch time. Alabama will run the ball well with TJ Yeldon and keep it away from Johnny Manziel just enough to prevent him from dominating the game. This one should go down to the wire, with the Tide holding off the Aggies in the end.

The prediction: Alabama 27, Texas A&M 24

KEVIN MCGUIRE
The take: Neither team comes in to this game looking to have much of an advantage on the line, but given an extra week to correct the shortcomings we saw against Virginia Tech should bode well for Alabama. Much has been made about how important it is for Alabama to have Nick Saban get an extra week to prepare, and I suspect that does come in to play, but just how much will this defense be able to slow down Johnny Manziel? Manziel will have to be Superman once again, and he is capable of being just that, but I can’t imagine Alabama digs a hole the way did last year when Manziel and the Aggies stunned them early in Tuscaloosa. Neither team runs away with this one, but I think Alabama picks up their revenge this time around.

The prediction: Alabama 27, Texas A&M 23

JOHN TAYLOR
The take: For me, it’s “simple.”  Alabama’s defense plus the revenge aspect — elephants never forget, right? — plus Nick Saban and his coaching staff having an entire offseason to get a handle on Texas A&M’s offense trumps the raucous Kyle Field homefield advantage and the electrifying playmaking of Johnny Manziel.  It won’t be easy for the Tide — I can see a kicker deciding it late (shudders on both sides) — but it’ll be a markedly different outcome for the two-time defending BCS champions than it was 10 months ago; having it come on the road, after being beaten in their house last November, will make it all the sweeter.

The prediction: Alabama 30, Texas A&M 27

Coastal Carolina officially joins the Sun Belt today, in all sports except football

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 23:  Alex Ross #4 of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers drops back to pass during their game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 23, 2013 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

One of the final aftershocks of the Great Realignment from earlier this decade officially reaches the surface today.

The Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina are now officially all-sports members of the Sun Belt Conference. In every sport, that is, except football. Joe Moglia and his 41-13 football program will compete this fall as an FCS independent before making the leap in 2017.

“This is a great day for the Sun Belt Conference as we are very proud to have Coastal Carolina University officially join our membership,” Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson said in a statement. “The Sun Belt has a bright future and Coastal Carolina makes a perfect fit as it too has seen a tremendous amount of growth and success with its baseball team most recently winning the College World Series and a national championship. Under the leadership of President DeCenzo, Athletics Director Matt Hogue, and all the Chanticleer coaches and student-athletes, I expect CCU to be very competitive in the Sun Belt immediately and represent the SBC in NCAA championships in the upcoming season.”

The oddity here is that no Sun Belt member has ever won a national championship while a member of the Sun Belt (Georgia Southern, Appalachian State and Louisiana-Monroe each claimed Division I-AA/FCS national championships). Meanwhile, Coastal Carolina registered its first ever national championship in baseball just yesterday, its final day as a Big South member and on the eve of moving to the Sun Belt.

That, of course, didn’t stop the Sun Belt from covering the Chanticleers’ run through Omaha like they were one of their own.

Coastal Carolina’s first football season will also mark affiliate members Idaho and New Mexico State’s final season in the Sun Belt. The sleeker, geographically cohesive 10-team Sun Belt will launch its championship game in 2018.

Jeremy Foley’s successor at Florida unlikely to come from within

GAINESVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 06:  Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley speaks on during an introductory press conference on December 6, 2014 in Gainesville, Florida. Jim McElwain has left Colorado State and replaces ex-Florida head coach Will Muschamp who was fired earlier this season.
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jeremy Foley‘s rise up the ranks of Florida’s athletics department is a path that launched thousands of sports careers.

After obtaining a Master’s degree in sports administration from Ohio, a 22-year-old Foley took an internship in Florida’s ticket office. He was hired full-time after the internship ended. Then he was promoted to ticket manager. Then he took over all ticket and game operations. Before his 30th birthday Foley was running Florida’s business operations and by age 39 he was the Gators’ athletics director.

He remained in that position, of course, throughout the duration of his career. A career that will end in October.

Foley’s quarter-century run atop the Florida sports pyramid and four decades working within it will come to an end soon, and in the process of finding his replacement it appears the Gators will choose from a well different than they found the old boss. Foley was famously and obviously loyal to Florida, and also to his team of senior executives.

His top three executives, executive associate AD for internal affairs Chip Howard, executive associate AD for external affairs Mike Hill and executive associate AD for administration Lynda Tealer have been in Gainesville since 1989, 1993 and 2003, respectively. And each has taken their name out of the running to become Florida’s next AD.

“Each of the internal people have made a decision not to pursue the athletic director position for their own individual reasons,” Florida spokesman Steve McClain said in a statement on Thursday to the Florida Times-Union.

Georgia AD Greg McGarity, a former Foley protege in Gainesville, took his name out of the running earlier last month.

Veteran secondary starter dismissed by Colorado State

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 20:  Wide receiver Kaelin Clay #8 of the Utah Utes runs for yardage after catching a pass as defensive back Preston Hodges #24 of the Colorado State Rams hits him out of bounds during the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium on December 20, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Utah won 45-10.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

With the start of summer camp just up the block and around the corner, Colorado State has seen its secondary take a rather significant hit.

A CSU official has confirmed to the Loveland Reporter Herald that Preston Hodges has been dismissed from Mike Bobo‘s football program.  The Reporter Herald writes that Hodges “had become academically ineligible and was dismissed from the team.”

The past three seasons, Hodges had started 28 games in the Rams’ secondary.  Eight of those starts came at cornerback last season.

Exiting the spring, the senior Hodges was listed No. 2 on the depth chart at one of the safety spots.

In addition to Hodges, offensive lineman Blake Nowland is no longer on the team’s roster.  There was no reason given for his departure.

After playing in three games as a redshirt freshman in 2014, Nowland missed the entire 2015 season because of a broken leg.

Heisman Trophy odds see change at the top

Leonard Fournette
Associated Press
3 Comments

There is a new preseason favorite for the 2016 Heisman Trophy, at least as far as Bovada is concerned.

The betting service Tuesday listed LSU running back Leonard Fournette checks in with the best odds at 9/2. He moved ahead of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, whose odds went from 9/2 in January to 5/1 now.

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey’s odds moved to 11/2 while Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield are all at 12/1.

Several players were added to the board since January, including UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen (16/1), Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough (20/1) and Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham (28/1).

The group of newcomers also includes both of the competitors to be Notre Dame’s starting quarterback. DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire are both set at 28/1.