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Tag:Auburn
Posted on: March 8, 2012 1:40 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Alabama

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Alabama.

Spring Practice Starts: March 9

Spring Game: April 14

Returning starters: 7 offensive, 4 defensive, 2 specialists

Three Things To Look For:

1. Motivation level at low Tide? Ask Nick Saban what the difference was between his 2009 and 2011 national titlists on one side and his 2010 disappointments on the other (for a given definition of "disappointment," of course), and he'll tell you that the former teams were driven, focused squads that put everything into their practice time, and the latter was a little too happy with the previous year's championship. We'd argue the bigger difference was the mile-deep rivers of experience that flowed through the Tide defense in '09 and '11, rivers that helped convert Saban's frightening stockpile of talent into two of the better defensive units in college football history ... but that's neither here nor there, really, since that talent is still there in abundance. Even if the experience isn't, if the Tide adopt the work ethic of their recent champions, there's no reason they can't at least approach their success, too. Spring will give us our first glance if that's the case or not. 

2. How well are the defensive holes being plugged? Of course, no matter how many four- and five-star studs are waiting in the wings, losing Mark Barron, Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Dre Kirkpatrick, Josh Chapman, DeQuan Menzie and Jerrell Harris is still losing Mark Barron, Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Dre Kirkpatrick, Josh Chapman, DeQuan Menzie and Jerrell Harris; the Tide have their work cut for them. It's time to see if Jesse Williams can fill Chapman's shoes, Adrian Hubbard Upshaw's, Trey DePriest Hightower's, etc. The spotlight will be particularly bright on the secondary, where even the return of Robert Lester may not be able to mask losing players --and leaders -- the caliber of Barron and Kirkpatrick.

3. Is T.J. Yeldon the real deal at running back? While owning the nation's No. 1 recruiting class gives Alabama fans plenty of options when it comes to their favorite newcomer, there's probably an especially soft spot in the heart of the Tide faithful -- and a diamond-hard one in the chest of your average Auburn fan -- for early-enrolling freshman running back Yeldon, a five-star recruit who committed to Auburn early and stuck with the Tigers until mere days were left before his enrollment ... whereupon he switched to the Tide. The neutral observer might not blame him, given the opportunity presented to him: with Trent Richardson on his way to the NFL, de facto starter Eddie Lacy out for spring following surgery for turf toe, and one-time star recruit Dee Hart coming back from an ACL tear in spring 2011, it's possible Yeldon could exit spring as the Tide's No. 1 tailback. And given that the last two guys to hold that honor both wound up attending the Heisman Trophy presentation before their careers were out, that would be a very, very nice place to be.

To check in on the rest of the SEC and other BCS conferences, check out the Spring Practice Schedule

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 3:20 pm
 

Auburn to unveil Heisman statues at spring game

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Auburn fans treating themselves to the Tigers' "A-Day" spring game are going to be treated themselves to a one-of-a-kind ceremony involving the school's three Heisman Trophy winners.

The Tiger athletic department had announced previously that they would be commissioning and erecting statuses of Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson and Cam Newton to be unveiled at a later date. A release from the school Tuesday established that date as April 14, when the statues will be dedicated in a special ceremony at 10 a.m. prior to the annual "A-Day" game.

According to the release, Sullivan (who won his Heisman in 1971), Jackson (1985) and Newton (2010, in case you've forgotten already) are all scheduled to be in attendance at the ceremony. The statues will be placed on the east end of Jordan-Hare Stadium.

In an interview with Auburn fansite The War Eagle Reader last April, statue sculptor Ken Bjorge said that the statues of Sullivan and Jackson had already been commissioned -- and completed -- when Newton's stunning Heisman season forced Auburn to ask for a third statue, and delay the unveiling of Sullivan's and Jackson's. In the interim, Florida became the first SEC team with a collection of Heisman statues, unveiling renditions of Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow at their 2011 spring game. 

The delay also meant, of course, that Auburn avoided the awkwardness of either dedicating or not dedicating a statue of Newton, whose infamous NCAA investigation only wrapped up last October. Though going through with an order for $100,000 worth of sculpted steel was already a sizable vote of confidence on Auburn's part, there's little doubt the school is highly appreciative the statue won't have to be unveiled with a Julie Roe Lach-shaped monkey on its back. 

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 1:38 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 2:09 pm
 

A&M president confirms series with Gamecocks

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The SEC still hasn't confirmed (or denied) South Carolina president Harris Pastides's claim that the league's athletic directors and presidents have signed off on a plan to maintain the league's annual cross-divisional rivalry games, or his assertion that his Gamecocks would be exchanging their yearly battle against Arkansas for one vs. league newcomers Texas A&M.

But even if the league won't confirm it, someone who would most certainly be in a position to know has: Aggie president R. Bowen Loftin. Loftin tweeted the following Monday afternoon:

 

Yes, that's the bow-tied president of a major research university of more than 50,000 students tweeting "#WHOOP" over a future football game. Clearly, the Aggies will be even more at home in the SEC than we've thought.

That aside, Loftin's confirmation should -- finally -- end any speculation or controversy over whether or not the SEC will keep the permanent cross-division games that have allowed series like Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-Tennessee to continue since its 1992 divisional split. If the SEC is going to bother forcing the Gamecocks and Aggies -- two teams without any geographic rivalry or gridiron history -- to play each season, it's safe to assume that every SEC team is going to play someone in their opposite division, eliminating the possibility of a compromise that would see some teams (like the Tide and Vols) keep their cross-division rivalries while others did not.

This decision does mean that if the SEC remains wedded to an eight-game schedule, teams in opposite divisions who don't share a rivalry game (like say, Alabama and Florida, or Georgia and LSU ) will play each other just twice in a 12-year rotation. To judge by Pastides's and Loftin's comments, though, whether that will be often enough to keep all 14 schools (and the SEC's television partners) happy will be a bridge the conference will cross when it comes to it.

HT: TSK. 

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 5:35 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 5:37 pm
 

SEC announces Media Days dates, schedule

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



For those of you who see SEC Media Days as the starter's pistol signaling the final dash to the end of another endless college football offseason, we have good news: that pistol is going to fire earlier than ever.

The SEC announced its schedule for the 2012 edition of Media Days Monday, which will run from July 17 through July 19 in its typical home at the Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham. (Journalists in attendance should begin sharpening their complaints about the Wynfrey's notoriously difficult Internet access now.) That July 17 date stands as a full three days earlier than any of the past five year's editions, and if you don't think that's that big a deal, you've forgotten how it feels in mid-July when every scrap of football news is a delicious morsel to save. (Also, you may be sane.)

Here's the full schedule: 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

1st session (approx. 1 – 3:30 p.m.) – South Carolina, Texas A&M
2nd session (approx. 3:20 – 6 p.m.) -- Missouri, Vanderbilt

Wednesday, July 18, 2012
1st session (approx. 8:30 – 11:20 a.m.) – Florida, Mississippi State
2nd session (approx. 10:50 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.) – Arkansas, Kentucky
3rd session (approx. 2:30 – 5 p.m.) – Auburn, LSU

Thursday, July 19, 2012
1st session (approx. 8:30 – 11:20 a.m.) – Alabama, Tennessee
2nd session (approx. 10:50 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.) – Ole Miss, Georgia

Our expected highlights from each session:

Tues., 1stSteve Spurrier casually joking about asking Kevin Sumlin where he might be able to find an old-school Fun N' Gun-style quarterback like Case Keenum, then afterwards seriously asking Kevin Sumlin where he might be able to find an old-school Fun N' Gun-style quarterback like Case Keenum.

Tues., 2ndJames Franklin being asked about James Franklin, followed by James Franklin being asked about James Franklin.

Wed., 1stWill Muschamp oh-so-subtly suggesting he might welcome Dan Mullen back to Florida if things don't improve this season in Gainesville; Dan Mullen oh-so-subtly suggesting he might go back to back to Florida if things don't improve this season in Starkville.

Wed., 2ndBobby Petrino being unable to stifle his chuckles from the back of the room as Joker Phillips outlines the steps forward he expects his offense to take this season.

Wed., 3rd: The stoic-at-a-molecular level in front of press Gene Chizik and the molecularly un-stoic in front of press Les Miles causing a press-conference antimatter explosion when they shake hands.

Thurs., 1st: Derek Dooley and Nick Saban singing a duet on the Dooley-penned bluegrass tune "Your Best Interests Have Tamed My Triflin' Heart." As it turns out, Saban plays the most technically proficient banjo you've ever heard.

Thurs., 2nd: Hugh Freeze asks Mark Richt if he arm-wrestle him for that "League's Nicest Guy" coffee mug he thought he spotted in his office.

The best news? The actual Media Days will likely be even better than our expectations. July 17 isn't that far away, and it still can't come soon enough.

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Posted on: March 4, 2012 7:23 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 11:32 am
 

S. Carolina president: cross-division games a go

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The official line from the SEC is that nothing happened in last week's conference scheduling meetings, and that the league is still considering all available options as it tries to solve its 14-teams-in-an-eight-game-slate schedule dilemma.

But South Carolina president Harris Pastides wandered well away from that line Saturday, telling The State newspaper and other outlets that the league had agreed to continue with permanent cross-division rivalry games--and that he will cast his vote for his Gamecocks to break off their 19-year arrangement with Arkansas.

According to Pastides, the rest of the SEC's athletic directors and presidents were committed to finalizing the new cross-divisional games when he elected to abstain, saying it was too soon for him to commit to South Carolina adopting a new annual series with Texas A&M. The Gamecocks' former West division partners, the Razorbacks, would pick up more geographically-friendly Missouri.

“I said, ‘Hold on a second. That’s a big decision, and I’d like to hear what the fans think about that,’" Pastides said. "They were kind of motivated to get it done and move on, and I said, ‘I think it’s premature. I need to go back to Columbia and see what people think about that.’ ”

According to State reporter Andy Shain, Mike Slive's response to Pastides's pronouncement was "Well good for him."

"Nothing is set yet," Slive emphasized.

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity echoed Pastides' comments in a discussion with the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. McGarity had previously said his Bulldogs' rivalry with Auburn -- as its nickname goes, the "Deep South's Oldest" -- could be in danger, but sounded much more positive Sunday.  

"The tone of the conversations that everyone had sort of gave the impression that everyone had a sense, at least the majority had a sense, of liking the rivalry game with an opponent from the opposite division," McGarity said. "The tone led us to believe that this has a good opportunity of moving forward." 

Pastides' method for discovering what "people think about that" in Columbia was to ask the State to poll readers on their website about the possibility of replacing the Razorbacks with the Aggies. Some 76 percent of respondents voted in favor of starting the new series with A&M.

That landslide was likely made possible by the Hogs' rampant recent success against the Gamecocks, Arkansas having won three in a row and five of the last six in the series. The Gamecocks' much tougher draw out of the SEC West (Arkansas, Auburn, and Mississippi State to Georgia's Auburn, Mississippi State and Ole Miss) was blamed by many -- and not without reason -- for the Bulldogs winning the 2011 East's trip to Atlanta despite the Gamecocks' win over the Dawgs in Athens.

“We have great respect for Arkansas, but I think it’s fair to say our fans never developed the same kind of passionate rivalry about playing Arkansas that maybe some other university did playing their Western Division rivalry,” Pastides said, confirming that he would vote in accordance with the fans' wishes.

“I respect the fans," he said. "Fans are not often consulted on important decisions and ultimately administrators come and go and coaches come and go and athletic directors come and go and fans stay.”

According to Pastides, the final vote of the presidents rubber-stamping the new cross-divisional arrangements will come next week, following the SEC men's basketball tournament.

The proposal isn't in the clear just yet; Pastides himself admits "it's not a done deal," and he happens to be the same president who claimed the SEC had agreed to a nine-game schedule for 2012 last November. A permanent cross-division rival paired with an eight-game schedule would also result in teams playing other cross-divisional opponents only twice in 12 years.

So the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" and the "Third Saturday in October" aren't out of the woods yet. But they do, at least, seem safer than they were before last week's meetings--where the SEC may have made far more ground on the scheduling issue than they've let on.

Shain HT: Get the Picture. 

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 5:45 pm
 

The SEC schedule paradox: what are the options?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



Attention Birmingham residents: don't be surprised if you look in the "help wanted" section of your local Craigslist this weekend and find an ad from a user named "NoJiveSlive6nCounting" seeking "experienced cat-herder, must be able to wrangle up to 14 strong-willed athletic direc ... er, cats, with 14 differing agendas into moving in the same direction. Happily. Or at least, not angrily."

If you do, you can bet it's a response to this week's meeting of SEC athletic directors, where efforts to begin hammering out a football schedule for 2013 -- and, more importantly, a planned rotation for the seasons beyond -- seemed to have gone just an inch or two past nowhere. Reading the comments of those A.D.'s both during and after the meetings, it's easy to see why; not only is every SEC school bringing its own aims and ideas to the table, but they can't even agree on what they think they agree on. Just ask LSU and Florida, who are both willing to give up their annual cross-division rivalry or, in fact, aren't, depending on who you ask.

Of course, anyone who wasn't expecting these kinds of difficulties as soon as Texas A&M and Missouri joined the league wasn't paying attention. As we've repeated ad nauseum in this space, what the SEC wants -- preserved cross-divisional rivalries, semi-regular rotations for other East-West matchups, a divisional round-robin -- and the number of league games in which it wants them -- i.e., eight -- is flatly impossible, the scheduling equivalent of dividing by zero. Some kind of compromise somewhere in that tangled thicket of demands is inevitable.

But which compromise makes the most sense? Let's break down the SEC's options:

1. A NINE-GAME SCHEDULE

Pros: The simplest solution would give the conference room to preserve one annual cross-division game per team (saving the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry and Third Saturday in October), two slots for rotating cross-division opponents (shortening the gap between home-and-homes to four years), and still fit in the NCAA-mandated six-game intra-divisional round-robin. There's little doubt the league's television partners would vastly prefer another round of conference contests to a snoozer over yet another faceless Sun Belt punching bag.

Cons: They are many, the biggest one being that half the league would be giving up the cash bonanza of a guaranteed home game each year; for teams committed to a nonconference rivalry that requires a biannual road game (South Carolina with Clemson, Georgia with Georgia Tech, etc.) that loss will be particularly tough to swallow. There's also the increased difficulty of bottom-rung teams scheduling their way to a bowl berth; the inevitable loss of one-off nonconference series like LSU's with West Virginia; the inherent unfairness of half the league getting five home games and half just four ... all in all, it's understandable why the league would prefer to stick at eight if at all possible.

2. KEEP SELECTED CROSS-DIVISIONAL RIVALRIES

Pros: In other words, let Georgia play Auburn and Alabama play Tennessee (and maybe LSU and Florida? Arkansas and Missouri?) on an annual basis while everyone else rotates their cross-division opponents. The rivalries that matter are preserved while teams without such rivalries maintain scheduling flexibility.

Cons: For the teams with permanent cross-division rivals and just one rotating cross-division slot, match-ups with the rest of the opposite division will be few and far between--just one home-and-home over 12 years. Will teams in the West who want to recruit Georgia be happy with one trip to Athens every dozen seasons? Will East teams that struggle to fill their stadiums like Vanderbilt or Kentucky be happy with one visit from the Crimson Tide every 12 years? Will traditional rivals Auburn and Florida live with almost never playing each other again? This compromise is better than assigning every team a permanent cross-divisional rival, but it still has major problems.

3. PLAY ONLY FIVE INTRA-DIVISIONAL GAMES

Pros: As discussed by Mississippi State A.D. Scott Stricklin here, this would require an NCAA waiver or repeal of the current rule requiring conferences to stage intra-divisional round-robins to hold a title game (and such a waiver was granted to the MAC, albeit when that league had 13 teams and needed it to make an eight-game schedule work). But it would free up one key slot for a cross-divisional game--and it's hard to think of a team in the league that wouldn't take someone in the opposite division over someone in their own. League regularly dealt with tiebreaks between teams that hadn't played head-to-head back in the pre-divisional days.

Cons: Just because they dealt with them doesn't mean awkward tiebreaks are somehow a good thing; ask the Big 12 about its 2008 season sometime. And it may all be moot anyway--the NCAA may not be inclined to grant the waiver in the first place.

4. REALIGN DIVISIONS

Pros: If Auburn/Georgia and Tennessee/Alabama need to play every year, why not just lump them all into the same division and make the issue of cross-division rivalries irrelevant? You'd have to ignore geography entirely where South Carolina was concerned, but a "Rivalry" division of Tigers, Bulldogs, Volunteers, Crimson Tide, Gators, Commodores, and Wildcats -- with LSU, A&M, Missouri, Arkansas, the Mississippi schools, and the Gamecocks in the "Other" division -- would preserve almost every classic SEC series. And if you don't like that arrangement, there's always other options.

Cons: Hoo boy, the Gamecocks would not be happy with having their Georgia series dissolved in the above scenario. And even if you convince them, any scenario which lumps both Alabama schools in with the traditional East powers is going to be far too competitively weighted towards that division--the West could have just one team (LSU) that had won the league since 1963. 

5. ELIMINATE DIVISIONS ENTIRELY

ProsMore than one SEC fan has proposed simply doing away with the divisional setup -- allowing teams to schedule as many annual rivals or rotated games as they wish -- and having the top two teams in the standings play off in the league championship game. No other suggestion in this list would make scheduling easier.

Cons: That the NCAA has mandated divisions for a championship game since the game's inception is a hurdle just a shade smaller than the Empire State Building, and of course the money-tree that is the SEC Championship Game is going to go away when Razorbacks fly. Then there's the tiebreaking issues, the regressive feel of reverting to the pre-1992 standings table ... this isn't happening.

ANYTHING ELSE?

Short of pitching two schools overboard, which will happen immediately after the league gives up its championship game to help it live a life of "monastic conferencehood, in which championships are awarded for each team's level of enlightenment," nope.

SO WHAT SHOULD THE LEAGUE DO?

Simple: go to nine games. For the likes of Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Kentucky, this means just two nonconference "paycheck" breathers and some massaging of the road/home split to make sure each team doesn't have too many games away from home in one season.

But guess what? The Bulldogs only played two paycheck games last season, and they ended up all right. LSU played only six true home games last year, only two of them vs. tomato can opposition, and their world somehow continued to spin as well. We're not sure there's a fan in the league that wouldn't be willing to trade two seasons' worth of exhibitions against Cupcake State for one ticket vs. legitimate SEC opposition.

BUT WHAT WILL THEY DO?

Despite the noises coming from Georgia's Greg McGarity, we expect -- and fervently hope -- that even a money-grab as naked as this round of SEC expansion has its limits, and that those limits stop outside the cancellation of Georgia-Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee. For now, expect the league to opt for option No. 2, where the schools who want permanent cross-division rivalries get them and those that don't don't. And in the long run? When the demands of television viewers and high price of paying off bodybags makes that extra home game more trouble than it's worth, the ninth game will make it debut. 

Unfortunately, there's going to be a lot of hand-wringing, a lot of scary-sounding statements, and a lot of Mike Slive cat-herding before we get to that or any compromise. Buckle in, SEC, fans.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 5:30 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 7:51 pm
 

LSU AD says Tigers, Gators may end series

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

SEC athletic directors met this week to try and squeeze the league's expansion toothpaste back into the tube of a scheduling rotation that all 14 schools could live with ... and unsurprisingly, they didn't make much headway. But the athletic director at LSU says he and his counterpart at Florida are willing to remove at least one minor hurdle from the deadlock.

Speaking to the Baton Rouge Advocate Thursday, LSU A.D. Joe Alleva said that both his program and Jeremy Foley's in Gainesville are "interested in ending" (to use the Advocate's paraphrase) the Tigers' and Gators' annual cross-division rivalry game. LSU and Florida have met each year since 1971 and were designated as permanent cross-divisional rivals in the SEC's 1992 expansion.

Sources told CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy Thursday, however, that Florida is not currently interested in canceling the series. 

The league is considering doing away with permanent cross-divisional rivalries in an effort to ease scheduling concerns, even though that decision would imperil two of the conference's most storied rivalries in Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-Tennessee. Alleva, however, said that despite his school's willingness to abandon its annual cross-division game, there was "momentum" among the A.D.'s to preserve those two particular series.

“The only way around that is to try to maintain the old rivalries and come up with a solution for those who don’t have them,” Alleva said. “There’s a fine line to doing that.”

Both Ole Miss's Pete Boone and Vanderbilt's David Williams told the Birmingham News this week that they oppose maintaining permanent cross-divisional games, with Williams labeling as unfair a potential compromise that would see only some teams (namely, Auburn, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee) keep such games.

The leeway of a nine-game league schedule would ease many of those concerns dramatically (while raising others), but Alleva echoed the current prevailing sentiment of SEC A.D.'s and officials in saying he and his fellow A.D.'s prefer sticking with an eight-game schedule--even at the apparent cost of a LSU-Florida series highly valued by many fans on both sides.

Which is why the further A.D. meetings alluded to by SEC spokesman Charles Bloom at the conclusion of this set will no doubt be entirely necessary to iron out the league's scheduling dilemma. The conference continues to face a fundamental scheduling paradox: it wants a six-game divisional round-robin, a permanent cross-division game, and two rotated cross-divisional games (to avoid going a full decade without seeing some opposite-division opponents) ... and still stay at eight games.

Somewhere, push is going to have to come to shove, and it's not a shock a group of 14 men with as many differing agendas as the SEC's A.D.'s would seem to have haven't found where that shove is going to come just yet.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:45 pm
 

Saban says Tide will offer four-year scholarships

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Alabama was one of 30 BCS conference schools to recently vote against NCAA legislation that would allow -- though not mandate -- schools to offer multiple-year scholarships over the previous system of annual scholarship renewals. And the Tide football program had declined to offer them this past February, with Nick Saban citing lawsuits issued during the previous era of multiple-year scholarships as reason for the program's opposition.

Despite that stance, Saban told the Tuscaloosa News in a Tuesday story that the Tide would join Auburn and Florida (and, with the legislation's survival of the override vote, likely the rest of the SEC) in offering four-year scholarships starting with the 2013 class.

"We're going to offer four-year scholarships," Saban said. "Our whole conference is going to do it, all the schools, I think. And we're happy to do it."

Though we're skeptical a program truly "happy" to offer four-year scholarships would instead vote to prevent anyone from offering those scholarships, themselves included, Saban again referred to the legal ramifications when explaining the opposition of "some of the schools."

"We had the (four-year) rule years ago, and there were legal challenges to it," Saban said. "So we changed to the one-year scholarship then. I think that was why some of the schools had concerns." 

A four-year scholarship would conceivably make it more difficult for Saban to oversign in February and then "cut" players afterwards -- the Tide have seen widespread departures between spring practice and the start of fall camp each of the last several years under Saban -- but he forcefully denied either cutting players or that the new scholarships would have any impact on that issue at any school.

"We don't cut players," Saban said. "I don't know anyone who does. So I don't think that's an issue ... The player will still have to be academically eligible. He will still have to obey team rules and regulations. And the player is still going to have the same rights and the same appeals process that he has now."

Saban is entirely correct that just because School X has committed its four-year promise in writing doesn't mean Player Y is going to be able to skate through four years of school without worrying about the consequences. (He's also right that this could conceivably lead to some legal appeals here and there.) But given the ease with which schools have dismissed players on one-year scholarships in the past -- it's surprising to hear Saban say he "doesn't know anyone" who cuts players, given that SEC West rival Bobby Petrino declined to renew the scholarships of five different players just last year -- we disagree that nothing has changed.

Even if having a promise of four years' worth of education in writing is still just a promise, that's more commitment from their new schools than those players have gotten before.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com