Roundtable: All about the leadership

Memphis Tider hosted this week’s Crimson & White Roundtable. Here are the questions and my answers.
1. With Cody being gone to the NFL this season, will this change not only the way the Tide plays defense, but the way that opponents attack? Will this play into our favor or no?

Losing someone like Terrence Cody is a serious issue. The largest problem is that Cody’s absence invites teams to run the ball more often. While this doesn’t mean success, it does provide a chance for teams to field a more balanced offensive strategy. What is one thing Nick Saban preaches about for Alabama’s offense? Balance. And he preaches this because he knows the hardest thing to defend is a team that both runs and passes.

2. Although it’s simply a glorified scrimmage, what are you looking for from Saturday’s A-Day game?

Isn’t Wendi Nix going to be in town? I heard it somewhere, but have no idea if it is true or not. However, that is what I’m going to be looking for.

3. How big is the loss of Mike Johnson on the offensive line? Was he the reason the transition from 2008 to 2009 was so smooth?

By all accounts, Mike Johnson was a leader on last year’s team. Was there ever a negative word spoken about him? From all indications players looked to him, and he set a superb example for his team.

Alabama’s football coach Nick Saban said this about Johnson after the Crimson Tide won the BCS title, “Well, Mike Johnson has played extremely well for us all year. I think Mike Johnson probably had more to do with the development of our offensive line than anybody other than Joe Pendry who’s the coach, because of his leadership and the great example that he sets, the work ethic that he has. He’s been one of our most consistent performers all year, and I’m sure he did a phenomenal job for us tonight.”

Alabama must find a replacement, or it risks mediocrity on the offensive line this season. Football is much like a business; it requires holding people accountable. Coaches can do that, but Nick Saban’s system works best when players are involved—when players hold one another accountable. Leaders like Mike Johnson are more valuable than simply filling a position. Leaders like Johnson establish the team’s overall morale.

4. Is there another strength & conditioning coach in the country that is as important to a plan as Coach Cochran? What is it about him that you love so much (because we know that everyone here loves him. haha)?

Cochran provides motivation. That is what makes him so valuable. But never forget that strength and conditioning is a complete effort and involves the entire football administration. Alabama’s teams under Mike Shula were poorly conditioned. Why? Because Shula did not require toughness of his team. I am in the minority when I say this, but Shula’s offense wasn’t the problem. The problem was the team lacked the strength and endurance to execute the game plan.

Thankfully, that is not the direction of the program these days under Nick Saban. Cochran has done an exceptional job helping keep players focused on the task of improving their physical ability. He is perfect for his role.

5. NBA Playoff time — who wins it, who pulls off the biggest upset, and why?
There once was a time when I lived for the NBA playoffs. Getting to see Magic and Bird was a treat. But the Boston Garden is no more. The NBA is mostly boring these days. However, a matchup between the Lakers and Celtics would be something I watch. I don’t think that will happen. I think the Lakers win it over Cleveland. As for an upset, one great thing about the NBA playoffs is that the better teams have an extended series to rebound from one bad game—something unlike the NCAA tournament. Of course, this makes for less drama, but no doubt a better champion.