Sports in Paradise By Dale Jones
So what happens now?
The 2010 football season is officially over. The BCS Champion has been crowned and the teams, bands and cheerleaders have left the stadium.
Just like that, it starts all over again.
Here in Alabama, football is not a seasonal sport. It is a year-round activity.
But 2011 will be interesting to say the least.
In 2009, Alabama goes undefeated, Mark Ingram wins the Heisman, and the Tide is crowned National Champs.
In 2010, Auburn returns the favor with both the Heisman winner in Cam Newton and their first National Championship in 53 years.
Will a Cam-less Tiger team be able to bounce back and find a way to repeat?
What about the Tide? There is no doubt, the team that comes out of the tunnel in Tuscaloosa this fall will have a new look.
No, not the uniforms, like at Oregon, where every week they have a new look.
(Speaking of which, what was with those SOCKS in the BCS Championship game? -Seriously?)
Gone will be one of Alabama’s most successful QBs in Greg McElroy.
Alabama’s first Heisman winner, Ingram – GONE!
MVP of the BCS Championship Marcell Dareus – GONE!
Bama’s 2010 MVP who set a school record of 78 receptions and 1,133 yards, Julio Jones – GONE!
For the next several months, one of the most asked questions, as it typically is year in and year out in the state of Alabama, will be – who is going to start at quarterback next season.
For the Tigers, things aren’t much better.
Cam will be playing on Sunday in the fall of 2011, but other Tigers that will no longer put on the blue jersey include the likes of Lee Ziemba, Wes Byrum, Kodi Burns, Antoine Carter, and Ryan Pugh.
Sure, both teams have good players to graduate or leave early each year, but this go ‘round the teams are losing their Heisman Trophy winners, as well as some key players in key positions.
For the past two seasons, both Tide and Tiger fans have felt confident with the personnel on both sides of the ball, but the fact is, there are question marks all over the depth chart for both teams as we move into the spring and summer.
Recruiting is huge, and both teams will likely finish in the top five in the country, but as we have seen before, you never know what can happen with great recruits.
Can anyone say Star Jackson?
I kind of like going into the off-season not knowing who will be next year’s quarterbacks. It makes things that much more exciting.
And after the last two seasons, maybe some unanswered questions in January and February will keep the off-season smack talk to a minimum.
Hit ‘em straight
—Dale Jones is a reporter / sports columnist for Gulf Coast Newspapers and a Member of the Alabama Sports Writers Association. You can reach Dale at firstname.lastname@example.org