Good morning. The Rammer Jammer is a daily rundown of everything you need to know about Alabama athletics, published every weekday morning
Alabama is fortunate. It’s annual onslaught of distraction has come in a week when the Crimson Tide most likely don’t need their fullest focus to stay undefeated. If Blake Barnett’s now-confirmed transfer wasn’t enough, linebacker and pass-rusher extraordinaire Tim Williams was arrested for carrying a concealed handgun without a permit.
While I wouldn’t call Williams’ arrest overly serious — the gun wasn’t stolen, he wasn’t charged with a felony, he faces no drug charges, etc. — it does indicate a serious lack of judgment. Just six months out from changing his and his family’s life forever in the NFL Draft, Williams jeopardized millions of dollars in future earnings, not to mention his well-being and career, by thinking hot-boxing in the Publix parking lot on Tuscaloosa’s second-busiest thoroughfare on a Wednesday night at 2 a.m. sounded like a perfectly fine idea.
On the Barnett front, it appears the Californian is looking to limit his eligibility loss to one calendar year from Wednesday by graduating from junior college. As for our poll Thursday, 70 percent of you said Barnett’s decision to transfer was understandable but he should have waited until the end of the season. I tend to agree.
Both of these incidents are filed under that broad buzzword, “distractions.” And, as any true champion knows, distractions are the last thing a team wants. Everything must go perfectly, all the time, forever, right?
Here’s the thing: every program has “distractions,” but “distractions” only become distractions if you allow them to. Nick Saban is an expert at handling “distractions.” Every championship team has to overcome them, to work through them. So losing a backup quarterback and a pass-rusher slated to have a pretty good season in one of the deepest linebacking corps in the country ahead of what should be the easiest conference game of the season isn’t a disaster, in terms of on-field performance. Losing would be a disaster, but it wouldn’t be because of Williams and Barnett, and it wouldn’t be down to “distractions.”
Thank god a mistake worth learning from. ????
— Timmy Soldado (@JaYbOi225) September 29, 2016
Taste of Tuscaloosa
Today we’re going over the river into Northport, technically, but what is Northport but Tuscaloosa’s parking lot? Our destination today is Southern Ale House, off McFarland Boulevard just over the Black Warrior River. It features made-from-scratch meal-sized biscuits and possibly the best burgers in the county. It’s well-prepared, well-delivered food in a refined but casual atmosphere for a completely affordable price. They also carry dozens of craft beers, including local brews like Black Warrior Brewing Company and Druid City Brewing Company. I usually go for one of their burgers — any will do — and a Druid City Downtown Northporter.
The media predicts…
- Alex Byington has Alabama over Kentucky 52-7 for the Montgomery Advertiser.
- Bleacher Report’s Brian Pederson gives Alabama a 49-point cushion.
- Fox Sports’ statistical model gives Alabama a 70 percent chance of winning and a 35-point spread.
- AL.com’s crew takes Alabama big
Most sportsbooks are giving Alabama 35 points. I take the Crimson Tide to cover. The over/under is set at 57, which I don’t like, but I’ll tentatively take the over.
- Rivals named Alabama ‘Wide Receiver U.’
- AL.com’s Matt Zenitz has Williams’ full deposition.
- AL.com columnist Kevin Scarbinsky: Does Alabama have a discipline problem? This column posits but does not prove that the only way to effectively make a point to a player is to cost them playing time, and also relates 12 penalties against WKU to arrests on weapons misdemeanors. Fun with words.
- OFFICIAL: Tennessee is Alabama’s biggest rival.
- BamaOnline’s Travis Reier has a timely look at Alabama’s depth at outside linebacker.
- Saban touched on his decision to hire Steve Sarkisian during his radio show.
- Marq Burnett has his five keys to the game. One of them features David Cornwell. That should assuage your fears.
Around the Capstone
- Soccer heads to Starkville to take on Mississippi State tonight at 8 ET. The Crimson White’s Matt Speakman has an excellent feature on singer/game-winner Abbie Boswell.
- Volleyball travels to Georgia and Mississippi State this weekend.
What to watch this weekend
I’ll decide so you don’t have to. Week 5 is kind of a huge week, even Alabama’s game is less huge. But that’s a good thing, because you have more time to pay attention to other games and are less likely to nervously drink yourself into a stupor.
- 9 p.m. ET, No. 7 Stanford at No. 10 Washington (ESPN): Probably the de facto Pac-12 title game. Both teams play grinding football, so if you like offensive line play, I have good news. This is the biggest Friday night game I can remember since that Egg Bowl that was actually kind of important.
- Noon ET, No. 22 Texas at Oklahoma State (ABC): This is going to be so gloriously weird. Mike Gundy at OSU is probably on the hot seat while Texas is “BACK,” which means OSU is definitely winning this in hilarious style. Also of note, Miami heads to Georgia Tech on ESPN2. Please, do not watch Florida at Vanderbilt, for the sake of your sanity.
- 3:30 p.m. ET, No. 8 Wisconsin at No. 4 Michigan (ABC): Two of the four contenders for the conference title battle it out. Wisconsin’s been better than I expected, and I feel like Jim Harbaugh’s going to be one of those coaches with inexplicable insanity going on in his games, a la Les Miles. Also watch No. 11 Tennessee at No. 25 Georgia on CBS to see if Tennessee is really real and what the SEC East champion will most likely look like. Keep an eye on ULM at Auburn, because who knows?
- 5 p.m. ET, Oklahoma at No. 21 TCU (Fox): Another game with conference title implications, and sure to be a high scoring affair. Texas A&M at South Carolina will be getting toward halftime around this time too. Don’t watch that either.
- 7 p.m. ET, Memphis at Ole Miss (ESPN2): Memphis has been surprisingly good this season, and everybody remembers that they beat Ole Miss last year, right? Either Ole Miss will have its SEC title dreams thwarted (again) or the Rebels will put a Homeric beatdown on Memphis. Either way, should be fun. Also, Coach O’s first game in charge of LSU, home to Mizzou, kicks off at 7:30.
- 8 p.m. ET, No. 3 Louisville at No. 5 Clemson (ABC): Nobody’s called this The Game of The Century, thankfully, but it probably is the game of the year. Lamar Jackson leads the Cardinals into Clemson’s lake-adjacent Death Valley (not to be confused with LSU’s river adjacent Death Valley or the not-at-all-water-adjacent Actual Death Valley) to do battle with the national runners-up and Heisman Trophy contender DeShaun Watson. This one will almost certainly decide the ACC and so, a playoff spot.
- 10:30 ET, Arizona at UCLA (ESPN): Immerse yourself in dissolved essence of Pac-12 After Dark with this late game. You’ve earned it. It’s been a long day.
DaDa Coach O
— Druid City Brewing (@DruidCityBrew) September 29, 2016
Druid City is as renowned for their iconic blackboard drawings as their excellent craft beer. If you’re in Tuscaloosa this weekend, check them out. For reference, this is a take on the Salvador Dali classic “The Persistence of Memory.”