NCF Nation: Mike Shula
The NCAA Committee on Infractions on Thursday placed Alabama's sports teams on three years' probation as a result of its student-athletes improperly obtaining approximately $40,000 worth of textbooks from the school's bookstore.
What does it mean for the Crimson Tide's football program, which is really the only sport that matters to most fans in Tuscaloosa?
Alabama will have to vacate as many as 21 victories from the 2005 through '07 seasons. The NCAA has asked Alabama officials to identify any games in which seven ineligible football players participated during the three-year period.
Five of the players have been identified -- offensive linemen Antoine Caldwell and Marlon Davis, running back Glen Coffee and defensive backs Marquis Johnson and Chris Rogers. The NCAA and Alabama have yet to identify the other two players who were ruled ineligible.
By my calculations, the Crimson Tide might have to vacate 10 victories from the 2005 season (at least one of the ineligible players competed in each of those games), six wins from 2006 and five victories from 2007. Alabama self-reported the violations in 2007 and suspended the aforementioned players. The Tide won't have to vacate their 41-7 victory over Tennessee in 2007 or their 30-24 win over Colorado in the 2007 Independence Bowl, because the ineligible players had already been suspended and reinstated before those contests were played.
What does it all really mean?
Well, remember that 9-0 start during the 2005 season, when the Crimson Tide climbed as high as No. 3 in the Bowl Championship Series standings and when former coach Mike Shula actually looked a little like daddy Don?
It never happened.
Remember Tyrone Prothro's amazing over-the-defender's-back catch against Southern Mississippi in 2005?
You might find it on YouTube, but you probably won't find it in Alabama's 2009 media guide. (I'm sure the home office in Bristol will allow Prothro to keep his ESPY.)
Remember former quarterback John Parker Wilson's 2-yard touchdown pass to fullback Le'Ron McClain, which beat Ole Miss, 26-23, in overtime in 2006?
McClain should have dropped it. In the eyes of the NCAA, it probably didn't happen.
The good news for Tide fans? Alabama won't have to vacate any Iron Bowl victories. The Crimson Tide weren't good enough to beat rival Auburn during the seasons in question.
With one fell swoop, the NCAA is attempting to wipe out three years of Alabama football history.
If only the NCAA would force Alabama to vacate that 21-14 loss to Louisiana-Monroe.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
In the realm of SEC football, sometimes I wonder what means more to fans -- finishing in the top 10 in recruiting rankings or finishing in the top 10 in the final polls?
OK, I'm being a little facetious, but there's nothing quite like recruiting in the SEC. You can talk about somebody's mama. You can rag on a guy's girlfriend. But you take your life into your own hands when you dis an SEC fan's recruiting class.
Really, though, it looks like the rich just keep getting richer when you look at the most recent recruiting rankings by ESPN's Scouts Inc. Five of the top 12 teams are from the SEC, led by No. 1 LSU.
As we breathlessly await national signing day, here are five recruiting moments from the past five years that made a significant impact on the SEC:
1. Tebow picks Florida over Alabama: It was an extremely tough decision for Tim Tebow, and a lot of people thought he might choose Alabama. The Crimson Tide and Mike Shula did a really nice job recruiting him. In the end, Tebow couldn't say no to the Gators, and the rest as they say (two national championships and a Heisman Trophy) is history. Imagine, though, if he had chosen Alabama. Chances are Shula would still be coaching the Tide, and who knows where Nick Saban would be right now? Maybe at Auburn. Imagine, too, that Alabama offense last season with Tebow operating behind that offensive line.
2. The failed Springdale experiment: First, Houston Nutt hired innovative Gus Malzhan away from nearby Springdale High to be his offensive coordinator. Then Nutt signed four of Malzhan's best players from Springdale's powerhouse program during the 2006 class, including prep All-America quarterback Mitch Mustain. At the time, it seemed like a coup. Little did Nutt know that the whole thing would blow up in his face and eventually contribute to his demise at Arkansas. It was high drama at its best, complete with nasty e-mails, defections and plenty of finger-pointing. The bitter divorce ended with Nutt walking away following the 2007 season and immediately landing at Ole Miss. Malzhan had left for Tulsa the year before, and tight end Ben Cleveland remains the only player from that Springdale quartet on scholarship at Arkansas.
3. Julio and A.J.: Some would prefer the order to be A.J. and Julio. The debate is sure to rage the next couple of years. Either way, there hasn't been two better receiver prospects to come into the SEC in the same year than Alabama's Julio Jones and Georgia's A.J. Green last year. They were freshmen by classification in 2008, but played like future All-Pros. Jones has an NFL body right now and the strength to go with it. Green separates from defenders like few receivers can and led the SEC with 963 receiving yards and tied for the SEC lead with eight touchdown catches in 2008. Sit back and enjoy, because these are two of the best the league has seen at receiver in a long time.
4. Vols' recent classes wane: The 2006 and 2008 signing classes by Tennessee were the lowest rated of Phillip Fulmer's career. The Vols didn't crack the Top 15 in ESPN's recruiting rankings either year, which was unheard of under Fulmer. Two bad recruiting classes and two bad seasons (5-6 in 2005 and 5-7 in 2008) were too much for Fulmer to overcome, and he was fired this past season after carving out a Hall of Fame career at his alma mater. The Vols signed just one of ESPN's Top 150 prospects nationally in each of the 2006 and 2008 classes, and a total of 10 players from those two classes aren't even with the program at this point.
5. Top 15 status for Ole Miss: Ed Orgeron may be at Tennessee right now, but Ole Miss fans can thank him for the bulk of the talent the Rebels put on the field last season. The 2006 signing class, rated 14th nationally by ESPN and the highest rated class in Ole Miss history, produced 13 starters on last season's 9-4 team, including Marcus Tillman, John Jerry, Kentrell Lockett, Allen Walker, Kendrick Lewis and Cordera Eason. Greg Hardy and Dexter McCluster, also from that class, weren't full-time starters, but Hardy was one of the SEC's best pass-rushers with 8.5 sacks last season and McCluster was one of the Rebels' most versatile offensive threats. And after reeling in that talent-laden class in 2006, Orgeron added a quarterback to the mix that next January -- a transfer from Texas by the name of Snead.