Brady's Commentary: AJ McCarron is the consummate winner
I don't think it came as much of a surprise that Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston won the Heisman, but if there was ever a reason to feel good about No. 2 it is this year. AJ McCarron was recognized for another proficient season as Alabama's quarterback and good for him. During his career McCarron rarely finished second at anything, claiming two national titles as a starter and becoming the winningest quarterback in school history.
McCarron is what is good about college football as his story of perseverance and humbleness should be applauded by all those in the game. He didn't deserve the Heisman this year, but he did win the Maxwell Award, which shocked many folks including McCarron. Time will tell if the Maxwell committee vote can influence Heisman voters in the future, but for this season they clearly made a statement.
Winston handled himself well and his acceptance speech was heartfelt. He also mentioned that as the second consecutive freshman to win the prestigious award he talked to last year's winner Johnny Manziel and will learn from his experience. If I were Winston, I would also talk to McCarron because he is the standard by which all student athletes should emulate.
Alabama has spent the last few weeks trying to make sense of its season-ending loss to arch rival Auburn. The fact that the Tigers are playing in the BCS Championship Game has not made the process any easier.
The good news is that head coach Nick Saban looks like he will not be going to Texas and better yet he should finish his career with Alabama. I would not have been surprised if Saban would have made the move to Austin for a new challenge. The modus operandi for most coaches is to keep moving and to stay ahead of the chopping block. In this day and age, can you blame any coach who follows the crazy trail of money that guys are landing today?
However, it appears that Saban has found his spot in Tuscaloosa and will continue to etch his name into the history books. Texas would have provided a stern challenge, but it would never be up to what lies ahead at Alabama. He looks to continue one of the great runs in SEC and college football history in 2014 against the best conference in football. Oh and by the way, he will have to do it without quarterback AJ McCarron and linebacker C.J. Mosley.
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Georgia has been stuck with facing Nebraska again in a bowl game, but the Bulldogs are done lamenting the rematch and focusing on getting a win. Georgia has never lost a Gator Bowl (2-0-1) and will look to send the senior class out with its 36th win. The Bulldogs have a chance to break last year’s school record for points per game. They are averaging 38.2 and the record last year was 37.8.
Vanderbilt ticket sales have gone well for its trip to Birmingham. This will be a good case study for future bowl games as the Commodores move up the pecking order. Vanderbilt was one win away from being in the mix for a New Year's Day bowl, and you just feel like James Franklin is close to getting that done. Bowls would be encouraged in the future if the Commodores took 10-15,000 to Birmingham.
Ole Miss looks to improve its overall bowl record to 23-12, which is among the best marks in the SEC. Georgia Tech, from the ACC, will provide a stiff challenge to Hugh Freeze's defense with the triple option. The Yellow Jackets average more than 300 yards game on the ground in their seven wins. However Paul Johnson's team has struggled in bowl games when teams have had time to prepare.
There are a few names that have surfaced at Florida for its vacant offensive coordinator position. The one SEC name is Texas A&M quarterback coach and co-offensive coordinator Jake Spavital. He is a young bright offensive mind that has mentored under Gus Malzahn, Dana Holgorsen and Kevin Sumlin. He fits the criteria and could turn around the worst offense in the league in one season. Other names are Mike Norvell at Arizona State, Tim Beck at Nebraska and Blake Anderson from North Carolina.
Finally, Auburn is entering Phase 1 of a three-step preparation for the championship game. Gus Malzahn went through the process two years ago and learned a lot on how he wants to approach this year's game. The first phase will included educating his players on the personnel at Florida State while implementing practices that will challenge his team but not burn them out. Phase 2 includes game plan and scheme, while Phase 3 occurs from the bowl site. That is normally the time you’re in "game week mode" but also must deal with media and events daily.