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SEC Headlines – 10/20/11 Part Two

1.  Tennessee AD (and former Alabama assistant AD) Dave Hart says the Alabama-Tennessee game must be preserved because “the history that rivalry has produced is unparalleled in my mind.”

2.  Speaking of Alabama and Tennessee, the loss of offensive lineman Aaron Douglas is still being felt by people with ties to both programs.

3.  It sounds like Bama players will be enjoying victory cigars if they roll the Volunteers on Saturday.

4.  The Tide’s Trent Richardson remains grounded despite the hype surrounding him.

5.  How will Clint Moseley stack up against previous first-time starting quarterbacks at Auburn?

6.  Auburn’s homecoming game against Samford will be televised on pay-per-view.

7.  The guys on Arkansas’ offense believe they’ve still got a lot of room to improve.

8.  Quarterback Tyler Wilson is one of 10 finalists for the Unitas Award.

9.  This season, LSU has been wearing teams down in the second half.

10.  Ole Miss’ freshman class says “Be patient, we’re coming.”  (Soon enough to save Houston Nutt?)

11.  With the Rebels preparing to face Arkansas’ high-flying offense, Nutt says of his secondary, “We’re out of bodies.”

12.  Film work is paying off for Mississippi State’s D-linemen.

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Manslaughter Charge Brought In The Case Of Deceased Bama Player Douglas

In May, Alabama offensive tackle Aaron Douglas (left) was found dead following a house party in Fernandina Beach, Florida.  A coroner’s report showed that Douglas’ death was drug-related.

Today, there has been an arrest in the case.  Rodney Young Odum has been charged with manslaughter and the sale and delivery of a controlled substance.  Odum was the cab driver who drove Douglas to the party outside of Jacksonville on May 12th.  Allegedly, he provided Douglas with methadone.

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Saban: Football Season Will Be A Relief In Alabama

In the past three weeks, the Alabama family has had to deal with devastating tornadoes that destroyed much of Tuscaloosa.  Most recently they have also had to deal with the shocking death of teammate Aaron Douglas.

Nick Saban says football season might be a welcome distraction from the tragedies, struggles and misery of the past month.

“I think they’re two different things and I think we should look at them that way,” Saban said this yesterday during a radio fundraiser.  “The season will be a lot of fun, and it will be an escape for a lot of people who have had a lot of heartbreak, through what they’ve been through with this storm, but we’ll still be supporting, rebuilding and trying to help those who need it.”

We aren’t the first — nor will we be the last — to draw a comparison between the Alabama football team in 2011 and the New Orleans Saints of two years ago.  The Saints provided a rallying point for a city that had dealt with a slow climb back from Hurricane Katrina.  Don’t be surprised to see and hear Bama’s team compared to the Saints time and again this fall.  Especially if the Tide turns out to be as good as projected.

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Bama, UT Say Goodbye To Douglas

The family of former Alabama and Tennessee offensive lineman Aaron Douglas held a “celebration of life” service in Knoxville on Sunday night.  Representatives from both schools — and about 2,000 people total – showed up to pay their respects to the player who passed away in Fernandina Beach, Florida last week.

Those in attendance included:

* Nick Saban, Phillip Fulmer and Johnny Majors — who coached Aaron’s father David at Tennessee.  Derek Dooley and Duke head coach David Cutcliffe were also there.  (CORRECTION — Dooley was not in attendance at the funeral as was initially reported.)

* Alabama AD Mal Moore, offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, and former O-line coach Joe Pendry.

* Tennessee linebackers coach Lance Thompson, and former UT D-line coach Dan Brooks — now at Clemson.

* Former Tennessee assistant Steve Caldwell — now at Arkansas — could not attend the service so he flew into the Knoxville area Saturday to visit with Douglas’ family.

* Former Douglas teammates at Tennessee and Alabama were in attendance.  At least 30 members of the Tide football team carpooled up for the service.  That’s in addition to the two planes worth of Alabama representatives who attended… including those mentioned above.

In the words of Cecil Hurt of The Tuscaloosa News, “Let’s hope that something good will come from a service where two teams — and may more family members and friends — remember Aaron Douglas, and the good parts of a life that was too short.”

For all of the name-calling and ugliness that sports can sometimes give birth to, it’s important to remember that in the end — we’re talking about games.  About entertainment. 

Perhaps Douglas’ death (coupled with the tragic tornadoes that hit Tuscaloosa) can help to cool some of the nastiness in some parts of the SEC for at least a little while. 

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Fernandina Beach Police Investigating Death Of Aaron Douglas

The Fernandina Beach Police Department has released information regarding the investigation into the death of Alabama offensive lineman Aaron Douglas.

Douglas attended a party last night at the address of 2750 First Avenue in Fernandina Beach at approximately 11:00 – 11:30 and was last seen at the residence as late as 2:00 this morning, according to the police report.

Douglas was found this morning on the second floor balcony apparently deceased, according to the report. The police and EMS were called and Douglas was pronounced dead at the scene, the report states.

The cause of death is still pending determination from the Medical Examiner’s Office.

The Fernandina Beach Police Department is also investigating the possibility of illegal alcohol consumption by some people at the party, according to the report.

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Alabama Releases Statement On The Passing Of Aaron Douglas

The University of Alabama has released a statement on the passing of offensive lineman Aaron Douglas.

Alabama athletic director Mal Moore and football coach Nick Saban both issued statements in the release.

“It is with tremendous sadness that we received the news of the passing of Aaron Douglas,” Moore said. “Our prayers and sympathies are with the Douglas family at this tragic time.”

“It is a tragedy anytime you lose someone close to you and even more so when it is a member of your family,” Saban said in the release. “Aaron was a part of our family and always will be a part of our family at Alabama. He was an outstanding young man and we were excited about what he had accomplished as a player and a person in the short time he was with us.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his parents, David and Karla, who are two of the best people you will ever meet and the love they had for their son was something very special. As a father, there is nothing we can say to describe the loss of a son. Our Alabama family has sustained a tragic loss and the Alabama family is grieving that loss. We will be here to support Aaron’s family in any way we can.”

Alabama stated that no further details regarding the passing of Douglas are available at this time.

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Alabama O-Lineman Douglas Found Dead

Alabama offensive lineman Aaron Douglas was found dead last night near Jacksonville, Florida.  Douglas was just 21 years old.

Details are sketchy at the moment, but his high school coach has confirmed the news to The Knoxville News Sentinel.  Douglas began his career at Tennessee before transferring to a junior college and then on to Alabama this past offseason.  Douglas’ parents are both former Tennessee athletes, his father a former NFL player.

According to The Tuscaloosa News, Douglas is believed to have died in Fernandina Beach.  Police there have confirmed that they are conducting an investigation regarding a death.

Friends and teammates have been posting notes regarding Douglas’ death on social media sites.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Douglas family.

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Two Spots Are Tight On Bama’s Football Team

A pair of tight position battles are going right down to the wire as Alabama prepares for its spring game tomorrow.

First, quarterbacks AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims will play for both the Crimson and the White tomorrow.  As part of the evaluation process, they’ll both get time with those first- and second-string units.

“Every time they have an opportunity to play, we’ll see how they respond to that circumstance and that situation, just like we’ll see how they play in this game,” Nick Saban said.  “And that’s why I want both of them to play with both teams just to see how they respond to the situation.  It’s part of the overall evaluation.  If they both respond well, then that’s a good thing.”

Meanwhile, there’s been an unexpected twist in the competition to protect those guys’ blind sides.  Alfred McCullough has been dueling with juco transfer Aaron Douglas for the left tackle spot all spring, but right guard Barrett Jones has now been moved into that slot.

Saban told Al.com that McCullough’s natural position is at guard and that Douglas — a former freshman All-American at Tennessee — is still learning the Tide’s system.

Jones — who last played left tackle in high school — is fine with the move.  “It’s been very different but it’s been a challenge.  It’s exciting to be challenged.  I feel comfortable at guard, but it’s an opportunity for me to show versatility.”

Most Tide fans had hoped that the big-armed McCarron would pull away from Sims this spring.  And many people expected Douglas to step right in at left tackle.  The fact that neither player has grabbed the reins as hoped/expected might be a bit disappointing down at the Capstone, but it’s still only April.

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