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September 26, 2012

Notebook: Tebow speech resonates with Saban

TUSCALOOSA | Four years ago today, then-Florida quarterback Tim Tebow made a post-game speech after an upset loss to Ole Miss that set the stage for a national championship and was later immortalized on a plaque outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

On Wednesday, University of Alabama coach Nick Saban said that speech should serve notice to his players as well.

Florida was ranked No. 1 in the nation and was playing Ole Miss at home then, just as UA is top-ranked and hosting the Rebels Saturday. The similarities, Saban hopes, will end there.

"Guess what? Guess who? Guess when? Somebody beat them," Saban said, referring to Ole Miss' stunning upset. "At home, in their place and then there was the famous speech. 'It's never going to happen again.' Well, do you have to have an 'I told you so' game and does somebody have to give that speech for you to do what you need to do, to realize what's at stake?"

Ole Miss enters Saturday's game 3-1, all against non-conference opponents, and is averaging 36.8 points per game offensively. Saban called the Rebels' offense one of the best in the SEC.

"That's the challenge and that's what we're looking forward to as coaches," Saban added.

Commitment arrested again
UA commitment Deon Johnson of Spanish Fort has been arrested on a charge of rape in the first degree, and is being held on $25,000 at the Baldwin County Corrections Center, according to the center's web site. Johnson was arrested by Daphne police Tuesday. In an unrelated incident, Johnson has also been charged with second-degree rape and sodomy, for which he was booked earlier this month.

The Rivals.com four-star wide receiver prospect committed to Alabama on April 14. It is unclear whether UA's scholarship offer to Johnson will be withdrawn. Under NCAA rules, UA coaches are not permitted to comment on prospective student-athletes.

Hard lesson
Although this is Alabama's first game against new Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, it's not Barrett Jones' first time playing against a Freeze team. Jones' Memphis Evangelical Christian prep team lost a 2004 state title game to Freeze's Briarcrest Christian team, 24-0. At the time, Jones was a freshman defensive end, and had to face future Ole Miss star and NFL first-round pick Michael Oher, who was a senior offensive tackle.

"That was an interesting experience to say the least. It taught me lessons," Jones said.

"No. Who studies on a Saturday? I'm the biggest nerd on the team and I've never cracked a book on a Saturday." - OL Barrett Jones on whether any players will pass the time before Saturday's 8:15 p.m. kickoff by studying.

Alabama and Ole Miss coaches will be wearing patches Saturday in support of Coach to Cure MD week. Now in its fifth year, the program has raised more than $1 million for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Fans can donate $5 by texting the word CURE to 90999, or they can donate online at www.CoachtoCureMD.org. ... Saban said nose guard Brandon Ivory is doubtful to play Saturday with an ankle injury, and is not likely to practice Thursday. ... Former UA LB Jerrell Harris has been signed by the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars. Harris was initially signed by the Atlanta Falcons in the spring as an undrafted free agent.

Reach Chase Goodbread at chase@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0196.

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