AJ McCarron knows how Alabama quarterbacks are judged.
It's about wins and losses, not yards and touchdowns. Titles matter more than trophies, and you can go from beloved to vilified in the heartbeat it takes for one bad throw.
Fans are tough on Crimson Tide QBs. Guys like Tony McCarron, AJ's father.
"My dad, I always mess with him, he was that fan growing up,'' AJ McCarron said. "As soon as a player messed up, he started dogging him. And you never know why, the receiver could have run the wrong route or whatever. He's dogging the quarterback. I've seen it growing up and I know how to deal with it.''
Father and son can laugh about it now, but it's also the reality of the position.
No matter where you go, quarterbacks are scrutinized, but that gets magnified within a program that lays claim to 14 national titles - and just one Heisman Trophy - entering Monday night's BCS championship game with similarly pedigreed Notre Dame.
McCarron has already joined the pantheon of quarterbacks, including Joe Namath, who have led the Tide to national titles with his starring role in last year's championship victory over LSU.
No Alabama quarterback has led his team to two of them. McCarron has that chance and has said he's returning for his senior season instead of going to the NFL.
His legacy's still being written, but it's looking good.
"I think AJ's a special guy and certainly he's one of the best quarterbacks that's ever played here,'' Tide center Barrett Jones said. "It's pretty special for me to be able to play with a guy like that. He's got so much passion and so much poise and I just really love the way he plays the game.''
McCarron combines that passion and poise with, he admits, a measure of cockiness on the field.
So far, it's worked for him. He is 24-2 as a starter, leads the nation in passing efficiency and was a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
Oh, but the losses sting. McCarron said time is the only thing that can teach you how to deal with the pressure on an Alabama quarterback. The Mobile native at least grew up learning how much people care about `Bama football.
"I love playing here. Best fans in the world,'' McCarron said. "It can be hard to play at, though. Everybody gets so used to winning and when we don't win, it's like the world's coming to an end. I love it here, but it's tough sometimes.''
It helps that he's presiding over a heyday for the program.
Typical for Alabama, he also directs an offense with a powerful running game, star backs and a dominant defense.
"He's coach (Nick) Saban out there,'' Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o said. "He doesn't make silly mistakes. He's their general on offense, and he does a really good job at it.''
McCarron has been given far more leeway to check into different plays after getting a look at the defense this season. He says he has that option on most plays now but very few per game last season.
McCarron rose to the occasion at the end, though. He was named MVP of the national title game after completing 23 of 34 passes for 234 yards without an interception, often throwing on first down.
"I think probably in the (national title) game last year we put a lot of faith, trust and confidence in him,'' Saban said. "We knew we were going to have a difficult time running the ball against the team that we played last year and the quarterback was going to have to make plays in the game for us.
"We sort of just told him that, `We're trusting in you. We believe in you that you can do this. We just don't want you to force things. Just take what they give you. A lot of the passes that we're going to have are going to be maybe not big plays but they're going to be plays that are 5- and 7-yard gains. He did a tremendous job of executing and made some big plays.
"We'd like to think that he would be able to do the same thing in this game. AJ has played extremely well for us all year long.''
McCarron said the game wasn't about bolstering his own confidence that he could come through on such a grand stage. Instead, he feels that the way he finished his first season as starter gave his teammates more of that faith, trust and confidence in him.
"I think I can accomplish anything inside the white lines, and I can make any throw and do all that,'' McCarron said. "I think the biggest thing is when my teammates see that I can do more and I can help us win.''
He added to the tattoo on his chest after that game, getting a crystal football with "MVP'' inked onto it. It also includes "God's in control'' along with the names of family members and loved ones who have passed away.
Now, McCarron is trying to etch an even bigger mark into Alabama history.
AJ McCarron knows how Alabama quarterbacks are judged.
Claremore’s Webster tabbed 5A-4 Special Teams Player of Year
Claremore senior wide receiver Caleb Webster capped off his final year of high school football with the District 5A-4 Special Teams Player of the Year award.
It took a little over 57 minutes, but Bedlam finally broke out at Boone Pickens Stadium. That was when a defensive struggle turned into an offensive shootout.
Oklahoma landed the last two blows and left with a 33-24 upset victory in one of the most memorable games in the series’ 108-game history.
LCU Lady Chaps cruise past Rogers State, 84-65
The Rogers State women’s basketball team dropped a 84-65 decision to Lubbock Christian on Saturday afternoon at the Claremore Expo.
Ex-Zebra shooter Miller provides spark for Allen CC
The success of the Allen Community College Red Devils this season has been aided by former Claremore Zebra shooting guard Alex Miller.
The 6-foot-1 sophomore guard was one of five players to score in double figures during the Red Devils’ 80-76 win over Fort Scott (Kan.) last week.
Foyil’s Pierce named District A-8 top offensive lineman
The key to the Foyil Panthers’ football success over the past four seasons inside McGregor Field has been attributed to the leadership of senior offensive lineman Daltun Pierce’s ability to win the battle in the trenches.
Earlier this month, Pierce was named the District A-8 Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Ky Madden's career-high 21 points lifts Arkansas past Savannah State
Ky Madden helped turn Arkansas' first-half angst into a runaway birthday win for coach Mike Anderson.
Led by Madden's career-high 21 points, the Razorbacks - who struggled mightily with leading scorer Michael Qualls on the bench in the first half - pulled away in the second half for a 72-43 win over Savannah State on Thursday night.
NCAA women's basketball tournament back to neutral sites
The NCAA women's basketball regionals are going back to neutral sites.
The championship committee announced Wednesday that Oklahoma City, Sacramento, Greensboro and Albany will host the 2015 regionals. The committee received criticism this Fall from some coaches about the move to have regionals on campus for this season's tournament.
NBA CAPSULES: Portland's Aldridge records 31 points, 25 rebounds in win over Rockets
Andray Blatche and Joe Johnson each scored 21 points in the Brooklyn Nets' 102-93 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, making Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett winners in their first matchup with Doc Rivers.
SEC football games more popular than ever on TV
The Southeastern Conference is more popular than ever.
The average television rating for the league's games on CBS this season was the highest since the network began broadcasting a primarily SEC schedule in 2001.
Florida announces 6 players transferring
Florida coach Will Muschamp seems to be cleaning house after the program's first losing season since 1979.
Muschamp announced Thursday that six offensive players have decided to transfer. The list includes freshman quarterback Max Staver and three offensive linemen.
- More Sports Headlines
- Claremore’s Webster tabbed 5A-4 Special Teams Player of Year