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.
All the hours and hard work of keeping the Claremore Zebra athletes injury-free in order to reach their dreams at the highest level helped graduate Averey Brace fulfill a huge accomplishment in her athletic training career.
Brace, a recent 2013 graduate of Claremore High School, received All-State honors from the Oklahoma Coaches Association earlier this month for her three-year commitment to the Claremore High School athletic training program.
Sign up now for OSU Baseball Camp
Oklahoma State Baseball will be holding a pair of camps in June for players in grades 1-8, and registration is now open.
Session I of the camp is June 17-19, with Session II set for June 24-26, and cost for each camp is $200. Camp runs from 9 a.m.-noon each day.
Lady Zebra volleyball camp set for May 20
The Claremore Lady Zebra volleyball camp will take place on May 20-23 at the Claremore High School gymnasium.
Under the direction of Lady Zebra head coach Lindsey Renfroe, campers will receive instruction in fundamentals — passing, setting, hitting and serving.
Green Country All-Star Games start May 23 in Catoosa
Area senior all-star athletes from 21 schools in northeastern Oklahoma will lace up their high tops, hoist their bats and dust off their pom-poms in preparation for the 2013 Green Country All-Star Games held May 23-24 in Catoosa.
SEC BASEBALL: Auburn blanks No. 13 Arkansas, 3-0
Conner Kendrick and Terrance Dedrick combined on a five-hit shutout as Auburn defeated No. 13 Arkansas, 3-0, in the series opener on Thursday night at Plainsman Park.
Arkansas drops to 34-18 overall and 17-10 in Southeastern Conference play, while Auburn is now 32-21 and 12-16 in league play.
GOLF: Bradley gets course-record 60 at Byron Nelson
Keegan Bradley had no thoughts of a course record, or the possibility of a 59, after consecutive bogeys in the middle of his opening round at the Byron Nelson Championship.
Until his 136-yard wedge shot on his final hole Thursday.
“It was going right at it. (A 59) crossed my mind for a second, and it would be unbelievable if I buried this,” Bradley said. “But I had 3 feet to shoot 60. I was actually very nervous, uncomfortable over it and thank God I made it.”
Cowboys rock Mountaineers, 7-4
Oklahoma State showcased its offensive ability in its series opener against West Virginia on Thursday at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
Whether it’s small ball or the long ball — both of which came into effect — the 16th-ranked Cowboys are proving they can find a way to win here late in the season with a 7-4 mauling of the Mountaineers.
OU baseball closes out regular season play at K-State
Moods were light as Oklahoma boarded a bus for Manhattan, Kan., Thursday afternoon. What they’ll be like by Sunday depends on what transpires over the next three games.
The Sooners’ season hinges on the outcome.
Westbrook's injury hinders Thunder's playoff run
The way Kevin Martin describes it, the Oklahoma City Thunder lost the “vision” of a potential championship run the morning they learned All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook would be out for the rest of the postseason.
NSU women's golf in 8th place at NCAA Division II Championship
The Northeastern State women’s golf team sits in eighth place after Thursday’s second round of the 2013 NCAA Division II Championships on the par-72, 6,228-yard Legends Course at LPGA International.
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