NOTEBOOK: McElroy one step closer to Rhodes Scholar

Chase Goodbread Sports Writer
Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy’s application as a Rhodes Scholar candidate has advanced to the district interview stage, and he will travel to Birmingham on Saturday, Nov. 20, to interview for the honor.

TUSCALOOSA | When the University of Alabama rescheduled its Nov. 20 game with Georgia State to Thursday, Nov. 18, the Crimson Tide gave itself eight days to to prepare for rival Auburn, rather than the six days it had a year ago.

For quarterback Greg McElroy, however, preparation for the Iron Bowl is only one benefit.

Avoiding a difficult choice between pursuing a Rhodes Scholarship — one of the world’s most prestigious academic honors — and playing football for the Crimson Tide is another. McElroy’s application as a Rhodes Scholar candidate has advanced to the district interview stage, and the fifth-year senior will travel to Birmingham on Saturday, Nov. 20, to interview for the honor.

Had Alabama not moved the Georgia State game, McElroy may have had to make the choice of one over the other.

Rhodes Scholar interviews aren’t rescheduled around football games, no matter how many fans are in the stands, or because the applicant happens to also be the starting quarterback for a national championship contender.

“I remember (former FSU player) Myron (Rolle) when he went through the interview process, he had to fly and maybe caught the fourth quarter of his game,” McElroy said, “so I’m fortunate to not have to miss any time.

“It would have been a tough decision, but obviously with the importance of the Rhodes Scholarship ... I think obviously, I’m just fortunate I don’t have to make that decision. I’m glad that they moved that game to Thursday, I guess I’ll end it at that.”

McElroy has already earned an undergraduate degree in marketing, and is now in graduate school. One of the top academic performers on the team, McElroy’s transcript includes A’s for all but one course, for which he received a B, in his college career.

The Rhodes Scholarship attracts elite students to the University of Oxford in Oxford, England. Notable former Rhodes Scholars include Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, actor/entertainer Kris Kristofferson, former Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

“It’s something I hadn’t really anticipated coming to school here,” McElroy said. “But obviously when the opportunity presented itself we wanted to make the most of it, and up to this point we have.

“I’m very pleased and honored and really am looking forward to giving it my best shot the Saturday after the Georgia State game.”

Bye week good for Ingram

UA coach Nick Saban said Alabama’s top two running backs, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, have dealt with “nicks and things” that have affected their ability to practice this season. Since Ingram returned from knee surgery after missing the season’s first two games, neither has missed a game.

“Every now and then it will swell up a little bit throughout the week of practice,” Ingram said of his knee, which required arthroscopic surgery, “but you ice it up and you take care of it in your treatment. It’s been feeling great the whole year.”

As for Alabama’s injury status entering the LSU game, Saban said only defensive lineman Kerry Murphy would be limited for Monday’s practice with a sore knee, and should be ready to participate fully by today. Right tackle D.J. Fluker, who has missed two starts with a groin injury, returned to practice during the idle week and is expected to be ready to play against the Tigers.

Quotable

“LSU has been probably the best. I remember going there my freshman year in that double-overtime win, it was crazy. It was a night game, so it was crazy. Their fans are great and it’s just a great environment to play in. As a competitor and an athlete you love to go play in environments like that.” — Mark Ingram on his favorite SEC venue.

Tidebits

Alabama and LSU have two common opponents to this point in the season, Florida and Tennessee. In perhaps their two best performances of the season, Alabama defeated UF and UT 31-6 and 41-10, respectively. LSU beat the Gators and Volunteers by scores of 33-29 and 16-14. ... LSU, losers to Auburn on Oct. 23, will try to avoid back-to-back losses for only the second time under coach Les Miles. LSU’s only back-to-back losses came against Arkansas and Ole Miss in November 2008. ... McElroy is building on his third career streak of 120 or more passes without an interception, now at 121. He had a 141-pass streak last season, and entered the season with another that was snapped at 149. ... Alabama has a better record at LSU (25-8-2) than it has in Tuscaloosa against the Tigers (9-8). ... Alabama’s home game with Mississippi State will be televised on either ESPN or ESPN2 at 6:15 p.m. on Nov. 13.

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