While reporters in New Orleans and in Alabama were digging for any truth to rumors that Andre Smith…
The suspension was announced in a release by the University of Alabama media relations department on Monday afternoon just before 2 p.m. Smith, a junior, has played in 38 games in his career and was widely expected to leave Alabama early for the NFL following the Sugar Bowl.
"Andre Smith has been suspended from participating in the Sugar Bowl due to a violation of team rules and policies," the statement from Head Coach Nick Saban said.
The suspension has an eerie historical precedent. Two of the best left tackles in Alabama football history each missed his final bowl game - a BCS bowl in each instance.
In Alabama's last BCS bowl, the Orange Bowl following the 1999 season, it was announced that Alabama's Outland-Trophy-winning left tackle chris Samuels would not play. No reason was ever given for that move.
Earlier Monday, before the suspension was announced, Bama center Antoine Caldwell had nothing but praise for Smith, seeming to indicate that Caldwell had no idea about the forthcoming suspension.
"I think he's one of the guys on the team who most leads by example," Caldwell said. "He's not vocal, but everything you see in practice, his work ethic, his character, he's truly an exceptional human being and that's what makes him a team leader."
With Smith's absence, Alabama is likely to move left guard Mike Johnson to left tackle and insert David Ross at left guard. Alternatively, Bama might move right tackle Drew Davis to left tackle and insert freshman John Michael Boswell at right tackle.
The statement from Saban continued: "The University of Alabama, the team and the football program are more important than any individual player. Everyone on our team depends on each other to be responsible, to make good choices and decisions relative to their actions.
"Andre Smith has done an outstanding job in our program as a person, student and a player and we will do all we can as an institution to support him in all future endeavors.
"Our priority and focus as a team is to play the best football game of the season in this Sugar Bowl, and to support our players to overcome any adversity this unfortunate situation has created."
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