Injuries have been scarce so far through six practices this spring for the Alabama football team. Backup running back Blake Sims continues to recover from a hip injury that he suffered playing pickup basketball during spring break, Alabama coach Nick Saban said after Monday's practice. Wide receiver DeAndrew White "kind of tweaked his hamstring, which he's had off and on throughout the off season program," Saban said. The sophomore-to-be White might be out for a few days. "But really, other than that, everybody is working and trying to do a good job," Saban said.
"Kenny Bell is having a really good spring, making lots of plays. Kevin Norwood has done pretty good job. DeAndrew White had done a good job until he pulled his hamstring. I think Amari Cooper and Chris Black have shown good ability," Saban said. Asked which wide receiver is the team's most dangerous when it comes to pure speed, Bell was one of two mentioned by veteran cornerback Dee Milliner. "Probably Kenny Bell and DeAndrew White," Milliner said. "Both guys can flat-out run. Once they get going, it's hard to stay with them."
The Alabama football team is making progress this spring, but it might have regressed a little on Monday. "I didn't feel like today was one of our better days in terms of the number of guys who actually had the amount of energy, intensity, sense of urgency," coach Nick Saban said after the Crimson Tide's sixth of 15 practices. "Some guys had the 'Poor Me's' today. I think you get that at some point in the spring." Good teams have to persevere, Saban said. "I told the players after practice I'd call Michigan to ask them if they were going to take days off when they get tired, or if they are going to try to work through it," Saban said, referring to the Tide's first opponent next fall.
Rising junior receiver Kenny Bell understands why Saban wasn’t pleased. "We just didn’t have enough individuals who wanted to come out there and compete," he said. Still, Saban sees progress on the practice field as the Tide enters its second full week of spring drills. Saban said the experience factor has the offense slightly ahead of the defense through six official workouts.
Expect the howling masses to come out of the woodwork and condemn this act, wailing about how the heck a college football coach could be worth that much money. NCAA football may be terminally messed up, but big coaching contracts are the least of its problems. The Alabama football team rakes in $77 million in revenue a year. Much of that money pays for non-scholarship sports; $6.5 million goes to academic programs.
Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart went from $850,000 to $950,000. Also, first-year offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will earn $590,000. Both Smart and Nussmeier have three-year deals. Outside linebackers coach Lance Thompson, back for his second stint at Alabama after coaching at Tennessee the last three years, received a two-year deal and will make $375,000. Of the Crimson Tide's 10 assistants, counting strength and conditioning coordinator Scott Cochran, seven make at least $310,000 annually.
Saban just signed a contract extension through 2020. He'll be making $5.3 million in 2012 and $5.97 million in 2019. Moreover, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart received a $100,000 raise to $950,000. The Alabama's nine-man staff, in total, will be paid $3.81 million. That, of course, dwarfs the highest paid staff in the Pac-12 -- Washington at $2.73 million in 2012 (though USC's and Stanford's figures are not public records because both are private schools). The highest paid staff from the non-private Pac-12 schools in 2011 was Colorado at $2,490,000. Of course, Alabama's eye-popping numbers are based on success. As Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News pointed out, Alabama's staff made $2.24 million in 2007, Saban's first year. Big money, yes, but not off the charts.
Following the first workout in pads Monday, head coach Gene Chizik confirmed that defensive tackle Gabe Wright will miss the remainder of the spring sessions. The unspecified injury occurred during Saturday’s session. Wright joins fellow lineman Nosa Eguae and Ken Carter, who will not participate at all during the spring due to their respective injuries.
Monday's meeting centered almost entirely around the what, the when, and the where -- but not who. For all the public debate, they haven't yet addressed as a group the issue of whether a playoff would be restricted to conference champions, as the Pac-12 and others have advocated. Not that they don't have their own personal opinions. "You should have to win something," said Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson. "You should be a champion to get into this type of system." "When you get to [limiting it to] conference champions, you're not necessarily dealing with the best teams," said SEC commissioner Mike Slive. "You're creating more of a tournament than playing for the national championship."