Of the 27 players Alabama signed in its 2014 class, 12 are projected to play on the offensive or defensive line. It's the largest percentage Saban has devoted to a single class since 2009, when the Crimson Tide signed 13 offensive and defensive linemen in its 28-man class.
"We feel really good about the contributions those guys can make," Saban said on National Signing Day. "We’re pleased with the size and athleticism of the guys who we have on both sides of the ball and on the line. "We needed to get quality people up front on both sides of the ball."
"When I was at Alabama there were a couple of guys, as a player, that we felt like that was their sexual orientation," Swinney said when asked if he had been in the same position as Missouri with Sam. "But it was never an issue, never a problem. It's not something that you run out to tell people."
Swinney explained that at Alabama, "it wasn't as talked about amongst the team" and no players had any open meeting announcements. He compared playing with players of different sexual orientation to playing with players from different religious backgrounds.
"Again, you have respect for each individual and their personal beliefs. It's just like they're different religions. I'm a Christian, but I've coached and played with Muslims and all kind of different religions. It's not about any of that. Those are personal decisions that people have to make. I mean everyone will be judged one day, but it's not up to me to judge somebody."
Neither Saban nor Bielema were on the committee and they did not vote on the proposal passed Wednesday to allow defenses time to substitute between plays by prohibiting offenses from snapping the ball until 29 seconds are left on the 40-second play clock.
NCAA coordinator of officials Rogers Redding said Thursday that Bielema was at the meeting in Indianapolis as a representative of the American Football Coaches Association.
"Coach Saban asked for the opportunity to meet with the committee and talk about this," Redding said. "It's not routine, but it's not unique, either."
"It's crazy," said Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. "College football is the pinnacle of success right now. How do you even mess with that? It would slow the game down. It wouldn't be as fun for the fans."
"The 10-second rule is like asking basketball to take away the shot clock - Boring!" Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy tweeted Thursday. "It's like asking a blitzing linebacker to raise his hand."
The proposal apparently broadsided the coaching industry. Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville, who serves on the board of the American Football Coaches Association, told AP the subject never came up at their annual convention in January. But the impetus behind the proposal -- which the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel will consider for approval March 6 -- is hardly a surprise.
Two things: 1)Mike Gundy is clearly terrible with analogies. 2) HUNH proponents are opposing this new proposed rule in the wrong way. This rule will not slow down play for 99% of the teams out there (Oregon may be the only team in the country truly slowed down by this rule), which means pace of play will not be affected much if at all. Also, "But it's pretty..." isn't a good rebuttal when your opponent is attempting to tout player safety as the reason for the change.
"For us the main thing is, 10 percent of kids will get concussions, but 50 percent will show changes in the way their brain behaves that is almost equivalent," said Nauman. "I'm not worried just about the defense, I'm worried about the linemen on both sides that might take 70 hits in a game. We're looking at somewhere between 60 to 90 hits to the head per week is all you want to take."
Researchers have consistently found that it's not just the number of hits that contribute to brain trauma, but the magnitude of those hits. That's why all those who were interviewed for this story stressed the risk that comes with fatigue-induced breakdowns in technique. A player who does exactly what he's been taught by his coaches -- blocking with hands, form-tackling -- should minimize the number of high-impact hits he sustains to the head.
However, linebackers and defensive backs worn down from chasing receivers all over the field are more inclined to lunge with their head. Exhausted linemen may default to a head-on bull rush rather than using their hands. "We would anticipate these issues become more problematic the more fatigued you are," said Talavage.
The numerous certainties -- a lineup full of experience, a handful of reliable starting pitchers and a deep bullpen -- are why the expectations surrounding Alabama baseball are clearly elevated.
"For the first time in a while, we're not counting on a large group of freshmen to perform immediately," Gaspard said. "It's nice to have some age on our team. We feel like it's as deep of a team we've had in a while. "We think this is a group that can certainly restore pride back into the program and do some things that we certainly want to accomplish here."