The Jumbo Package | 03.28.14

Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE

Your daily dose of Crimson Tide news and notes.

75 percent of Americans against college players unionizing -

Northwestern players may have won an early battle with the National Labor Relations Board, but it appears they have a lot of work left to do to win over the American public.

According to a poll conducted by HBO Real Sports and The Marist College Center for Sports Communication, three in four Americans (75 percent) think college athletes should not be allowed to join a union since they aren't college employees. The poll also shows that 22 percent feel the student athletes should be able to join a union while the remaining 4 percent are "unsure."

Weh-heh-ell.  Though this battle won't be fought in the court of public opinion, it's pretty clear that the student athlete union types are going to have quite a steep road ahead of them when it comes to winning over the public.

Tax implications create hurdle for players' union - ESPN

Northwestern football players won the right to unionize on Wednesday, but the potential tax implications alone could immediately kill the idea.

Much of what was argued in the National Labor Relations Board testimony is in direct opposition to why scholarships aren't being taxed today. Even if Kain Colter and his fellow players succeed in unionization, the most interesting law here may be the law of unintended consequences.

"It appears like the case brought forward by the players focused on things other than the potential tax implications," said Garrett Higgins, a partner at O'Connor Davies in the firm's Exempt Organization Tax and Advisory Services group. "The fact that the players were not considered employees in the past is essentially the reason why their scholarship or parts of it weren't taxed before. The IRS may be able to make the argument that the scholarship is really payment for services, and therefore compensation, and is now taxable to the athlete."

And this will likely be the death blow for the whole shebang.  I suspect this part of the issue will seep into the equation, and we will see the student athletes slowly retreat from their position before they ring a bell that they can't unring.

No walk on the beach: Alabama's Blake Sims works with private QB coach during Spring Break |

With Florida State transfer Jacob Coker set to arrive in late May, the competition to replace AJ McCarron has barely entered its infant stage. Alabama coach Nick Saban has repeatedly said Coker will receive an opportunity to seize the job and he's been quick to mention that his last quarterback competition wasn't truly over until the second game of the 2011 season.

Needless to say, every snap, every practice, every day -- even during Spring Break -- will ultimately influence the final decision.

"The true test, obviously, is going to be what he continues to do on the football field," Mastrole said. "I think he's made tremendous progress. "The results are going to lie on what he does on the field. Numbers don't lie. It's all going to come out once he steps foot on that field."

Fool me once, shame on me.  I hope Sims has developed.  I really do.  But this time last year, I was singing his praises and talking up his development as a passer, only to have him lay a giant egg in the A-day game.  This year I'm hoping for the best with Sims, but I'm going play it safe and put myself in position to be pleasantly surprised, rather than disappointed.

Former NFL scout on Alabama's AJ McCarron: 'He's going to be a backup in the NFL' |

In a prospect profile for SportsOnEarth, Russell Lande - college scouting director for Montreal Alouettes and Big Ten Network - likes McCarron's pocket presence and his ability to go through his progressions. Sort of.

"In all the games I evaluated, I was really surprised because everything I had heard prior to watching him was he is a fundamentally sound quarterback that had great technique," Lande said in a radio interview Thursday on WNSP 105.5 FM in Mobile.

"When I watched him, every few throws he would actually stride into his throws and get his foot pointed at the target. But way too often his feet were actually on the same yard line. He was almost trying to body throw. And when he did that, his accuracy suffered and his arm strength - which is adequate at best - looked even worse. The ball would tail off and he would really struggle to get the ball to the receiver properly." Lande believed the former Alabama star will have a hard time adjusting to the NFL.

"He looks like a third-day guy, not so much based on the other quarterbacks, just based on I would not draft a player I think can only be a backup in the NFL. And that is what I view AJ as. He's going to be a backup in the NFL."

Woof.  This sounds like a pretty harsh evaluation, but I think most of us saw the flaws that Lande is referring to.  I don't think I can count the times we watched AJ lean back and throw a looping bomb off of his back foot.  I'm still hopeful, though, that he can rectify this hitch in his mechanics and make a run of it in the NFL.

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