Nick Perry isn’t doing anything to temper expectations for the Alabama secondary. The senior safety missed all but the first two games last season, and what he saw from the sidelines clearly didn’t suit him.
Back from injury, he’s looking for a marked improvement. "I think we’re going to be a better secondary this year," Perry told reporters late last week. "The world should be ready to see more of the old UA-style secondary."
Last fall's results fell short of the typical Alabama standard. Though the numbers were far from horrific in the national rankings -- seventh in rushing yards per game, 11th in passing yards per game, fourth in touchdowns allowed -- the secondary was nonetheless vulnerable. Perry and fellow safety Vinnie Sunseri suffered season-ending injuries, starting cornerback Deion Belue wasn’t always 100 percent, and the cornerback spot opposite him was never truly settled as John Fulton, Cyrus Jones, Eddie Jackson, Maurice Smith and Bradley Sylve all unsuccessfully tried to lock down the position.
Wow. Pretty confident words, there. It still stings to see the laundry list of things that went wrong in last year's secondary. Things will have to get better in the secondary this year for the team to have any hope of success. Luckily, by Bama's standards, at least, things could hardly be worse.
But one thing that's not really up for debate any more: there's no removing the "big money" factor from the equation any more. In this story analyzing the potential impact of the unionization movement, Associated Press reporter Antonio Gonzalez quotes an expert with an eye-opening piece of context for college athletics finances (emphasis added):
"Revenues derived from college athletics is greater than the aggregate revenues of the NBA and the NHL," said Marc Edelman, an associate professor at City University of New York who specializes in sports and antitrust law. He also noted that Alabama's athletic revenues last year, which totaled $143 million, exceeded those of all 30 NHL teams and 25 of the 30 NBA teams.
Texas is the largest athletic department, earning more than $165 million last year in revenue — with $109 million coming from football, according to Education Department data. The university netted $27 million after expenses.
Asked Tuesday night about Jacob Coker, the Mobile native and transfer from Florida State who will arrive this summer, and his place in the competition, Saban mentioned only two of them.
"We're really looking forward to Jacob coming in," Saban said. "We think he's an outstanding young man and certainly the kind of person we really look forward to have in our program in terms of his character, his attitude. He's certainly a guy we coveted in high school and thought he was a very, very good player. We're anxious to get him there so that he can learn and develop and compete for the job.
"Cooper Bateman and Blake Sims have both done a nice job this spring and are improving very nicely, so we want them to continue to progress and when Jacob comes in, give him every opportunity to see what he can do."
I'm still waiting for A-day to give myself fully to the feeling, but I'm starting to get the creeping suspicion that Blake Sims is going to give Coker a run for his money in this upcoming battle.
Edward Aschoff talks with Alabama linebacker Trey DePriest about taking on more responsibility within Alabama's defense this spring.
"We're making steady improvement. We have three starters back that are all very capable guys,' Saban said.
"Leon Brown has played in the bowl game and we have a lot of confidence in him and I think he's probably a guy that'll be in the best five guys."
The 6-foot-6 313-pound Brown came to Alabama as a junior-college offensive tackle from ASA College in Brooklyn, N.Y., but started the Crimson Tide's Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma at right guard in place of the injured Anthony Steen. With starters back at center (Ryan Kelly), left guard (Arie Kouandjio) and right tackle (Austin Shepherd), the Crimson Tide is looking to replace Steen and left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.
Yet another example in a long line of examples showing that us fans don't know anything. I'm sure many fans (like myself) had written off Big Bad Leon Brown as being a rare miss after the JUCO transfer failed to crack the starting lineup and make a significant impact last year. Whoops.
"If I say anything about anything, it's sort of taken out of context," he said. "You want me to put it in context for you?"
Answered in the affirmative, he continued: "I was told what a great defensive line we have, by someone in your position. So I asked: 'What's the basis of your criteria that you're using to make this assessment?' And he says: 'Well, it looks that way on paper.' So, I just kind of took offense to that and said that we're not satisfied with how they're playing, but we're looking forward to them getting better. "And they are getting better, and I think probably will be better, more athletic than we were a year ago."
Footage from Bama's second pro-day:
Finally, I really am not interested in starting up the union/pay-for-play debate again, but we had a someone in the comments last week make note that the NFL Players' Association had been silent on the matter, and implied that this silence was an indication of disapproval. Well, it seems we can toss that idea... NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith: NFL players support college union - CBSSports.com