Todd mentioned the signing of JUCO tackle prospect Aaron Douglas earlier, and I'll have more on that later tonight, but before I get to that I wanted to address a variety of other news and notes that came out today as 'Bama returned to the practice fields to prepare for Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl.
First and foremost, do not expect Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain to take the head coaching job at Vanderbilt. Despite a couple of earlier reports from questionable sources indicating that as a possibility, McElwain was at practice as usual today and there is no real indication of any interest on the part of either McElwain or Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt is apparently pursuing Maryland OC James Franklin, and despite some back-and-forth and no official statement from Vanderbilt tonight, I think most still expect that move will come to fruition when all is said and done.
Moreover, speaking of coaching changes, there is nothing definite one way or the other on Kirby Smart and the Florida defensive coordinator position, and it may be quite some time before anything definite happens because Will Muschamp said in his introductory press conference that it would likely be after January 1st before any official hiring announcements were made. Fortunately for 'Bama, though, Smart is still on the recruiting trails and is apparently giving no real indication that he may be looking to leave. Per Chase Goodbread:
Kirby Smart has done nothing but indicate that he wants to stay. Saban said he's talked to Muschamp a number of times.
On the practice front, things were a tad bit more reserved than I expected. Bowl practices are usually prime season for experimental position changes, and with the injury to Mark Barron I was expecting that someone would be moved to safety, but that did not happen today, anyway. The only position change of note was Ed Stinson, who has spent most of his first two years in Tuscaloosa at Jack linebacker, working at defensive end, which admittedly isn't much of an experiment considering that he worked there down the stretch of the regular season. The truth of the matter is / was that Stinson did not look to be developing very well at Jack, and this is probably a long-term move that is going to stick as we move into 2011. For other changes, though, while I'm sure something will come up in the next few days, all was quiet this afternoon.
Likewise, injuries brought nothing overly out of the ordinary. Mark Barron did not participate and will not play in the bowl game due to surgery to repair his torn pectoral muscle, and the same goes for Burton Scott with his ankle surgery, but both injuries were well known to start with and in any event Scott is widely expected to transfer. William Vlachos did miss practice today with an illness, but he should be back quickly. The only other long-term injury mentioned today was that Jonathon Atchison will miss the bowl game due to biceps surgery, but in terms of our chances in the bowl game that one likely has little, if any, impact considering Atchison really was not much of a meaningful contributor in the first place.
Finally, Saban discussed the signing of JUCO defensive end Quinton Dial today, and he left things up in the air a bit regarding when Dial would report to Tuscaloosa, which led some to believe that he may not report until next summer. Perhaps that is the case, but Dial has graduated, he is academically eligible, and we have space for him to enroll early -- early enroll signees can choose to either count forward to the next class or count back to the previous class, so room is not an issue -- so it would make little sense to hold him out for the spring semester unless there is something going on that we are not currently aware of. Hopefully he can report in the coming weeks and get the full benefit of the offseason strength and conditioning program and spring practice.