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The Jumbo Package | 12.18.13

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma football notebook: Bob Stoops describes close relationship with Nick Saban | News OK

Sophomore linebacker Eric Striker, on the Big 12 vs. SEC element to the Sugar Bowl matchup:

"I think that's all talk. Football is football. People get into this SEC-Big 12. … I don't buy into that. … No. Screw it. It's football. The best team's gonna win."

Oklahoma's Bob Stoops on Alabama's Nick Saban: A 'very good friend' |

"He would travel through our school and my dad, being an assistant, would be at the school a lot," Bob Stoops said. "My dad got to know coach Saban really well. There was a time or two Mark's senior year when he was playing up at Michigan State, coach Saban and his wife Terry would invite my mother and father and whoever was with them over to his home after the game."

According to the report, Stoops said he would spend time at Browns practice when Saban was on the staff. "That's where it all started," Stoops said. "Whether we're at different coaches conventions or when we call each other to trade ideas, we've done that. Through the years it has become that way."

With Anthony Steen out for Sugar Bowl, Alabama evaluating 'several options' at right guard |

Steen, the Crimson Tide's three-year starter who landed on the Associated Press' all-SEC first team, played the final game of his college career last month against Auburn. He went through the entire second half of his senior season with shoulder pain that progressively got worse and was advised to undergo surgery.

It's unclear whether Steen will be healthy enough to participate in events such as the Senior Bowl or NFL Combine. What's clear is Alabama has a significant void to fill as it goes through its initial Sugar Bowl practices and kicks off its preparations for Oklahoma.

Alabama practice report: Tide begins Sugar Bowl prep with a new face at right guard |

As reported Monday by, Anthony Steen was not at practice because of his recent shoulder surgery. In his place with the first team was freshman Grant Hill, who had been mostly playing at right tackle this season. Redshirt freshman Alphonse Taylor is also someone to watch over the next couple of weeks.

Safety HaHa Clinton-Dix (knee scope) did not have a noticeable brace on either of his knees. He participated during an early drill but stood off to the side during another. He was wearing a normal jersey.

Video: Alabama Crimson Tide QB AJ McCarron ready for Sugar Bowl - ESPN

No shock Alabama plays Wichita State tough but falls short (Kevin Scarbinsky) |

No. 11 Wichita State 72, Alabama 67 on Tuesday night bore a striking resemblance to No. 5 Purdue 73, Alabama 65 on Dec. 12, 2009. They were both encouraging performances against the two highest-ranked non-conference visitors in the history of this house, but there was one obvious difference.

That Purdue game, which took place the night Mark Ingram won Alabama football's first Heisman Trophy, came early in Anthony Grant's first season as the Alabama basketball coach.

Four full years later, Grant's program is still itching and scratching to take the next step to the next level, but it's not happening.

Ex-CBS Sports president: College sports TV ratings could decline 15-20% if players are paid |

If college athletes were to be paid, a "responsible television executive" who received data of unfavorable fan reaction would prepare for a drop in TV ratings by at least 15 to 20 percent, former CBS Sports President Neal Pilson said.

Pilson made the prediction in a rebuttal report filed publicly by the NCAA last week in the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit. Pilson's estimate referred to a report by J. Michael Dennis, a market research expert the NCAA hired, that found 68.9 percent of respondents were "opposed to paying money to student-athletes on college football and men's basketball teams in addition to covering their college expenses."

I'm not looking to relight a powder keg here. Honest. I think we've probably all said everything we need to say one way or the other about whether or not players should be paid. I just want to say that this particular argument seems silly to me. I don't see one fifth of the college football fanbase walking away because players have a little scratch. What do you guys think?

Nick Saban Press Conference

Anthony Grant Post-Game Press Conference