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The Jumbo Package | 12.10.14

Your daily dose of Crimson Tide news and notes.

Kiffin is coming off the leash.  How's that gonna go?
Kiffin is coming off the leash. How's that gonna go?
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Lane Kiffin breaks silence, jokes about sideline interactions with Nick Saban and interview policies | AL.com

Kiffin thanked God, his wife Layla, sister Heidi, previous head coaches for whom he's worked and finally Saban.

"Coach Saban really took a chance on me when a lot of people wouldn't do it and has been phenomenal to me throughout the entire year," Kiffin said.

Then he brought the laughter.

Kiffin said he's asked all the time what Saban is saying when TV cameras catch a spirited exchange on the Alabama sideline.

Kiffin even made a reference to Saban's stature, pointing to waist level, when the conversation's occur. Kiffin remembers what he hears in those moments.

"Hey Lane, I love you so much," Kiffin said as the room erupted in laughter.

"Thank you so much for coming here. Can you please stop throwing the ball so much and just run it a few more times please."

Kiffin prefaced his comment with the obvious.

"This," Kiffin said sheepishly, "is why he doesn't let me talk to the media."

In rare interview, Lane Kiffin talks secret trip to Tuscaloosa, media perception and Nick Saban | AL.com

Coming in for Sugar Bowl practice:

"I wasn't a consultant, he just ... it was after their Auburn loss, so they had like a month to prepare for the Sugar Bowl. He brought me in for eight days and said hey, just kind of hang out, be around and see what you think. It wasn't anything about being employed there, that's how he is. Everybody is saying 'What the heck is Lane Kiffin going to say to Nick Saban' and I was saying the same thing. But that just shows you how he is. He's always trying to get better.

"So, each night, we'd kinda meet for 10 minutes and see what I saw in practice and film study. It was really neat that he allowed me to do that and then a couple weeks later, the job became available and he brought me out for a formal interview and it's been great. I couldn't be more appreciative of him for doing that. It wasn't easy for him to do. He took a lot of criticism for it. So I'm really proud it work out, for him especially because he took a lot of heat for that."

On his previous relationship with Saban:

"Just really at SEC meetings when I was the head coach at Tennessee and then we played them that year down here. I had about a year ago, after our bad year at Tennessee, I just wanted to talk to somebody about some different things and so I actually snuck into Tuscaloosa with nobody knowing and spent three hours with him at his house one night and just had a list of questions about from game management, players, coaches all the stuff you want. People would pay millions probably for those three hours with him. It was really neat, and here we are now."

On being an assistant instead of worrying about the whole program:

"It's seven years since I've done that and it's been refreshing just to be able to focus on the ball side, Xs and Os and player development, player communication. I guess I didn't realize how much, as the head coach, you cannot do that if you run this side of the ball. Even coach Saban doesn't call the defense. Coach Smart calls the defense. There was so much time that I put into that.

One of the million things I feel I was spending more time in player development, even in the game, because as the head coach, you can't do what I do now. I sit with Blake Sims, Amari Cooper the entire game when the defense is out there and we don't get up until we have the ball going over everything, adjustments, things we do. It's been fun to be able to do that again, also to learn from coach Saban. He's just unbelievable.

"People have this perception of who he is and he's all football and everything. This guy gives more to the university than I could ever imagine doing. The Friday before the Iron Bowl, he's meeting with women's tennis recruits to help out the tennis program. I'm looking at the schedule saying this is amazing, but he is non-stop, every day, University of Alabama."

Go read this.  All of the answers are pretty great.

Alabama ready for business against Ohio State - ESPN

“Well, obviously he [Ohio State's Cardale Jones] played very, very well when he played,” Saban said, “and I think that's the key thing that a guy has the capabilities to play.

“Blake started out this season where he hadn't played in any games, and he certainly did a good job of playing and improving, becoming a great leader for his team and making a lot of plays that got his team where they are.

“So I'm not sure that we're going to be able to see him, everything that he's capable of doing, but we certainly have a lot of respect for the way he's played when he's played.”

The onus will be on the defense to prepare for anything with Jones and the rest of the Ohio State offense. But Sims and the Alabama offense will be on the clock too.

Sims, who said he didn’t know much about Ohio State, will be facing a defense that ranks in the top 25 nationally in points per game, yards per play and sacks. Defensive lineman Joey Bosa leads the Buckeyes with 13.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. Vonn Bell, a former Alabama recruiting target, has 78 tackles and five interceptions.

“We’ve got to get back to the little things,” Sims said. “The weaknesses, we have to make them strengths, and just get treatment and get guys healthy.”

Vonn Bell is legit and is a guy I wish we could've landed.  We could really have used that safety depth the last couple of years.

Small changes coming to Alabama uniforms for College Football Playoff | AL.com

Alabama's jersey, as well as the others, will have a diamond-colored swoosh on the chest. The Tide will also have a base-layer shirt under the jersey that will feature an elephant-skin pattern.

The diamond-colored swooshes are hardly noticeable, and the under shirt won't really be seen.  So no big changes here, but that under shirt is pretty cool.

Cornerback honored by Alabama beat writers with inaugural 'Good Guy' award | AL.com

When it comes to interviews, there are MVPs to reporters. And, for the first time, Alabama beat writers honored the top player in media settings.

Cornerback Cyrus Jones was presented with the inaugural Alabama Media "Good Guy" Award on Tuesday. He edged linebacker Reggie Ragland and Brian Vogler for the top spot.

Jones was surprised by the award organized by Tuscaloosa News beat writer Aaron Suttles and Marc Torrence of the Bleacher Report. A plaque will hang in the Naylor Stone Media Suite to honor the award to be given annually.

The junior is confident in his interviews and doesn't lean on the clichés. He admitted interviews weren't his favorite, but they weren't that bad.

"I know a lot of guys don't like to do it," Jones said. "I just tried to keep an open mind and give the best answers I can, so I appreciate y'all."

Alabama leads SEC with 5 all-conference first team selections by coaches | AL.com

Alabama had seven players selected to the All-SEC Coaches team, which was released on Tuesday.

The seven tied with Missouri for the most overall, and Alabama had a league-best five first-team selections.

Offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio, receiver Amari Cooper, linebacker Trey DePriest, safety Landon Collins and punter JK Scott were first-team selections.

Quarterback Blake Sims and running back T.J. Yeldon were second-team selections.

T.J. only being second team is some straight bullcrap.  I know Cameron Artis-Payne and Nick Chubb have had better years statistically, but I still think Yeldon deserved the nod.

SEC football by the numbers: Amari Cooper, Blake Sims set championship game records | AL.com

10 Consecutive passes completed by Alabama QB Blake Sims on Saturday, an SEC Championship Game record. Sims completed his first 10 passes against Missouri. Florida QB Shane Matthews set the record of nine completions in a row in 1992, a feat matched by Florida QB Danny Wuerffel in 1995.

12 Receptions for Alabama WR Amari Cooper on Saturday, an SEC Championship Game record. He broke the record of 11 established by Florida WR Reidel Anthony in the 1996 title game. The 12 receptions pushed Cooper's season total to 115, the most in one year in SEC history. Jordan Matthews held that record for one year. The former Madison Academy standout caught 112 passes for Vanderbilt in 2013. Cooper lifted his career reception total to 219, which ranks third in SEC history behind Matthews' 262 and Earl Bennett's 236 for Vanderbilt from 2005 through 2007.