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The Jumbo Package | 04.25.14

Your daily dose of Crimson Tide news and notes.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

First off, on Twitter we have some quality trash talking going by our players:

Early betting line pegs Alabama as a big favorite over West Virginia in season opener |

With more than four months separating Alabama from its season opener against West Virginia in Atlanta, the first notable line pegs the Crimson Tide as a big-time favorite. According to, Alabama opened as a 24-point favorite over the Mountaineers, who went 4-8 last season.

Amari Cooper, Jarran Reed lead list of 5 Alabama spring standouts |

1. WR Amari Cooper -- He had a tough time finding openings at A-Day, but that wasn't a fair representation of the kind of spring he had. Saban raved about the junior wide receiver's progress any time his name was mentioned, and Cooper put up big-time stats to back it up during the Crimson Tide's first two scrimmages. Perhaps the defining moment came after Alabama's second scrimmage, when Saban said Cooper was very tough to stop unless he's double-teamed. Blessed with a boat-load of natural talent, Cooper has worked himself into even better shape and focused on the little things. He'll likely be included on a number of preseason All-American teams.

Hard to argue with number one.  Amari is probably the best player on the team this year.  Weird to see that D.J. Pettway didn't even make the honorable mentions list, though.  At this point, I would imagine he has to be at the top of most everyone's "breakout" star list this year, so I would have expected him to have stood out a bit more during spring practice.

Northwestern football players poised for historic vote on whether to unionize - ESPN Chicago

The National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C., has granted Northwestern University's request to review the decision made by the regional office recognizing the school's football players as employees, according to NLRB director of public affairs Gregory King.

A previously scheduled vote by Northwestern football players on whether to unionize will go forward Friday but ballots would be impounded for now and only opened if the board sides with the players, a decision that could take months. The board's decision to approve the review was expected by both sides in the case.

"We welcome the review so that college athletes' employee status can be confirmed nationwide by the federal government," College Athletes Player Association president Ramogi Huma said in a text.

Northwestern union vote intriguing, but NLRB ruling more significant - College Football - Andy Staples -

Friday's Northwestern football union vote feels different. It draws a clear battle line. Yes or no.

That should make for some high-quality sound bytes because almost everyone has an opinion on unions. Those who embrace televised debate have a topic into which they can sink their fangs. Finally, an event with a winner and a loser.

Except, like everything else in the evolution of major college sports from semi-charitable avocation to multibillion-dollar business, it isn't really that simple. Yes, 76 Northwestern players will vote on Friday to decide whether to form a union.

But the results of that vote may not be known for months as the National Labor Relations Board considers a request by Northwestern to review an NLRB regional director's ruling that the players qualify as employees. Also, the results of Friday's vote don't matter as much as the NLRB's final determination.

NCAA restructuring endorsed by DI Board of Directors -

NCAA reform took another step forward on Thursday with an endorsement of the restructuring process by the Division I Board of Directors. According to a timeline laid out by the NCAA, a new governance system for the five power conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC) could be in place by August.

...An agenda from the Board of Directors meeting was obtained by and details each of the issues in the restructuring process. Some of the proposals, like the creation of a 38-member council made up mostly of athletic directors and two voting student-athletes to be the final voice on rule-making decisions, are clear-cut. But according to the NCAA, board members "continue to seek more clarity and specificity about these proposed areas of autonomy."

The steering committee is seeking more feedback on the how the remaining 27 conferences would want to apply decisions made by the 65 schools in the five highest-profile conferences. Areas in which the membership generally agrees on autonomy for the five conferences include:

-- financial aid, including full cost of attendance and scholarship guarantees;

-- insurance, including policies that protect future earnings;

-- academic support, particularly for at-risk student-athletes; and

-- other support, such as travel for families, free tickets to athletics events, and expenses associated with practice and competition (such as parking).

ACC market analysis reveals possible ACC Network plans with ESPN -

"If it is determined that an ACC Network can be a success," the analysis states. "ESPN has indicated it will do a deal on the same terms and conditions as it has with the SEC on the SEC Network."