SEC Media Days, the frenzied and wild event gathering of hundreds of reporters and bloggers to listen to a series of press conferences and hope for mayhem at a ballroom in Hoover, begins on Monday. In preparation, the SEC today released the list of players who will be accompanying each team's head coach to the event. There are no Tebows or Manziels or Clowneys among this year's bunch -- but there are still some pretty good players.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Landon Collins, Safety Amari Cooper, Wide Receiver Christion Jones, Wide Receiver
SEC Media days kicks off next week. Alabama will take the stage Thursday in the first slot after lunch (1 pm CT), so clear your calendar, call in sick, whatever you need to do to accommodate that.
The end of this miserable desert is in sight.
2. What adjustments will this year's defense make in the wake of its struggles against the uptempo offenses of Texas A&M, Auburn and Oklahoma? -- It was a theme throughout the offseason last year and it doesn't promise to go anywhere soon -- certainly not after the 10-second rule kerfuffle that dominated headlines in February and early March. Saban went out of his way to distance himself from the controversial rule proposal, which ultimately went nowhere, but he hasn't been around this many reporters at one time since, well, last year's SEC Media Days, so it will inevitably come up. When it pertains to his team and this particular season, expect plenty of questions about how Alabama will learn from its shortcomings of the recent past, how much "fastball" has been stressed throughout the past few months and whether or not the Crimson Tide is in a better spot personnel-wise to slow down the speediest of attacks.
Lane Kiffin, Alabama: Coordinators are rarely the subject of such scorn, but the hate for Kiffin burns more intensely than for any head coach in the SEC. And the naysayers need only focus on his tumultuous time at Tennessee. There, he "turned in" Urban Meyer for a recruiting violation only to find that no violation was committed and that he, in fact, was the one violating an SEC rule by mentioning a recruit by name. He also made the Alshon Jeffery "pumping gas" comment, which didn’t exactly ingratiate himself to the rest of the league. Then, after one season, he left the Vols to return to USC. And now, after flunking out of Southern Cal, he’s back as offensive coordinator at Alabama.
Near the end of his team's 7-on-7 championship at The Opening, former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer delivered the news to Alabama quarterback commit Blake Barnett. Barnett had been named Elite 11 MVP, winning a week-long quarterback competition against 17 other quarterbacks at NIKE's The Opening in Beaverton, Ore. Dilfer coached the quarterbacks during the event, which began on Sunday and ran in conjunction with The Opening.
From start to finish, Calvin Ridley dominated at The Opening. For that, the 4-star receiver from Coconut Creek, Fla., who committed to Alabama in April, was named the overall Most Valuable Player at The Opening, a NIKE event in Beaverton, Ore.
Ridly made some huge waves earlier this week when he made this catch at The Opening. Expect that 4 star to turn into a 5 real quick as he rockets up the rankings.
The Senate Commerce Committee pretty much laid out its plan of attack vs. the NCAA during Wednesday's hearing titled "Promoting the Well-Being of Academic Sucess of College Athletes." The committee sent out a release late Tuesday laying out its line of questioning.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller, IV, will chair the hearing. NCAA president Mark Emmert is one of the witnesses.
Per the release: "The hearing will explore how the National Collegiate Athletic Association [NCAA] is fulfilling its stated mission 'to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.' The hearing will also examine whether the commercial operation of college athletics is unfairly exploiting the talents and services of college athletes. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has jurisdiction over sports ...
No. No. NO.
Keep the gub'mint out of my college football.
That short flight kicked off the whirlwind that is the last two months of college football's other season – the recruiting sprint to National Signing Day. Between Dec. 2, 2013, and Feb. 1 of this year (save for a Dec. 16-Jan. 15 dead period mandated by the NCAA), head coaches and their staffs crisscrossed the nation, logging thousands of miles trying to lure the most coveted recruits of what would be the Class of 2014.
Not even perhaps the most successful coach in the nation was immune to becoming just another frequent flyer in search of new talent. To determine just how frenzied this period was for Nick Saban, AL.com, through the Freedom of Information Act, obtained the logs of the 24-year-old plane (N1UA) registered to the Crimson Tide Foundation — the fundraising arm of the Alabama athletics department — that carried Saban and his staff to their destinations. (The plane's movements cannot be accessed otherwise because the school had the tail number blocked from flight-tracking websites.)
The aircraft – an 1125 Westwind Astra built by Israel Aircraft Industries in 1990 – made 66 trips marked "football recruiting" on the logs. Saban was on board for 53. The plane touched down in 15 states from coast to coast. It logged nearly 53 hours of flight time leading up to National Signing Day on Feb. 5.
Roll Dang Frequent Flyer Miles, PAAAAAWWWWL.
Alabama Nonconference: The Crimson Tide is predicted to have a 94.1 percent chance of beating West Virginia in the opener, winning by a predicted 20.0-point differential.Otherwise: Alabama has at least a 64.5 percent chance of victory in every game except LSU (57.5 percent, 2.9-point win differential) and Auburn (57.8, 3.0). The Tide is predicted to win by at least 10.1 points in every game except Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M (7.9) and Ole Miss (5.7).
More watching the watch lists:
Auburn center Reese Dismukes,a finalist for the Rimington Trophy last year, is a fourth-year starter coming off of a season in which he produced 124 knockdowns and graded out at 90 percent or better in every game. Alabama's Ryan Kelly, who started nine of 13 games as he battled a knee injury, also made the list as the leader of the Crimson Tide's offensive line.
Both of the Alabama representatives at guard play on the left side. Auburn's Alex Kozan, a sophomore coming off of a Freshman All-American season, landed on the list along with Alabama's Arie Kouandjio, who will man the left side next to Kelly and provide an anchor as the Crimson Tide break in a new left tackle.
On the defensive side of the ball, Alabama defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson made the list after producing 5.5 sacks and eight tackles-for-loss as a true freshman and earning freshman All-American honors last season.
The list included three representatives from Alabama and one from Auburn for the award going to the nation's top defensive player. Stanford and Washington each had four players on the list while 10 other schools had three apiece.
Alabama had players from all three levels of the defense on the list. Sophomore defensive end A'Shawn Robinson was followed by linebacker Trey DePriest and safety Landon Collins. Robinson led the Tide in sacks last year while Collins and DePriest were second and third respectively on the total tackle chart.
Brandon Hill will play at his third school in as many years, as the former Alabama offensive lineman has enrolled at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, AL.com confirmed.
Hill's hope is it will lead to a longer stay at whichever school he chooses as his fourth.
Best of luck to the big man.