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The Jumbo Package | 07.23.14

Your daily dose of Crimson Tide news and notes

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Saban went through the ESPN "car wash" yesterday.  While taking part in all of the interviews he touched on a number of big subjects, including the upcoming playoff system.

Nick Saban says national title expectations 'unrealistic' for first-year Alabama quarterbacks |

"Well I think it is a little bit unrealistic because basically what you're talking about is two guys that are untested," said Saban who won national titles with first year quarterbacks in 2009 (Greg McElroy) and 2011 (AJ McCarron).

"And when you have an untested player at that position, you can be pleasantly surprised with the way they develop and how they do and how the team sorta rallies around them and the impact of their leadership, decision-making, those things are critical at the quarterback position."

That was the case in the last two experiences with first year quarterbacks. The circumstances in 2014 are quite different. Fifth-year senior Blake Sims started his Tide career as a running back and Jacob Coker just arrived on campus this summer after transferring from Florida State.

The last point is a good one.  I think we Bama fans are often quick to trot out the "well the last two QBs won a natty their first year..." line of arguing without acknowledging that both of those guys had been in the system for a couple of years at least, and played as backups in the system the year before they took over.

I'm not backing down off of my optimism for Coker, but that is a worthwhile distinction, I think, if we are trying to evaluate the upcoming season objectively.

Nick Saban explains why he's 'mellowed out' and having most fun of his career |

"It's really more challenging now because, to me, the disparity between the players that are coming in in terms of how they look at things, what they do, how you need to challenge them, how you need to help them develop the right habits so they can be successful," Saban said.

"Because it used to be, a player was afraid not to do what the coach says. Now these guys are like 'I've arrived. I'm here.' So what are you going to do with it? What are you going to do with yourself? How are we going to get them to do it? "That part of it has become very challenging, but something that I enjoy because the little physiological, sorta human behavior involved in all of it, which is a little more challenging than just the Xs and Os."

Nick Saban not buying 'cheating pays' comments from Big 12 commish, not seeing players 'bought' |

It's not perfect, Saban said. There are challenges facing the NCAA when it doesn't have subpoena powers. "But I don't see players getting bought. I don't see players getting extra benefits any place," Saban said.  "I think recruiting is so transparent now, I think most people are scared to death that they would get caught publicly — not by the NCAA, not by the conference office.

"But even if you have illegal contact with a player, he tweets that you talked to him. So that's a violation. I mean, it's so transparent, you almost have to do things correctly because I don't think anybody needs to catch you. I think the public would catch you."

I've had a similar thought process about this in the past few years.  We hear so much about the prevalence of cheating in college football recruiting, but there seems to be an overwhelming lack of proof.  You would think that if coaches were running around offering money willy-nilly, we would hear about it regularly.  After all, what would a kid stand to lose by exposing an offer to pay him (assuming he didn't take the money)?

The Paul Finebaum Show is Previewed this Week on the ESPN Networks - Team Speed Kills

Listening to the show on the radio, I wonder sometimes what Finebaum does during the callers' rants. What faces does he make? What does he do during these times? Luckily, we'll see.

And fortunately, for those that await the SEC Network and await the Finebaum show on television, ESPN gives fans a sneak peak this week. From 4 p.m to 5 p.m. ET, The Paul Finebaum Show will air on ESPNU and from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET, his show will move to ESPN2 for the national audience to see.

This is interesting.  I don't really listen to Paul Finebaum, and I likely won't be watching this show, but it is nice to see the SEC Network ramping up coverage and promotion for its launch, simply because it signals the ever approaching start of college football.

What position does Alabama have in mind for freshman Ronnie Clark? |

Clark was issued No. 1 to wear at Alabama this summer, but there's another number that's much more crucial to his playing career. According to McKeller, that number is 218. That's the magic number which will determine where he lines up for the Tide.

"They've told him 'Ronnie we want you to play free safety for us but we want you to stay at 218 pounds or less' and that was the deal," McKeller said. "They were all behind him 100 percent at safety if he could do that."

Clark reported to McKeller recently he was already at 226 pounds while getting immersed into Alabama's challenging strength and conditioning program this summer.

Welp.  So much for Ronnie being the safety of the future.  At that size, I have no idea where he's going to land.  225 is pretty small for a linebacker in our system, so wide receiver may be the next best landing spot.  At 6'2.5", 225lbs, he certainly would be a nice, big target, and he excelled at the position in high school, so it wouldn't be a completely new experience for him.

Or he could just go in the opposite direction.  Since he's already passed 218 (and almost certainly won't get back down to that), he could keep packing on weight.  Add 10 more pounds and he would be basically be the same size that CJ Mosley was.  Either way, the depth chart at linebacker and wide receiver are both much more of an obstacle than it would have been at safety, so he's going to have a fight ahead of him.

Bret Bielema takes a few digs at Alabama, Lane Kiffin in trip to ESPN studios |

"For the first time in NCAA history, they gave us a two-week dead period," Bielema said. "And I don't know about you guys, but it wasn't dead. Alabama got a way that they got to have a camp, everybody else had to abide by the rules. And for 14 days, we couldn't have anybody on campus."

That dead period ran from June 30-July 13. And, according to Alabama's camp flyer, the second high school camp ran from July 13-16.

Bielema didn't mention one fact, however. The NCAA granted Alabama a waiver to start the camp on the last day of the dead period. Within that 14-day period, coaches are prohibited from making in-person visits or evaluations.

No doubt related to this comment, Bert tweeted this out later that day.

God, this guy is such a clown.  52-0, Bert.  How's that for friendly?

Julio Jones gets medical clearance to practice with Atlanta Falcons |

When the Atlanta Falcons hold their first practice of training camp on Friday, wide receiver Julio Jones will be allowed to participate with his teammates - his first workout with the Falcons' full squad since suffering a fractured foot in the fifth game of the 2013 NFL season.

C.J. Mosley eager to hit, win with Baltimore Ravens |

"I never want to get used to accepting the fact that I can lose one game and still be safe," Mosley said during the interview.

"That's what the NFL is all about - winning. If you don't know how to win, you won't last in this league long. I know what it takes to win. I've been in a winning atmosphere for four years in college."