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Jumbo Package: Monday, 12 January 2015

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Your daily dose of Crimson Tide news and sports-related links.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

College Football Playoff presents Ohio State Buckeyes and Oregon Ducks in fitting national championship - ESPN

If Alabama and Florida State couldn't get to the championship game, what does that say about the controversial BCS decisions of years past? This game Monday night is the opportunity that Oregon didn't get in 2001, when the Ducks went 10-1 yet finished fourth in the final BCS standings. The playoff is the second chance that undefeated Auburn didn't get in 2004, that 11-1 Texas didn't get in 2008 and that everyone else closed out by the SEC during its seven-year streak of crystal footballs didn't get, too.

And so it begins. For the first time since 2007, a team will be crowned national champion that doesn't hail from Florida or Alabama. Alabama fans don't really have a dog in the fight, but it's hard to root against class act Marcus Mariota in what should be his last college game. In any event, this is the last college football game for more than seven months. Lap it up, folks.

What's next: Alabama deep at RB for 2015 even with T.J. Yeldon's departure | AL.com

"I think they'll do good," Yeldon said Friday. "Derrick Henry has done a fantastic job coming in after me and picking up when I was hurt. He did a great job. Kenyan (Drake) will be back. Altee (Tenpenny) and Tyren (Jones) are doing a great job too and Bo Scarbrough will be here and also a young guy, DeSherrius Flowers. They'll do great."

TJ will be missed, but you have to be excited about the stable of running backs the staff has assembled. The main issue will be that there is only one football.

Himmelsbach | Damien Harris picked Alabama football over Kentucky for right reasons

Damien Harris is arguably the best high school running back in the nation and one of this state's top prospects in decades. And as his pursuit intensified and UK remained at the top of his list, it gave hope to a community and a fan base that has struggled to remain hopeful over the years.

Great piece on the emotions that a player goes through when he is forced to decide between the hometown school and the out-of-state powerhouse.

Alabama football: Prep injuries haven't broken Cornwell's spirit - The Anniston Star: Sports

"I’m there to compete every day with all the quarterbacks," Cornwell said. "But getting better each day is my priority, not worrying about the spot, the No. 2 spot, No. 3 or anything. I'm just here to get better as a quarterback because even if you get the job here, you're going to have to beat someone out in the (NFL) draft or even in life. I'm just keeping my head down, working to be the best quarterback I can be and seeing where it takes me."

Cornwell was a big recruiter for the Tide from the moment he committed and seems to be a great team guy who has bought in. Those who have penciled in Blake Barnett to start in 2016 may need to pump the brakes.

In age of QB transfers, Alabama's former top recruits explain why they're staying put | AL.com

"As far as transferring and stuff, you look at a guy like Blake and what he's done, and guys who do transfer right away, there's not a lot of success that comes out of it," said Cooper Bateman, the No. 4 high school quarterback in the 2012 class who hasn't yet thrown a collegiate pass. "So it's a long road and I knew that. I'm going to stick it out."

Another elite QB prospect says that he plans on going nowhere. As interesting as last season's QB battle was, this year's will be even more intriguing as more players have a legitimate shot at the job.

No. 4 Alabama gymnastics briefly made it interesting before beating No. 21 Arizona | AL.com

"When the jitters set in, you get a little nervous and you change how you do things," Duckworth said. "The goal is to push where you're not changing and it's just like practice. So you just have to learn how to get through some of those things. I think some of our freshman were a little jittery."

Congrats to new coach Dana Duckworth on her first win. Roll Tide, Coach.