"I have a great relationship with [Johnson]," Key said. "He was a player and coach in the NBA and knows what it takes to get there. I am also very comfortable with assistant coach Bob Simon, who has been recruiting me since I was in ninth grade when he was at Providence." The four-star Key (formerly known as Braxton Blackwell) was a two-time Class AA Mr. Basketball in the state of Tennessee, averaging 20.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists in leading Christ Presbyterian Academy to a state title in 2014-15.
Yet another big pickup for CAJ, outrecruiting traditional national powers Texas and Kansas. Which brings us to...
With that addition, the Tide's 2016 class is now ranked fifth-best nationally by 247 Sports. Traditional powers Michigan State, Duke and Connecticut make up the top-three. Florida is No. 4. New coach Avery Johnson has Alabama at No. 5 with the Tide still in the running for five-star Texas center Marques Bolden.
One of biggest knocks on Johnson's ability to translate his success to college was uncertainty about his recruiting. Whatever "it" is, he has it. He relates to kids very well, and his NBA creds are exactly what elite players are looking for. Recruiting is the lifeblood of any successful program, and is truly the horse that drives the cart. In a perfect future, I'd love to look back on his class of '16 with the same starry-eyed appreciation as we have for Saban's class of '08.
In a selection your dog could make, Kentucky was predicted to win the 2016 SEC men’s basketball championship. That was the 11th time since the 1998-99 season the Wildcats have been pegged the preseason favorite. Alabama was predicted to finish 13th, ahead of only Missouri. No Crimson Tide players were selected for either the first or second preseason All-SEC team.
WOMP. WOMP. The writers don't think Alabama is going to have much success this year -- and losing its top three scorers certainly doesn't make those guys bullish on the Tide. Still, while we all know it will be a struggle, I think we also know that this team will compete. If the Tide win one or two they shouldn't, and hold serve against comparable squads, some sort of postseason bid is not out of the question.
One thing that makes Alabama’s schedule so difficult is the number of opponents that have open dates or relatively easy games before playing the Crimson Tide. This is not a new issue, but rather one that has been going on for many years. To Bama Coach Nick Saban’s credit, he has been very good in these games over the years. He has also pointed out that when his team is playing well, an open date might break momentum.
Breaking momentum is one thing. But, this team has had a hard time maintaining momentum, at least as far as the offense and special teams go. Momentum be damned, I'd rather have a healthy, full-operational Gump Star on tap for the LSU showdown on Nov. 7 that will completely repaint the national playoff portrait.
Arizona does not have an open date on its schedule, and coupled with late games and later nights, Rodriguez is clearly starting to feel the wear and tear of the season. "There’s got to be a better way," Rodriguez said. "At some point, the conference has to have the ability to step in and say, ‘Hey, give this team one afternoon road game. Maybe the rest are all at night, but give them one break so they can get home at a reasonable hour.’ It’s silly, it really is." Halloween night will be the fourth time this season Arizona has kicked off at 6 p.m. or later. Kickoff times for its final two road games, at USC and Arizona State, have yet to be determined.
As angry as Alabama fans get, Rodriguez has a very good point about the scheduling screwjob the PAC12 has saddled his Wildcats with. In his tenure at Arizona, the 'Cats have started well over half of their road kicks at 6:00 p.m. local or later. This isn't the SEC, where the schools are relatively close either -- Tucson to Seattle is over 1500 miles. In their division, the Cats make road trips of 750 miles (to Salt Lake,) 920 miles (to Boulder,) and nearly 500 miles to LA. Buffoonery abounds in all conferences it seems.
"I think it can better be dubbed 'Hate Week' when it comes to Alabama-Tennessee rather that just a rivalry," Heim said. "When it comes to rivalries, I don't think winning streaks matter."
No, it does not matter at all how badly the Vols suck -- I never want to see that Orange celebrating a win over Alabama again in my life. While it's not as bad as burying a family member, it's at least as painful as your girlfriend crying over a her dead cat that you always secretly hated.
Dobbs’ carries are down this season, a byproduct of the workload given to running back Jalen Hurd and junior college transfer Alvin Kamara. He’s also grown more comfortable as a passer, coming off a career-high 42 attempts in the upset win over Georgia. But when asked how many times he hopes to carry the ball against the Crimson Tide, Dobbs made it clear he would run as often as necessary. "However many it takes to win, honestly," Dobbs said.
I devoutly hope Tennessee's gameplan is run Dobbs into the Alabama front-seven about 15-20 times this game. Those are wasted snaps, and ones with a high probability of rattling or banging up the UT quarterback.
The case can be made that, at least until Saturday, every single West team is alive. No one has more than two losses after all, and there are enough upsets or potential upsets out there that any given team could get on a hot streak — even Mississippi State, even Arkansas, even Auburn (although not the loser of Saturday morning’s Auburn-Arkansas brunch match in Fayetteville) could come out of the pack.
The headline may read that Alabama can't sleep on the Vols. But, the story itself isn't about Tennessee's chances to win the game; rather, the story is about taking care of the goal immediately in front of the Tide. LSU won't matter if Alabama drops one against this overmatched, sorry, snitching, low down, Underoo stain of a team.
PRAISES ALL AROUND!
1. Like the Buckeyes last season, the Tide will be the No. 4 seed in the College Football Playoff and will win the national championship. Alabama will upset No. 1 seed Ohio State in the semifinals and knock off No. 3 Baylor in the title game.
9. Kirby Smart Will Coach The South Carolina Gamecocks Smart, who has been the Tide's defensive coordinator since 2008 and won the Broyles Award as the country's top assistant in 2009, is exactly what the Gamecocks need in a new head coach.
If the defense holds, the only team that can beat this Alabama squad is itself with turnovers and miscues. Next week, during off-week silliness, we'll talk about Kirby some more.
Calvin Ridley will have more receiving yards as a freshman than Julio Jones and Amari Cooper: Ridley has been a stud, and he'll top his predecessors in 2015. Jones caught 58 passes for 924 yards as a freshman in 2008, and Cooper hauled in 59 catches for 1,000 yards in 2012. Ridley already has 38 catches for 437 yards in seven games. Give Ridley 61 catches and 1,005 yards
With Auburn, Tennessee, and Charleston Southern, you can see Ridley having a strong second half of the season. This is doubly true since he has become the No. 1 on the outside, and Kiffin has finally figured out how to use him.
On a new episode of The Audible, Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel dive into Alabama's dominant win at Texas A&M and discuss why the Crimson Tide's brand of power football still gives them the best chance to win a national championship. Yep, Nick Saban is beginning to mold what looks like another vintage Alabama team while everyone was writing the Crimson Tide's obituaries earlier this season.
SURPRISE! Defense and running the ball win championships. I'm not a genius or anything, but it seems like this I've heard of this concept before.
Kareem Walker, a four-star running back from De Paul Catholic in Wayne, N.J., has been committed to Ohio State since early January, but said in a statement through ESPN's Tom VanHaaren on Wednesday that he plans on officially visiting Alabama and other schools. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Walker is the No. 1 running back recruit in the 247Sports composite. He recently took an official visit to Michigan and will visit Ole Miss and Arizona State. Dates were not listed.
The No. 1 RB, already a verbal to the Buckeyes, will visit Alabama. But, look at the other teams on his list not named "Michigan, Alabama or Ohio State." I'm NOT* saying that it looks fishy as hell that Ole Miss, a team that literally does not run the ball and has no offensive line, is getting a look, but...
Update: Thought I would add Kenyan Drake's heartfelt note to Altee Tenpenny, sent via Instagram: