Why is the NLI the worst contract in American sports? It requires players to sign away their right to be recruited by other schools. If they don't enroll at the school with which they signed, they forfeit a year of eligibility. Not a redshirt year, but one of their four years to play. In return, the NLI guarantees the player nothing.
It would be interesting to see a bunch of the top recruits get together and refuse to sign NLIs. Hard to believe that they wouldn't be able to find a school that would let them play without one, which leads us to the next terrible idea...
Personally, I like the elegant and simple idea that Davidson coach Fred Riley proposed several years ago. It goes like this: When a kid commits, he can sign immediately. Signed, sealed and delivered. That's a real early signing period.
So, coming off a National Signing Day that saw multiple players who felt misled by the coaches recruiting them, Mr. Bean wishes to propose a rule allowing a coach to present his offer as "now or never" in order to induce a player to sign a binding contract even earlier in the process? What could possibly go wrong? An early signing period for those players who really want to get the process over could be OK, but the player could also simply respond firmly to any overtures if he so desires: "Coach, I have made up my mind and am 100% committed to the other school. I am flattered by all the attention you have shown me but I no longer have any interest. Please do not contact me further." Reality is that most of these guys want to keep the door open to change their mind, and they probably should. Circumstances change.
Alabama fell short in the semifinals of the inaugural College Football Playoff, but it finished No. 1 in recruiting for the fourth straight year. Alabama signed 18 players from the ESPN 300, including much-needed cornerbacks Kendall Sheffield and Minkah Fitzpatrick (Nos. 3 and 4 at the position, respectively) and No. 1 pocket-passing quarterback Blake Barnett. Much of the attention this spring will be on the quarterback battle, where FSU transfer Jake Coker will battle sophomore Cooper Bateman, redshirt freshman David Cornwell and Barnett for the starting job.
If you thought last year's quarterback battle was hotly debated, just wait until this year's. At least there were two clear front-runners last season. Coker has to be considered the leader, but anything could happen here.
Scarbrough was a 5-star recruit who signed in 2014, but delayed enrollment because of academics. He is listed as a running back and practiced there in Alabama's workouts before traveling to the Sugar Bowl. Scarbrough could be a big star there, or could excel somewhere else with Alabama's depth at the position. He could work in a hybrid fullback/H-back/tight end role, or even be a big receiver.
The senior-to-be should be ready to participate in spring practice next month, though Alabama hasn’t yet announced the dates. That’s terrific news for Drake, who later in the season was roaming the sideline with assistance from a cart (holding a box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, presumably in case coach Nick Saban got hungry during the game).
Lane Kiffin has to be drooling at the thought of having versatile weapons like Scarbrough and Drake on the field together. Those two are matchup nightmares for defensive coordinators.
Alabama loses starting guards Arie Kouandjio and Leon Brown but returns center Ryan Kelly. No one's going to take snaps from Kelly unless he gets injured and while Alabama signed a plethora of interior linemen - Brandon Kennedy, Dallas Warmack, Richie Petitbon and Lester Cotton (if he doesn't play tackle), some returning players got experience last fall. Freshmen Bradley Bozeman and J.C. Hassenauer played some in reserve roles. Rising junior Alphonse Taylor has started at right guard some. One of either Dominick Jackson or Grant Hill also have experience and could be frontrunners to start. Joshua Casher also benefited from a redshirt season.
It goes without saying that the ability to run the football between the tackles would be huge for an offense that has to replace so much at the skill positions. There is no shortage of talent here, hopefully the staff can find a group of five who can work together and get back to mauling people up front.
After splitting last week's games with Missouri and LSU, the Crimson Tide dipped in this week's Ratings Percentage Index. After checking in at No. 59 last week, Alabama's RPI is down to No. 69 when the official standings were released Monday morning. Moving forward, the Tide (14-9, 4-6 SEC) will out-rank its next three opponents. It begins with an 8 p.m. Tuesday trip to Mississippi State (No. 173) and a Saturday visit from No. 102 Vanderbilt.
With NCAA hopes already on life support, Coach Grant simply must find a way to win these next three games. Even one loss in those three likely ends the season for all intents and purposes, along with Grant's tenure at the end of the season. Tonight won't be easy without Tarrant, Obosohan, and Kessens. Look for RBR's game coverage later today.
The 7 p.m. visit from No. 12 Boise State will be the Crimson Tide's annual Power of Pink meet to raise money and awareness for breast cancer prevention. The spirit behind the 11th annual event will also be honored. It will also be Sarah and David Patterson Night in Coleman Coliseum as the program pays tribute to the retired coaching duo. Sarah Patterson, who retired in July after 36 years as Alabama's head coach, won all six of the program's national titles.
If you're around Tuscaloosa on Friday, go out and support the gymnasts who look to compete for yet another national title while also supporting a good cause and honoring one of the greatest coaches in Alabama history.
As always, Amari is a class act.