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Jumbo Package: Friday, 20 February 2015

Your daily dose of Alabama news, snapshots from around the country, and other things less amenable to categorization.

Stranger things have happened, I guess. Not many, but they have.
Stranger things have happened, I guess. Not many, but they have.
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Sources

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Lulz RT <a href="https://twitter.com/ClayontheSEC">@ClayontheSEC</a>: Been told by several folks Tom Izzo is being looked at by Alabama boosters. Rumor for now, but very strong.</p>&mdash; Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) <a href="https://twitter.com/CecilHurt/status/568577825428676608">February 20, 2015</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

That about sums it up, Cecil. If anyone can drop a comment below spinning a credible, logical argument as to how this would ever come to pass, I'm all ears.

Alabama notes

NFL Combine Interviews: Alabama Fullback Jalston Fowler met with Packers - Acme Packing Company

On whether he is the top fullback in the draft: "You know it, baby! I can pretty much do everything ... some of these guys can just block, but I'm a great catcher."

The folks at the SBN Green Bay Packer site had a fantastic sit-down with Nudie (who, himself, had a very good meeting with the Pack.) Needless to say, the prospect of Fowler blasting holes for Eddie Lacy has me tingly in very inappropriate places. This would be the most physically imposing backfield since the Bettis era in Pittsburgh.

Ranking College Football's 25 Hardest Schedules 1. Alabama

Alabama is a talented bunch, but this is the nation’s most challenging schedule.

The schedule is an absolute murderer's row (except for those three cupcakes, and it looks like we'll need them.) 9-3 is not as unlikely as you'd think with so many unanswered questions going into Spring practice.

WR Amari Cooper anxious for NFL Combine - ESPN Video - ESPN

Alabama's WR Amari Cooper posts workout video to Instagram in preparation for NFL Combine.

Someone posted this in a comment yesterday. It deserves to be seen by all.

5-star Carver defensive end Marlon Davidson says recruitment open despite family ties to Auburn | AL.com

"I have high interest in Alabama and I have contact with (former Carver linebacker) Shaun Dion Hamilton of course," Davidson said. "It's great to talk to the coaches because they're so energetic. The players are calm. Like, they don't party as much as I thought they would have. They have fun but they really get after the job."

Davidson's quotes are telling. You have to think the Auburn legacy would already skew heavily towards the Tigers, but when his first focus is on the lack of partying, then you pretty much know he'll be a Duck or an Aggie or Tiger (LSU or Auburn.) Players go to Alabama to win championships, to get the best pro-ready coaching in the nation, and they do so with the full knowledge that actions have consequences, unless you're a five-star DT facing felony charges. Nothing about this team or this staff screams "raise some hell." My guess is we'll see Davidson on the visitor's sideline in 2016.

Nico Collins - Hudl

#7 Sophomore WR Nico Collins Clay-Chalkville Varsity Football, Pinson, AL

Collins met with Alabama staff yesterday. Already at 6'4" 195, the sophomore has the potential to be the huge, physical target the rest of the conference seems to have, and that the Tide have always lacked for some reason (not that I'm complaining. I'll take the Alabama receiving corps over anyone in the nation over the past six years.) He's going to be a good one; just check out his clips; it's just unfair to do that in jr. high.)

Julio Jones and Falcons have not spoken, Vikings plan to keep Adrian Peterson - SBNation.com

A potential contract could be in the area of $100 million, a number only Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald have eclipsed at receiver. However, Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas are about to hit free agency and could command that type of cash.

Yeah, a guy mentioned in the same breath with Megatron, Dez, and Fitzgerald and the Falcons still haven't opened up talks (much less the wallet?) Not exactly the way to rebuild an aging franchise. Note: the four players above, expected to command $100 million or more, are all in the NFC where Julio was the conference's leading receiver.

Around the conference

Ole Miss schedules home-and-home with Cal

The Rebels will play at Cal in 2017, with the Golden Bears coming to Oxford in 2019. Ole Miss announced the news today. ... Ole Miss has never played a Pac-12 school before.

Given that most P12-SEC matchups are historically for national titles or prestigious bowls, some jokes simply write themselves.

Melvin Smith expected to be named Cajuns DC

UL also is expected to name Levorn Harbin, most recently an analyst for the defensive line at Auburn... Yet another hire the Cajuns are expected to make is that of Charlie Harbison, who was let go as safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator at Auburn last month.

U La La is poaching present and former Auburn coaches by hook or by crook.

Seven years later, Mike DeBord finally coaching Tennessee Vols

To hear DeBord tell the story, he wanted the Tennessee job badly...Fulmer went with the younger Dave Clawson, though, and Tennessee’s 2008 experiment of meshing Fulmer’s system with Clawson’s seemed doomed from the beginning.

Not sure what I think about DeBord, the notoriously buttoned-down Michigan OC of the Lloyd Carr era. Butch is a staunch DeBord supporter and maintains that his offense is a variant of DeBord's, but I'm not seeing it. We know the Vols have committed the past two seasons to becoming a more physical running team, but I really wonder how well Jones' finesse version of the HUNH will mesh with DeBord's background as a pro-set, smash mouth guy? My guess is that Tennessee moves towards a more balanced, physical offense this season: Kamara and Hurd in the backfield almost guarantee it.

Auburn Football: QB Jeremy Johnson is a huge reason all Tiger fans should be confident | FOX Sports

Johnson may not have the dynamic mobility of Marshall, but the junior is going to have a huge season directing the offense for coach Gus Malzahn.

I take issue with the headline, but not the quote. Yes, Johnson will (or should) have a very good year throwing the ball. But that by no means should instill confidence in the Auburn faithful. The offense Malzahn has installed is at its best when the QB is a dynamic rushing threat and the offense looks to run-first (see 2013 where the Tigers ran on an astonishing 72% of their plays.) Stats aren't wins, fellas, even if they notch you a Heisman (Johnny Manziel in 2012 and Tim Tebow in 2007 nod sagely.)

So much dumb s***

Big Ten considering ineligibility for freshmen - ESPN

"That would be one of the healthiest things we could do for college sports right now," Ferentz said. "Recruiting's kind of a runaway train, and what a lot of people don't consider is there's a lot of serious pressure that's put on some players' shoulders that I'm not sure is healthy for them big picture-wise."

This the first of two Big Ten shots fired across the bow of more successful conferences. As the SEC (and PAC12 and ACC) has far more elite talent than the Big Ten, talent that starts earlier and is gone quicker, the Big Ten (per usual) began this vetting process as a "conference idea," and then have rapidly expanded it to backroom talks with other commissioners. I highlighted Ferentz's quote for one reason: He is the only one that was honest enough to admit that this proposal was aimed at recruiting. The longer programs have to hang on to players, the more chances there are for for your Iowas to snag a steal or two on the recruiting trail.

Early signing period without early visits could hurt programs - ESPN

Research by the NCAA's football recruiting subcommittee indicates that early official visits lack widespread support, said Susan Peal, director of the NCAA's national letter of intent program. "I'm not saying it couldn't come down the road," Peal said, "but the football coaches [nationally] are comfortable with their recruiting calendar and worked very hard to get it where it is today."

This is the second of Jim Delany's brilliant notions, also calculated to hinder the recruiting of other, more successful programs. The issue is that for isolated programs that are geographically removed from most elite talent, an early signing period is essentially meaningless. A kid from California may commit early to an Alabama or Florida or USC or Texas sight-unseen, but selling that same player on Illinois or Nebraska, without having set foot on the campus, is a harder row to hoe. As with "eliminating freshman eligibility," this again started as a "conference discussion" that the B1G has "discussed" with others. Fortunately, it appears as though the NCAA is having none of it.

Gary Patterson wants every other conference to get rid of its championship game too - SBNation.com

A common place of blame for the Big 12's absence in the inaugural College Football Playoff field was its lack of a championship game -- the only major conference without one. TCU head coach Gary Patterson has a solution. Let's get rid of all the conference championship games!

The Big Ten is not alone in its whining. First, it was Art Briles lobbying for a native Texan to be on the playoff committee. Now, we have Stay Puft Marshmallow Man-cum-Hornfrog, Gary Patterson saying the solution to the Big 12's lack of a conference championship game is not, as you'd expect, for the flyover conference to play one; rather, the solution is for the other conferences, large and small, to abandon them in toto. This was exactly the sort of small-minded, self-serving, provincial tribalism that we all feared would come to pass with the playoff committee. I for one am SHOCKED* the Big Ten and Big Twelve would lead the way in that regard.

Boise State WR Rick Smith recovering in Long Beach, may press charges against teammate

Smith and a teammate were playfully slapboxing in the Boise State locker room on Feb. 9. When they were finished, Smith turned to walk away and the teammate allegedly struck him in the back of the head, knocking him into a locker, with Smith then collapsing onto the ground.

The injuries included a fractured skull, as well as bleeding and swelling of the brain. The injuries were so bad, the kid had to set up a GoFundMe drive to crowd-fund his medical treatment. Lawsuits a'coming. If I'm Boise, I cop to negligent supervision, pay the kid's medical bills, and make this go away.

Colts told NFL about deflated footballs before AFC Championship to 'level the playing field' - SBNation.com

Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson stated that he informed the NFL several days before the AFC Championship that he thought the Patriots might be doctoring their footballs.

Roger Goodell is easily the most aggressively-crooked major sports commissioner of the modern era. There are Presidents of the United States that blush (or would if they were alive) at the amount of corruption that goes on behind The Shield.

Why is the NCAA so bad? Here's a perfect example | NCAA Football | Sporting News

I’m going to try to explain this in the clearest way possible, beginning with the most obvious statement of all. The NCAA is the worst organization in the history of sports.

I have rarely seen this kind of bombastic, hyperbolic, anal-vomit that appears in Matt Hayes' most recent column. I honestly thought I landed on an Onion Sports page for a good five minutes. (BTW: The subject of Hayes' ire? West Virginia, on former AD Oliver Luck's watch, just received probation for impermissible texts to recruits: A case where there was no lack of institutional control demonstrated. All in all, it's pretty minor stuff. Olive Luck just happens to be the newly-hired No. 2 at the NCAA, therefore WORST MONSTERS OF HISTORY!)

Maryland's Randy Edsall: 'Ridiculous' to track sixth graders - College Football - SI.com

"It is troubling that people are targeting sixth-graders now to increase their subscriptions to these sites and are taking advantage of young people and their parents."

Get 'em, Randy. This is stupid and predatory, even in an "industry" widely mocked for its weird obsessions, absurdities and, yes, exploitations. That said, the industry doesn't exist for the coaches as much as it does for the fans. If I, as a consumer, and willing to pay $9.95 to read about 7th grade coed flag football athletes at St. Thomas Aquinas (FL,) and the product exists, then that's the American way. LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT. PEW! PEW!

FINALLY, some good news

Big 12 Announces Concussion Diagnosis and Management Policy - Big 12 Conference - Official Athletic Site

"Our membership has developed a comprehensive diagnosis and management policy that asserts the unchallengeable authority of medical practitioners in overseeing the welfare of our student-athletes in this very important area," added Commissioner Bob Bowlsby.

This was long, long overdue. Coaches don't make medical decisions; independent-minded physicians, acting on the best interests of their patients do so. Brady Hoke's terrible tenure at least brought some decency to pass....just not at Michigan.