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Jumbo Package: Monday, 16 March 2015

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Your daily dose of firing basketball coaches...

We could have used this energy over the past six years, man.
We could have used this energy over the past six years, man.
Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

Hoops

Alabama Fires Anthony Grant - Roll 'Bama Roll

We've been calling this for two months now, despite the trenchant disbelief of those of you who believe JOX and not your own lying eyes. This evening (or tomorrow morning,) we'll have a long-form post mortem of Coach Grant and his tenure at the Capstone. It is difficult to write, and necessarily long, because Grant the man, the coach, and his relationship with Alabama basketball are so complex.

Anthony Grant fired as Alabama Crimson Tide men's basketball coach - ESPN

"A key component in that effort is to get all of our fans pulling in the same direction, and to make Coleman Coliseum the best home court advantage in the SEC."

Okay, Bill. I'll believe this one when I see it. Many of the issues with Alabama basketball are an increasing youth-age divide, an outmoded facility, and, to be honest, quality of play in the SEC and quality of the officiating -- none of which a new coach can remedy, and all of which impact the job and fan support.

The Next Alabama Crimson Tide Basketball Coach - Roll 'Bama Roll

Way back when Anthony Grant was hired in 2009, I was one of the few on the community boards to vocally disagree with the hiring of Grant. And the Crimson Tide interwebz community ripped into me. Over the years, I have spoken out against him on this platform and I have been criticized for it. To me, Grant was hired based on one game.

Now, we get to play one of Tide nation's favorite games: reckless speculation! No, seriously, we have a great chance to get this done right this time. Go chime in with your suggestions. Or, nominate yourselves, since we all know we can do a better job than anyone we actually pay to coach.

NIT Bracket 2015: Illinois the 3 seed, will face Alabama - The Champaign Room

The Illini (19-13, 9-9) have been given a No. 3 seed during the Selection Show on ESPNU and will face No. 6 seed Alabama in the first round on Tuesday at 8:00pm CT on ESPN. The winner of Illinois/Alabama will face the winner of No. 2 seed Miami (FL)/No. 7 seed NC Central in the second round of the tournament on Friday. Illinois, unfortunately, won't be able to host games in Champaign during the first three rounds of the NIT.

The Illini's State Farm Center is still being renovated, which leaves the No. 6 Tide as the host team for tomorrow night's game. We'll have NIT brackets, game previews and the like tomorrow.

Roll 'Bama Roll Previews the NCAA Tournament - Roll 'Bama Roll

Over the next 21 days we will be treated to 67 more games, sure to include a couple of stunning upsets and, quite probably, six more Kentucky tilts that will go more or less as expected.

And, we will have an RBR bracket challenge for the NCAAs, with prizes and giveaways! Do your homework, and listen to the accumulated wisdom of our basketball crew.

Men's Basketball NIT General Admission Tickets On Sale Now - ROLLTIDE.COM - University of Alabama Official Athletic Site

General admission tickets are on sale now for the University of Alabama men's basketball National Invitation Tournament (NIT) first round game against Illinois. The Crimson Tide and Fighting Illini will square off on Tuesday, March 17, at 8 p.m. at Coleman Coliseum. All seats for the NIT are general admission, except courtside (front court and back court) and baseline seating areas.

For those of you interested, let's send the Seniors out on an upbeat note. Grant is gone, and tickets are half the cost of a regular season tilt; I see no reason not to pack Coleman Coliseum tomorrow.

Spring Football

Alabama hunting for 9 new offensive starters | College Football

"I think the quarterback position is the one place where we haven't had a guy that ever went on the field, but it's no different than we were last year," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "Hopefully, we'll be fortunate enough to have someone step up for us like we did a year ago. So these are all challenges, but they are all opportunities for other players on our team who have ability to go out now, and it's their time to do it and they've got to mature into it."

This is absolutely the correct way to look at it if you're a competitor (pay attention Alec, Tyren, C. Black etc.) There aren't "losses" so much as there are opportunities. Go make the best of yours.

With impressive 40, Kenyan Drake shows progress in recovery from gruesome leg injury | AL.com

"He has done all the conditioning in the offseason program. He just hasn't been able to do it to the level of the other players. I think he's going to get more and more confident."

Some of Drake's dead-line speed is back, but conditioning not so much. And, as Saban notes a lot of his healing will be mental -- learning to trust his body again. Still just five months removed from a ghastly fracture, it is very encouraging that Drake is already participating in drills.

2 Alabama starters will likely miss entire spring with injuries, o-lineman on 'medical leave' | AL.com

Starting cornerback Cyrus Jones rode the exercise bike in a non-contact jersey next to first-team linebacker Denzel Devall. Neither, Saban said, are likely to practice all spring. Offensive lineman Grant Hill was not spotted and Saban said he was on "medical leave."

Now, this is not good news. Jones was playing injured last season and required sirgery in the offseason, Devall is recovering from ankle surgery. While expected to recovery, the last thing you want from a pass rushing LB is a clipped wing, and, given the talent behind him, Devall will have to hit the ground running to not lose ground on the depth chart. Best of luck to Grant Hill no matter what his enigmatic issues are. I think we can all speculate, arrive at the same general conclusion, but let's not.

Opening spring camp: Alabama Crimson Tide - ESPN

Question marks: There are plenty, but the most compelling question might be on defense, where Alabama allowed an average of 33 points and 493 yards per game to end the season.

Herein lies my major source of butthurt: 35 points should win the game against anyone; and it's not just on the secondary. The linebackers and defensive line were as poorly prepared for the option against Ohio State as any pee wee team you'll ever see. This is on the coaching staff: fix it.

Alabama Position-By-Position Breakdown: Offensive Line

Entering spring (and through one practice), Taylor and Bozeman look to be Alabama’s surest bets to fill the two guards voided by Kouandjio and Brown. Taylor battled Brown at right guard for much of last season, and while Brown ultimately started 12 of 14 games to Taylor’s two, the competition never truly ended.

I'm not sure I'd pencil Bozeman in just yet. Isaac Luatua has game experience and has the size to slot into the LG position.

National miscellany

If you want a top 2016 QB recruit, you better move quickly - SBNation.com

At 6'5 and 220 with incredible athleticism and the potential to play at 240-plus, he's drawn comparisons to Cam Newton or Cardale Jones. Pass is not yet a refined passer, but teams running the spread option don't care much. Even some elite pro-style programs believe Pass can be a great passer from the pocket. North Carolina, Alabama, Auburn and Louisville are major players. Alabama's recruitment, following its use of mobile QB Blake Sims, could signal a change in recruiting philosophy.

Half of the Top 10 QBs for the 2016 class are already off the board; Alabama is hot on Jawon Pass' heels. Simply from a talent standpoint, hearing the name "Cam Newton" has to make you somewhat tingly (followed by nauseated.) It's still dumb though, Mothership, to call Blake Sims a "dual threat QB." He was a passing QB that had running packages and athleticism...and took plenty of sacks and picks because he was always looking to make plays with his arm.

Muschamp back doing what he does best: Coaching defense

"This is about my sixth time doing this, as far as implementing a new system," Muschamp said. "A lot of trial and error through those years, and figuring out probably the best ways to get things taught in a timely manner for the players." His message: "Just give us effort right now and we'll coach the rest of it."

Reading between the lines, Coach Muschamp seems to be intimating what we already know: It takes some time, and plenty of mistakes, to learn a new defense. That said, Alabama has never particularly struggled been shutdown by Muschamp defenses (Texas or Florida) and I'm not going to stress this hire now. It honestly makes more of a difference in recruiting than, say, any other competent DC hiring.

The Crimson White :: :: Kevin Norwood proposes to Kayla Williams following senior night

“As far as our performance, I thought our ladies did some awesome stuff between doing really well on vault, and to me, it was kind of like we ignored the bar performance because we went over to balance beam and we did our job,” Alabama coach Dana Duckworth said.

Disappointing Sr. Night for Alabama gym, and not more than a little screwy judging, at least ends happily for Kayla Williams. Check out that link: Norwood may look more nervous than he's ever appeared before Alabama fans. Our best wishes to Kayla and Kevin as they start their new life together (and here's also hoping Seattle finally uses him to his full potential, where he's a ten-year player at the No. 2/3 WR spot.)

The law

Mississippi State's leading receiver arrested on drug charges | NCAA Football | Sporting News

De'Runnya Wilson, Mississippi State's leading receiver in 2014, was arrested on drug charges Friday night in south Alabama. According to Montgomery, Ala. TV station WSFA, Wilson and three other individuals were stopped for speeding on Highway 84 near the town of River Falls around 9 p.m. Friday. Officers detected the scent of marijuana in the vehicle, and a K9 unit alerted police to drugs in the vehicle.

Naughty, naughty! Wonder what an Ardmore weed bust is worth suspension-wise? The going SEC rate is two games and "internal discipline." Let's wait and see what Coach Mullen thinks (checks schedule; sees "LSU" week two; predicts one half vs. So. Miss.) And then there's this...not two hours ago, a Mississippi State offensive lineman was picked up on an assault warrant. Dan, what in the hell kind of county lockup are you running down there?

Professors unite for college football, basketball players to be employees - CBSSports.com

Said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott: “The USFL and XFL weren't very successful for a reason. The D-League isn't very successful for a reason. The public isn't very interested in development or semi-pro sports. The plaintiffs would like to turn college sports into semi-pro sports. I think that would kill college football or college basketball.”

LOL. Larry Scott throwing shade at a group of professors who want to be enablers for the destruction of college athletics. This in no way mitigates fliriting with Texas during Expansionpalooza, and the profs are being true idiots here, but I find the quote funny. You should read the article: literally everyone but Scott is infuriating.

O'Bannon vs. NCAA: A cheat sheet for NCAA's appeal of paying players - CBSSports.com

The Ed O'Bannon case returns to court March 17 -- interestingly, the first day of the NCAA Tournament -- for oral arguments in the NCAA's appeal of a federal judge's decision to allow football and men's basketball players to be compensated beyond the value of their scholarship.

Great recap of the proceedings as they stand on appeal. Also noted is the Northwestern NLRB case, where a year after the fact, the NLRB still hasn't certified the players' union, and, with a GOP majority in both houses, is very unlikely to do so.

Former Texas LB Emmanuel Acho says NCAA should pay players per snap | NCAA Football | Sporting News

On Friday at a SXSW panel in Austin, Texas, Acho gave his thoughts on student-athlete compensation. According to the Austin American-Statesman's Ryan Autullo, the current Eagles linebacker said the NCAA should pay football players per snap....Acho didn't hold back in his criticism of the NCAA and called the new $5,000-per-player stipend "a slap in the face."

As a scholarship recipient, I personally worked 30-35 extra hours each week, and generated almost $900,000.00 direct grant research for Alabama. I should have been paid for each class I attended. It's a slap in the face that every time you research my peer-reviewed articles on PubMed or Lexis Nexis that I do not receive compensation. The University of Alabama insulted me and profited off me and my work.

See how short-sighted and petulant that sounds? And, for what it's worth, I and thousands of other grant-writing, research students at universities throughout the country directly put more money in my alma mater's pocket than this 6th round draft pick/reserve linebacker.

Finally

Fresno State's beloved Bulldog mascot was killed by a bee | FOX Sports

Upsetting news out of the Fresno State community: Victor E. Bulldog II, the school's mascot, suddenly passed away on Thursday. The school said the Bulldog died from anaphylactic shock -- an aggressive allergic reaction -- after getting stung by a bee. Victor E. Bulldog II would have turned 3 years old in April.

RIP, Victor E., one of America's cutest and underrated bulldog mascots.