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Jumbo Package: Wednesday, 8 April 2015

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Your daily dose of -oh, hey! finally a bunch of good news!

This man holds the Heavyweight Belt!
This man holds the Heavyweight Belt!
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Hoops

ROLLTIDE.COM - Coach Avery Johnson Press Conference

University of Alabama Director of Athletics Bill Battle will formally introduce Avery Johnson as the Crimson Tide's new head men's basketball coach at a press conference scheduled for Wednesday morning on the UA campus.

Finally, we get to hear from the man himself. Coverage begins at 11:00 CT and can be free livestreamed from Tide TV here. We'll obviously cover it live and have reactions thereafter. For my part, I'm beginning to grow more and more excited about this hire.

Gregg Marshall Money: What does $3.3M at Wichita equal elsewhere? - CBSSports.com

...if Marshall's suitors in Tuscaloosa were paying him the same 15.11 percent of their most recent yearly expenses Marshall will earn at Wichita, he'd be getting a raise of some $10 million ... and his total won't even be the largest figure on this list.

Interesting look at what 15% of an entire athletics budget looks like at various programs and sports. Yes, that is the ungodly percentage the Shockers put on the table to retain Marshall. I'm not sure many other places in the country would mortgage their future quite like that.

Sorry, Bo: There Is No One-and-Done Solution Out There - Team Speed Kills

...coaches didn't cause the problem, though, and they all would love to see a real solution. None of them have the ability to create one, because again, this is 100% an issue caused by the NBA. If the NBA cared about what the college basketball world thought on the matter, it wouldn't have created the age limit as it exists.

This is a fine piece of writing from Year 2 over at TSK. The problem, of course, is that the NBA doesn't have quite the unspoken collusion with the NCAA that it does with football programs, and that makes perfect sense. My non-humble opinion is that the issue goes much deeper - to how the NBA is packaged and sold to viewers. The NBA is a league marketed around individual star power, be that talent 18 or 35 years old. These competing interests will never align, and college hoops suffers.

Spring Notes

Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland receives championship belt for scrimmage performance | AL.com

The defensive coaches [were] like, 'Don't worry about messing up. I just want to see everybody be physical and tough and run to the ball and just be crazy - a bunch of crazed dogs running to the ball and trying to get tackles.'"

Alabama is focusing its spring efforts on forcing turnovers, an area of deficiency the past two season (see also Mel Tucker's hiring) and ball pursuit, with Reggie Ragland being the leader on this side of the ball. All respect to Trey DePriest, but this sort of vocal leadership and de facto spokesmanship were simply lacking last season. FYI: You have to check out the picture at that link -- terrifying.

Alabama Crimson Tide RB Derrick Henry ready to be workhorse - SEC Blog - ESPN

"They’ve always had two guys," Henry said of Alabama. "Mark [Ingram] and Trent [Richardson], Trent and Eddie [Lacy], Eddie and T.J. [Yeldon]. That’s how it’s been the best here. I’m just waiting on my turn to have a chance to start."

That is exactly how you sell blue chip RBs on the program, "early play, tons of hype, chance to win championships, and then you will get your time to mentor." The tandem system also has the added benefit of pushing both starters to excel, while giving options 1C-1F the impetus to crack the rotation. Saban's management of running backs has been superb -- you just don't hear many selfish stories from this group.

Competitors for Alabama inside linebacker job have both had 'really good' springs, Nick Saban says | AL.com

Reuben's had a really good spring. Shaun Dion has had a really good spring. So I'm really pleased with the way those guys have improved and developed. Keith Holcombe has really shown that he can play that position. Walker Jones has actually done a much better job this spring. So I'm really encouraged by all five of those guys and how they've played.

Going into the combine, Jalston Fowler particularly made note of Shaun Dion as a player to watch, and I'm looking forward to seeing this kid play.

Rookie DB Ronnie Harrison making an impression on Alabama Crimson Tide - SEC Blog - ESPN

"Ronnie is a bright guy," Saban said of Harrison. "For a guy that's a new freshman in the system, he's done extremely well. He does have a lot of athletic ability and got great size and speed. Really has done a nice job."

Harrison's development has been a revelation. For a unit that is perhaps at its lowest ebb since 2007, any development and depth at safety is welcome news.

Can't beat 'em, join 'em?

Up first is OJ Howard talking about Alabama's uncharacteristically-sloppy scrimmage. Therein, he alludes to "a different kind of offense." How different?

Could Alabama be speeding up offense? TE says Tide offense making a few changes | AL.com

"But I felt like for the most part -- trying to learn a different offense kind of -- first time as a whole unit together, I think we did pretty well as an offense... "I think it's important," Howard said. "It gives us time to score really fast, put a lot of points on the board, and that's what we like to do."

AL.com beat guys (and Howard's statements) intimate it may be a matter of speed. But, I think it's speed and something else, and far more radical. To wit:

Quarterback Xavier Gaines will commit this summer after these 5 official visits | AL.com

"The offense they put together with Blake Sims was nice. Alabama's going to have a running quarterback. (Kiffin) takes gambles sometimes, and I'm with him on that."

When you're courting a mobile quarterback, that has gone on record now saying Alabama is implementing a mobile quarterback, and combine those statements with Howard's notes on quick scoring and hurry-up, I fear the era of manball may be drawing to a close. That is not to say the HUNHS can't be physical -- Auburn would very much disagree (as would the results.) Still, I hate to see Alabama surrender to the change on this one (make your own backwards Alabama joke here.)

Miscellany

College football conference title game restrictions to be relaxed by 2016 - CBSSports.com

The Big 12, which is the only Power Five league without a championship game, is merely seeking the option of staging such a contest with 10 teams. The ACC's ultimate intentions with a 14-team league in football, one which already holds a championship game, are not clear.

So, the B12 has decided it wants to petition for an exception to twelve teams, and that makes sense. It is inequitable to every other conference to have to compete with teams that don't play the extra game, and is a detriment to the B12 contenders. What the ACC is proposing -- a three division conference -- is just a baffling mess, unless Swofford is some sort of savant working at his own machinations that will be revealed as inspired genius. Mainly, it just seems weird.

Spring hot seats: Top 10 coaches fighting for their jobs in 2015 | FOX Sports

[4. Al Golden, Miami Hurricanes] ... Talent certainly isn't an issue for Miami. However, this program is still looking for its first appearance in the ACC Championship Game since joining the league in 2004.

Hot seat pieces are as intriguing and predictable as renewing your car insurance. This one, however, is interesting in that it presages what I think could be an offseason hire by the 'Canes: Lane Kiffin to Miami. He's a coastal bro, it's an international city, the ACC is winnable, and Miami has oodles of young talent. Also, his brashness and experience will sell very well in South Beach. Just a thought.

Alabama Notes

Softball Shuts Out UAB, 10-0, for Patrick Murphy's 900th Career Win - ROLLTIDE.COM

Alabama used a big fifth inning to earn a 10-0 run-rule shutout over UAB Tuesday night in Birmingham. The win gives Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy his 900th career victory. The win gives Murphy a 900-255 all-time record, including a 28-20 record as interim head coach at Northwest Missouri State in 1995 and an 872-235 record in 16-plus seasons as the head coach at Alabama.

Well done, Coach Murphy. Your decision to remain at Alabama is one we are grateful for everyday.

The Crimson White :: :: ​Two track and field athletes receive weekly honors

Senior sprinter Remona Burchell was named Women’s National Athlete of the Week for NCAA Division I by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association after opening her 2015 outdoor season by running the 100 meters in 11.04 seconds

Burchell recorded the second-fastest wind-aided 100m in Alabama history. Which is excellent. Oh, but we're not done. For the second time this year...

Crimson Tide's Alex Amankwah Earns SEC Men's Runner of the Week Award - ROLLTIDE.COM - University of Alabama Official Athletic Site

University of Alabama senior Alex Amankwah has been named the Southeastern Conference's Men's Runner of the Week for the second time in 2015, the SEC Office announced Tuesday. Amankwah earned the honor after winning the men's 800 meters on Friday at the Florida Relays in Gainesville, Fla.

Track is one of those cases, like most others in college athletics, where throwing money at the problem is its own solution. Alabama has risen quickly to become a player, and we owe both the impetus for that improvement (and the money) to the football program and Nick Saban. That said, well done, Alex...again.

Finally, all jokes aside, Auburn is actually a cult

Ring Night | Student Government Association | Auburn University

At the end of each semester before the Ring Ceremony, every class ring is placed on the Auburn seal to gain the Auburn spirit, but also becomes cursed when it touches the Seal. At the Ring Ceremony, ring recipients will dip their ring in a bowl of water from the President’s fountain, reversing the curse, but keeping the Auburn spirit that their ring represents.

Curses, magic seals, stepping on cracks, haunted water fountains? Bruh...that's just weird as hell. How weird? Wanna' see the video?