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Jumbo Package: Thursday 9 April 2015

All about Avery...

Welcome to Tuscaloosa, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson.
Welcome to Tuscaloosa, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson.
Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

Commentary: Alabama hits the jackpot with Johnson's skill, energy

Here's what the University of Alabama is getting in Avery Johnson. A winner. A leader. A teacher. A motivator. An engaging personality. A community connector. A high-energy coach with old-school principals, but can relate to today's athlete. A coach with high aspirations, but realistic about the work it's going to take to turn Alabama into a national power.

By all accounts, Johnson knocked it out of the park at his introductory press conference. No question that he has the pedigree outside of college experience. I was particularly encouraged by the mention of his relationship with Ben Jobe and the impact that Jobe has had on his life. It seems that on some level he is motivated by a desire to follow in those footsteps and impact young players in the same ways. Sounds good to me.

Avery Johnson embraces Nick Saban, the elephant in the room at Alabama |

"Coach Battle and the University of Alabama were so kind to send a private plane to pick me up," Johnson said. "I would've rode the bus here to have an opportunity to be in a program with Coach Nick Saban. I have a lot of respect for him. "I'm going to embrace his star power and the star power of the football team. I think it can be very beneficial for basketball. I don't think anybody's tapped into it the way they should. Coach Saban is willing to walk alongside me, and he's going to help me in any way he can."

Video: Avery Johnson address Alabama football team

Johnson walked to the middle of the field, a crimson coaching polo replacing the suit he had worn all morning, to meet head football coach Nick Saban. Johnson, the new men's basketball coach, was introduced to the Alabama players and then proceeded to recite a brief speech before the players returned to individual drills and the rest of practice.

Football will always be king at Alabama, but sounds like Avery is looking at that as the benefit to the basketball program that it should be.

Alabama practice report: Avery Johnson speaks, cornerback takes snaps at safety |

-- The third-down package ran through a few plays. Tony Brown and Bradley Sylve were the first-group cornerbacks with Hootie Jones, Ronnie Harrison and Jabriel Washington on the back end. Reuben Foster was at middle linebacker next to Reggie Ragland.

-- Rising junior Eddie Jackson appeared to be working at a safety position with the second group. There's a lot of mixing and matching in spring practice, but that had not been seen before.

-- Marlon Humphrey and Anthony Averett were with the second group at cornerback as last year's starter Cyrus Jones is out for the spring

Sounds like Harrison has a real chance to start as a true freshman, though Eddie Jackson working there is an interesting development worth keeping an eye on. As you'll see in the press conference video at the bottom, Saban has reached the point of spring where he's mad at everybody.

Alabama Crimson Tide's Nick Saban faces new challenges as he tries to keep his dynasty on top

"There's no question about it. It's completely different," Saban told "What it takes to be successful never really changes, but people's attitude toward what you have to do to be successful starts to change when you have lots of success. After we won two national championships in a row in 2011 and 2012, that's when it really changed for us. "The last two teams, that's when I saw the challenge was a little different, but that's something that excites me. That keeps me young."

New challenges keeping him young are music to every Alabama fan's ears.

Top 10 Most Overrated College Football Players of All-Time

Please McCarron defenders, go ahead and bring up that he threw for 30 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in 2012 and for 28 touchdowns and 7 interceptions his senior year. I’ll respond by saying nobody had an easier time not throwing interceptions than he did with that massive offensive line. He could sit back there longer than anybody in football history to make a throw, so that he actually has more than 0 interceptions is kind of pathetic.

Also overrated according to young Caleb: Staubach, Archie Griffin, Tommie Frazier, and Tim Tebow. These takes are so hot you might want to wear protective eyewear to keep your retinas from burning.

Silas Nacita: once-homeless Baylor RB permanently ineligible - College Football -

The benefits Nacita accepted included a place to live, food and financial support given to him by "acquaintances from home" in Bakersfield, Calif., as Nacita detailed in a tweet back in February. On March 25, Nacita was informed that he was permanently ineligible. Baylor confirmed the information to Kramer.

This is a story worth checking out if you haven't followed it already. Nacita came to Baylor as a walk-on with no money and no place to live. There is a waiver process that allows schools to apply to be able to help student-athletes with food and housing in the case of extreme financial hardship, but according to the NCAA Baylor never pursued it. Needless to say, a young man who was literally homeless being declared ineligible by his school for accepting impermissible benefits that the player swears was nothing more than basic needs isn't a great look.

Morgantown Banned Outdoor Couches To Stop West Virginia Students Lighting Them On Fire | The Big Lead

West Virginia has become infamous for couch burning. The Morgantown City Council is attempting to put a stop to it. A new city ordinance will ban upholstered furniture from being kept outdoors. The city claims there have been more than 3,000 such fires in the last decade.

Only in Morgantown would there be a need for a law banning outdoor furnishings.

Northern Kentucky University Athletics - John Brannen welcomed as men’s basketball head coach

"I am humbled and honored to be the next men's basketball coach at Northern Kentucky University," said Brannen. "I want to thank President Mearns, Ken Bothof and the rest of the committee for their belief in me and giving me this opportunity to be a head coach. NKU holds a special place in my heart and my wife Lisa, daughters Katelyn and Jaylee and I are thrilled to be back home.

Congratulations and good luck to Coach Brannen.

Tennessee Football Players Ride Mopeds In Full Pads | The Big Lead

Some Tennessee Volunteers football players decided to ride to and from football practice on mopeds in their full uniform. QB Josh Dobbs got a lift from a teammate. Dabo Swinney likes their style.

Sounds about right.

Press conference video and some high points:

- A'Shawn Robinson sprained an ankle and a knee, nothing serious

- Bo Scarbrough had surgery and the team hopes to get him back this season

- The QBs have been largely inconsistent and the team isn't anywhere near naming a first, second, or third stringer

- Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake have been excellent, said some young players, presumably Damien Harris, will likely have opportunity like Mark, Trent, and TJ did

- Reuben Foster has had a good spring and avoided injury

- Tim Williams, Dillon Lee, and Rashaan Evans are all getting first team reps at outside linebacker

- Deionte Thompson is working at WR, an experiment at this point

- Even childrens' Easter Egg hunts have a process in the Saban household