Happy Friday, everyone. As we go into the first weekend of at least 52 that Alabama will be the defending national champions, we'll start off with the big news:
Alabama will hold its annual NFL early entrant decision press conference tomorrow at 2 p.m.— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) January 14, 2016
Being that Ryan Anderson, Tim Williams, and Eddie Jackson have already announced their plans to return, you have to wonder if the rest have decided to go. We will presumably be hearing from A'Shawn Robinson, Jonathan Allen, O.J. Howard, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Reuben Foster. Hope for the best.
Of course, we already know that our Heisman trophy winner has made the inevitable decision to turn pro:
The Heisman Trophy winner rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns in Alabama's national championship win over Clemson on Monday night. Henry, at 6-foot-3, 242 pounds, ran for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns this season. ESPN's Todd McShay has Henry rated as the No. 2 running back in the draft and No. 37 overall. Henry trails only Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott, who has already declared for the draft, in McShay's rankings.
Thank you for everything, Mr. Henry. You have certainly earned this opportunity.
The senior transfer improved from a "priority free agent" to "late-rounder" during his dominant College Football Playoff run (621 passing yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions).
"The way that Coker went about his business after he got the job back (in September), the way he finished off when everybody thought he'd be a liability; he became a plus for them," Kiper said during a Thursday conference call. "He made some great throws when he had to."
Good news for Jake. Of course, NFL scouts may be higher on him than many realize to begin with. Before the Cotton Bowl had been played, one such scout reportedly said, "He has size and a pro arm. I think he can be a better pro than college quarterback." Hopefully he gets a shot. Kiper also mentioned that Henry should go in the third round.
Sandwiched between games with top-20 teams, Johnson flew to Arizona on Monday to watch Alabama's football team win its fourth national title of the Nick Saban era. After Wednesday night's win, Johnson described his schedule from Monday morning through Tuesday. "The guys, we had an early-morning, 7:00 practice and afterwards I got on a plane out there and got back at 6:00 in the morning after the game," Johnson said. "Go home and you sleep for two hours, then you come to your office and work, watch film and do whatever you have to do. While you're on the plane you're working."
Avery's energy has, well, energized the basketball program. Oh, and did you see his moves?
Good stuff. Coach Johnson's team has a big one tomorrow in Vanderbilt's godawful gym. If you haven't noticed, Clemson sits 4-1 in the ACC with wins over Louisville and Duke. That win is looking stronger by the day. If the Tide can stay above water in SEC play, a NCAA tournament berth is a real possibility. Simply amazing.
But that's the thing about this program under Saban. Its accomplishments have never come easy no matter how smooth things may have looked on the surface. A dynasty lives as long as it never stops grinding, and that won't change as long as Saban's in charge. Another national title or two seems inevitable with time the only variable. Said it before and it bears repeating. Saban may never admit it, but people close to him believe he won't quit until his national championship ring collection gets to six, to Bear Bryant country, at least. So what's the real answer to the question of the day? Where does the dynasty go from here? That's easy. It goes back to work.
Something about a process, I've heard.
Sometimes we make predictions ― bold ones can be divisive. For Peter Burns, his was made live on one of the more listened-to sports talk radio shows. Six months later, the SEC Network anchor can laugh about the time he predicted an 8-5 Alabama season the July before Nick Saban won his fourth national title in seven seasons. It's stalked Burns on social media "every single day" since. But he owns it. "If you can't laugh at yourself when you're talking sports, you're probably in the wrong industry," Burns said in a Wednesday phone interview with AL.com. "For me, I hope that a lot of Alabama fans appreciate the fact that I've come to grips with how horrible that prediction was."
There is wrong, there is very wrong... and there is this guy.
Jed York announced the decision on Twitter, and that wraps up a week and a half long process. The team was deciding between Kelly and Mike Shanahan, and decided on the recent Philadelphia Eagles head coach. He was fired after his personnel control went haywire.
Guess Chip isn't going to be our new QB coach, y'all.
Now it’s the Power 4. Those leagues could close off scheduling, break away, and with title games form a de facto 8-team playoff. That change feels substantial. Of course, it may just be a modest scenario. Cable TV could be dead in ten years. College football may be streaming itself (or partnering with Google etc. to do so). The resource pool could be very limited. How strong is traditional conference affinity? Could we see an NFL-style "Super League" with 30-40 teams and set scheduling? The ESPN/Cable well appears to be drying up. College Football facing a potential revenue crisis appears to be more "probable" than "possible." It’s not clear how the sport, as constituted, would weather that without radical changes.
In case you hadn't heard, the ratings for the College Football Playoff were abysmal this season. There were several factors at play there, but there is no way around it: ESPN is struggling. The article mentions a survey where 50% of respondents say they would drop the ESPN suite, at a presumed cost of $8 a month, if cable channels were ever sold a la carte. Big TV dollars have driven the windfall college football programs have received in recent seasons, and major changes will certainly be in order if some of those dollars go away. Good news for fans is that one of the major changes mentioned is more marquee regular season matchups.
That's about all we have for today. We will r
eport the news on the NFL decisions as it comes in. (Ed. Note: #wellactually. We'll have a thread up around 1:30 and will be covering the announcements live at the 2:00 p.m. CST presser.)