Happy Friday, everyone. A few links of interest for your perusal this morning:
For the first time in program history, Alabama's women's basketball team celebrated a win over Tennessee in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide took down the Lady Vols 54-46 on Thursday night in Foster Auditorium. It was the first win over Tennessee since March 3, 1984 as Alabama went 0-19 against the SEC power in home games.
Congratulations to Coach Kristy Curry and team. No, this year's Lady Vols are not the juggernaut that they have been through the years, but this is still a landmark accomplishment for the Tide. The last time this happened, Prince's "When Doves Cry" was topping the charts, "Beverly Hills Cop" led at the box office, Ronald Reagan was in the White House, Ray Perkins was roaming the Alabama sidelines, and Sony introduced the 3.5" disk that would render its floppy counterpart obsolete. Roll Tide, Ladies.
Players are tasked with doing as many repetitions of 225 pounds at the bench press as possible. It's another factor that impact draft stock if a player either has a really good or bad performance. There was a bit of both for Alabama players on Thursday. Center Ryan Kelly led all former Crimson Tide players with 26 reps, among the best for any player that lifted on Thursday. Fellow offensive lineman Dominick Jackson also had a solid performance with 20 reps.
Derrick Henry, the former Heisman Trophy winner, was among the best running backs with 23 reps.
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But thanks to a coaching change and a multimillion-dollar investment, basketball season in Tuscaloosa is suddenly something more than those few months between fall and spring football. Alabama is 16-11 over all, 7-8 in the Southeastern Conference, and had reeled off five straight wins before losses to Mississippi State last Saturday and Kentucky on Tuesday dinged the Tide’s N.C.A.A. tournament plans. The changes started last March when Battle fired Anthony Grant after an eighth-place finish in the SEC. After Battle’s first choice, Gregg Marshall of Wichita State, turned down the job, Battle pivoted to the former N.B.A. player and coach, 50, whose hiring seemed to signal Alabama’s desire to lure N.B.A.-caliber talent to its campus.
That is all for tomorrow, though, and fans prefer what’s happening today. Speaking on that, Alabama’s today already — in one season — appears to be in a better place than it was yesterday. Maybe that’s only in perception or possibly only due to comparisons to the Grant era, but that’s all anyone has. Honestly, it is all anyone needs to know. The Crimson Tide are in good hands with Johnson. Oh, and speaking of today. Well, yeah… the Tide still have a puncher’s chance to go to the NCAA Tournament — not something many could have said with most previous versions of this basketball program at this point in the season.
The Tide sit firmly on the bubble. Whether they finish strong and make the tournament or not, this season has certainly exceeded expectations given the returning roster. The future is bright.
For the third straight season Alabama has no clear-cut starting quarterback. Cottonwood High School graduate Cooper Bateman is the presumptive front-runner after he lost out to Jake Coker last year. Blake Barnett is the five-star future franchise QB. David Cornwell was a four-star recruit who could play at dozens of FBS schools. Three of Alabama's national championships have come with a first-year starter behind center as Nick Saban has proved the best way to develop a quarterback is to surround him with future NFL players.
Wonder which candidate the Salt Lake City paper is pulling for?
To no surprise, the football program kept the entire athletic department in the black with total revenues of nearly $100 million: specifically $95,132,301, with incurred expenditures that totaled $48,640,971. That profit of $46,491,330 was down nearly $7 million from 2014. Media rights fees brought in by the football program, including broadcasting fees from television, radio, internet and digital, were more than $20 million. Those rights also included the revenues from the SEC Network. A total of $37 million was profited from ticket sales, and almost $20 million in private contributions.
4 - Dan Mullen. He's taken the Bulldogs to new heights but at some point, Mullen will need to break through the ceiling he himself has raised.
5 - Bret Bielema. The king of November might need to start winning some games in September and October if he wants to hang around in Fayetteville.
6 - Gus Malzahn. It's do-or-die time for Malzahn in Auburn. We may know by October 1 whether or not Malzahn will be Auburn's coach in 2017.
7 - Kevin Sumlin. On and off-field issues have plagued Texas A&M and the once-fast-rising coach has fallen out of favor.
3. Jim McElwain, Florida (6) -- 10-4, SEC East title, Citrus Bowl loss vs. Michigan Breakdown: Down the road, we may look back at Jim McElwain's 2015 as one of the most impressive single-season coaching jobs in recent Florida history. Unfortunately, the way the Gators limped to the finish line with three straight losses makes that harder to support at the moment, but if he can sustain success in Gainesville I think it's because they navigated an extremely difficult set of circumstances and emerge with 10 wins and a division title. After squeezing everything he could out of that offensive line and Will Grier, they had to completely adjust following Grier's suspension. The offense never really looked good late in the year, but the Gators won ugly and made the SEC Championship Game for the first time since Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow were in town.
So, Alabama continues to make crazy money thanks to Nick Saban. Meanwhile, a guy who was nearly fired last season finds himself more secure than four of his division counterparts. Such is life in the West. This will be a key season for Coach Mac as the rebuilding job begins in earnest.
Now up to 6-foot-4, 240-pounds, Bell projects as a JACK linebacker for the Tide. He'll face tough competition to get on the playing field at that position -- Tim Williams, Ryan Anderson and Rashaan Evans could all compete for the starting spot there -- but is excited to do all he can to make an impact. He enrolled in January and has spent the last two months working with strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran to get himself ready for spring practice in March.
I have a feeling Christian is going to have a lot of people pulling for him.
The lineup includes Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, quarterback Jake Coker and All-SEC cornerback Cyrus Jones. Henry will be at Parkway Place mall on March 5 while Coker and Jones will be at Parkway Place on March 12.
If you're near Huntsville on the 12th, go get yourself an autograph.
That's about it for today. Have a great weekend.