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Jumbo Package: Monday, 14 March 2016

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Your daily dose of news and notes...

Things are definitely looking up.
Things are definitely looking up.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. Despite a disappointing end to a solid first season under Avery Johnson, the Tide will get to play some postseason ball:

Alabama 'defied the odds' to secure NIT bid versus Creighton

"Obviously, coming into this season, there weren’t many people that picked us to participate in any postseason tournament, but we’ve defied the odds," Johnson said on a conference call Sunday evening. "We’ve played some pretty good basketball all season in a tough SEC conference and we’ve also had a tough non-conference schedule. … So this will be another great opportunity for basketball education for our team, and playing another meaningful game where you win or go home."

The Tide lost to Creighton in the first round of the 2012 NCAA tournament, the last time Alabama went dancing.  The game tips tomorrow at 8pm CDT and will be televised on ESPN.

Football news:

Nick Saban explains decision to hire Brent Key

The Alabama head coach hired ex-Central Florida offensive coordinator and running backs coach Brent Key as the Crimson Tide's interior offensive line coach, leaving former UA offensive line coach Mario Cristobal to coach Alabama's tight ends and offensive tackles and sending former tight ends coach Bobby Williams to an off-field role.

Following the Crimson Tide's first practice of the spring season Friday, Saban explained why he decided to hire Key.

"We interviewed Brent when we hired an offensive line coach three years ago," Saban said Friday afternoon, "was very impressed with him and thought that he would be somebody we'd always want to hire if we had the opportunity to. We felt like this was a good fit for him. It's obvious he had a lot of experience, he's got a lot of energy and enthusiasm and he's got a great reputation. We've been pleased so far with the progress we've made with him."

The mark of a great CEO is a willingness and ability to assemble an all-star staff. Saban has done this, with outstanding recruiting and coaching across the board. It will be interesting to see if Burns has any new wrinkles for the special teams units.

Nick Saban updates Tony Brown's suspension status | AL.com

The reserve rising junior cornerback is still facing suspensions after he was sent home for a "violation of team rules" at the Cotton Bowl in December. Alabama has never explicitly stated what Brown's violation was or why it continues to impact him. "He is facing some suspensions," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "When I get the final data on that, I'll let you know."

Perhaps the headline should read, "Saban declines to update Tony Brown's suspension status." In any event, this isn't good.

Calvin Ridley 40 time among notable numbers from Alabama spring testing

I normally don't link slide shows, but this one warrants an exception. The athleticism on this roster is incredible, with guys at multiple positions posting scores that would have ranked highly at the NFL Combine. Of note: Robert Foster, Tony Brown, and Anthony Averett all tied for the fastest time in the 40 at 4.34, just a shade better than Calvin Ridley at 4.35. Cooper Bateman is the fastest QB on the roster and would have been the fastest at the Combine. Jalen Hurts isn't far behind. Blake Barnett has increased his bench press 50 pounds since last spring, now pushing up 295. OJ Howard unsurprisingly posted NFL-type numbers, and Daron Payne sounds like a future top 10 pick: 500-lb. bench, 600-lb. squat, and his 4.93 in the 40 would have topped the list at the Combine for all defensive linemen over 295 lbs. By the way, he weighs in at 319. The entire list is interesting and worth your time.

#Crootin ':

Nick Saban to four-star linebacker: ‘That's my baby'

"The best linebacker in college football this season is going to be Reuben Foster because he's going to be a senior," Moultry said. "Reggie (Ragland) was (the best) last year, so (Foster) is going to follow that path."

The nation's No. 8 inside linebacker is looking for a family environment at the college he attends, and he believes Alabama offers that to him. But the best thing he heard from the Crimson Tide staff on Friday was a simple yet powerful six-word message.

"We can get you where you need to be," Moultry said of Alabama's message to him.

And that's the NFL.

If you're a linebacker with NFL aspirations, and your final choice is to play for Nick Saban or Gus Malzahn...

5-star Ohio State commit Shaun Wade sports Alabama gear

Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian Academy's Shaun Wade, a five-star cornerback and Ohio State commit, donned a different shade of red than his customary scarlet this afternoon at the IMG Tournament. The 6-foot-1, 177-pound elite defensive back wore Alabama shorts while competing in the event.

This is one to keep an eye on. As great as the past couple of cycles have been with the DBs, many of those guys will soon head to the NFL. Such is life for an elite program.

Other stuff:

Al.com has some nice practice footage of Blake Barnett and Damien Harris...

Keith Holcombe is playing well on the diamond...

The mother ship shows us what a 64-team football bracket would have looked like last season.

Last but not least, our condolences go out to the family of Stillman College football player Jordaneous Woolverton, who was killed in a car accident on Friday while heading to Miami for Spring Break. Jordaneous was an Anniston native and played his high school ball there. Fortunately his roommates and fellow passengers survived the crash.

That's about it for today. Have a great week, everyone.

Roll Tide.