Happy Friday, everyone, on Avery Johnson's 51st birthday. Happy Birthday, Coach! Spring practice is certainly dominating the Alabama news, but we'll start with a piece from Alex Scarborough on Lane Kiffin:
As he says less, we're beginning to know Kiffin more for his coaching ability. His actions thus far at Alabama have been without fault. He's helped the Tide to a 26-3 record, breathing life into what some saw as a stagnant offense. He turned Amari Cooper into a Heisman Trophy finalist one year and Derrick Henry into a Heisman winner the next. Getting Cooper 100-plus balls wasn't altogether surprising, but the fact that Kiffin went all-in with Henry, feeding the beast for 5 yards a pop rather than putting the ball in the air in search of bigger gains, was a mild upset over Kiffin's previous M.O.
The biggest feather in his cap, however, is what he's done with a pair of quarterbacks many had left for dead.
Scarborough goes on to speculate about Kiffin's candidacy as Saban's successor, an idea that is floated on a semi-regular basis these days. Lane has certainly avoided the controversies that plagued his head coaching career while showcasing his coaching acumen. Should Saban decide to hang 'em up in the next few years, could Kiffin be a viable replacement? Sounds like a poll...
"So I feel like everybody has to come back that came back, work and help all the younger guys get better so we can get back to where we just came from. We are starting all over."
The defensive unit has seen many players shift to different positions. Most notably, junior pass-rushing specialist Rashaan Evans has been working with inside linebackers for all three spring practices. Evans played on the outside last season and frequently came in on third downs to give speed off of the edge.
"I mean, he brings a different kind of energy," outside linebacker Ryan Anderson said. "He's definitely more of a players' coach. A lot of the guys are more willing to sell out for the guy because he's willing to do it for us. It's a different style."
After leaving Alabama following the 2012 title season, Pruitt won another BCS championship as Florida State's defensive coordinator in 2013. He went to Georgia last year in the same role before returning to Tuscaloosa this December. Anderson's defined a players coach quite simply.
"He puts his players first," Anderson said. We all appreciate that."
Five-star linebacker Lyndell Wilson from Carver-Montgomery announced on Twitter Wednesday night that he has a torn labrum and will undergo surgery next week. Wilson told AL.com's Drew Champlin that he will be out 3-4 months, which means he should be back before the Tide starts fall camp in early August.
Alabama's annual Golden Flake A-Day Spring Game is getting star treatment in terms of its television network this spring. The April 16 scrimmage will kick off at 2 p.m. CT and will air live on ESPN, the Southeastern Conference announced Wednesday. The Crimson Tide's spring game is the only SEC spring game ESPN will broadcast this spring.
Pruitt leaving a UGA defense, that lacked top end talent in the secondary and had little depth up front, in favor of the talent he inherited in Tuscaloosa has to be like a kid sneaking out of the library and landing at Chuck E. Cheese's. Guys who are as versatile as Rashaan Evans, Ryan Anderson, and Minkah Fitzpatrick present a nightmare for opponents. Barring a disaster, Mack Wilson won't be counted on this season (at least on defense) but he is expected to be ready to go just the same.
Remembering Touchdown Turner:
It wasn't in his DNA to point fingers even as more and more evidence had begun to point to the potentially devastating effects of too many helmet-to-helmet hits, the kind he'd gladly delivered and willingly absorbed throughout his distinguished career. That day in that radio studio, I saw more strength in Kevin Turner than I'd ever seen from him on a football field, leading a toss sweep or protecting against a blitz.
This is a nice piece from Scarbinsky in tribute to a man who involuntarily became a poster child for concussions in football. By all accounts, ALS is a painful, debilitating disease and a horrible way to go. That Turner was able to battle the disease while maintaining the positive outlook he became known for is a tribute to his character. He will certainly be missed, and his contributions to player safety enhancement will be a small piece of his vast legacy. Roll Tide, Kevin.
Saban in the news again:
The dynasty was over. That was the consensus of the pundits after Alabama’s 43–37 loss to Ole Miss in its third game of the season last September. The famed "process" that Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban, 64, had used to win three national titles in football at Bama—while boosting graduation rates—and one at LSU had run its course, and the competition had caught up. Saban challenged his team: "How are you going to respond?" When Alabama defeated Clemson 45–40 for another title on Jan. 11, 2016, he had his answer, and the dynasty—and Saban’s legacy as a leader—remained intact.
While meeting with reporters Thursday night prior to a speaking engagement in Mobile, Saban said he did not know in advance about the Fortune list. He seemed flattered, however, if a little bewildered. "I guess that I get a lot more credit than I deserve obviously, but it's quite an honor," Saban said. "A lot of people contribute to that in our organization, and I certainly appreciate what they do."
Not sure about ranking any coach among the greatest leaders in the world, personally, but good for Nick. He's certainly the greatest in college football.
On Nov. 16, a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge found the former Alabama All-American guilty of five counts of animal neglect and two misdemeanor drug charges and set a Jan. 5 date for his sentencing hearing. That hearing was postponed until Thursday because a required psychological evaluation of Cody had not been completed in January.
Ugh. Moving on....
"It will be convenient for customers," Agresti said about the 4.14-acre location on which the dealership is planned near boutique Hotel Preston. "It will be close to the airport." Agresti, along with Nick and Terry Saban, already co-owns the Mercedes-Benz of Birmingham and Infiniti of Birmingham car dealerships in Hoover, Ala.
Nick has every right to put a dealership in Nashville, since he owns Tennessee.
Alabama senior Lauren Beers was voted the Southeastern Conference Gymnastics Scholar-Athlete of the Year by the league's coaches it was announced by the conference office Thursday. With Beers' honor, Alabama gymnasts have now won six SEC Gymnastics Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors in the 13-year history of the award. She joins Kim Jacob (2012, 2013 and 2014), Kayla Hoffman (2011) and Michelle Reeser (2005) since the award's inception in 2004.
Sounds like a nice tradition has started - let's keep it going. Congratulations and Roll Tide, Lauren.
Finally, in what has become a disturbing trend, another college football player in Alabama was killed in an auto accident, this time Alabama A&M defensive back Danny Johnson. Condolences go out to his family and those connected with the Bulldogs.
That's about it for today. Have a great weekend.