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Weekend Jumbo Package and Open Thread

Baseball, softball take center stage, but there's a ton of football weirdness going on nationally.

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LSU needs Harris to be as good as Joke Coker. I don't see it.
LSU needs Harris to be as good as Joke Coker. I don't see it.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

First up...

Baseball Travels to College Station to Face Third-Ranked Texas A&M - ROLLTIDE.COM - University of Alabama Official Athletic Site

The Crimson Tide travels to College Station for a three-game set against third-ranked Texas A&M. The trip to Texas will Alabama's second in a line of three straight weekend series against top-10 foes. The Crimson Tide and Aggies are scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. CT start in the series opener on Friday. Saturday's game is set to start at 2 p.m. CT, while Sunday's finale is slated for a 1 p.m. CT first pitch. All three games will air live on SECN+ with Will Johnson doing the play-by-play and Mark Johnson providing color for all the action.

Texas A&M is ranked between third and fifth depending on the poll, but I don't really think it matters much for this one. The Aggies have been almost automatic this year, losing just once at home. Let's hope we get the Ole Miss pitching and not the Georgia version, the latter being the Tide's last road trip.

Alabama Softball Welcomes Kentucky for SEC Series, Celebrates Alumni Weekend - ROLLTIDE.COM - University of Alabama Official Athletic Site

Alabama is ranked No. 4 in the latest national polls and the RPI. The Crimson Tide have played 23 games against teams ranked in the top 50 in the RPI, posting a 16-7 record against them. Alabama’s strength of schedule ranks No. 8 and the SEC as a whole owns the toughest conference RPI in the country. One more win would mark the 40th of the season for Alabama. The Crimson Tide have earned at least 40 wins every year since 2000 and have only finished with under 40 wins twice in the program’s previous 19 seasons.

Alabama has wrapped up it's non-con schedule; everything from here on out is SEC play. The Tide welcome No. 11 Kentucky this weekend in a sold-out Rhoads Stadium.

No, no I say.

SEC Football Q&A: Should Alabama Fans Be Concerned About the Tide QB Situation? | Bleacher Report

Not much, because some monster named Tim Williams decided to pay mortgage in the Alabama backfield, which made it difficult for the quarterbacks to get going... Alabama's quarterbacks will be fine.

Alabama will be fine. I'm tired of playing the catastrophic game of "what if,: especially in the spring. By October, without fail, this coaching staff has gotten it right.

There's suspension then there's suspension...

Craig Evans, Montez Sweat Part Ways with Michigan State Football Team | Bleacher Report

Michigan State Spartans defensive linemen Craig Evans and Montez Sweat have left the football team for "personal reasons." The university announced the news Monday in a release (via Mike Griffith of "Michigan State sophomore defensive lineman Craig Evans and sophomore defensive end Montez Sweat have left the football team for personal reasons effective immediately, according to an announcement made Monday, April 18, by head coach Mark Dantonio." Evans was suspended during last spring's drills, and Sweat had just finished serving an indefinite suspension that lasted from last season's second game of the year until spring practice, per Griffith.

Are we talking weed here? I'm pretty sure Alabama can overlook that. Michigan State may not have much in the way of poachable talent, but defensive line depth, esp. given how young both Sweat and Evans are, is up for grabs.

Time for another September Heisman

John Franklin III Is the JUCO Backup QB Who Could Take the SEC by Storm | Bleacher Report

"I believe I'm going to be out there on Sept. 3 the first snap of the game," Franklin said. The 6'1", 174-pounder from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, completed seven of his 11 passes for 61 yards in the A-Day spring game, including a 40-yard touchdown to Marcus Davis, and is squarely in the mix to be named Auburn's starting quarterback. ... Franklin was a 3-star prospect out of South Plantation High School near Fort Lauderdale whose only Power Five offers were from Florida State and Tennessee.

Franklin was not very good in Auburn's spring game, having one busted play go for 40 yards and finishing 6 of 10 for 21 yards the rest of the day. Yet, Auburn has another messiah at QB. Okay, good. Yawn. Just let me know where to send this year's offseason Heisman to, Jay Jacobs.

Speaking of bad quarterbacks

LSU Tigers a quarterback away from College Football Playoff run

LSU quarterback Brandon Harris not only wants to join the club -- he thinks he can be president. "I know the potential I have, I know what I can do," Harris said. "I feel like I'm the best quarterback in the country, I really do mean that." With the abundance of talent surrounding him, Harris doesn't have to be the best -- but he has to be better than good -- like Alabama's Jake Coker was last year when it mattered the most.

LSU is absolutely loaded and remain Alabama's main obstacle in the West. It's not that Harris is bad; overall he's much improved. It's that I don't think he can be Jake Coker in those types of games. LSU could go 11-1 (and probably should, to be honest) but there's always something that holds this team back from being terrifying, and a rudimentary passing game and lacking a difference-maker is it. That won't change this year, and that's why Les Miles will be ran out on a rail by 2017.

Don't get Clemson Dan'd

Report: alleged Clemson ‘fan’ left racist message for No. 1 2016 recruit & Michigan signee Rashan Gary – CollegeFootballTalk

"If you’re coming down here, you gotta do just like the KKK and be serious about your football. Clemson and the KKK, the two things we love the most,” the caller said. The target of the voice mail, which came at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 28, was Paramus Catholic star Rashan Gary. It was made the day before the defensive lineman took an official visit to Clemson. The man who left the message identified himself twice during the 58-second voice mail only as “Clemson Dan.

C'mon, Gamecock fan. You gotta' be a little more clever about it than this. No one believes that a Clemson fan would call Rashan Gary's mom and talk about the Klan Read Clemson Dan uses code words for his white-laundry organizations.

That's convenient

Mississippi's NCAA case receives 30-day extension

Mississippi has put its response to alleged NCAA rules violations on hold after a third party was granted a 30-day extension in the case. On Thursday, Ole Miss said in a statement that one of the "other parties" involved in the case, which involves the football, women's basketball, and track and field programs, requested the extension. Ole Miss received the NCAA's Notice of Allegations in late January, but has not made the document public. NCAA rules normally give the school 90 days to respond, which would put the deadline in late April, but an extension can be granted if anyone involved in the investigation asks for one.

So, any one in the investigation can ask for a thirty-day extension and get one? Hell, I may be eligible for social security by the time the COI gets to this one then. Seriously, I do wonder how long Ross Bjork and Hugh Freeze are going to string this one along and kick the can down the road. I'm betting at least through the 2016 season, and maybe even longer.

Good NCAA rule change noted

NCAA passes rule allowing institutions to pay for two guardians to accompany recruits on official visits

Proposal 2015-52 will allow institutions to pay the actual round-trip costs for a prospective student-athlete's parents or legal guardians to accompany the prospect on his official visit and will be implemented August 1, 2016. The vote passed 14-1 with only the Sun Belt Conference voting against it, according to the NCAA's Division I Council report. The current rule allowed for only the prospect's travel and accommodations to be paid for and prohibited schools from paying for transportation costs incurred by relatives, friends or legal guardians. Under that rule, prospects were either taking official visits by themselves or parents, guardians or high school coaches were taking on the costs to accompany the recruit on the visit.

We want to talk about making the recruiting experience more affordable? This is it. Again, it's mainly going to benefit those teams with deep pockets, but those are the ones more likely to look national for talent anyway, where travel expenses become increasingly onerous. Better yet, it closes one more avenue for dirty money to be introduced into the recruiting process.

Speaking of money

Can college athletics continue to spend like this?

Zimbalist says this kind of spending is not sustainable, and he thinks litigation of some stripe — courts deciding players can be paid beyond their scholarships, for instance — could cause the bubble to burst. Among the other potential wildcards are an ongoing lawsuit pertaining to athlete compensation limits that seeks hundreds of millions in damages, concussion lawsuits, or a change in the National Labor Relations Board’s position on college athletes unionizing. “There are big-time things leading it to pop,” says Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College and author of Unpaid Professionals: Commercialization and Conflict in Big-Time College Sports. “It’s an unstable situation.”

It is an unstable situation, but I don't see several of these things panning out. First, the NLRB is a dead end. If a labor friendly POTUS isn't going to disrupt several decades of case law, you have to think any president right of Obama (and that's any of the 2016 candidates -- sorry Bern, it's not going to be you) will have NLRB appointees equally gunshy. Second, with the NLRB ruling in place, pay for play simply is not going to happen. That leaves as we've always maintained, the most likely but still far-fetched, concussion litigation. And, this point, the Mammon of college football is probably too large to be completely unmoored by a few class action suits, if we're being honest.

NCAA | Finances | USA TODAY Sports

Alabama athletics transferred back $5.3 million dollars to the University.

Nifty accounting games, here. Alabama brought in the 5th most revenue of any college athletic department in the country. The Tide transferred back over $5 million to the university. Yet, because of an NCAA accounting rule change that states that ADs cannot transfer back more than student fees collected, it turns into a nifty $1.8 million dollar loss and looks like the university subsidizes athletics. So, when you hear about how athletics are losing money, and many do, bear in mind what is considered a "loss." The Power 5 aren't hurting.