Happy Monday, everyone. As you probably heard, the softball team made a quick exit in the Women's College World Series, losing 6-4 to LSU in an elimination game. Even still, they made the field of eight for the 11th time in school history, which will always qualify as a successful season. We have quite a few links for your perusal this morning:
The NFL's LeBron?
A common tactic among recruiters was to promise Jones a starting spot while pointing out the roadblocks on competitors' depth charts. "Everybody telling me, ‘You're going to come in and you're going to start,' didn't know they were telling me the wrong thing," Jones says. "Young kids want to hear that: ‘You're going to come here, and you're going to play.' I didn't want that. I want to come and earn my spot." When Saban famously told Jones, in his Foley living room, that the Crimson Tide would win "with or without him," the wideout knew. He belonged in Tuscaloosa.
For all of his stone-faced posturing, though, Saban — then entering his second season with the Tide after a stint with the Miami Dolphins — was frantic behind closed doors. "I bet from the Sunday dead period to Wednesday's signing day, Nick Saban walked into my office 100 times asking, ‘Did you talk to Julio?' Did you talk to [his mom]?'" says Thompson, the former Bama assistant. "We didn't know for sure until he put on that hat."
Considering the way the NBA Finals are going, Julio Jones may prefer a comparison to Steph Curry, but I digress. This is a fantastic longform about Julio and his impact on the Alabama program as well as the Atlanta Falcons.
Saban not retiring any time soon:
For the first time, Saban is starting to battle his age on the recruiting trail. He’ll turn 65 in October. But he reiterated to ESPN.com this week that walking away from coaching is nowhere on the horizon for him. "I really can’t imagine not coaching," Saban said. "The only way I could imagine it was if I got to the point where I couldn’t put the same amount of work into it and couldn’t give the players the same commitment I always have. When that happens, that’s when I’ll get out. It really doesn’t have anything to do with how old I am. And right now, I’m as energetic and look forward to practice and recruiting when I get up every morning as much as I ever have.
Sounds good to me.
"It's not in the human condition to be a champion, to be as good as you can be," Saban said. "You have to have special characteristics, special traits, which Muhammad Ali certainly did. ... Champions don't belong on the ground. When he got knocked down in one of the (Joe) Frazier fights, he got up and finished the fight because (with) his pride, he didn't belong there. That's not who he is. That's not how he wants to be thought of. He got up and finished the fight. There's also a quote 'I never win the fight inside the lights. I always win it somewhere far, far away.' Doing road work, working hard to prepare for the fight. ... A lot of analogies of philosophical things or things that people said about him, I think really reflect what being a champion is all about."
"You're not conceited, you're convinced" is the best line in that video clip. Regardless of what one thinks about Ali's political stances, it's clear to see what Saban admired about him: a true desire and commitment to being The Greatest. The two undoubtedly share plenty of attributes.
Satellite Camps? Satellite Camps...
It would be naïve to suggest that there are no benefits on the recruiting trail. That much was evident this week when Nico Collins, one of 2017’s best wide receiver prospects, named the Wolverines in his most recent trimmed list of schools. "Right now, Michigan has caught my eye," Collins told Kipp Adams of 247 Sports. "I fell in love with them on my visit. They might be my leader – with Georgia, Alabama, and Clemson pushing them. There is just something more with Michigan – they have a plan for you after college – plus their football program is pretty nice."
It may be said that the Alabama staff taking part in these camps after Saban’s public objections to them is hypocritical. You’re welcome to that opinion. I say otherwise. Saban doesn’t have to like something to understand the need for it. It’s his best trait as a head coach, in my opinion. It’s one more attribute that separates him from the pack. Saban sending his staff to this satellite camp is a perfect example. Times change, practices evolve and if you get left behind, especially in the game of college football, you may never catch up. Saban understands that this is how the game has evolved. You either get on board or you get left behind. Sure, he will stomp his feet and pound the podium, and he has every right to do that. But at the end of the day, whether he likes it or not, he will do what is necessary to put his program in a position to win.
I say pull a simple switcheroo. Have Hawaii stop in L.A. to play USC and send Michigan to Dallas. Sure, it'd trigger a few lawsuits, but Jerry Jones is running the show at AT&T Stadium. If there's money to be made, he'll get on board. This could be college football's first pay-per-view spectacular. In the great states of Alabama and Michigan alone, I bet 300,000 people would pay $100 for the package. And I bet Harbaugh would tweet, "For all you Bama grads, that adds up to $30 million." Come on, Tide fans, pressure your school into taking the bait. A good feud is a terrible thing to waste.
Michigan compliance sent out a tweet after the camp that said, "NCAA rules prohibit UM coaches & staff from taking pictures w/ recruits or their family before, during or after non-institutional camps.
If nothing else, give Harbaugh this: he is willing to push the envelope. Nico Collins is an important in-state recruit for Alabama whose commitment will seemingly require a battle to the end. The deal about autographs is a silly attempt by the NCAA to keep up appearances that these camps are actually about offering instruction to players rather than promoting the programs of the coaches in attendance.
Leatherwood said that Auburn has made "a little bit" of a move in his recruitment, but couldn't say if he had any official visit planned. He said his commitment with Alabama was "very good." He was leaving Auburn for a trip to Alabama, which begins a four-day camp on Sunday. "I'll be trying to help recruit, but I'll be practicing with the team," he said. Leatherwood talks to Alabama coaches every day, he said.
Four-star offensive tackle Austin Troxell left Auburn on Saturday still split on where he wants to play college football. The Madison Academy star, who enjoyed his "laidback" visit to the Plains during Big Cat Weekend, said he's still "50/50" between Auburn and Alabama with a personal decision date looming later this summer. "It's getting tough," Troxell said. "If you had asked me two years ago, I wouldn't have even considered Auburn. The work they put in to me opened my eyes to see I have other options. It's going to be tough."
Alabama quarterback commit Tua Tagovailoa is competing at the Elite 11 Finals in Los Angeles this weekend. The four-star, dual-threat signal caller is one of the top prospects in the country and is showing why after finishing atop Saturday's Elite 11 Pro Day standings.
With the loss of Charles Baldwin and Cam Robinson's likely departure after the season, it is critical that the Tide land at least one of Leatherwood and Troxell, with Leatherwood the bigger prize of the two. He seems to be solid in his commitment, but Auburn is coming hard after him. Sounds like Tagovailoa is going to be a great one.
Pettway was not a disciplinary issue in his final two seasons at Alabama -- becoming an example of how second opportunities can benefit both parties. The New Orleans Saints signed Pettway to a free-agent deal after going undrafted this spring.
"All of us believe in second chances," Battle said. "Now, at some point it's probably not worth the risk of taking that. But I think, in my opinion, Nick has always done ... he's raised the bar in my mind in everything he's touched around the university. He can get criticized for certain things. But if you go back and look, there are cases that he has done well and succeeded in cases similar to that. So he can't win them all."
"We've been wrestling with this and the acknowledgement that there is difficulty in the issue," Sankey said. "We clearly needed some work on the transfer issue based on some experiences in recent year."
The debate inside the league will intensify in light of Mississippi State's decision to allow five-star recruit Jeffery Simmons to join its football team despite video showing him hitting a woman, for which he was arrested.
Sankey foresees the conversation in the league about expanding the policy to cover freshmen enrollees to continue.
Pettway is certainly an example of a risk that paid off. It's hard to believe that what happened under Briles at Baylor, where cover-ups were the norm and victims were effectively bullied into not reporting, would ever happen under Saban at Alabama. The Baylor report was nothing short of frightening, but at least the issue was finally brought into the forefront and administrators all over the country are reviewing their own programs to ensure that complaints are handled properly.
That's about it for today. Have a great week.