Happy Monday, everyone. Today is the opening of #HotTake season as SEC Media Days kicks off in Hoover. The sportswriters are certainly gearing up, but we will start again with 2017 commit Tua Tagovailoa, who took home some hardware at The Opening:
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Alabama commit, out of Marcus Mariota's Saint Louis School (Honolulu, Hawaii), led Vaporspeed to The Opening 7-on-7 championship, highlighted by a 38-20 victory over Fly Rush in which the dynamic quarterback threw four first half touchdown passes.
Afterwards, Tagovailoa was named the tournament's MVP, as well as the Elite 11 MVP, given to the top quarterback of the nation's premier signal-caller camp.
During the week, Tagovailoa had a chance to bond with future Alabama teammates, including consensus five-star running back Najee Harris, but said he intends to take all five official visits during the fall.
By all accounts, Tua lit it up out there. While he hasn't wavered on his commitment, he maintains that he will be taking all of his visits. Holding on to him will only get tougher from here.
"This is going to be the seventh," he said. "This is probably going to be the best one. We're still trying to get (receiver) Jerry Jeudy, trying to flip (cornerback) Shaun Wade, (defensive tackle) Marvin Wilson, we're trying to get, we're trying to get some D-linemen."
Cowan expanded on his decision to decommit from Florida State and switch to Alabama. "Just the competition," Cowan said. "Florida State gets good players, but it's nothing like playing Alabama. If you get a chance to play under a great coaching staff, may as well go."
I like the cut of your jib, VanDarius.
So, with the preseason finally here, it's time to take stock up the lingering uncertainty in the national landscape. Last week, we covered one of the biggest preseason questions, which is the health of star Georgia running back Nick Chubb. Now let's take a look at 10 broader storylines to follow, the issues that will be among the hottest topics of discussion during the marathon preseason media sessions over the rest of the summer.
This is a nice primer featuring the most prevalent storylines this week. Interestingly, only one of them involves Alabama. Good reason for that:
- Lindy's named Saban the No. 2 choice among coaches to be president: "Picture a Saban-Putin stare-down. Who blinks first? Damn sure it ain't gonna be Saban. And in no time Saban would have Congress respecting his ‘Progress.'"
- Lindy's on Lane Kiffin: "It's now a matter of whether the Boy King's ego will allow him to take a job in the Mountain West or Conference USA or ... something like that. That might be his best route back to a Power 5 job."
- ESPN spoke to an anonymous coach who had praise for Kiffin: "The games are in slow motion for Lane Kiffin on the sideline. He's able to see the defense, call the play, help the guy."
Four of the most popular college football-specific magazines — Athlon Sports, ESPN, Lindy’s and Phil Steele — have reigning national champion Alabama starting the season where it left off last year — as the nation’s top team. It wasn't unanimous, though, with Phil Steele also selecting Alabama at No. 2 in its "Preseason Top 40" poll, behind only top-ranked Florida State.
Alabama (8-0 SEC, 12-0 overall)
LSU (7-1, 11-1)
Texas A&M (6-2, 10-2)
4. (T) Ole Miss (4-4, 7-5)
(T) Arkansas (4-4, 8-4)
6. (T) Auburn (3-5, 6-6)
(T) Mississippi State (3-5, 7-5)
The media for years did a laughable job of predicting who would win the SEC football title. What a bunch of dopes.If we picked Georgia, it was Auburn. If we picked Auburn, it was LSU. If we picked LSU, it was Tennessee. If we picked Tennessee, it was Florida.
We've gotten smarter since Nick Saban showed up. We're finally figuring this deal out.
Pick Alabama. Duh.
The best and brightest media minds will assemble in Hoover, Ala., on Monday. Another SEC Media Days is at hand. If any voter doesn't pick Alabama to win the 2016 title it's because he or she is from Jupiter, or possibly from Auburn.
Oh, man. That last guy is a local Tennessee Volunteers beat writer out of Knoxville, so he might want to stay indoors for a few days. Still, those who worry about the players reading too much into their press clippings have much to fear this week. It sounds like the bulk of the media is counting the SEC as a foregone conclusion. Saban will have his work cut out for him:
Saban loves to talk about clearing the "clutter,’’ which is defined essentially as anything that distracts from the goal. There has been some this offseason. The offseason arrests of left tackle Cam Robinson and defensive back Laurence "Hootie’’ Jones for possession of marijuana and felony possession of a stolen handgun — the prosecutor declined to pursue the case — doesn’t necessarily indicate a larger problem. But Robinson is Alabama’s best player, a probable top NFL draft pick next April. It’s not a good sign (and questions about what kind of punishment Saban might dole out to Robinson could at least be a distraction for the coach Wednesday at media days).
Saban will undoubtedly get some pointed questions about Cam Robinson this week, and probably won't give any real answers. Complacency is, in fact, the enemy, and no one in the business is better equipped to keep his team motivated.
Looking at the 2016 class, two of the three tallest players on the team are true freshmen as both Scott Lashley and Raekwon Davis are listed at 6-foot-7 (Matt Womack is also 6-7).
Linebacker Shawn Jennings has dropped eight pounds since the spring while offensive tackle Jonah Williams added eight pounds.
At 350 pounds, Deonte Brown is the heaviest player on the entire team. Brown weighs five more pounds than rising senior Alphonse Taylor, whom Saban challenged to lose weight this spring.
Marq Burnett offers a list of Alabama's newcomers for you.
This has been one of the busiest weeks of the year for college basketball recruiting, not in terms of commitments but definitely in the visibility department. Both Nike, with its Peach Jam, and Adidas hosted major tournaments for most of last week, and nearly every head coach and recruiting assistant, made an appearance at one or the other, or both. Alabama's head coach, Avery Johnson, has made extraordinary efforts to see, and be seen, by several top prospects.
It's not all about football this week, as Coach Avery is out there doing work on the recruiting trail as well.
That's about it for today. Have a great week.