Happy Friday, everyone. Plenty for you to read this morning, but we will start with the SEC Media Days' closing vote for the preseason pick to win the SEC:
Alabama received 246 first-place votes in the West, while LSU collected 76. Ole Miss was third with 1,479 points and five votes to capture the division title. Five times since 1992 - three times in the last 20 - the SEC Media Days predicted champion has proceeded to win the SEC Championship.
No big surprise there, and I have a little secret for the media: they'd have had a 75% success rate over the past four years if they had just picked Alabama each time, with only a fluke that will not be discussed keeping them from 100%.
SEC media's record of picking champs compares fine with the Big Ten's or Big 12's, but that 2015 pick will stand out like a toot in church for a long time. Some of us tried to tell them Will Muschamp isn't a miracle worker and backup QBs aren't necessarily better than outgoing starters, but did they listen?
Under Saban, Alabama has usually implemented a two-running back platoon. Last year, Kenyan Drake helped spell Henry, but because of a lack of depth Henry still tallied an ungodly 395 carries, including a mind-boggling 90 in a two-game stretch. Alabama was hesitant to use either Scarbrough or Harris much last year. Are we sure both of those guys are now ready to be the featured backs?
And, here the media is to remind us that it's not a foregone conclusion. There's no drama in a wall-to-wall champion who flattens everyone in its path, right? Kirk's line about the Auburn prediction is hilarious, and the idea that Alabama having two sophomore five-star RBs to choose from is a weakness, simply because they didn't get a ton of action as freshmen, is laughable.
Let's Talk about QBs, shall we?
The redshirt junior struggled some with throws beyond 20-25 yards down the field, according to former NFL executive and current Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage. "With Cooper, you see his athleticism," Savage said. "All the short- and intermediate-type things, certainly looks confident. I think the biggest question on him is going to be the balls down the field, those 25-yard and beyond type of throws. I thought he showed some signs of improvement with that in the spring from what I saw in Tuscaloosa. At the Manning Academy, I saw the ball come apart on him some after a certain distance. We'll see if he can get that cleaned up before the season starts."
This is a retread of a quote made a few days ago, but worth discussing nonetheless. Cooper Bateman doesn't have the strongest arm, but neither did Blake Sims. Kiffin was able to adjust the routes so that Blake could get rid of the ball sooner on go routes, allowing him to throw it 35-40 yards with plenty of air rather than 50. I imagine that he will be able to do the same with Coop if he is the guy:
Kiffin's creation of two effective offenses with two different senior quarterbacks—who had never been able to win a starting job prior—is one of the more impressive feats in recent college football history.
Kiffin, who had run a pro-style offense his entire career, had followed Saban's orders to juice Alabama's tempo in 2014 and taught himself how to call plays that way. After studying with the coaches at TCU and Houston that off-season, he had planned to go fast in 2015. But Coker's skill set and Kenyan Drake's injuries, which forced Derrick Henry to shoulder most of the rushing load, made Kiffin slow down to a more familiar tempo. This resulted in two more wins and a national title ring.
Emphasis mine. Can't remember who, but it seems like someone was screaming that Coker and Henry demanded a more traditional pace and scheme 'round last September. Maybe Lane really does read RBR...
Indeed, Lane's manipulation of the offense to suit his players has been nothing short of masterful. The article goes on to discuss Lane's relationships within the athletic department, contrasting the celebration when he left the USC Trojans with the somber mood when Will Muschamp was fired by the Florida Gators. Only time will tell whether Lane can overcome his reputation to get another big shot.
"You have to feel that way," Kelly told reporters when he was asked follow-up questions. "In order to have confidence in yourself and team, you have to think you're the best. That's what I want our whole team -- from offensive linemen to running backs -- we have to think we're the best players and the best team out there. "I want to be remembered as the greatest quarterback that ever played."
Well, young Chad certainly doesn't lack confidence.
Speaking of confidence...
"I'm not even worried about Ohio State, so don't even ask me any questions about Ohio State," Cowan said at The Opening, a premier camp for the nation's top high school football players held at Nike's world headquarters.
Cowan is the creator of the unofficial motto for the Crimson Tide's Class of 2017, "Savages wanna play with savages." That's mainly why he isn't concerned with what the Buckeyes' 2017 class looks like. He thinks there are more savages in Alabama's class than Ohio State's.
"That's ranked off of all those stars and junk, but we're talking about Alabama having goons and savages in this class," Cowan said. "I'm talking about boys who want to play and give it their all. I'm telling you all of my boys that are committed are savages. We are straight dogs."
This young man is going to be fun. Maybe he will one day create his own meme in the vein of "Alabama does."
Last but not least, we have a smoldering hot take out of Louisiana:
Ultimately, though, much like Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen was criticized for doing Tuesday in the case of Jeffery Simmons, Saban looks like he’s doing right for his program. A program that obviously doesn’t have a better answer at left tackle than Robinson, who projected to be a top-five NFL draft pick next year before all this kerfuffle took place. Saban is above the competition in terms of his coaching acumen and recruiting prowess, but he isn’t above reproach. Like Mullen, he comes off looking like he’s handling Robinson and Jones in a way that will help him win. Win despite the costs to justice and image.
"Justice" would have been what, exactly, Scott? Kicking them off the team? Suspending them against USC so sportswriters would have more to bloviate about in the lead-up, "How will Cam Robinson's absence impact Alabama?"
And seriously, Scott, did you just compare video showing a 300-pound man going all Jeremy Hill on a female, who was on the ground at the time, to four guys who were in possession of a joint and a couple of guns but bothering no one? Congratulations, Mr. Rabalais, you are an idiot.
That's about it for today. Have a great weekend.