Rules, rules everywhere
During the final day of the American Football Coaches Association convention, more than 100 FBS head coaches gathered together for more than three hours to discuss NCAA Proposal 2016-16, legislation suggested by the NCAA Division I Council, Football Oversight Committee and Collegiate Commissioners Association that would create early signing windows in June and December, allow recruits to take official visits in the summer and create a 10-day limit on summer camps.
You know, I actually like all of these proposals: 10-day summers allow coaches to develop and gameplan for the coming season rather than competing in circus-like satellite camps 5-6 times a year as de facto recruiting events. It also will allow staffs, if passed, to focus on the Summer OVs. That early signing window, paired with a summer visitation period, should please everyone: You can see Madison or Ann Arbor in good weather (long a complaint,) and good closers can lock up positions early, which is most important with quarterbacks. Now, there will be specific objections: Coaches like Urban Meyer have made a career by flipping guys closer towards NSD, and most notably by taking 3-4*recruits at smaller programs or less established rivals, and then recruiting them more heavily as they blow up in their senior years. (Of course, this may also cut down on NSD shenanigans to a small extent, where certain programs
in North Mississippi and West Georgia would potentially find it far more difficult to flip blue chippers as the war chest is replenished and NSD approaches. You know who you are.)
Lastly, there is unanimous support for a 10th full-time assistant coach, as early as April. Most coaches I spoke with believe the new spot would first be filled by a current staffer or coaches currently out of work, rather than widespread poaching by big schools.
This makes too much sense for it to not happen. And, given the state of special teams at the collegiate level, it needs to. Just spitballing, but it would give coaches like Mario Cristobal a full-time coaching position and Alabama could promote from within or find an out-of-work guy to help on the line or, alternately, to take over special teams. Given the Tide’s erratic kick return game most seasons (and downright pitiful effort this year) that would be a tremendous boon. But, let’s be honest, a 10th field coach for the Tide would mean that Bobby Williams comes out of the admin box and gets back to coaching special teams.
Whether they’re seniors, juniors or redshirt sophomores, Alabama will be well-represented once again during this spring’s draft. Below is a list of the Tide’s top-rated players, their overall ranking and projected round, according to CBS Sports’ updated prospect rankings, which were released Wednesday.
In what has become an annual tradition, Alabama loses as many as six NFL first-round draft picks this season, mostly off the defense. This doesn’t even include second- and third round guys like Dalvin Thomlinson and Ryan Anderson. Get paid, guys. You’ve earned it.
LOSERS Alabama: When you're nearly a touchdown favorite and on a historic 26-game winning streak with everyone calling you the best team in the nation, you better win it all. That didn't happen, as the once top-ranked Crimson Tide was knocked off by Clemson in the national championship. This team -- and especially the defense -- wanted best-ever consideration, but that all vanished in the fourth quarter of Monday's game, when Clemson outscored Alabama 21-7 by gashing that elite defense and smothering a struggling offense.
Get ready for a long offseason of these #hot #takes. All it took for this scorching analysis to emerge was losing a classic game on the last play. I’ve lost track of how many Alabama Dynasty eulogies I’ve read over the past three-four years. People wonder how ridiculous expectations are made? Calling a team with three crucial injuries, starting a freshman quarterback, with an OC who had 6 days to prepare, and a defense with very little depth finally petering out after 99 plays -- calling that team a “loser” is as asinine and lazy as it is offensive. The team lost. Not all of its goals were met. But, there are 129 other teams that want that season. #MDWM
A-Day is April 22nd this year. If it’s been anything like the last two, it will be deceptively hot, intermittently cloudy, and just enough humidity to make everyone miserable. Roll Tide!
A helluva’ lot of freshmen saw playing time this season, in due partly to their excellent talent and partly due to a crucible by fire -- this was a thin team at a lot of spots this season. It will pay off next year, however, as a lot of top flight freshmen have seen meaningful snaps.
I love these: A lot of the entering players and early enrollees are fired up. That’s the way it should be. A loss always leaves a bad taste in your mouth until you can redeem yourself. The best part is, a lot of these guys took it as painfully as if they were on the sidelines. Good.
The honeymoon is over, as Robin to Gus Malzahn’s golden age Batman has decided to forge a new career away from his mentor/abusive father figure. What this means for UConn is of far more importance than Auburn — that was never anything but Malzahn’s offense, and I would expect few changes with Lashlee’s departure.
Speaking of staff turnover, keep an eye on what’s happening in Oxford. All in all, it looks like they upgraded defensively and hired a guy specifically to speak to Shea Patterson’s skills. sigh:
Offensive coordinator Dan Werner wasn’t retained after the year, and defensive coordinator Dave Wommack retired. To run the offense, Freeze hired Phil Longo, who has produced some of the top FCS offenses at Sam Houston State. This year’s team scored 49.5 points per game, No. 2 in FCS. Longo comes from an Air Raid background [Ole Miss also made Auburn’s DB coach, Wes McGriff, its defensive coordinator.]
Kickers are people too
Criticizing a player’s play is one thing. Criticizing the person is a different ball of wax. As Cole Netten so pointedly shows, some of it can be harmful, and some can be constructive. BTW: Netten, a 76% career FG kicker, was 94% this year, and far more consistent on kicks under 50 yards. Well done, kid.
Y'all made me work harder. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/GhcijBwBm7— Cole Netten (@swollnetten) January 11, 2017
Answering a question:
I received three emails questioning the last sentence of the Aftermath piece I published Tuesday morning. Specifically, the readers wanted to know why or how Alabama could “potentially be even better” in 2017. Here was my rationale, and it boils down to one word: Consistency. A more consistent Alabama team is a better one, personnel losses aside
The defense will take a step back, particularly in the pass rush and along the front seven. That is not in doubt. But the secondary should be excellent once again. The linebacking corps is young but very much in the more athletic mold of the new Saban defenses. Assuming he stays, Rashaan Evans and Shaun Dion Hamilton are excellent players, add to that at a minimum Ben Davis and an emerging Mack Wilson, and it will be formidable. DaRon Payne is a rock. D’Shawn Hand is ready for the next step (It’s not his fault he was behind three, possibly four NFL 1st rounders.)
The offense has very few losses. ArDarius Stewart will be missed. And, replacing a guy like Cam Robinson is not easy. The offense also loses Gehrig Dieter and Shank Taylor. But, the offense should again be one of the best in the nation, and will be a far more dangerous unit; it could possibly be the most balanced in the nation if the passing game improves, the OL gels with a full offseason, and with everyone healthy — to say nothing of the incoming future superstars.
Finally, there is the matter of special teams. Alabama loses JK Scott, which is a tremendous hit. But, with a dedicated special teams coach, the incoming talent, and identifying and developing returners, the unit as a whole could improve.
Did I say that Alabama will definitely be better? No. But I do think the potential is there overall. And, that potential can be fulfilled with the development of younger players and far more consistency in some crucial phases. This was an inconsistent team this year; everyone can see that. But, an influx of fresh faces, the development of a third full recruiting cycle of Bama Defense 2.0, hiring a true special teams coach, some injury luck, and maturation is all it would take. No tall order or anything.