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Jumbo Package: Battle to Retire, Byrne Takes Over

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Coach Battle rides into the sunset after a short but eventful, and successful, tenure.

Happy Monday, everyone. We have officially reached the off-season, but there was plenty of news over the weekend:

Battle said his health was not a factor in his decision.

"My health is good, or as good as a 75-year old man's can be," he said. "My cancer is in full remission. But at my age, I just didn't want to come into work every day anymore. I love what I do and wouldn't take anything for the experience of having done it. But I'm getting to the point where I want to do some of the the other things I love to do, too. I want to spend more time in Jackson Hole, and at my farm."

Arizona hired Byrne in 2010 after he served as Mississippi State's athletic director. He is considered one of the top young athletic administrators in the country. He is the son of former longtime Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne.

Congratulations to Coach Battle on his well-earned retirement. It was an eventful four years at the helm for him with a coaching change for men’s basketball and the retirement of an iconic gymnastics coach, all while battling cancer.

By all accounts, Byrne seems to be viewed as a great hire. Good luck to him in his new role.

Thomas began the Sony Open with a 15-foot eagle putt on his final hole to shoot 59. He ended it Sunday with a two-putt birdie from 60 feet that gave him yet another entry in the PGA Tour record book for the lowest 72-hole score in history.

His final act was to stand before the members of Waialae Country Club, champagne flute in hand for the traditional toast. Thomas chugged it down, smiled and said to them, "I think I had a glass with a hole in it.''

Bottoms up, kid.

Nothing to see here, just a UA alum having the best tournament in PGA history.

As co-defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach for Alabama, Lupoi helped the Tide lead the nation in sacks in each of the past two seasons. He has turned down several opportunities with Power 5 schools to be a defensive coordinator in recent years, and word is that one of those was an offer from former Cal coach Sonny Dykes to return to Berkeley.

Great news here. Coaching turnover is something that Saban has managed as masterfully as he manages everything else, but Lupoi would be a big loss as both a recruiter and coach.

Alabama lost a commitment from three-star kicker Brandon Ruiz over the weekend. Within minutes of that news, word began to surface on the BOL Round Table that Cairo (Ga.) standout Cole Phillips had been offered a preferred walk-on spot for 2017.

I did some checking around Sunday night with those familiar with Phillips and was told that prior to getting the PWO bid from UA, Phillips looked to be headed to Marshall on a blueshirt offer. He also had PWOs from Georgia Southern and Georgia.

The fact that Phillips appears headed to UA is interesting because he apparently had Hope Scholarship money coming from both GSU and UGA. Obviously, that won't be the case at Alabama, although the possibility of Phillips landing on scholarship with the Crimson Tide as early as 2018 is believed to be high.

Interesting note here about Phillips. Reier generally knows what he is talking about and wouldn’t write that the young man “appears” headed to UA unless he believed it. He may very well be a blueshirt at Alabama as well - meaning that he shows up on campus as a walk-on, has not been recruited, signs grant-in-aid paperwork before fall semester and counts toward the following year’s class rather than this one. There has been some speculation that the staff decided that they needed Ruiz’s slot in this year’s class for another position. Since he had been publicly recruited, a greyshirt would have been the only other option for him at Alabama.

In general, kickers are simply a tough position to project. Both Cade Foster and Adam Griffith were highly regarded scholarship players while Jeremy Shelley was a walk-on, and Shelley had the best career of the three. The vast majority of the kickers in FBS are walk-ons, at least initially.

Great defense without great offense just won't get it done, but great offense without great defense can. Cam Newton and Auburn made that point clear in 2010, but it's really come into focus the last four years.

No one in the country has played better defense than Alabama in that span. No other program has been in contention for a national championship entering the last Saturday in November each of those years, but what does the Crimson Tide's bottom line have to show for it?

One national title, and that one required Alabama to score 45 points because it surrendered 40.

Clemson had 14 points going into the fourth quarter. Alabama’s formula of ball control offense and great defense would have worked had they been able to control the ball, and they blew several opportunities to do just that. Perhaps this is what Scarbinsky means when he says “great offense?”

Isaiah Buggs, 4-star JUCO DE, Miss. Gulf Coast C.C. (Miss.) – Alabama signee

The defensive front is arguably Alabama’s biggest question mark of the offseason. Losing five starters will present plenty of playing time opportunities to new guys, Buggs included. 247Sports’ Ryan Bartow reported last week that Buggs has done nothing but shine during his first week of practices with the team. A source told Bartow, “He’s a dude and a grown man.” The No. 1 junior college defensive end in the country, expect to hear Buggs’ names on the loudspeakers this fall.

Buggs is an important name for the fall along with Quinnen Williams, who redshirted last season. Both players will be counted on to help fill out a depleted two-deep up front. The staff has also been putting the full court press on five-star DE Aubrey Solomon. He got an in-home visit from Lupoi, Jeremy Pruitt and Karl Dunbar on Thursday before taking an official to USC on Friday, which he says will be his last trip. He named Alabama his leader a couple weeks ago. Hope for the best.

"I can't even call it a knock, but that's been a concern by all the kids I've had that Alabama has recruited, that the possibility of getting on the field is tough with their depth and the quality of kids Alabama recruits each year," Merritt said. "I'm sure (Humphrey leaving) helps the cause."

If Alabama signs a true corner in this class, Henderson looks like the best bet.

"There aren't too many kids with his length and speed," Merritt said. "You're talking about a corner that's 6'2 that's going to be one of the top three or four fastest kids in the state of Florida."

Alabama took four cornerbacks in last year’s class but there is still a need at the position. Three-star Kyriq McDonald is already on campus, but juco commit Jhavonte Dean is widely projected to go elsewhere.

Hightower led the Patriots with eight tackles. Flowers made seven tackles, Butler had five and King made one tackle on special teams.

In a game that featured three field goals of at least 51 yards in the final 93 seconds, Green Bay eliminated Dallas on Sunday afternoon in the NFC.

Free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama) and right cornerback LaDarius Gunter (Jeff Davis) started for Green Bay.

Three of the four teams in the playoffs prominently feature an Alabama player: Julio Jones on the Falcons, HaHa Clinton-Dix on the Packers, and Dont’a Hightower on the Patriots.

The University of Alabama had impressive finishes at Sunday night's final round of competitions in the Universal Cheerleaders Association national championships, taking second place in two categories.

The Alabama squad took second place in the Division 1A category behind Kentucky, while the All Girl squad also took second place in its competition.

Roll, cheer, roll

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.