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Jumbo Package: SEC, Alabama lead conferences and teams in Super Bowl players

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Talent, talent, talent

AFC Championship - Pittsburgh Steelers v New England Patriots Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Rivals

Longo pointed to Mike Leach and Kliff Kingsbury as his biggest influences in the style he plans to run with quarterback Shea Patterson.

“It’s based on chasing space, and that’s a fairly vanilla comment to say, but we do,” he said. “Our guys are given a lot of freedom to chase grass. We don’t always know where the grass is going to be, but the size of the field never changes, there’s going to be 11 defenders. Regardless of what they do, there will be space. What we will do here is take that same philosophy and apply it to our run game.”

Use what you’ve got, eh? Ole Miss, always hit or miss with its run game and now particularly after losing in-state uber-back Cam Akers to FSU, has decided to go all-in on Shea’s arm. Defenders in the SEC now get the joy of chasing receivers for 60 pass attempts a game! Seriously, I just don’t see how this at all helps Ole Miss’ biggest liability — a defense lacking depth that can’t get off the field. Worse, expect to routinely see five-hour Ole Miss games, especially when CBS gets its grubby paws on all those sexy commercial breaks.

Bonus: In case you missed it, Mike Leach, whose best team then to-date got beat physically and otherwise by Mike Shula, popped off at the mouth about the Air Raid in the SEC.

The SEC leads all conferences with 28 players on the Super Bowl roster. Alabama, with two other programs, ties for the lead with five players potentially earning rings (LSU and Auburn are tied for second with four players a piece.) The weirdest outlier is Rutgers, which tied Alabama and another program, placing 5 players on Super Bowl rosters.

Crootin’

"Your fan base is one of your biggest selling points, and what better thing to showcase to a recruit than your game days," Riley said. "The crowd. The band. The tailgating. The electricity that's created on game days can be awfully appealing and make big impressions on a recruit. It's hard to replicate that, even when you have a home basketball game in December or January."

This is a really neat story on the logistics of when to invite players for the OVs. Traditional teams with great gameday atmospheres may be partial to season visits and rely on current players being the better recruiters. Other teams may want more face-time with coaches and a slower pace, ergo the Dec. and Jan. visits (I see now why Alabama does host so many OVs during the season — it’s hard to replicate that gameday atmosphere almost anywhere else.) Then, there’s the matter of guys who want to focus on their high school teams rather than join the jet-set throughout the season. With NSD soon upon us, it’s a good look into the thought process.

Sad Valedictory

The University of Alabama's 2016 football team will be recognized during halftime of the Alabama/Mississippi State basketball game on January 28 at Coleman Coliseum.

The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs are scheduled to tip off at 5 p.m. on the SEC Network. Alabama captured the school's 26th SEC title with a victory over Florida and then defeated Washington in the semifinal of the College Football Playoff at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

If that’s too depressing, dip out and grab a soda at halftime — the game itself should be entertaining as neither team can play perimeter defense worth a damn.

Alabama sweeps Auburn...again.

After Alabama shutout Auburn on 10-0 on Friday, Jan. 20, they responded with another strong performance and defeated the Tigers 8-3 on Saturday night to conclude Iron Cup weekend. With two wins this weekend, Alabama was crowned the 2017 Iron Cup Champions while improving their record to 19-0 all-time against Auburn. Captain Jon Lovorn was named the Iron Cup MVP after tallying seven points (4 G, 3 A) in two games.

Alabama has also never lost to the Vols. Those are records I’d love to remain intact. NB: The Shelby County Reporter link above has a fantastic photo gallery of the series you should check out.

Already? Ugh.

The first odds for the 2017 Heisman Trophy have been released, with a couple of Alabama players making the cut. According to Bovada, rising sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts is listed at 12/1 (+1,200) odds to win the award, while soon-to-be junior running back Bo Scarbrough stands at 15/1 (+1,500).

The Heisman formula is as simple as it is easily predictable at this point: eye-popping stats from a P5 player (Manziel, Jackson) or a very good season by a skills player on a national title competitor (Winston, Ingram.) Let me know what Alabama’s record is in December and I’ll tell you if the above are still viable odds. I think that Jalen 12/1 and Bo 15/1 are still probably about right: injury concerns, split carries, and inconsistencies of the latter and far more visible opportunities for the former.

Just plain depressing

Turner, an outspoken advocate for concussion research and one of the leading plaintiff's for a concussion-related lawsuit against the NFL, didn't blame football for his condition. His story has been the subject of many powerful profiles, including an HBO documentary in 2012, and now HBO has circled back with an updated story for this week's edition of "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel." It's titled "The Game He Loved."

Trigger Warning: It has a lot of Dabo but even more of Kevin’s brother, Nolan. Whew. Not an easy viewing experience I’m sure.

As an aside, although it’s too late for Kevin Turner, Kerry Goode is still with us, and also battling ALS. Think about visiting his organization and throwing some cash that way.