Happy Friday, everyone. Today’s Jumbo Package comes with a knife and a side of Heinz 57, because Blake Barnett seems to have a beef:
Sam Ponder spoke with Nick Saban at halftime of that game and reported the coach said the reason for the switch was that Barnett looked "nervous" against USC. Barnett was then demoted to backup, which eventually led him to leave the program. He now cites Saban's comment as a spark for wanting to leave.
"A lot of backlash that I received from [the USC game] was that I came out nervous," Barnett told ESPN. "I think you could ask just about every teammate and they'd agree that I wasn't. But a certain coach went out to the media and said that I was and so I got that negative reputation from it."
Young Blake sounds as bitter as instant coffee, and clearly has some growing up to do. Coach Saban wasn’t taking a shot at him by saying he was nervous, he was standing up for him by suggesting that his deer-in-the-headlights start wasn’t a true representation of his ability. Being nervous in his first college start, on that stage, was perfectly normal. If he took offense to that comment, there is no way that four years under a demanding, perfectionist coach like Saban would have ever worked out.
Bottom line: you lost a fair competition, Blake. It happens to the best of us.
Moving on, Jim Harbaugh has his khakis in a bunch again as well. It seems that Jim scoured the country to fill an opening on his coaching staff, finally settling on a high school coach out of California named Michael Johnson. It is merely coincidental, of course, that Johnson’s current QB happens to be named Michael Johnson, Jr. and even moreso that the younger Michael is the #1 ranked dual-threat QB in the 2019 class. According to the linked article, there have already been three instances of players’ family members landing jobs at Michigan shortly after the players signed with the Wolverines.
Apparently it was insinuated on the “Pete” Finebaum show that there may be more nefarious motives behind the hire, to which Creepy Jim took exception:
Pete Finebaum, the unabashed SEC water carrier, really needs to get his facts straight. #AlternativeFacts— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) February 17, 2017
I don’t know this Pete fellow, but Paul is a pretty frail guy. I doubt he could carry much water. The funniest part? Paul wasn’t even at work. The appropriately named Peter Burns was filling in, and he fired back:
Not to be outdone, a Finebaum Show staffer weighed in as well:
One thing Paul would never do is confuse Jim with John because one Harbaugh has actually won a championship. https://t.co/Vh7ChfuHxj— John Hayes (@johnP_hayes) February 17, 2017
Somehow, these two must never have heard that you don’t mess around with Jim.
Looks like Alabama went internal to find its new Director of Football Ops. Ellis Ponder, who was the Assistant DFO, is poised to move up.— Aaron Suttles (@AaronSuttles) February 16, 2017
Justin Dickens decided to resign his post after two years in the role, following a one year tenure at Michigan. He had replaced Joe Pannunzio, who spent two years in the Philadelphia Eagles front office before coming back to Alabama recently as a tight ends and special teams coach. The role is an administrative one and turnover is common.
Speaking of Pannunzio, at least one former Alabama player is a big fan:
"It's an awesome hire by coach (Saban)," McCarron told The Opening Kickoff on WNSP-FM 105.5 during a 90-minute in-studio visit. "JoPa is probably my favorite person from my days there. I still talk to him to this day. We're very close. He's just unreal. One of the best guys you will ever meet.
"I can't say enough about him. I love him. I love his whole family. He's just awesome."
Rumors that Joe introduced AJ to his tattoo guy are unconfirmed.
Following up on reports that surfaced earlier in the day, the Rebels confirmed in a press release a short time ago that Freddie Roach has been hired to as Hugh Freeze’s defensive line coach. Roach replaces Tray Scott, who left last week for the same job with Kirby Smart at Georgia.
Good for Freddie, who will get a chance as a coach in the SEC. Meanwhile, there are rumblings that recently fired Ole Miss OC/QB coach Dan Werner may be hired as an offensive analyst for Alabama. Werner is known for his ability to develop QBs. The carousel continues.
So this is easily the biggest offensive overhaul for Saban in terms of staff in his Alabama tenure. It'll be an even bigger departure if the rumblings about returning to more of a traditional pro-style offense turn out to be true, as questionable as that move would seem given the return of Jalen Hurts.
Whatever the offense becomes and whoever wins the starting quarterback job, the 2017 season promises to be a fresh start for the Crimson Tide with the ball in its hands. But that may turn out to be a good thing.
We often praise Saban around here for having contingency plans for his contingency plans, but I think he used them all this offseason. All eyes will be on the offense at A-Day.
“I think he’s going to Alabama with his whole family to watch Tua. That’s what I’ve been told,” former Kapolei offensive coordinator June Jones to Hawaii Prep World. “He’ll do great. It’ll be a great experience for him. A totally different culture, obviously. He’s going to Birmingham. I haven’t talked to Galu and Diane, but they’re going up this year for sure.”
The younger Tagovailoa holds an impressive offer list of his own with the likes of the Crimson Tide, Hawaii, Oregon and Utah.
The kid is moving from Hawaii to Alabama for his junior year of high school so that he can see his brother play on Saturdays. What a family.
Last but not least, the women’s basketball team beat Tennessee for the second consecutive season:
"I just love the fact that we were able to be pretty consistent on the offensive end, rebound the basketball consistently and consistently get stops," said Alabama head coach Kristy Curry. "I thought in the third quarter when they made their run, we never folded. In the past, we've allowed ourselves to play not to lose instead of play to win, so it's good to see the growth and the ability to finish games. I'm really happy for our kids. Every single day they just go back to work. Being persistent and positive is important when you're in this league, and I thought our kids have tried to do that."
Tennessee is certainly a shell of what they once were, but still came in above .500 in conference play. Big win for the ladies in Crimson.
That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.