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Jumbo Package: Grab your popcorn. The SEC is ‘bout to catch fire!

Ole Miss has probably unleashed a triangular SEC-West firing squad.

'Good Behavior' NYC Premiere
Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Turner

Oooh, Deja Vu

“There was nothing unique about what he did,” Mustain told the Sun-Sentinel. “It just seemed to us, there was no effort for it. It was almost as if he was wholly disinterested in being the head coach. You can tell he enjoys the play-calling. He enjoys working with the offense and making that run. He was very good at it. As for the whole thing, it seemed that maybe it just wasn’t really where he wanted to be.”

While Mitch Mustain’s specific criticism isn’t a 1:1 analogue with Kiffin’s Alabama tenure, there is something to it: you could definitely see by the end of his run in Tuscaloosa, that Lane Kiffin had become distracted, seemingly bored, and mailed in some of the least-inspired playcalling of a pretty stellar career.

The Next Guns

This is really good video and article on seven lesser-hyped players that could step in and be stars for the Tide in the near future. Here’s the quick blurb on Quinnen Williams, for instance:

Quinnen Williams, DL

Former Alabama defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson had this to say about Quinnen Williams, a 6' 4", 300-pound defensive lineman: "He picked up the defense pretty quickly and his technique is already off the charts."

Theses are Alabama's next seven star players |

And, from Travis Reier at BOL, we get a very thoughtful look at the QB position

As much buzz as Hurts generated in 2016 spring drills, there wasn't a rush put on his development. Instead, it happened organically, with the Texan taking on more of the load as he proved capable. That won't be the case for Tagovailoa and Jones. At a minimum, Alabama needs a top backup for the 2017 season and both will have an opportunity to stake a claim to the role.

Looking at Tagovailoa, his best chance at making a run at Hurts will come in the passing game. If he's as instinctive and accurate as a passer as his high school tape leads one to think he is, perhaps he'll make things interesting between now and early September. If there's an area where he could differentiate himself from Hurts, it's there -- and the gap between himself and Hurts will need to be wide if he's to negate the edge the incumbent has in experience.


Former Tide LB promoted to Director of Player Development

Former Alabama linebacker Denzel Devall has reportedly been promoted to director of player development for the Crimson Tide, according to the Bastrop Daily Enterprise. Devall fills the void left by Freddie Roach, who is Ole Miss' new defensive line coach.

Devall was initially hired at his alma mater in July as a personnel assistant, assisting in recruiting, film evaluation and player development. Per the Bastrop Daily Enterprise, he was moved to assistant strength and conditioning coach in January before being elevated to his current position last week.

Awesome. That’s good to hear for Devall.

Brady Quinn details what Daboll brings to Alabama, Hurts

Meanwhile, Brady Quinn lauds Daboll. This kind of praise and detail makes me feel (nominally) better about his ability (Daboll, not Brady Quinn — that guy sucks.)

“A lot of times it can kind of get stale in that quarterback room, but Dabe’s does a good job of really keeping things upbeat, keeping them light, keeping things competitive. That’s one thing you’re going to see from him right away. He’s got a lot of energy and a lot of excitement for the game.

“But his preparation is unbelievable. Jalen Hurts, or whoever the starting quarterback’s going to be for Alabama, is going to be prepared week in and week out. The way he breaks down film, his background as far as the coaches that he’s coached underneath and I think the things that he taught me early on in my career in the NFL were extremely beneficial as far as understanding coverages and where the weaknesses are in defenses and how to utilize your gameplan to the best of your ability.”

Ole Mess

Three years ago, Steven Godfrey (an Ole Miss grad, incidentally) did a tremendous long-form about the nebulous bag man. I’m not insinuating this was an Ole Miss booster, or even a State booster, but some reasonable inference would lead you to suspect that the person/people in Godfrey’s seminal piece has become embroiled in, or at least knows the actors involved in the allegations against the Rebels. If you’ve read it, it’s worth another look. If you’ve not seen it, then you have missed a fascinating look at penny ante corruption in college football:

There's no way Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze comes out of NCAA violations unscathed -

Essentially, this can only go one of two ways for Freeze.

The first is that Freeze either was directly involved or at least knew about what was going on, and he was perfectly fine with it. That’s not a good look for anybody.

The second is that all of this went on right under Freeze’s nose without him being the slightest bit aware of it. While this isn’t as ugly on the surface as the first situation, it does nothing to instill much faith in Freeze. He is the head coach, and this is his program. He’s the one ultimately responsible for everything that takes place in and around it. Maybe that’s not fair, but it’s also why Freeze was paid $4.7 million in 2016.

For now, Ole Miss is presenting an united front in the face of the NCAA: Chancellor Vitter, AD Ross Bjork, and Hugh Freeze are all planning on him being there for the long haul — or at least paying lip service to that. Here’s the problem with that strategy, however: As the corollary USC case showed, unrepentant defiance is not the way to dodge the sanction bullet. In fact, that was an aggravating factor when the Committee on Infractions levied sanctions against the Trojans.

Let’s be clear what Ole Miss’ strategy is at this point, too, aside from moderate self-imposed sanctions: The Rebels plan on contesting as much of the evidence as possible, deny what it can, and then pawn off the transgressions as the bad acts of coaches no longer with the program, the former administration, and boosters with whom it has cut ties. But, most of those coaches did not leave because of the investigation; they were the rats seeking dry land as they lept from a sinking ship or were fired/retired following on-field production. Moreover, the blame game is compounded by the Responsibility Clause invoked by the NCAA: Hugh Freeze is going to be held personally liable for those coaches’ actions. I do not see a way that he survives this with his job. And, at this point, saving his future career by avoiding a suspension or Show Cause Order may be the better long-term strategy.

The mud-slinging is not even close to over yet either. Prepare for scorched earth tactics from Ole Miss and boosters and alumni towards its in-state rival, Mississippi a minimum. The lid is off an attempted pay-off of at least one player, and there appears to be credible evidence that it was a bidding war initiated by or participated in by the Bulldogs. That is what Godfrey partly alludes to in his follow-up piece today:

4. The worst possible scenario for the SEC is still in play.

The NCAA’s amended NOA against Ole Miss is a shot to kill, but the amended allegations are built almost entirely on incidents involving players who signed at other universities. SB Nation can confirm that three of the student athletes listed in the amended NOA are current or recent players for other SEC programs.

Obviously Ole Miss can’t retaliate in any formal way. But far from the above-board practices of major programs, there’s a dense network of boosters, university employees, and middlemen who both create and solve problems in recruiting.

Rival coaching staffs file formal complaints against one another regularly, but among individuals who do the actual compensating of recruits, the philosophy of mutually assured destruction has been a loose rule.

Mercy me. The recriminations that are about to follow is going to harken back to the bad ole days in the 90s-aughts when every single team went on probation at least once. This will be a test of Sankey’s leadership to be sure. As Godfrey notes, Mike Slive had instilled some serious Omerta among member institutions.

(BTW: If the SBN sources mentioned above are the same or similar to ours, then two of those players are presently at Mississippi State, and one is at Auburn.)

What in the...

Tommy Tuberville considers Alabama gubernatorial run: Why it's not that crazy -

But when voters go behind that curtain, what affiliation will matter more -- Republican/Democrat or Tide/Tigers?

Fifty-eight percent of the state’s elected officials are Republican. It’s no secret the majority of state’s fans support Alabama.

“If you can connect with voters on an education message, that’s a big plus,” French said. “Tommy has recruited. He’s seen underprivileged youth come into his program and go out the other door and be a successful professional the rest of their life.

“Those are powerful messages. It’d be fun to package him, to be honest. I might want to dust off my credentials and go with him.”

When Tuberville left, he wasn’t exactly the most popular person in the Loveliest Cow Pasture. To that resentment add partisan votes from the other party and die-hard, normally non-political Alabama fans who, come hell or high water, would go to the polls just to tell Tubby what to do with that thumb of his. Nevertheless, Tuberville has begun the process of polling for name recognition and exploring a run for Alabama governor. His thinking has to be that he can’t be any worse than the rogues’ gallery that has traditionally occupied Montgomery, eh? This is not a political thought, just a hilarious one — Imagine Tuberville, Roy Moore, and Charles Barkley debating for the Republican nomination.

There’s a lot to talk about today, so grab your popcorn: Baseball thumped the best team it will see in non-con action; Tide hoops faces the Bulldogs tonight in a probable bubble-game elimination round; we’ve got Ole Miss; some Daboll optimism; and, Wingnut being wingnutty.

Basketball preview and open thread to follow. Go forth to evil.