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Jumbo Package: NFL Combine nears, is there an “Alabama effect,” Taco Tuesday at the Joe

Miscellaneous news around campus and country

Kentucky v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Alabama effect...

"It's just complete domination in recruiting

. . .

Kiffin cites the example of 2017 defensive end Jarez Parks, a consensus Top 100 recruit nationally who opted to sign with Alabama despite the fact he'll have to grayshirt for a semester. Guys like that used to be suiting up for the other teams.

"We'd go to play last year, and we knew that no matter what, when we walked onto that field, our roster was more talented than every team we played," said Kiffin. "If you accumulate all of the (best recruits), now you're not playing against them."

Lane Kiffin talks 'Alabama Effect' for SEC being down: 'It's just complete domination in recruiting' |

What is being called the “Alabama Effect” here is nothing more or less than the self-evident and long-held mantra in football: It’s not Xs and Os, it’s Jimmies and Joes. One player can elevate a team to fantastic heights in basketball, or be a game-changer for an otherwise mediocre baseball team, one man can practically win a championship on a hockey club, but you need a lot of high-level players, well-developed, and performing well, to be a well-oiled football machine.

Whoever wrote this legislation fell on their head as a baby

A proposed North Carolina bill would allow parents -- in addition to healthcare providers, as previously mandated -- to put players back into games after suffering concussions.

It tweaks North Carolina’s existing concussion legislation, the Gfeller-Waller Concussion Awareness Act, which dictates students cannot return to gameplay until a medical professional or athletic trainer evaluates their injuries.

Bill 116 would allow a parent to evaluate the student in the place of a medical professional or trainer, potentially giving parents the ability to send their concussed child back into the competition.

North Carolina could pass law that’d let parents send concussed children back into games -

In a safety-focused age, where we have more and more science showing the detrimental effects of closed head injuries (particularly on developing brains,) when contact to in general is being pared down, this seems indefensible.

Good news and bad news

Bad news: Alabama returns just 11 starters in what should be a reloading-ish kind of ear for the Tide, especially in the defense. That’s “good” for just 103rd in the country. Most of the gains made by returning vets should be in the East: South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Vandy return a ton of letterman.

Phil Steele

For Alabama, the good news is that the effects of reloading probably won’t be felt too much on the field. Alabama is projected to improve by about one point on each side of the ball, relative to its schedule. And that doesn’t even take into account entering Juco players or Freshmen producers.

2017 college football returning production rankings: Oregon, TCU, Texas among leaders -

The lesson here is that who you play and where you play is often as important as who plays for you.

Need a schedule?

Tuscaloosa News has their up-to-the-minute schedule of all Alabama Spring Sports here: baseball, softball, basketball, and gymnastics. The best part is you can bypass the godawful University of Alabama site — seriously, Learfield, burn that thing with fire and start over.

SCHEDULES: UA men’s and women’s basketball, gymnastics, softball, baseball (let’s all laugh at T’News’ awful unicode characters)

Track and Field has become quietly excellent

The Alabama men's track and field team moved up three spots to No. 6 while the women moved up two places to seventh in the U.S. Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Team Rankings released Monday afternoon. The men's team earned 82.96 points while the women's team posted 82.82 points.

Regionally, the men remain No. 1 in the South Region with 366.59 points while the women are No. 3 with 249.35 points.

Crimson Tide Men No. 6, Women No. 7 in Latest USTFCCCA National Rankings - ROLLTIDE.COM - University of Alabama Official Athletics Site

Throwing money at a problem doesn’t always work; however, with college athletics it is damn-near a 1:1 correlation for success. Money buys facilities, projects recruiting force, staffs superior coaching and support personnel, and buys innovative tech that improves performance. All of those have paid off in a big way the last several years for UA T&F. Thanks, football!

Combine how-to-watch and overview

All 10 former Alabama players that received invites to Indianapolis rank among the top-10 players at their respective positions and are projected to be drafted in the first three rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft, according to CBS Sports’ draft rankings.

Foster, the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 7 overall player, will not be able to participate in the Combine’s drills following surgery on his right rotator cuff, according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan. But Foster is expected to recover before July’s training camp.

CBS Sports projects as many as six former Crimson Tide stars could be selected in the first round of this year’s draft. Ohio State saw five players drafted in 2016, which was one shy of Miami’s record of six in 2004 for the most in the draft’s first 32 picks.

2017 NFL Scouting Combine Primer: Keep up with Alabama Crimson Tide Football players in Indianapolis

I’m not a huge shieldball guy — three decades of Buffalo fandom has that effect on a man. But, for those who want to keep up with the Combine and Alabama players’ performances, BOL has a nifty little write up here for you. Of course, we’ll have more in-depth coverage when the event begins on Friday, March 3rd.


Outside of the 14-1 Tide, which came within one second of winning yet another national championship, no other team in the conference finished with fewer than four losses in 2016. A league that in 2012 placed five teams in the final AP top 10 had its second-highest team, 8-4 LSU, finish 13th. And a conference that went 65-32 in bowl games during its dominant 2006-15 run went 6-7 this past postseason.

None of this is to say the SEC is suddenly a bad conference, but clearly its longstanding status as the nation’s undisputed best is over.

Four reasons why the SEC is no longer king of college football

Shorter version here: The East sucks out loud, better coaches were fired or moved along, and — wrongly — Alabama has taken all the talent. The first two are definitely related: When you lose Urban Meyer, Mark Richt, Gary Pinkel, and Steve Spurrier and then replace them with unfinished products in Will Muschamp (twice,) Barry Odom, Jim McElwain and Kirby Smart, you tend to see a slide in performance. And Mandel’s latter proposition is self-evidently wrong: Seven teams were in the top 11 of this year’s recruiting rankings — and none were ranked lower than 39th. Alabama may have the most talent in the country, and it shows most with elite depth, but among the top tier of CFB, it’s not so drastic an advantage 1-22 that the Tide can line up and just win ball games. Those players also have to be developed, and that is where Alabama excels almost as much as in recruiting.

#FreeUAB or #OppressUAB, as your preference dictates

A year ago, they only had 67 players for spring. Now they’re up to the maximum 115. Every coach likes to say the depth chart is wide open in the spring, no matter the returning starters. For Clark, it’s literal.

“It’s real now,” he said of spring. “This is not make-believe or getting ready. It’s real now.”

But signs of the rebuild are still evident. The Blazers only have one field to practice on, compared to two or three everywhere else. There is construction as new facilities get built. It's a new turf field, and it's better condition than what UAB used to have.

What 'real' spring practice feels like at UAB, and the one thing that's missing

Optimism is...there in Birmingham. I still can’t help but think is not a great idea for a poorer university system in a cash-strapped state — a state about to become poorer if medicaid funding reverts to block grants and facing the national impending pension time-bomb. Economic reality will set in sooner or later and either put the program back on the chopping block or, more likely, see it knocked down to D2 or FCS. And, you know, that’s perfectly fine. Not every school can afford Division 1 football, not every market can bear it, and not every fanbase will pay for it. UAB demonstrably showed that the first time around when it jumped up to FBS. We’ll see what happens in Round Two.

That’s all for today. Alabama baseball, coming off a fairly pitiful sweep by Oral Roberts, takes to the field tonight for Taco Tuesday vs. in-state opponent, Jax State. BTW, Taco Tuesday is actually a pretty cool deal (for a change:) $10 gets you a ticket, some tacos, and a trip through the guac and salsa bar. Weather should be good tonight too, after some spotty rain early today, so give the baseball game a shot if you’ve the time. Say hi to Roger, drink some beer with the rowdies in right field, watch the pretty people in shorts and tight-fitting clothes: In short, enjoy Spring.