From the players’ mouths — pay attention, there will be a quiz at the end.
Tagovailoa didn't care about the roster. He said that even if quarterbacks Blake Barnett, Cooper Bateman and David Cornwell didn't all transfer, he would have been fine listening to Southerners butcher his last name.
"It had no factor," Tagovailoa said. "You have to go places to compete. So why not come to the best place?"
Najee Harris, Tagovailoa's roommate, thought the same thing.
Harris, a five-star running back from Southern California, wanted to practice where everyone was a five-star, he said.
This is a very nice problem to have for the Tide. It’s not unique, though. USC in the mid-aughts had the same “problem,” notably at quarterback. As surprising as it is that Alabama is still able to sign these players and get the vast majority on the field, it is even more surprising that Alabama doesn’t lose more players to transfer.
While Townsend is currently focusing on wide receiver, he said Alabama coaches ask him periodically whether he wants to remain on offense or try out defense.
"They're really still asking me what I want to do," Townsend said. "I guess they're letting me choose for right now. But I'm trying to pay more attention to the offensive side and use my speed for that. But, if I have to go to the defensive side, I'll just do that and work on that."
I’m thinking that Chadarius makes the move to DB, a position where Alabama only signed one corner. But, who knows where his skills best fit — Oh, Brent does. His “Meet The New Guys” piece is up for your perusal today. Plug. Plug.
Didn’t see that coming
The Big 12 board announced Wednesday that it will withhold 25 percent of future revenue distribution payments to Baylor, pending an outcome of a third-party verification review of required changes to the school's "athletics procedures and to institutional governance of its intercollegiate athletics programs."
"The board is unified in establishing a process to verify that proper institutional controls are in place and sustainable," Oklahoma president and Big 12 board chairman David Boren said in a statement.
Baylor’s institutional moral compass is plainly broken. Appealing to legality and decency has not worked so far. But, a lost of 25% of its Big Twelve revenue (from $32m to $24m this year alone) very well may do the trick. I did not see this coming, but it is welcomed.
And, now it’s official. Steve Sarkisian was confimed as the new Atlanta Falcons OC at 8:30 central. Let the true speculation begin in earnest. Given that no one contingency plans quite like Nick Saban, I would be surprised if this process lasts even a week.
First, there's Jason Cole of the Bleacher Report. He's saying Kelly has no interest in the Alabama job and is focusing just on another NFL head coaching or offensive coordinator job.
Then there's Adam Schefter of ESPN. The NFL insider said Kelly is indeed a candidate and has spoken with Nick Saban in the past two days.
"Now, whether or not it is enough to materialize into Nick Saban offering the job, Chip Kelly accepting the job, that's another issue," Schefter said on ESPN Radio
Blech. Do not want. Even with a half-functional defense, Ted Roof’s Auburn team was able to suss out that offense. And, with Saban preferring a more aggressive offense, particularly at the line of scrimmage, I’m not sure he wants a scheme that is more horizontal than a cadaver. This says nothing of the personality clashes between the two. A man with previous NFL managerial powers is hardly going to want to play second fiddle. Besides, this would be at best a one-year quick fix — Alabama would be hiring another OC in 10 months. I lean on the side that the talks are more feeling-out than true mutual interest...or that may be my unwarranted optimism kicking in. At the very least, if it does come to pass, maybe we can get Chip to go back to his triple-option wishbone days at New Hampshire?
Remember that quiz? Here it comes...
I am officially “rolling my eyes out of my head, across the floor, blood pressure spiking through the ceiling, knocking the roof off, which in turn tumbles a baby harp seal into a running wood chipper” peeved.
I knew I shouldn’t have read this.
In the case of Nick Saban and Steve Sarkisian, frustrations between the two led to Sark jumping to the Atlanta Falcons. While the OC job in Atlanta wasn’t technically open during recruiting season, former OC Kyle Shanahan was known to be the next head coach in San Francisco for weeks. All parties involved can retain plausible deniability if they’re accused of misleading Bama’s 2017 signees, but to assume Sark was unaware of the Atlanta job until after the Super Bowl is naive.
I’m not here to talk about Kirby Smart, who has the ethics of a weasel on speed. Nor Bert, who doesn’t think beyond his next stunt. Nor is this about LSU’s Binder Cabal or the Five-Star-Heart Life Champions in Knoxville.
My specific ire was raised when Alabama’s coaching change was lumped in with those cases.
Steve Sarkisian didn’t recruit any of the players on the roster. He didn’t move out of the analyst box until January 2017, at which time over a dozen of Alabama’s 2017 NSD class were already on freaking campus and another four were arriving on Feb. 13. No one came to Alabama for Steve Sarkisian. Steve Sarkisian was not in contact with 2/3rds of the class until after their NLIs were in hand. Steve Sarkisian leaves, statistically, as the losingest offensive coordinator in Alabama history. And, judging from his roster management in the Clemson game, the running back corps at least has to be pleased that Alabama is going forward without Steve Sarkisian.
Speaking of naivety, what makes either of the authors think for one rosy red second that players courted by every team in the country, with eyes realistically on a pro career, believe that an Alabama staff which always has high turnover would remain static their entire four-year career? Nothing, if common sense and a look at Saban’s 10-year placement track record can be believed (and they should, by the way.) Alabama has never had the same staff for four years running. These players aren’t dummies. They know guys like Sark, Smart, Kiffin, Pruitt are in the mix for other jobs and can (and will) leave at any moment. The players take the benefit of the coaching they can get, while they can get it, and then sleep assured knowing that Nick Saban will always fill that spot with someone equally qualified to make them better players, a better team, and better pro prospects.
Cries of “unfair” or “players should commit to the school” ignore the players’ very words — read Tua’s and Harris’ comments again: these guys did commit to the school. They came to compete against the best and play for the best and play against the very best. So, as to Alabama, at least, any charges of “unfair” above must and do ring hollow. But any modicum of fact-checking would have ruined the polemic.
I understand it’s fashionable to drop a deuce on Alabama generally, and Nick Saban specifically. When it’s warranted, we’ll do the same. But, at least make the criticisms valid. As it stands, rumors aside, it’s just another bit of pissiness and unsubstantiated innuendo that has plagued this program since it began winning. And that, my friends, is something I am truly growing weary of.
But, even if there was some chicanery as nebulously-complained about above, and there is no evidence of that in Alabama’s case, I find it remarkably hypocritical that some of the same editorial voices that most loudly call for making college athletics more of a business are also angry when that business side creeps in; when business decisions are exercised.
The “anti-athlete” Jeremiad wholly ignores that athletes make their own decisions that affect the business and lives of others, and that all of the athletes’ decisions are out of the coaches hands. Whether it’s committing, changing commitments, transferring, changing positions, buying in, accepting coaching, changing sports, taking a grayshirt, not taking that extra hit over the middle, staying out of trouble, going to class, maintaining NCAA eligibility, abstaining from illicit drugs and PEDs, leaving for the NFL, changing majors, staying in the film room, taking leadership roles, and whole slew of other decisions, they are all “business decisions,” and they are all in the athletes’ favor.
It is almost like there is a two-way street, a mutually beneficial relationship, one bound by a writing, one where both parties profit, one of mutual obligations, one of detriments where both parties forgo legally cognizable rights and freedoms, one that spells out a time of performance. It sounds like it may be the very definition of an arm’s-length, freely-bargained contractual relationship.
Hell, you might even call it...dare I say...a business.
We may pick the career and where we want a job, but even when we get there, we don’t always have the same boss, much less do we get to pick our boss’ replacement. We may decide the career path, but when we leave, we often find restrictions — certain competitors are barred or we have to wait a year before we can pick back up where we left off. Those terms were laid out when we chose the job and where we wanted to work. We agreed to them.
So, far from being anti-athlete, athletics probably better prepares college kids for the real world more than anything else on this earth. To argue this is somehow unfair is not “having one’s cake and eating it too” — it is cramming a bakery in your mouth while knocking over a Little Debbie vendor.
Anyway, that is what we have today. Go read Brent and Kleph’s work on the front page, tell me I’m stupid below, and as always go forth to evil.