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Jumbo Package: Wrapping up the Opening; Tide targets and stats

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The depth of the offseason is just the heart of ‘crootin season.

SEC Basketball Tournament - Semifinals
I’m not searching recruiting pictures, when I have a perfectly good blonde cheerleader right here.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Ryan Anderson is seriously impressing the Redskins locker room. Not that it should be a surprise to those of us who watched and listened to his intensity the last few years. (LOL.)

The Alabama athletic department, in its never ending quest to monetize the hell out of anything to do with the Crimson Tide, has made several substantive changes to tailgating that you should acquaint yourself with. Now, AL.com has the sweetheart contract to show some of the other details that were not reported earlier. Man, Aramark has a deathgrip on this university like a boa constrictor spying a sleepy rabbit.

Champlin has some thoughts on ‘Bama targets at the Opening, Nike’s big gala recruiting event.

BOL also wraps up the Opening.

CBS Sports has churned out their own Hot Seat rankings...and another one of the SUPER hot seats — 5 guys that will be moving on at the end of the year without a big season. A few weeks ago, CB gave you his SEC hot seat predictions. You should read that too if you’re into Saban growing the SEC’s unemployment line.

Speaking of SEC/CBS, Barrett Sallee is moving on from B/R to CBS where he will focus on the SEC. Good for him. He’ll get to do a lot more substantive writing. I’ve not always agreed with Barrett, but at least he generally provides plausible rationale for his thoughts rather than tropes like “X just wanted it more.” One day, though, he’ll stop getting burned by betting on the ‘Barn.

BOL does see some questions for the linebacking corps. It’s a group thin on starting experience, but plenty of meaningful snaps in the rotation. I think the LBs will get their feet under them by Labor Day if everyone is at 100%.

Their countdown of Top 25 players for 2017 includes Lester Cotton at No. 17 (yes, they did a No. 17 yesterday too. This s*** is a lot harder than it looks, no matter how often it is edited.) Cotton has been in and out of the doghouse and in and out of the rotation. He has the skills to be an exceptional guard, but it’s time to put it together between his ears.

Mothership predicts each conference’s biggest game. They have the Iron Bowl listed, which is defensible if you buy into Stidham. I think the ‘Barn offense will be much improved this season, but I have serious questions on the other side of the ball. The heart of the front is gone. It’s really hard to replace guys like Montravius Adams with green recruits and no tested quality depth. And, make no mistake, the defensive line masked an average secondary that has gotten worse through attrition and the loss of pass rushers up front. For my money, again, give me LSU - Bama. The Tigers underperformed last season, for sure. But until Auburn can consistently fend off the running game of their Cajun namesakes (see above,) then Tuscaloosa-Baton Rouge is still your road to Atlanta.

And, lastly, the League-assisted officiating that was experimented with by the ACC and SEC last season is here to stay...and is expanding. It’s not a matter of getting calls right for the sacred purity of the sport; it’s that league offices have an absolute pecuniary motivation in getting those calls (and the wins and losses) correct. It’s a multi-billion dollar sport and no one wants a league standard bearer in Shreveport when they should be in Pasadena. #ThanksREC