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Jumbo Package: Tide Look Toward the Future as the Silly Season Begins

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This might be the most offseason post ever.

CFP National Championship presented by AT&T - Alabama v Georgia Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone. The offseason is in full swing, and we have all kinds of random absurdity to discuss. But first, we’ll open with a fantastic piece from Jenny Vrentas at Sports Illustrated.

They’re both in their mid-60s, and it seems unlikely their coaching paths will ever intersect on opposing sidelines again. Perhaps the greatest indication of how Belichick feels about Saban is that he wouldn’t want them to.

“I mean, I wouldn’t want to face him,” Belichick says. “Obviously, if the circumstances fell that way, then we would compete against each other like we did in ’05 and ’06. But I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I would look forward to that. It would be tough; it would be very challenging.”

Take a few minutes to read this. She details the relationship between the two men who would dominate the NFL and college football in unprecedented fashion, from the beginning. Fascinating stuff.

Sen. Richard Shelby took time to congratulate the Tide on the Senate floor yesterday.

That was a very nice speech, but nothing will ever top Florida alum Corrine Brown after the 2008 season.

Irvin Myers had a hell of a season that year. Hopefully the memory of that game is helping Ms. Brown get through the five year prison sentence for fraud that she recently started serving. Who knew that politicians could be corrupt? #GoGata

Moving on, some of the Alabama players got ahold of a November headline from FOX sports analyst and noted Big 12 shill Jason McIntyre calling this team Saban’s worst since 2010. Christian Miller started it by posting the article on his timeline, and for whatever reason McIntyre felt the need to defend himself.

I mean, it seems a little odd for a national sportswriter to be engaging a college football player in that manner, but you do you, Jason. After that, some of Christian’s teammates joined in the fun. Click on the picture and scroll to see their responses.

To be fair to McIntyre, he isn’t the only one rating this team as the weakest of Saban’s title teams.

Being the lowest-ranked national championship team is like being the poorest member of the Forbes 400—just being on the list is what’s important, and no disrespect is intended. After Auburn soundly beat the Tide 26–14 to knock them out of the SEC title game, there was some serious doubt as to whether this team would get a chance to avenge the heartbreaking 2016 title loss to Clemson in the CFP semis. Yes, Alabama’s 24–6 suffocation of Clemson seemed to validate the committee’s decision to put them in the playoff over Ohio State, but there’s a solid argument that this team didn’t deserve a shot at the national title in the first place. If they had been competing in the BCS era, the 2017 season would have likely ended with a ho-hum (by Bama standards) Sugar Bowl berth.

No need to tweet, men. You have the trophy.

Speaking of the players and their Twitter accounts, you have undoubtedly heard by now about Harley Barber, the UA student who was quickly expelled after her racist rants on Instagram were publicized. Harley, who moved back to her home state of New Jersey and should not be confused with 2016 Miss Alabama Hayley Barber, suggested that she couldn’t be racist because she had slept with black Alabama football players.

No, really. She said that.

Anyhow, Josh Jacobs took to tweeting and escalated the situation a bit.

Said lineman is never going to live that down. Might be worth considering a transfer rather than enduring the hell that he will catch inside that locker room.

Next, we have the “future is so bright I have to wear shades” segment:

Only one of the dozen who earned five stars by at least one recruiting service didn’t play this past season: Baker, who was widely considered the top junior college offensive tackle in the nation. The other JUCO addition, Buggs, made 13 starts on the defensive line.

Overall, 17 true freshmen saw game action during the 2017 season, with Cowan the last to enter the mix against Tennessee. That was on a team that saw 17 players make their first career starts, including Wills at right tackle against Ole Miss (with an unbalanced offensive line) and Moses against Mercer.

That first line is an underrated point that I hadn’t realized. The Tide signed six consensus five-stars last year, but twelve - nearly half the class - were rated five-stars by at least one of the major recruiting services? That is incredible. That class isn’t done winning titles, folks.

Defensive line

DE: Isaiah Buggs, LaBryan Ray/Phidarian Mathis

NG: Johnny Dwight, Phidarian Mathis

DE: Raekwon Davis (above), Quinnen Williams

Notes: The loss of Da’Ron Payne in the middle is a major one. This will be Johnny Dwight’s fifth year in the program, so he knows the defense. Buggs and Davis solidified roles in the starting lineup with LaBryan Ray and Quinnen Williams providing competition/opportunity in specialty packages.

Losing Da’Ron is, indeed, a Payne. Raekwon Davis came in as a nose guard and moved out to defensive end. I fully expect him to get the nod at the nose, flanked by Buggs and Williams in all likelihood. Dwight, Ray, and Mathis will all get plenty of action.

On the OL, they are projecting Jonah Williams to move inside to center. That’s an intriguing prospect as long as Alex Leatherwood is ready for a full time role. He performed admirably when pressed into duty against Georgia, but certainly had a few marks against his grade. My prediction is that the tackles will stay intact with several good candidates, led by Deonte Brown and Jedrick Wills, competing for the left guard spot next to Jonah as Ross Pierschbacher moves inside to center. Leatherwood is probably best served playing behind Jonah again, and looking at the schedule he may get as much field time anyway.

Saban officially announced the Jeff Banks hire. As expected, he will fill the special teams coordinator job vacated by Joe Pannunzio, who is headed back to a front office role.

“We are pleased to be able to add a coach the caliber of Jeff Banks to our staff as special teams coordinator,” Saban said in a statement. “Jeff is well-respected across the country for his knowledge of the game and his ability to recruit. He is a great teacher and someone who will help our football team be successful. We are pleased to welcome Jeff and his family to Tuscaloosa.”

Did I mention that Banks is a former college kicker? I think I may have, but just in case: Banks is a former college kicker.

As far as Pannunzio goes...

Former NFL executive Mike Lombardi tweeted recently that Marynowitz has been in contact with the Oakland Raiders about a job in their personnel department. In addition, Marynowitz holds an offer to join the staff of agent Jimmy Sexton, according to Football Scoop.

Nothing has been announced here, but that puzzle piece just fits.

The women’s basketball team had a rough night last night as they suffered a blowout loss at home to Texas A&M, but check out what the Aggies’ coach had to say after the game.

Classy, indeed.

The NCAA convention is currently happening in Indianapolis, and two main issues have taken center stage.

“This is a vote for the student-athletes,” Berry said. “This is fair for them. The old rule is archaic. The old rule was put in place when we had 105 scholarships and 10 games.”

Scholarships are capped today at 85. Georgia played 15 games in the recently finished season. Two years ago, injuries forced West Virginia to strip the redshirt of freshman running back Martell Pettaway in Week 13. He rushed for 181 yards to help the Mountaineers beat Iowa State and played a week later in the regular-season finale.

But in the WVU bowl game, with older players back from injury, Pettaway received just three carries.

“It’s just a shame to waste a year of eligibility for that,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who sits on the DI Council and chairs the Football Oversight Committee.

Even as the federal investigation continues, Emmert said the NCAA leadership is finalizing its schedule to act quickly. The independent Commission on College Basketball plans to report findings and issue recommendations to the NCAA board of governors on April 25. In response, the governors will direct the Division I board of directors and the Division I Council to draft legislation, with the intent to pass it in August -- ahead of the 2018-19 basketball season.

”We’ve all made a commitment to have meaningful change, not trivial change, in place by tipoff 2018,” Emmert said.

The redshirt proposal will be voted on in April, and seems to have almost unanimous support. Allowing developing players to get their feet wet at the tail end of a couple of blowout games without losing a year of eligibility is good for all involved. This is a common sense proposal that should pass easily.

Of course, Saban’s use of Tua in the national title game is mentioned by some dissenters, suggesting that a coach could strategically deploy a star weapon in only the most meaningful games in order to preserve a year of eligibility. That seems a bit far-fetched, though it is highly possible that young stars could emerge during bowl practice and find their way onto the field in the postseason. That’s what reportedly happened with Tua, and it only creates more excitement around the sport.

Needless to say, the FBI investigation into college basketball has been an ugly black eye on the sport, and Emmert is right to make it the hot-button issue of the weekend. If you’re interested in keeping up with the convention, I recommend following Mitch Sherman of ESPN on Twitter. He is doing a fine job covering the event, which runs through tomorrow.

Before we go, a bit of offseason hilarity for you.

First, watch this. Seriously, watch it.

You’re welcome.

Lastly, we have reached the time of year when the message board conspiracy theorists over at ITAT engage in full bore activism. Who is the object of this year’s obsession?

Why, Tua Tagovailoa, of course.

Since I’m not living in AL and really don’t have much if any info regarding anything going on in the state and the circumstances of some things:

- Did Tua’s family move to Alabama?

- Did they pay for the trip themselves?

- Did they pay to have all their stuff moved?

- What were they doing in Hawaii? How much money DID THEY have?

- What is Tua’s family doing now for money?

These are questions people should be asking, especially since Tua is going to a school that over the past few years especially, hasn’t developed a genuine NFL level QB. McCarron doesn’t count. I see no difference in him NOW than when he was at Bama.

If only this person lived in Alabama, he could run his own investigation and dig up the dirt himself. Tagovailoa family: If you find a weirdo or two in an ugly orange golf shirt and camo pants hiding in your bushes, don’t be afraid. They aren’t dangerous, just sad.

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.