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Special Edition CFP National Championship Saturday Jumbo Package

Two short days separate these teams from an historic meeting.

CFP National Championship - Alabama v Clemson

“You know what I do to former assistants, right?”

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

With the Tide leaving for Atlanta on Friday, and the game on Monday, more news and Championship miscellany is rolling in than usual. So, we’re dropping this special edition JP for you.

First, if you’re going to the game, or are in the Atlanta area, the official Alumni watch party will be held at Sweetwater:

Alabama vs. Georgia: Position-by-position breakdown by college football coaches -

Either directly, or by proxy, college football’s national champion will have been forged in the fires of Nick Saban. At Alabama, Saban has set the standard in the sport and we all know what his formula is: a run-heavy offense and a 3-4 defense with a dominant front seven.

The No. 4 Alabama Gymnastics team began its season yesterday at No. 7 Michigan. The Tide was plagued by falls on several rotations and small execution errors throughout. ‘Bama dropped the meet to the Wolverines in what will hopefully be its worst score of the season, 196.200 to 195.675. Here’s a preview of the remaining slate from Tide Sports’ Terrin Waack.

The fan-based Coleman Coliseum account pretty much sums up the thoughts of many on the state of the program: It is error-plagued, inconsistent, and not up to the championship caliber it should be. No one expects the Tide to replicate Coach Sarah Patterson’s success. But, in year four, we shouldn’t be able to predict inconsistent losses on half the schedule either.

The debate is truly over: Why Nick Saban is the greatest coach of all time -

What makes this run so special is that this isn’t Saban’s best team. The defense, specifically, might be the third-best unit he’s had at Alabama. The injuries at linebacker have made the Tide look more than vulnerable at times.

Two years ago, I suggested it may be time to consider Saban the best team coach of all time. Better than Red Auerbach (NBA) and Scott Bowman (NHL). Yes, better than John Wooden.

None of those guys accomplished greatness when their competition was at its most intense. Alabama has made this run of four titles in eight years when the SEC has been at its toughest.

From The WWL’s promo department:

In production with ESPN, AT&T AUDIENCE Network’s “Big Man Back on Campus” debuts on Friday, Jan. 5, at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The documentary follows one former football star from each of the 2017 College Football Playoff semifinalist schools as they head back to their alma mater to experience the allure and excitement surrounding the College Football Playoff. The documentary follows Garrison Hearst of the University of Georgia, Jason White of the University of Oklahoma, Tajh Boyd of Clemson University, and Greg McElroy of the University of Alabama, giving viewers an inside look at the CFP semifinalist teams’ journey to the College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T through the eyes of the four former football stars as they go back to their respective campuses where they experienced the glory days.

While I did not get to this in time for the first airing, the doc will rebroadcast throughout the weekend. It sounds like it could either be pretty cool or Uncle Rico as hell.

Pictured: Danny Kanell

Lane Kiffin claims Alabama got the title game matchup it wanted in Georgia -

“It’s the matchup that Alabama wanted,” Kiffin told ESPN. “If you look at who beats Alabama, it’s spread teams with a quarterback that can move around like Baker Mayfield. They probably wouldn’t admit it, but Alabama would prefer this matchup rather than the other way. Whenever Alabama has played the more traditional offenses, that is when Alabama usually shuts them down -- the Georgias, the LSUs. So that favors them.

The best thing Kirby Smart has done since he left Georgia was beat Oklahoma. Of this, I am firmly convinced. Lane Kiffin isn’t remotely lying on this one: Alabama drew the two best teams out of three possible opponents for this playoff run.

Nice feature here on the stats to watch in Monday night’s game that will matter most. Hint: Third down is probably important.

Alabama’s strength of schedule could possibly be a concern next season. Already facing some rebuilding soupcans in the SEC, now comes news that two-time All-American and former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson is going pro. That meh-ish matchup in Orlando just got a bit less appetizing, didn’t it? Jawon Pass is going to have his work cut out for him, for sure.

I heard this early Friday morning from two very solid sources, but, because the Alabama staff wouldn’t confirm it and no else ran with it, we didn’t go with it either. We try not to be the breaking news sort here at RBR, since we’re not journalists and we have no integrity, journalistic or otherwise. I will say, Minkah Fitzpatrick looked really good to be walking around with organ damage on Monday, didn’t he?

The Alabama Crimson Tide defense has been banged up for much of the season. It appears that will be no different for the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship game. Chris Renkel of CBS 42 has reported that defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick has a bruised kidney. The good news is that he is still expected to play in the game.

We’ll have some more hoops coverage for you today, but here’s a nice story from Charlie and Co. at BOL on the return of Braxton Key and his quest to get in game shape and trust his body again.

Silly season ain’t done yet: First, former Ole Miss coach and Alabama analyst Dan Werner has been hired by Muschamp at South Carolina to coach quarterbacks. And, sleeper agent Derek Dooley is the new OC at Missouri. He joins fellow Bammer Sleeper Agent Sal Sunseri (DC, Florida), former DCs Jeremy Pruitt, Will Muschamp, and Kirby Smart as Saban proteges scattered throughout the SEC East. This is to say nothing of Texas A&M’s slouchy hobo who paws through dumpsters and fights raccoons for half-empty vanilla extract bottles new head coach, Jimbo Fisher, in the SEC West.

Anyway, Bill at Rock M Nation seems to be handling this...about as expected:

And, it’s now official: Matt Canada is out at LSU after just one season of jet sweep pornography. The important takeaway here is that it adds to the Tigers’ buyout misery — between former assistants and a certain $7m-a-year-ex-head-coach, the money is running thin. With almost 100% certainty, Orgeron will turn to Steve Ensminger, who was the interim OC last year once Da’ Coach O took over on an interim basis.

If you’d like to read up on the complete Saban coaching tree, Andy Staples at SI did a good piece on the successes and failures to-date.

And, here’s Tide 102.9’s latest breakdown on the ‘Dawgs (via Dawgnation.)

Meanwhile, Pete Thamel interviewed three assistants to see who they think has the upper hand (hint: it rhymes with Derby Fart.) The reasoning is that Kirby knows Nick like a book. C’mon, man. Do they really think Saban teaches everyone his complete bag of tricks, particularly when it’s been apparent for seven years that the two would be competitors at some point? Doubtful.

Need some swag should the Tide prevail? We have a very special shirt, a year in the making, one that will be available for purchase immediately following the game. And, if you’re really into group celebrations and the official CFP swag, you can go to the following DICK’S immediately after the game (or at 6 a.m. on Tuesday):

Pending an Alabama win, DICK’S Sporting Goods will extend select store hours immediately following the game on Monday (1/8) and will open early on Tuesday morning (1/9) at 6 a.m. to offer fans an assortment of College Football Championship gear, including the official locker room t-shirt and hat.

Shoppes at Legacy Park

1320 McFarland Blvd E, Suite 410

Tuscaloosa, AL 35404

Patton Creek

4401 Creekside Avenue

Hoover, AL 35244

Colonial Promenade Alabaster

200 S. Colonial Drive

Alabaster, AL 35007

Brook Highland Plaza

5201 Highway 280 South

Birmingham, AL 35242

Oxford Exchange

1500 Oxford Exchange

Oxford, AL 36203

*will ONLY extend hours on Monday 1/8

Cullman Shopping Center

1106 Cullman Shopping Center

Cullman, AL 35055