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Jumbo Package: Tide frustrated with student attendance — but there’s a lot of blame to go around here

Don’t put this solely on students; administrators bear some blame too.

<p zoompage-fontsize="15" style="">Louisiana v Alabama

There are supposed to be students in the background there :(

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Collin Sexton played in his first NBA preseason game yesterday. And, while he did not start at the point, he wound up logging more minutes than any other Cav, and finished second in scoring.

“Being in that situation in an NBA setting, great environment against a good team and having a chance to produce like he did -- good for him,” Lue said. “Continue to keep learning. He’s going to make some mistakes, but the biggest thing is learning from his mistakes.”

Sexton scored 15 points, second on the Cavs to Kevin Love’s 17, by making 5-of-11 shots, including 2-of-3 3-pointers, and sinking all three of his free-throw attempts. Sexton also had four rebounds and one assist.

In this mornings Historical, we covered A&M’s hiring of Paul Bryant away from Kentucky. It was, generously to our Aggie buddies, a lateral move — the Aggies paid far less money and had far less institutional support for the program than that which Kentucky had in place.

But, what sold Bryant on the Aggies was the fan support. Despite winning three bowl games in four years, taking home what would later become the 1950 National Title, and netting an SEC title, the Wildcats had problems putting even fans in the stadium. And those were the golden years of UK football.

So too are these the halcyon days of an Alabama program that has seen its share of dynastic success. But, there has never been a program as singularly dominant, so one-sidedly on top of the sport, than what we have seen last dozen years of Alabama Crimson Tide football.

And students won’t show up:

“I can honestly say I was a little disappointed there weren’t more students at the last game,” Saban told reporters in Tuscaloosa. “I think we’re trying to address that. I don’t think they’re entitled to anything, either. Me, personally, I think it ought to be first-come, first-serve. If they don’t want to come to the game, they don’t have to come. But I’m sure there’s enough people around here that would like to go to the games, and we’d like for them to come too because they support the players.”

This isn’t to necessarily fuss about the student section. The issues are the same as they’ve always been — bad games and bloc seating: 20 years ago it was a problem and it remains one. And it was a long-standing problem before my antiquated butt even set foot on campus.

You can’t really blame students for not wanting to sit in metal bleachers for four hours in 90-degree weather to watch the body bag morning games Alabama has increasingly been saddled with. But, when you can’t even get those seats significantly filled for a series or two, it does have a detrimental effect on the morale of the team.

They noticed, and they commented.

If watching a dynasty and one of the most special players in Alabama history isn’t enough, students should still probably avail themselves of their seating privileges out of self-defense. Make no mistake, this athletic department is one of the most mingy, miserly, nickel-and-diming operations out there: Greg Byrne, Finus Gaston, Jeff Puriton, Kevin Almond, Chris Besanceney et al will absolutely pull the plug on the Greeks and sell this prime real estate off to the highest bidder: there are plenty of people paying thousands of dollars a year for Tide Pride nosebleeds who’d kill for lower bowl.

The Greek system no longer runs the school or has the sway with administration as it once did; not now, not at a national university where outsiders and out-of-staters predominate. So, when Saban speaks of no one being entitled, when he fires a direct warning shot across the bow of the blocs, perhaps Panhellenic will finally listen and act upon it — they’ve had decades to do so.

Now, Administration, it’s your turn to take one for the team. Bring back the things the students liked; bring in some better opponents. And, if you can’t find one out-of-conference, put the full and absolute weight of Alabama’s significant bearing down on the conference and get a ninth SEC game. Saban doesn’t want to see his fine-tuned killing machine playing this dogs*** schedule either — and he knows that 9th conference game will help attendance. This isn’t just a Crimson problem, but there’s no point in not getting ahead of the curve. (Insert Alabama 20 years behind joke.)

Hell, you should want to come see this guy if nothing else: Tua Tavovailoa makes his first media appearance of the year.

I suspect it will take years before we fully realize how transcendent of a player No. 13.

One unintended consequence of, let’s call the Freshman Four rule, is that many players who are availing themselves of the transfer/redshirt option don’t fully understand their eligibility status and graduation date.

It affected the Ducks second-leading rusher. And, you can bet, there will be some spiteful coaches out there who aren’t too quick to explain it either; especially if the player leaves on a sour note.

“I do not think [the players] have a good handle on [the new rule],” said a source in NCAA governance who did not want to be identified due to the sensitivity of the situation.

”This is going to cause some problems, I’m sure,” said Tim Nevius, an attorney in private practice assisting schools and athletes in NCAA matters. Nevius was previously an NCAA investigator and considered an expert at NCAA compliance issues.

”There’s going to be an issue where an athlete thinks he’s going to be eligible the next year, and he’s not going to be eligible,” Nevius added. “If it’s his last year of eligibility and he hasn’t graduated, that’s going to be a serious problem.”

Still, we did not see a flood of transfers or requests for release as was feared by some. At the deadline, only 10 players had availed themselves of the option in its maiden season. You don’t expect that number to stay that low though, not once players and their attorneys get a good handle on the mechanics and especially if they see positive outcomes in others.

C’mon, man.

Alabama sophomore defensive back Daniel Wright was not seen at the Crimson Tide’s Wednesday practice, so afterward, Nick Saban provided an update on the safety.

“He’s suspended from the team for a violation of team rules,” Saban said in a press conference.

One thing that strikes me about about new ‘Bama PG Kira Lewis is the same one that was remarkable in Young Bull too — how eager he is to learn.

Avery Johnson found himself doing a bit of a juggling act during the Memphis Grizzlies-Houston Rockets preseason game Tuesday night in Birmingham.

The Alabama men’s basketball coach was taking in the action while simultaneously being peppered with questions from the Crimson Tide’s newest member, freshman point guard Kira Lewis.

”He sat right next to me and he had a million questions,” Johnson said while in Huntsville on Wednesday to promote the Crimson Tide’s Dec. 18 game against Liberty in the Rocket City Classic. “I’m glad I was able to answer most of those questions.”

I already like this guy. #BuckleUp

Saban’s pre-Piggy presser was yesterday, and he touched a wide range of things. This one, in particular, is one to keep an eye on: Matt Womack, who has played right tackle but is probably better-suited for right guard, will be filling in Jonah Williams’ shoes at left tackle.

“I think it’s a little bit of a work in progress. We feel really comfortable that we have three tackles. We feel comfortable that we have three guards. We feel pretty good about the backup center. The backup center has been playing left tackle, played it in the last game, as well -- Chris Owens.

”Obviously, he’s a guy that started a whole season and comes back off injury and you feel good about it. We’ve got four guys on defense that would be in the two-deep that are basically out for the year for whatever reason. That’s not a good thing for the depth of our team. To be able to get a guy back like Matt right now is really good for the depth of our team and our offensive line.”

It is good to have Womack back though. His big ole’ country ass is a load if he puts his hands on you. I suspect we’ll see some mauling from the left side of the line in the running game this week if he’s 100% ready to go, united as he will be with linemate Lester Cotton.

Aye Ell’s presser live stream is here too. I particularly wanted to highlight this remark from Saban on Arkansas’ defense:

Saban on Arkansas DC John Chavis: “I think he’s done an outstanding job. They’ve played better and better. They played really well on defense last week against, I think, a really good Texas A&M team. John’s been in the league for a long, long time. I think everywhere he’s ever been the defensive coordinator, he creates a lot of issues for you in preparation. ... They look like a completely different team on defense than they did earlier in the season. I think that’s sort of his mark on them making a tremendous amount of improvement.”

He’s right. For the first three games of the season, Arkansas was as hapless an SEC team as you’ll see. The last two weeks though, in tough road games at Auburn and A&M, the defense has stood on its head. Alabama is a much better team than Arkansas, but the Hogs the Tide face on Saturday won’t be the same ones who got absolutely waylaid by North Texas.

I’m not sounding the alarm just yet, but Alabama’s run defense is not that great, y’all. It’s giving up 4.0 YPC after 5 games. That’s...not very ‘Bama like.

Looking at the numbers, the Crimson Tide – ordinarily in first or second place in the Southeastern Conference, if not the nation, in rushing defense -- is giving up 126.8 yards per game rushing. That ranks ninth in the 14-team SEC. Opposing offenses have run 160 times for 634 yards.

Opponents are averaging 4.0 yards per rush, and three 4-yard runs makes for more than a first down.

But, nor is it as bleak as it appears, either. Here’s a breakdown of the numbers behind the numbers and Nick Saban’s assessment of the run defense.

This guy was pretty good:

The SEC announced Tuesday its 2018 AT&T SEC Football Legends class, and Alabama and Auburn are represented by a couple of established running backs and a Mobile, Alabama native.

Former Alabama star Shaun Alexander... [and some Barner and a Vol] headline the class who will be honored at events surrounding the SEC Football Championship Game in Atlanta in December.

So, let’s take you out with some of Alexander the Great’s seminal moments. Four moments of his exemplary career stand out to me: his freshman game at LSU, where he set an Alabama rushing record that stands to this day; the amazing OT game versus Florida in the swamp; dominating the 1999 Iron Bowl; and the 2000 Orange Bowl vs. the Michigan Wolverines, where he went toe-to-toe with another future Hall of Famer, some dude named Tom Brady.

Have a great day.