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Jumbo Package: Alabama off to hot start for 2019 signing class

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And we do a lot of hating on some rivals, near and far.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Alabama Celebration

Come to Tuscaloosa, be blinded by crystal!

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday CB broke down the targets to keep an eye on during ‘Croot Watch ‘19. Come what may, the Crimson Tide is still in far better shape than it was in 2017. A year ago at this time, Alabama had exactly two commitments, and only one was a blue-chipper. However, the day after NSD ‘18, Alabama was sitting at five commitments, all-blue-chippers — and one is a five-star. (Alabama’s NSD 2018, by contrast, had just one 5-star commitment.)

One committed player I particularly like is King Mwikuta, a monstrous OLB from the hard-to-poach-Peach State:

OLB: One of three commitments from last December for the Crimson Tide, Mwikuta chose Alabama over Florida State, Georgia and Miami. He’s the fourth-rated outside linebacker in the nation and the No. 11 recruit from Georgia.

Naughty Naughty:

Mike Vorel of the South Bend Tribune provided the update Tuesday. The case was related to a violation of ethical conduct rules by a former student athletic trainer, which was self-reported by the school. The decision to uphold the November 2016 ruling drops the Fighting Irish’s all-time win total to 885.

Along with the lost wins, the Division I Committee on Infractions panel previously announced punishments that included a year of probation and a $5,000 fine for the university based on findings the trainer completed course work for two student-athletes, while a third committed separate individual misconduct.

In addition, five Notre Dame players were suspended for academic misconduct before the 2014 season, while four others left the program before the infractions were announced, per Vorel.

What is the effect of Irish vacating all of its wins over two seasons? It drops Notre Dame from 2nd all-time (behind the maddeningly consistent Wolverines) to 6th, five games behind the Crimson Tide.

Cheer up, Chicagoland. It could have been worse. If Alabama had not been forced to vacate 29 wins over four seasons, then Alabama would be even further ahead of you, vaulting all the way to the No. 2 spot you held...until yesterday.

Remember Ohio State’s hypocritical remarks about coaching salaries, despite having the fourth-highest paid head coach in the country? Literally a week later, OSU made two assistants millionaires, and bumped six assistants above the half-million dollar threshold. There are now only two coaches on OSU’s 10-strong staff that do not make at least 500K: there are three millionaires and four other assistants earning at least $800K. The Buckeyes now shell out $7.06 million a year for assistant salaries— that will be the most in the nation and eclipses the notoriously generous Crimson Tide; LSU overpaying for coordinators; and Michigan, which has has three assistants making at least a million.

Write your own snarky comments for this one, folks.

On the subject of those overspending Wolverines, former Alabama OC and Gator HC, Jim McElwain, is set to become a 10th field coach for Michigan. He will not be the offensive coordinator, although that would be a great fit, given UM’s penchant for 19th century offense. Still, don’t expect this arrangement to last too long: the 55-year old mercurial Coach Mac has a 44-28 record in his five years as a head coach, and has won three division titles in two conferences (including rebuilding the CSU Rams). His phone will ring with another offer next offseason.

There are some on the RBR staff that, for some reason, were high on Alabama offensive analyst Chris Weinke. (Hint: Rhymes with Nosh). Well, that mancrush can now wither on the vine. Jeremy Pruitt, the Great Value* Kirby Smart (tm), poached the 52-year old Heisman winner on the way out the door. Weinke, from the already-detestable Seminoles, is now a Vol. It’s hard to come back from that one folks.* *

BAMAPALOOZA! The Ravens and Bears are meeting in this year’s NFL Hall of Fame game. Plenty of high-end ‘Bama players renew acquaintances.

With the departure of KC’s legendary linebacker, Derrick Johnson, the door is now open for Reggie Ragland to step up and take a leadership role for the Chiefs’ defense. Ragland, entering his third season, has low miles on him after a rookie year that was derailed by an ACL injury and working his way into the KC rotation last season. He’s a great downhill thumper, a sure tackler, but more importantly, the roster situation could not be better for a young player trying to prove himself:

With the impending departure of Johnson, Ragland could be one of only two inside linebackers under contract for the Chiefs when the NFL’s business year starts next month. The other is Ukeme Eligwe, a 2017 fifth-round draft choice who played infrequently on defense as a rookie.

With Ramik Wilson set to become a restricted free agent and Terrance Smith an exclusive-rights free agent, they could be back if the Chiefs want them. Wilson played 11 percent of the defensive snaps and Smith 6 percent this season.

Also acquired in a trade last year, Kevin Pierre-Louis will be an unrestricted free agent. He was the player who ate the most into Johnson’s playing time in 2017 as his defensive snaps nearly tripled in the second half of the season.

* By this I mean that Pruitt is a generic Kirby Smart in the way he poached some staff and ‘croots, not as a defensive coordinator. As good as Smart was on the sidelines, Jeremy Pruitt runs circles around him calling plays. He is finest DC Alabama has had in the post-Bryant era.

* * Also, please don’t sue me, WalMart. Your Great Value line is perfectly acceptable, and no one was disparaging your products or reputation. Mmmmm. Tasty. See?