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Jumbo Package: Two-kicker systems and permanent oligarchies

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Special Teams have a lot of questions to answer over the next 5 months

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

WAKE UP!

The draft prognostication game has gotten notably less certain these days. Oh, sure, your Kipers may hear some rumblings out of a team with the first pick, but all-in-all, pretending to understand the organizational dynamics, five-year plans and short-term thinking of 32 franchises, then having them all behave rationally is an uncertain venture. So, take Kiper’s latest mock, with four ‘Bama players in the First Round, with more than a grain of salt.

FTR: Ridley’s not falling to 26, and I would be equally stunned if Minkah drops to 9. And, the Steelers are panting over the prospect of Da’Ron Payne.

GOOD NEWS! Up for another two-kicker system? The o! so reliable split reps that made Alabama’s kicking game among the most stable in college football?

Wait? That didn’t happen? Well, crap...

...Tuesday ... head coach Nick Saban was asked about the kicking game and whether or not he’s thought about once again employing a 2-kicker system this fall.

“Yeah, I think about it. A lot, actually,” Saban said after Tuesday’s spring practice. “But we’ve only had kicking one day so far in the four days that we’ve practiced. It was very windy when we did it, but I was encouraged by the improvement that we made.”

Ugh.

An update on the talented Ben Davis who, after redshirting and then spending year learning a new position, has been spotted back inside. That would be good news for two reasons. 1. It would show an improvement in Davis’ toughness, which had not been up to snuff to man the middle, and 2. simple math — Alabama needs bodies on the inside.

That 2017 season was spent working with outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi who was promoted to defensive coordinator after Jeremy Pruitt’s departure.

Nick Saban a year ago said the move to outside linebacker was a better fit for Davis athletically and they planned to look at him as a nickelbacker.

It’s unclear if he’s back at middle linebacker full time or a response to the thinned depth without Rashaan Evans, Shaun Dion Hamilton. Keith Holcombe is focusing on baseball this spring, so there’s definitely a need for help behind starters Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses.

Burn down every square inch of East Lansing:

On Jan. 24, I told you there was “an NCAA mess on the horizon.”

That mess is coming to fruition. First, Nasser was sentenced to elebenty years in Club Fed. Then, the NCAA opened a preliminary inquiry into MSU’s handling of Title IX complaints. Now, Michigan State’s freaking president has been arrested for being an accessory to the abuse: 4th degree sexual abuse and criminal neglect.

Is this an overreach? Not really. Turns out Sparty not only knew about the abuse, but budgeted in crisis and oppo teams to combat allegations against Nasser and the school:

A public relations firm billed MSU for more than $500,000 for January as it tracked social media activity surrounding the Larry Nassar case, which often included the accounts of victims and their families, journalists, celebrities and politicians.

The work, which also included collecting and evaluating news articles, had previously been done by members of Michigan State University’s Office of Communication and Brand Strategy, some of whom continued to do so in January.

The more you read, the worse it is: A sexual predator enabling another one with zero oversight. Burn it all down.

Marlon Humphrey can’t stop his track and field ways, sweeping the FSU event alongside his sister...oh, and setting a record to boot.

Judge Claudia Wilken, who oversaw the hackneyed and confused O’Bannon bench trial, is back at it again: this time, entertaining another lawsuit as to why schools should not pay more than cost of attendance.

Specifically:

The plaintiffs have proposed that limits on athletes’ compensation be set on a conference-by-conference basis, a change that could open the door to athletes being able to capitalize on their names, images and likeness if a conference’s schools chose to go that way, and all manner of benefits above the cost of attendance that are related to education and/or are incidental to their participation in their sports.

The suit seeks to permit athletes to trade in on their collegiate fame. And, I don’t think anyone would have a problem with Johnny Football getting some cash off his jersey. And, yes, name/likeness/imaging (NLI) rights do still seem the best way to allow a star college player to capitalize on his or her own merits. But, then the plaintiffs blow open that reasonable solution with the addition of a dragnet “all costs related to education or incidental to participation in their sport”...oh, and it specifically limits those rights to FBS teams and tries to poo poo away Title IX participation — a D-1 football and men’s basketball cash grab, in other words.

It may not be the stated goal, but it is clear what the end product is going to be: the creation of a permanent oligarchy where a few dozen teams, comprising a few hundred players, are the only ones the financial position to afford collegiate athletics. As long as Title IX is the law of the land, it can be no other way: Georgia Women’s Rowing is entitled to the same benefits as Duke Basketball.

Expect the NCAA to fight this one with significantly more vigor than O’Bannon, where the organization ceded much ground and settled on many commonsense points to make the problem go away.