Happy Friday, everyone. The baseball team is in the midst of an extended losing streak right now and welcomes #7 Kentucky to the Joe this weekend, while the softball team coincidentally travels to Lexington, boosted by the return of star Alexis Osorio. Today also marks the fifth anniversary of Mal Moore’s passing.
Moore’s death from respiratory disease came too soon and there was little chance to reflect that his untimely passing came at a symbolic time.
The final Alabama football game he witnessed, less than three months before he passed away, saw Alabama at the pinnacle of college football, crushing Notre Dame — a team and program that Moore, who had coached for a time in South Bend, revered more than any other except for the Crimson Tide. That was a fulfillment of Moore’s expectations — not hopes, but expectations — of what Alabama could be.
How poetic that Alabama’s first bowl win over Notre Dame, to clinch yet another national title, was the last game Moore saw. Alabama fans will forever owe a debt of gratitude to the man who returned Alabama football to glory. Saban’s statement after Moore’s passing offered some insight into the relationship between the two men.
“Mal was truly a special person in every sense of the word. We can talk about all the championships Mal has been involved with, but I think what will be remembered most was the man he was. He always put the best interests of others ahead of his own, he carried himself as a first-class gentleman, and he helped bring out the best in those around him.
”Mal was an outstanding leader in terms of all he did for Alabama athletics. Most importantly, he was a great friend to me and my family. Mal was the number one reason we decided to make the move to Tuscaloosa.
”Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, especially his daughter Heather. There’s no question we have lost a great man today. What won’t be lost is Mal’s legacy in serving our University to make it a better place today and in the future. Nobody genuinely cared more about the Crimson Tide than Mal did. Mal has positively impacted athletics at Alabama unlike anyone ever has or probably ever will.”
What a legacy. Roll Tide, Coach.
Alabama practiced again yesterday before taking off for Easter weekend. Your reports:
-- Rising sophomore VanDarius Cowan was back on the field after he missed the previous two practices because of academic issues, according to head coach Nick Saban. Cowan was spotted with the inside linebackers.
-- Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was working closely with head athletic trainer Jeff Allen. Tagovailoa fractured his left index finger in the first practice of the spring.
I got a look at one grouping in the nickel package today. What appeared to be the first team was Saivion Smith and Trevon Diggs at corner, Shyheim Carter at star, with Deionte Thompson and Xavier McKinney at safety.
Wide receiver DeVonta Smith was back with his position group during individual drills. Smith had been working at cornerback during individuals.
Smith led one of the wide receiver lines followed by Tyrell Shavers. Henry Ruggs III led the other receiver line followed by Derek Kief.
Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy was briefly spotted to start the viewing period, but disappeared before the quarterbacks and receivers began working together.
Good to see Cowan back in the fold. Hopefully he has worked out his academic issues. The most famous finger in Tuscaloosa history is still healing. Tua Tagovailoa was seen running third string in handoff drills, paired with Brian Robinson and still wasn’t able to do much. It will be interesting to see if he is well enough to throw the ball before the end of the spring.
Jonah Williams spoke with reporters after practice about his injury vs. Georgia.
“It was tough, Williams said. “I’m super-proud of Leatherwood being able to go out there and hold his own and for the line to be able to take over the game a little bit. Proud of Tua for coming out and having a great game. All those guys, the whole offense and the defense stepped up. So watching it from that perspective, super proud of the team; but it’s hard to not be out there playing.
That had to be excruciating for him, to have been a stalwart at his position all year only to miss out on the greatest ending in college football history. Big Jonah will undoubtedly be hungry to help the team get back.
Jeff Allen received what had to have been a no-brainer of an award.
The Crimson Tide suffered several serious injuries last season, some season-ending. But a handful of players were able to return to the field, including linebackers Christian Miller, Terrell Lewis and Mack Wilson. All three players were able to suit up for Alabama’s pair of College Football Playoff contests against Clemson and Georgia.
If there has ever been a team that won a national title while managing the number of injuries to key players that Alabama did last season, i would like to see it. Allen is an integral part of this team’s success.
Hey, Butch is working for peanuts.
His firing from Tennessee last November came with a buyout of $8.2 million. Paid monthly, it works out to checks in the range of $200,000 or $2.4 million a year.
Since any new pay mitigates the buyout, that $35,000 from Alabama will subtract only minimally from the obligation Tennessee has to Jones through February 2021. He made $4.11 million last year, according to USA Today’s database of coaching salaries.
He’s working for $35k, and not working for $2.4M. I’d like that deal.
Last, Rashaan Evans apparently ticked off some scouts.
Rashaan Evans, who did not run the forty at the combine or Alabama’s first pro day did not run yesterday which left a very bad taste in the mouths of teams who purposely made the trip to watch his workout.
Several teams questioned Evans speed going into the pre-draft process and the fact he’s not yet run the forty coupled with a vertical jump of just 30 inches and 9-feet-8-inches in the broad jump will raise further red flags about his athleticism.
Evans added 14 lbs. during his time in Tuscaloosa and saw his 40 time increase a bit, to a high of 4.75 last spring. For reference, Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter and Roquan Smith ran in the low 4.5 range at the combine. It’s still odd that Evans would simply refuse to run, though, particularly when NFL teams came to Tuscaloosa for a second time in large part to see him. Still, NFL front offices, don’t be you and overthink things.
The man’s tape speaks for itself.
That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend and may your basket be filled with delicious goodies.