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Jumbo Package: Tide Softball advances, taking out Auburn in SEC Tournament

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Transfer rules, saving basketball from itself, and more.

Watch out, Utah State. Alabama has added two more to its murderer’s row home scheduling:

Alabama has reportedly set up two future home games.

The Crimson Tide will play Southern Miss in 2021 and then Western Kentucky in 2023, according to FBSchedules.com.

Southern Miss and Western Kentucky will both receive $1.9 million, per the report.

This would have made the SEC interesting:

But then the interview took an interesting turn, down a road perfectly carved for sports radio and college football websites, especially in the middle of May: wild speculation!

Mattingly: “When we’ve followed your career over the years here in Arkansas, there’s been a few times when your name has popped up for the Arkansas job. One of the times, I think, was when Bobby Petrino ended up taking the job. Have you ever been a step away from the Arkansas job?”

Kiffin: “Without getting into too much detail, I was very close to coming there one time. I won’t get into detail why we would not come or could not come, but it was very close to happening.”

I disagree with the question-begging that LSU is basically as good as they were last year, but I understand it’s really a set-up for the scenario of Joe Burrow transferring from OSU:

LSU has three quarterbacks (Myles Brennan, Lowell Narcisse and Justin McMillan) currently competing for the starting job, but no one distanced himself from the others in the spring. In fact, the trio only muddied the picture further. That’s why LSU is interested in Burrow, and judging by the permission to contact letter crafted by Ohio State—which included only LSU and Cincinnati—that interest is mutual.

What’s interesting about Burrow and LSU is that if Burrow is as good as his Ohio State teammates say he is, he could conceivably elevate a program that has lacked dynamic quarterback play since Zach Mettenberger left following the 2013 season. Let’s say LSU is basically the same level of team it was last year. Now add a good quarterback. That’s a team that—even with this schedule—could equal or surpass last year’s win total.

NB: Florida is interested, but Burrow has shown no interest. The other team with an eye on Burrow? Why, it just so happens to be the guy who recruited him, Luke Fickel at Cincinnati. Burrow was Mr. Ohio in 2016 and hails 90 miles from the Queen City. Guess where my money is?

The meltdown in Baton Rouge will be funny in any event. Because, this 2018 LSU team is a helluva lot closer to 6 wins than it is 9 wins.

Good story that breaks down in plain English the NCAA’s transfer rules and some recent transfer suggestions...until we get to the conclusion:

It might lead to an increase in roster turnover. But teams are still bound by NCAA scholarship limits, and many (especially in major football and basketball) are now offering predominantly four-year scholarship deals that limit their flexibility to get into outright free agency.

That absolutely does not follow: the four-year deal is a recruiting incentive and obligation that runs only one way — from schools to the players. Should a player decide to become a free agent, there’s nothing that can particularly stop them. And, if that player leaves for transfer, coaches will make room for him/her — be that via medical scholarship, burying a player on the depth chart so that he transfers, the ole’ “violation of team rules”, even an honest heart-to-heart “time to leave” talk. Coaches jockeying for a valued transfer will in no way be locked out of de facto free agency by the magic number 85, and a four-year guarantee from the school isn’t going to keep a player at State U either. It’s just naive to think otherwise.

On the heels of the Knight Report, Condoleeza Rice’s commission came back this week with its final-final proposals on “how to fix college basketball,” none of which are particularly innovative and only a few are immediately feasible.

In today’s USA-Today op-ed, she lays out the case for how to save hoops from itself:

First, provide incentives for universities to better support student-athletes by:

• Ending one and done in men’s basketball and the charade that it is. An athlete who is ready to go directly to the NBA or to the developmental league should do so. No one should be forced to go to college.

• Giving student-athletes who complete two years in good standing full funding to return to college and complete a degree

• Allowing student-athletes to “test” the NBA draft and retain eligibility if they do not sign a professional contract.

• Permitting student-athletes to consult agents or other professionals in order to better assess their prospects. This is happening under the table right now and should be brought above board.

• And as soon as the legal framework is clear, developing a new policy on name, image and likeness. NCAA policy is inconsistent on this matter. Olympians already enjoy an exemption and there are other case-by-case exceptions. It should be possible to develop a legally compliant approach that allows student athletes from all sports to benefit.

One-and-done is all-but dead; that’s only a matter of time. Likewise, NLI rights will be completed as soon as there is some legal clarification on the matter. Agents are a non-starter for the NCAA in any sport, at any time. And, I’m not sure why she thinks schools are going to grant two-year schollies to former players who no longer play — in essence, granting a four-year award for two-years of service to the school. There’s “equity,” then there’s “tap the brakes, you’re going down this hill too fast.” Not all of these are bad or unworkable, but several do speak to the fact that the independent commission has little idea how the guts of the NCAA works. In Rice’s case that’s troubling, since, you know, she was the provost of Stanford.

Phil Savage, color man for Tide football games and Sr. Bowl events manager, can strike one of those off his CV. The Senior Bowl and Savage will be parting ways.

Alabama softball set a pretty impressive record this week: it now owns the NCAA record for softball attendance in a season, beating the record held by...themselves. #AlabamaProblems.

On the diamond, the Tide’s hot hitting from the A&M series continued, and Coach Pat Murphy showed a little innovation in the dugout too, to help the Tide advance in the SEC Softball Tourney beating Auburn:

A pair of two-run scoring hits and Coach Patrick Murphy’s judicious juggling of his pitching staff enabled No. 13 Alabama to defeat No. 15 Auburn, 6-4, Wednesday in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Softball Tournament in Columbia, Mo.

The Crimson Tide had to come from behind twice in the game.

Bama ace Alexis Osorio started the game and finished it, but in between Murphy lifted Osorio in the fifth inning and used freshman Madison Preston – a native of Missouri – and Courtney Gettins in relief. With one out and two runners on base in the top of the seventh for Auburn, Osorio reentered the game. Although she gave up a walk that loaded the bases, that came around a popup and a strikeout that ended the game.

That may have locked up a national seed for the Tide, who now play No. 1 seed (and number one-period) Florida in the quarterfinals tonight at 6:30 Central (SEC Network.)