Nick Saban is getting closer and closer to just announcing what I predicted would be outcome of the QB Battle: 1 and 1A. First among equals, if you will. AL’s wannabe-Scarbinsky Joseph Goodman addresses Saban’s comments on that matter that are, I believe, fairly revelatory:
Saban is going to start the quarterback who gives Alabama the best chance to win, but, in reality, having both quarterbacks is far more important. Saban tried to explain this concept in the preseason, but, instead, couldn’t help popping off at a reporter.
”Now, what you guys are fixed on is somebody has to be first team, and somebody has to be second team,” Saban said at Alabama’s media day. “Tell me why? I’m asking you, why? ... Why do you think that way?”
The “loser” is going to see a ton of time on the field. Time to accept that. And Goodman makes the case (and I agree with him for once) that it is a benefit to Alabama, not a distraction.
I can’t believe Skip Bayless is paid actual U.S. dollars. After praising Saban to the sky following the 2018 CFP Championship Game, now the worst man on television finds that Nick Saban is...yup, overrated.
There is a whole lot of salt this offseason, y’all.
The SEC will kick off its 86th football season in one week when league member Texas A&M takes on Northwestern State on Aug. 30....SEC Football by the Numbers previews the 2018 campaign with 25 stats concerning returning players, team accomplishments and conference trends:
I enjoyed this top-25 listicle with stats, trends, players to know, and other important tidbits.
The school released its academic benchmarks yesterday, and Alabama improves its educational standing with each passing year. The tremendous amount of resources directed into these programs is paying dividends.
On a department-wide basis, Alabama’s approximately 600 student-athletes earned over a 3.27 grade point average. All 17 programs earned better than a 2.75 GPA with 16 earning better than a 3.0. A total of seven Tide teams earned over a 3.5 GPA in 2017-18, marking the eighth year in a row that at least five teams have met that standard.
More than 175 student-athletes earned their degrees during the 2017-18 academic year, including the winter, spring and summer graduations. The latest numbers reveal that Alabama graduates 71 percent of its student-athletes while the general student population graduates at a rate of 67 percent.
Classes started yesterday University-wide. There remain just three more practices before the Tide begins its Louisville game-prep. WE’RE SO CLOSE, Y’ALL.
Louisville is yapping about how good its wide receivers are. It seems as though everyone has forgotten just how good Alabama’s trio of 5-star sophomores are:
“I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on them by talking about them right now,” Saban said after the first scrimmage Aug. 11, “but they’ve done really, really well. I think that will be helpful. I think some of the older players that we have need to improve and accept the role, as well. I think a lot of the depth at that position is a little bit up in the air right now. That’s one of the things I would allude to when I talked earlier about guys being able to mature that have not played to be able to make a positive contribution because of their discipline, toughness, ability to sustain, those types of things. Past those first three guys, we’ve really got to work on it.”
Not go too homer-ish, but I’ll take Jerry Jeudy, Devonta Smith, and Henry Ruggs III over any other corps in the country.
SI predicts the season, and these pieces are always fun. But, taking reading points from Skip Bayless apparently, only one finds the Crimson Tide worthy title bearers. Every single other SI writer chose the Clemson Tigers.
The secondary remains the most fluid unit on the field. I honestly can’t tell if players are being cross-trained or if there are only 4 or 5 guys who “get it” with just a week left until the season opener.
-- Alabama’s first-team nickel defense consisted of Trevon Diggs and Saivion Smith at cornerback, Xavier McKinney and Deionte Thompson at safety, Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses at linebacker and Shyheim Carter at Star. Jared Mayden was the sixth defensive back when the defense went into dime. He was at safety and McKinney slid down to Money. Wilson was the dime linebacker.
-- The second-team dime defense: Josh Jobe and Patrick Surtain at cornerback, Daniel Wright and Eddie Smith at safety, Diggs at Star, Kyriq McDonald at Money and Markail Benton at linebacker
The secondary is going to have some rough patches for a few months — maybe even all year. But it will pay dividends next season when this is the best position group on the field.
But, The Game makes the case that uncertainty is not a bad thing. the defense gets to face one of the nation’s most dynamic, not to mention talented, offenses in practice every day. That will only help in bringing them along:
Scouting expert Chris Landry, who has worked with Saban in the NFL, joined The Game with Ryan Fowler to discuss the potential of this season’s defense, the depth at linebacker, and how Alabama’s offense could help out on the defensive end.
I love this roundup of Alabama commits in action this weekend. Though it has gotten into more analysis and beat coverage, BOL’s chief strength remains recruiting coverage.
A nice feature on the terrifyingly massive human being that is Raekwon Davis. He’s going to have a monster season in 2018.
Kirk Herbstreit likewise picks his best-of for the 2018 season. The Herbies are significantly cooler than SI’s play-it-straight picks (best restaurant, best hotel, prettiest campus etc.) He’s also a little saner, picking the Tide to win it all. #GumpSoHard
BONUS JP: DISASTERS ELSEWHERE
There are two ongoing legal and NCAA kerfuffles to touch on that just don’t work well stand-alone or as a prelude to the JP. So, enjoy some bonus coverage. We’ll take these in order of moment. If you want to skip Urbz and the hot mess in College Station, just jump down below.
On Tuesday, I said I thought there would be a 2-game suspension for Urban Meyer (bringing him back in time for the TCU game) or a three-gamer, so that Ohio State was fully staffed for its first major B1G game — at home vs. No. 10 Penn State. After a most bizarre report by the Board of Regents, where the trustees tormented the English language, forgave destruction of evidence that OSU was legally required to retain, ignored lies and very selective dementia; followed up by a robotic non-apology by Urban Meyer, it seems the Lurking Evil in Columbus will face a three-game suspension.
The University president wanted him fired. The Board of Regents wanted him back on the field ASAP. And Meyer maintained all along that he wasn’t going to accept any criticism, much less punishment. Despite the legal peril lurking, the thought of shelling out tens of millions for protracted contract litigation (and sweet playoff lucre) won the day for Buckeye Nation.
But, mercy, were the optics bad; was the justification ever paper-thin; was the embodiment of “win at all costs” on display; was the hypocrisy of Ohio State ever transparent — and, worst of all — was the university-enabled rug-sweeping was bad as his original acts, omissions, and blatant lies. The report is fairly damning.
Great story here via the Washington Post on how the University and Meyer rigged the inquiry and dodged all of the tough questions and responsibility — right down to burying the report for a near-midnight release.
When Ohio State football Coach Urban Meyer learned earlier this month that the ex-wife of his former longtime assistant and family friend was publicly accusing him of ignoring her claims of domestic violence, one of the first things Meyer did, according to a university investigation, was discuss with an assistant how to delete old text messages from his phone, so reporters couldn’t see them.
By the time Ohio State took Meyer’s phone, according to an investigative report produced by two former federal prosecutors, it was set to save text messages only for the previous year. A public records request from Ohio State’s student newspaper for messages Meyer sent during a few crucial months in 2015, the report suggested, will likely never get filled as a result.
Meyer’s apparent attempt to subvert public records requests was among several conclusions of the 23-page investigative report produced by Mary Jo White and David Sarratt, partners at Debevoise & Plimpton law firm, that Ohio State did not publicly release until 10:40 p.m.
The messed up part is that, given Meyer was not a mandatory reporter until 2015 when his contract was renewed, this term of suspension seems about right. I don’t think you can fire him for conduct that wasn’t proscribed under his contract until after the allegations (Yes, I know. Conduct unbecoming etc. But, hey’re not losing $100m in revenue over this. That was never going to happen. I hate to go all Bismarckian realpolitik on you, but it is what it is.).
As ever, it’s the coverup as much as the crime that most stinks to high heaven. That’s Ohio State’s disgrace to bear. But, if their report on Wednesday was any indication, you can’t shame the shameless.
The second story of tremendous importance floating around the background is the mess at Texas A&M.
Linebacker Santino Marchiol has alleged some brutal stuff at College Station upon Jimbo’s arrival — allegations that have gotten coaches fired before:
Over the next several months, however, Marchiol said he witnessed behavior that made him uncomfortable, including, he asserts, an assistant coach giving him cash to host top recruits on”unofficial” visits. Marchiol also said he and other players were evaluated in June practice sessions that were allegedly voluntary but were operated and observed outside the NCAA rule book.
The new coaching staff arrived with a mind-set that the team was soft, Marchiol said, and demeaning and vulgar language directed at players became common. Then the training staff at Texas A&M, he claims, mishandled an ankle injury that doctors had said would require caution because of a surgery Marchiol had that sidelined him in his freshman year.
We have cash payments for official visits. Bagmen setting up shop in bathrooms. Ignoring player injuries. Abuse of players. And a whole host of other sins and omissions that the NCAA will be taking a look at.
Still, it is the long-term impact of Santino’s case that probably matters most. As you know, in order to transfer penalty-free, there must be extenuating circumstances, a bylaw which the NCAA passed to mitigate a school being on probation or other restrictions that were not the fault of players. But here, it is Marchiol’s very allegations that he’s using to constitute the “special circumstances” to obtain a transfer waiver.
Why is this a big deal? Because, if a disgruntled student can now levy charges at a school, and those allegations are accepted at face value, it blows a hole wide-open in both transfer provisions, and has the potential to turn every benchwarmer into a potential rat over sins real and imagined — not to mention overtaxing the NCAA’s enforcement. You have to think that this bylaw gets amended PDQ. Elsewise, there is a mess waiting to unfold.
Unrelated, but, still petty: After years of placing the blame on Texas for cancelling their annual series, it was Texas A&M, not the Longhorns, who decided not to renew acquaintances. Citing its SEC West schedule, and two-games commitments including a home-and-away with Miami and stalwarts like Appalachian State, the Aggies declined an invitation to play...five years out. SMH.
I’d be willing to bet that Texas A&M, who has a love of throwing away money (fully securing Jimbo’s $75 million dollar contract with no buyout clause in return), could afford a million or two to renew one of the best rivalries in college football. They just didn’t want to. Aggies skurred, y’all.