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Jumbo Package: Tide return to practice as Hurts saga lingers

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Happy Monday, everyone. You can probably guess the topic du jour as Alabama took Sunday off from practice.

There’s a perfectly plausible scenario, and always has been, in which Saban chooses to play Tagovailoa based on his belief that Tagovailoa gives the Alabama team a better chance to win football games. All this off-the-field drama may be irrelevant.

But Jalen Hurts wanted to talk. He spoke what he felt in his heart. Perhaps that will come with a cost, as it often does.

Look, here’s the thing. It was in the best interest of Alabama to let Hurts and Tagovailoa answer some questions and speak publically before fall camp. It put the transfer speculation to rest, and Hurts needed to unload. Now he can focus on fall camp and the quarterback competition.

“Wow! Ignorance is bliss,” Pamela posted to the page. “When has Jalen ever spoken to media about anything other than the team? When has he ever whined, pouted or talked about what “y’all “ don’t know takes place behind the scenes? There’s a reason why players aren’t allowed to speak to the media. Jalen spoke his truth, finally, after 3 years of being compliant and controlled. You have no idea what is and has been going on— and most likely, never will.”

The good news is that practice went on, and Jalen reportedly looked good out there. If Saban sticks to his script he will tear into the reporters at the next press conference, get on Jalen’s side by blaming the media for creating the “elephant in the room” narrative, and then deflect questions about the QB situation until he names a starter, if he does. It will be interesting to see whether he chooses to handle this one differently.

Oh, and Pamela: for Jalen’s sake, please shut up. We shouldn’t even know your name, and should only know Averion’s because he coached Jalen in high school. As the father of an incoming Alabama junior myself, I know firsthand that the administrators beg you from the beginning to stay out of the conflicts that he can handle on his own, and he was seemingly navigating this situation just fine until your husband decided to speak on his behalf. Just curious, how does Averion respond to meddlesome fathers who essentially threaten to pull their sons over playing time issues? How would he respond if one of those fathers told the local beat writers that his kid would be the biggest free agent in high school football history should the coach choose not to play him? I wonder if his players feel “controlled” as he demands that they walk in lockstep to succeed in the ultimate team sport, just like every other football coach I have encountered in my lifetime?

There is a very good chance that Jalen loses this QB competition, graduates, and then transfers. At that point he will have tasted the highest of highs in college football, then some adversity in having it taken away. Armed with a degree and the chance to play most anywhere he chooses, he will have an opportunity to write another chapter in his story, and there will undoubtedly be “haters” along the way. All indications are that your son is a strong, mature young man and much of that he owes to his parents. By all means counsel him privately as you see fit, but let him handle his business publicly and keep your names out of the papers.

Best of all, Peter Burns reminds us of the most important fact.

Indeed, Peter, though perhaps we should replace “either one” with “any of the three.”

Unfortunately, Averion’s comments are a symptom of a bigger problem that goes far beyond Alabama.

Ain’t that the truth?

Moving on, the two new coordinators are focused on continuing the program’s success more than making their mark on it.

“Let’s be clear,” he said. “This is Alabama’s offense. This isn’t Mike Locksley’s system. Our offensive philosophy starts with Coach Saban and what he wants us to do. He sets the culture for how the offense is run and what type of things he wants done – if we want to be an up-tempo team, if we want to be a run-first team, if we want to throw the ball. It’s been very diverse.

“I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel. Alabama’s system has been very successful throughout the time that coach has been here.

“It’s our job to identify the play-makers and find ways to get them the ball.

-- Lupoi said he has wanted to learn coverage schemes since he arrived at Alabama and that continues to be an area he has focused on improving.

-- Lupoi said the freshmen are going to receive the same number of repetitions as frontline starters.

-- Lupoi said linebacker Terrell Lewis, who tore his ACL in July, is working hard to return this season.

There is an interesting contrast here between an old school football guy who is more coach/father figure than recruiter, and an energetic young up-and-comer who made his name on the recruiting trail. Alabama will be the only team in the SEC with a dedicated offensive coordinator who has no position coach responsibilities. Having one of the best in Dan Enos to focus solely on the QB development and execution should pay big dividends.

Guess what? There are position battles besides QB.

“It’s really just learning the game, more detail, understanding like I know how to do the play but learning what the receivers do, what’s the quarterback reading when we’re running an option or read play,” he said. “I felt I needed to learn, make myself mentally smarter of the game knowing this is something that I love.”

Cotton settled in at right guard last season. The year before he started at both guard spots.

“I’m at left guard now, beside (tackle) Jonah (Williams) and (center) Ross (Pierschbacher), so I think that’s something that the coaches agreed to me being comfortable with, so we’re just going to go through fall camp and see how it goes,” he said. “If that means me going back to right guard, I’m comfortable playing right guard as well as I’m comfortable at left.”

Hopefully this offensive line grouping will stick and be able to jell throughout camp. Few things are more critical to a team’s success than the execution of the big men up front.

2020 DT commit Jayson Jones out of Calera continues his recruiting efforts.

Avery Johnson is still putting in work on the trail, too.

Kira Lewis, the top backcourt prospect in the state of Alabama and one of the fastest-rising point guards in the country, made an official visit to Alabama this weekend, including a church visit with Crimson Tide head coach Avery Johnson on Sunday.

Lewis, from Hazel Green High School, is currently rated as the No. 30 prospect in America by 247 Sports. He recently narrowed his list of potential schools to 12, including national programs like Kansas as well as SEC programs including Auburn, LSU, Georgia and Ole Miss as well as Alabama.

If Johnson is able to keep Lewis and Trendon Watford at home in the 2019 cycle, we are going to continue having some fun on the hardwood.

A few other college football notes for you:

The Urban Meyer investigation is in full swing and isn’t expected to drag out.

Per the school’s release, the special, independent working group formed to direct the investigation met late in the week, appointed a chair and engaged an investigative firm. Former Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson was picked to serve as chair of the group, which is composed of three current members of the board of trustees, Alex Fischer, Janet Porter and Alex Shumate, and two others not associated with the university, former acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General Craig Morford and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Carter Stewart.

It sounds like Kyler Murray will soon be understandably chasing baseball money, but if that’s the case, what’s the point of playing this season?

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley hinted Friday that quarterback Kyler Murray, a two-sport star who was a first-round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics in June, might play football for the Sooners beyond this season.

Saturday, Murray’s agent, Scott Boras, said definitively that this season will be Murray’s last in Oklahoma.

”Kyler’s baseball career has a very defined path which includes playing football at OU for only the 2018 season,” Boras told The Athletic.

So, you risk injury in order to play one season of a sport that won’t be your livelihood and, from Oklahoma’s perspective, you are going to consider starting a kid at QB who has that in his head? Also, it’s a little weird to read about a college player’s agent, isn’t it?

The longest tenured active coach in college football has decided to retire after the season.

No Division I football coach has been at his current school longer than Laycock, a 1970 W&M graduate. In 2008, W&M opened the $11 million Laycock Center, a football support building. That naming honor reflected Laycock’s impact on Tribe football.

W&M has been a regular winner through Laycock’s 38 seasons, and he heads into this year with a career record of 245-189-2.

For those counting, he is four years older than Saban.

Last, VanDarius Cowan has found a home.

A year after receiver T.J. Simmons landed in Morgantown, dismissed Tide linebacker VanDarius Cowan has enrolled at West Virginia, according to 247Sports. His Twitter account now includes #WVU in the bio.

Everybody now:

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.