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Jumbo Package: A weary and angry fan base awaits decision on Avery Johnson’s fate

Now would be a REALLY good time for Greg Byrne to speak out, one way or another.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Kentucky vs Alabama Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

This isn’t going to help Avery Johnson’s case:

“Honestly, we seen warmups,” Norfolk State guard Steven Whitley said. “Thought it was going to be sweet, the way they were lagging around and things like that.”

Effort has been a constant issue with Johnson’s teams; a problem not only he has addressed, but that the team has noted before (after Florida, second half of the Ole Miss game, Donta Hall, etc.) If he can’t reach these guys, and that is his job, then not only they, but he, needs to pack some bags and find another location.

This fan base is as hostile and disgusted with a coach as I’ve ever seen. Even Shula was acknowledged to be merely an affable goofball embodying the Peter Principle. But, what’s happening in Coleman Coliseum is a criminal waste of talent, and people are frankly pissed off.

But, Johnson still seemed a bit Baghdad Bob-bish in his post game presser, when he recapped his prior meetings with Greg Byrne:

“And I know more about this team, I know more about coaching in college after my fourth year. This is not my 14th year at Alabama, it’s just the fourth year. But we wanted to have better results. I am not hiding from that. And I’m very disappointed with the loss tonight, and I’m disappointed we couldn’t take that step forward. But we’ll figure out how to do that, and we have some ideas as staff.”

Gee, where have I heard that before?

Some folks forget that Mike Shula was a pretty good quarterback for the Tide.
Some folks forget that Mike Shula was a pretty good quarterback for the Tide.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Johnson wants to stay in Tuscaloosa — and at $2.9 million per season for these results, with a fully guaranteed contract, and his demand never being lower, why wouldn’t he?

“We had a little bit of a setback this year,” Johnson said. “And I know this is a microwave era where it’s always ‘blow the team up. Blow the staff up’ when you don’t get the results you want. When you don’t get the results you want, you work hard. I feel we have the right people. We have a nice recruiting class coming in but we just have to get better.

But, you know what? Sometimes entropy can be creative. I’m usually not one for burning down the barn to light my cigar, but it’s honestly not the worse notion at this point. Is it?

I have absolutely no idea how the administration is going to sell tickets next season without some radical changes. Because, 150 games into the Johnson experiment, we’ve seen enough to know that the seatbelt we’ve had buckled all this time is stuck and has trapped us on a coal cart to basketball purgatory.

With more than a little ennui and deserved trepidation, we await the fate of Avery Johnson. It would behoove Athletic Director Greg Byrne to speak publicly about this sooner rather than later. I cannot be alone in saying that I will not drop another damn dime on Alabama basketball, or step foot into that loathsome arena, until this staff is removed — or unless there is is a serious staff shakeup; a concrete and accelerated plan to improve the entirety of the program, including facilities; and Johnson finally putting to deed all of his fine slogans. He has lost that trust, just as this administration can no longer be taken at their word on any issue outside of football.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me for 20 years, and that’s just the same ole’ Alabama.

Whew. I needed that. Okay, back to football. And, there’s no better way to do so than to get caught up on the media viewing session:

The Tide split up its defensive backs during a drill. On one side, cornerback Trevon Diggs worked with safety Jared Mayden. On another, Patrick Surtain and safety Xavier McKinney went through their steps.

Two ‘Bama players made their way back to practice yesterday, including the enigmatic Ale Kaho.

Understandably, an issue of emphasis this Spring is getting back to the Process, and that means discipline, focus, and particularly internal leadership. Here’s Saban on all of the ways that Alabama has been fortunate in those respects, as well how the Tide may have lost its way a bit:

“I think leadership is something we’re trying to emphasize,” Saban said.

“I think having people on the team and players on the team that can really reinforce the principles and values of the program and the organization really benefits you to develop the kind of team chemistry that you need to have to have a championship team. And all the good teams that we’ve had around here, the teams that have won championships, we’ve had the kind of leadership that help people sustain through the tough times, and they demanded that everyone sort of adhere to the standard. It wasn’t just the coaches preaching that.

The meteoric rise of Quinnen Williams has been one of the stories of the year. Great profile by Staples here.

Per usual, Charlie Potter has the verbatim transcript of Nick Saban’s presser yesterday. Here’s the Man on X:

On safety depth, Xavier McKinney

With a few guys leaving this offseason, how do you feel about the depth at safety? And you mentioned leadership, how important is it for a guy like Xavier McKinney to emerge as a leader?

“Xavier’s done a great job, has had a great offseason. I think he was one of the best performers each week that we did offseason workouts for four weeks. You couldn’t ask a guy to set a better example. I mean his practice habits have been phenomenal these first three practices. I mean he’s doing everything he can to set a good example and be a leader for other players. But depth at safety is an issue. We’ve got some young guys coming in next year, and they’re going to have an opportunity to contribute. And we’ve got to get the guys that we have here now playing better with more consistency.”

The biggest question for ‘Bama’s backend is obviously safety. I think we all suspect Shyheim Carter is going to blow up at Star, and while there are a few candidates, there don’t seem to be any no-brainer next-in-line superstars at safety. If one were to emerge, McKinney would be the most logical guess.

The two key coordinators and other members of the football staff had their contracts approved by the Trustees yesterday, and the real shocker here is Pete Golding’s deal.

Alabama has approved new contracts for several members of the football staff, including offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Pete Golding.

Sarkisian, who was hired last month, has a three-year contract worth an average of $1.6 million annually. Golding, who was promoted from within the staff, also has a three-year deal. He will be paid $1.1 million this year and $1.2 million in each of the next two years.

Both the length and the value are real signs of the tremendous esteem in which Saban apparently holds Golding. The market undoubtedly had something to do with that number as well, with Ole Miss and Oklahoma being very aggressive offseason suitors.

You’re in luck! Two rants in one JP today!

The NCAA absolutely dropped the ball on Tate Martell:

Leach [Martell’s attorney], according to a UM source, made the case that after landing quarterback Justin Fields from Georgia, Ohio State made no efforts to keep Martell. This argument carried weight with the NCAA.

After Ohio State landed Fields, the relationship between Martell and the Buckeyes obviously was impacted, and “no efforts were made by Ohio State to rectify the feelings between the two,” the source said. “Tate felt it was in his and Ohio State’s best interests to transfer.

Absolutely pitiful. Every season players are going to be courted by coaching staffs. And, I find find Leach’s reasoning bunk and the alleged facts here bunk. From the date Justin Fields’ waiver was approved, until Martell pouted his way out of Columbus, less than 48 hours had elapsed. In the weeks leading up to the NCAA waiver decision on Justin Fields, Martell spent more time crying on social media about OSU pursuing him. It is important to note that the team had not practiced or had position meetings, etc. Martell just got butthurt, scared of competition, and peaced out — in less than two days. Helluva’ winner you got there, Miami!

If Martell believed a transfer was in his best interest, then appropriate mechanisms were already in place. But there was absolutely no exigency that required the grant of an emergency waiver here. And, by this tissue-thin reasoning, then every transfer will have behind-the-scenes, unique circumstances. Leach and the NCAA can maintain otherwise, but this is free agency, sanctioned by a cowardly and litigation-shy NCAA looking to improve its PR and maintain antitrust status. As usual, though, serving two masters serves none. If the NCAA believes in its mission and its handbook, then defend them. If not, then abandon them.

We’ll be back with some more stuff later. And an angry Roll Tide to you all.