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Jumbo Package: Avery Johnson is out. So, who’s it going to be?

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Ohio State
Thad Matta is rumored to be in the mix for the Alabama basketball job.
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. The softball team came up just short of the national record for consecutive victories to open a season, losing on a game three walk-off in College Station. The ladies sit at 33-1 with a consensus top five ranking, though the rest of the SEC schedule is daunting. As Roger already told you, baseball took one of three from an excellent Arkansas squad, and the Gym Tide placed third at the SEC Championships and will move on to NCAA regionals, seeding to be announced today.

Of course, most of the buzz surrounds the now officially open men’s basketball coaching position.

Do you go for another veteran looking to get back in the game, a Fred Hoiberg or Thad Matta? Do you go the alumni route with Iowa State’s Steve Prohm? Do you try to raise enough money (see above under “buyout”) to convince a major college coach with a good gig to move? That’s a hard thing to do in college football or basketball, unless you are talking a Jimbo Fisher compensation package? Do you play what is, for want of a better term, Mid-Major Roulette?

Are there any guarantees with “the guy at Buffalo” (Nate Oats) or “the guy at Wofford” (Mike Young) or “the guy at Liberty” (Ritchie McKay)? Would they adjust well to the SEC, or would there be a learning curve and a chance of being in the same boat four years from now?

It would certainly be nice to get someone who has some staying power. Seems like only yesterday that people were buckling their seat belts for the first time. Cecil seemed to tease the fanbase a bit on Twitter last night.

This would cause a good Gump to think that Cougars coach Kelvin Sampson, NCAA baggage and all, may be on the radar, but then he followed up with this.

Well, being that Sampson is coaching in the Sweet Sixteen next weekend, it’s hard to believe that he would be hired this week, though all indications are that he is looking to leave Houston so that his assistant coach son can take over and begin his head coaching career.

The name that seems to keep popping up is Thad Matta. Matta says that he is completely recovered from the back problems that caused him to step down at Ohio State. He reportedly rebuffed a potential Georgia offer last offseason but is ready to get back into coaching. At only 51 years old he should have plenty of time, and boasts an outstanding track record: 74% winning percentage and 13 NCAA tournament appearances in 16 eligible seasons, including two Final Fours.

Also, he recruited top 100 prospect Daniel Giddens to Ohio State. Um, moving on...

Of course, Prohm’s name is still out there, and some have even mentioned 66-year-old Rick Pitino, but that seems rather far fetched. As Cecil says, the roulette wheel of mid-major guys is always a possibility, too. In any case, it seems that Byrne is looking to get this thing done quickly.

A couple of spring practice notes:

Still no Terrell Lewis, same as Terrin told you all on Friday. We saw him walking through the facility in shorts and flip flops as we headed outside.

While he was out, Eyabi Anoma was the first SAM linebacker taking snaps. Mike Stoops was checking out the OLB group while I was outside. Freshman linebacker Kevin Harris was behind him, I believe.

-- The most impressive thing we saw was freshman early enrollee Evan Neal doing a simple drill with a manager holding the bag. One minute the manager was on two feet. The next, he was on the ground. Neal, the 6-foot-7 offensive lineman who weighs 360 pounds, accelerated gravity for the much smaller student. Everyone was OK

Saban had mentioned that they were going to take it easy on some of the vets returning from injury, and you can bet that Terrell Lewis will be kept in bubble wrap all spring. We need that beast to be finally healthy for his senior season. Neal is turning heads all over the place. Look at the athleticism for a man his size (#73):

Good luck keeping this kid off the field, other competitors.

Last, the Tide landed a commitment from 2020 OL prospect Seth McLaughlin out of Buford, GA.

McLaughlin is the first offensive line commitment in Bama’s 2020 recruiting class, and the first pledge for new offensive line coach Kyle Flood. Safeties coach Charles Kelly is the new area recruiter for Buford, however, it’s Flood who McLaughlin has communicated with most, he says.

It wasn’t just coaches that helped McLaughlin make his mind up, though.

”I think the moment I knew was when I was sitting there talking with Pierce Quick and he was talking to me about how great everything was,” McLaughlin said. “I asked him all my questions and he answered them and made me feel really good about coming to Alabama.”

McLaughlin is rated only three stars at this point, but that may change considering the fact that he had offers from Clemson and Oklahoma along with Alabama. McLaughlin projects as a C/OG type, and his tape below mentions that he is a 4.0 GPA student with a solid 30 on the ACT. Looks like a pretty good prospect.

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

Roll Tide.