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Jumbo Package: Nate Oats hits Tuscaloosa to rave reviews...and we remembered there’s a football team too!

I promise, we have football in here too.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff-Alabama Practice Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

This is the face of one man who just hit it out of the park, and the face of another man who just became a multimillionaire.

If you haven’t seen Nate Oats arrival in Tuscaloosa, you should definitely do that.

This is quite a good piece here from Pete Thamel on the man who was teaching math and selling corn nuts a decade ago to support his high school basketball program. His meteoric rise to becoming the hottest coach in the country is a testament to skill, a few breaks, and a ton of hard work.

Still, he does have a tall task in front of him: hanging on this recruiting class, with NSD just 17 days away; trying to lure Trendon Watford to campus; and re-recruiting some of Alabama’s returning core Daniel Giddens, Kira Lewis, and John Petty all entered the portal within 18 hours of one another.

Upstate fans are understandably upset — we would be too. But the reaction from fans, commentators, and the media has been immediate and positive — glowing, even.

But, of course, Goodman has to be the turd in the punch bowl — if not overtly contrarian, at least qualifying that which requires no qualification.:

This isn’t a can’t miss, slam-dunk hire for Byrne, but it’s a smart play. He needed to hire someone quickly. Can anymore Alabama basketball players fit into the transfer portal?

All of Alabama’s most successful basketball coaches have had ties to the state or the South. In a league full of excellent coaches, Byrne has gone outside the SEC’s footprint. How will Oats navigate that path? At least one athletics director other than Byrne probably thinks Oats is going to do just fine.

Is it a can’t miss? How do you judge that? In Billy D’s 23 year college career, he missed the tournament four times and went the the NIT twice: a 25% failure rate, if we’re measuring solely by NCAA berths. If Alabama is in the postseason 75% of the time (and Oats’ Buffalo teams were, as were Donovan’s) then that’s not just a slam-dunk; that’s an unqualified, out-of-the park hire.

National relevance, being among the SEC’s best, upgraded facilities with engaged fans in Coliseum, Gumps paying attention to basketball in October and not merely January, a style of play that entices casual viewers, attracting talented players to the roster, generating revenue, graduating players and running a clean program: those are measures of a homerun hire, even if Oats never cuts down the nets in Indianapolis.

But, the fact that we can even openly dream of a day where that is possible and not be laughed out of the room already tells you what kind of hire this is.


There’s plenty more hoops out there and you can find. Let’s switch gears and talk about Footbaw.

Let us, you and I, talk about the offensive line. Nick Saban for one is very pleased with it. And well he should — this unit has the potential to be the most dominating one since those legendary 2011-2012 lines:

There is experience, however, returning at some positions shifting back to natural fits. Saban is “pleased” with Alex Leatherwood moving from guard back to left tackle after spending last season on the interior. Two years ago, Leatherwood came to Tuscaloosa as the No. 1 tackle and No. 4 overall recruit in 247Sports’ composite of recruiting rankings.

Jedrick Willis is at the other tackle position “and has done a good job,” Saban said.

That leaves two guards and a center to fill. Deonte Brown emerged as a powerful guard last season but faces a four-game suspension from the NCAA to begin the 2019 season.

Just a personal note to Cornbread, if he’s reading: Stay clean, keep the weight down, go hard in practice, show up to class. You are a mean SOB; a mammoth wall of salty bastard; a nasty player with mauler potential that NFL teams would love. No complaints there. It’s all the stuff around you that has been the problem — and now you’re in the dock with the NCAA. With the talent on-hand, you can very easily lose your job, Cornbread...and never get it back. Don’t throw away a promising career before it begins.

Jalen Hurts had his intro presser at Oklahoma. And, buddy, is he ever going to light up the terrible Big 12. I think it would be amazing to see him lose the Heisman trophy to Tua Tagovailoa in New York; both for the kind of season he would have and simply because Tua deserves one. I don’t think Jalen would mind coming in second in that race, nor would ‘Bama fans.

Hurts appears to be focused on what’s ahead. He told Schroeder that he finds his situation to be different than the norm, but insists he’s ready for what’s to come.

”Everything about it is unique,” Hurts said. “But to me, I know it’s happening to a unique person. I’m not your average Joe. I’m kind of built for these kind of situations.”

It’s really good to see Eyabi Anoma rebounding and gaining some confidence with a good spring. His athletic ability is so off the charts that, after a freshman season where he struggled, we tend to forget he’s only been playing organized football for a short time — and he’s a 1000 miles away from home. People get homesick, and that is doubly true when they are struggling.

With one of Alabama’s outside linebackers from the Maryland-DC area set to be “very, very limited” for the rest of the spring, another one of the team’s outside linebackers from that area will get even more opportunities to prove himself during the next few weeks — Eyabi Anoma.

A couple months after briefly entering the NCAA transfer portal, Anoma is competing for a bigger role going into his second year with the Crimson Tide and the former five-star recruit will probably get even more reps and chances moving forward with Terrell Lewis set to be held out for the most part for the rest of the spring.

This year Saban’s back-to-basics approach with the staff has began with more experience:

“No disrespect to the coaches that we had here before -- I thought they did a wonderful job,” Saban said. “I think there were a couple of areas where we had a limited amount of experience, and I think that we’ve been able to improve the staff in a lot of ways with the people that we have and the experience that they have. I thought we needed to improve our staff as a recruiting staff a year ago. I think we did that. I think this recruiting class probably showed that.

He echoes the things that I noted in the defensive coaching article of yesterday: this team could greatly benefit from coaches who deep-dive into the little things and the minutiae of the position and their responsibilities. That preparation and attention to detail has what always has separated Alabama from the pack. Grabbing all the five-stars is great; no question. But when they’re not being developed to their full potential it both shortchanges the players and gets you beat.

Brent was wrong again. This time about Dale (and I have receipts here):

Here are a few quick notes based on what I’ve been hearing about spring ball thus far:

— It’s still early, but don’t be surprised if freshman defensive lineman D.J. Dale ends up playing a decent amount for the Crimson Tide this season. Word is that the 6-foot-3, 315-pound Clay-Chalkville graduate has been very impressive. “I feel like he’s a great person to come in and learn the ropes, learn the process,” former Alabama star defensive lineman Quinnen Williams said in January. “He’s a very humble person and he’s from where I’m from, so we’ve got that same trait, that same mindset, myself and him. But he’s (much) bigger coming in. He’s way bigger than me coming in.”

Practice No. 6 notes from Zenitz above.

No. 4 Alabama softball was in grave danger of going on a two-game losing streak with their tight 4-3 win over unranked Georgia Tech. The Tide got down early 0-2, then took the lead on grand slam. The Yellow Jackets loaded them up in the top of the seventh, and plated one run, before the Tide slammed the door.

That was a much-needed dog fight going into the heart of conference play.

Okie dokie. That’s about it for today. You’ve got all the #content your heart could desire. So, dive in.