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Jumbo Package: Antoine Pettway to be retained, new football staff making an impact

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2004 NCAA Round 3: Alabama v Syracuse
Pettway after winning in the Sweet Sixteen.
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone. After drubbing UAB by a score of 17-1 on Wednesday, the softball team sits at 37-2 headed into this weekend’s set at #17 South Carolina. There has been no word on the possible return of freshman ace Montana Fouts. Meanwhile, the baseball team will look to snap its skid at home against South Carolina starting with today’s doubleheader, and the Gym Tide kick off NCAA regional action in Ann Arbor today at 1pm CT.

Not a lot of news out of the football camp today, but here are a few nuggets.

“I think Najee (Harris) and B-Rob (Brian Robinson, the former Hillcrest star) are both really good players,” Saban said. I think both of them have gotten a significant amount of experience in the past. I think they’re ready to take the next step in terms of making really significant contributions. They’ve both had really good springs.”

Najee Harris, the No. 1 running back recruit in the 2017 class, has always been viewed as an heir apparent, waiting his turn to take over for two years. Saban probably never viewed it quite like that, but the answer, pairing Harris and Robinson as a tandem, spoke loudly.

While Robinson, Jerome Ford, and likely Trey Sanders once he arrives will see a fair amount of action, I fully expect this to be Najee’s year to carry the mail. Look for him to get more than 50% of the carries, which would be a departure from last season’s committee approach.

Oh, and don’t expect some clock-ball offense, either.

Alabama isn’t suddenly going to try and revert back to seven, eight years ago and primarily become a power offense again, especially with the way the game is set up to aid tempo and spread attacks.

The other part of that equation, of course, is Tagovailoa. He’s already on the record about what fans should be looking for when the season starts.

“With Coach Sark, it’s really full-field progression reads,” he said. “Last year, we worked more on RPO, and we had that opportunity to perfect it. Now we’re trying to protect full-progression reads, so reading the entire field this year. I think implementing pure progression reads and RPOs is really going to be big for us this season.”

It other words, Alabama will be looking to attack anywhere and everywhere, especially downfield.

Honestly, with Tua and this group of veteran receivers, running the ball should be easy pickings. While most won’t have the personnel to accomplish it, look for many opponents to try Clemson’s bend-don’t break approach against the Tide and hope for red zone gaffes, referee shenanigans, etc.

The new coaches have been on the field together for a few practices now, and the returns are starting to come in.

Saban said there were issues with the “limited amount of experience” of the previous staff in a few areas. It became clear some of those gaps were exposed in the 44-16 national title game loss to Clemson. Saban noted the recruiting success of the previous staff but wanted more.

“I think that the guys that we hired are good recruiters, but I do think in some cases we have more experience and I think knowledge and experience is always something that is really beneficial to teach players,” Saban said. “So, I’ve been pleased so far with the people that we have and the progress that we’ve been able to make and how the players have responded to the coaches.”

Xavier McKinney pointed out that Charles Kelly has already helped him some with technique, and all indications are the Sal Sunseri has made a big impact on the pass rushers, Eyabi Anoma in particular. Sunseri believes that Anoma has top 5 pick potential and is all over him to reach it.

In basketball news, Nate Oats finished fourth in the AP national coach of the year voting, and the Tide are set for another big early season tournament in 2020.

In addition to the Crimson Tide, other participants in the 37th annual edition of the event include Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

“Each year, the Maui Jim Maui Invitational prides itself on bringing the best college basketball talent to the island of Maui,” said Tournament Chairman Dave Odom. “2020 is no different, with the Lahaina Civic Center hosting some of the game’s most historic programs of all time.”

The best way to raise the profile of the program is to play higher profile games, and the next two seasons will feature some great early season action with the 2019 Battle 4 Atlantis and now the 2020 Maui Invitational.

For those who were concerned about it, Antoine Pettway will be a part of the new regime.

Sources tell BamaCentral that former University of Alabama basketball player, and six-year assistant coach Antoine Pettway, is expected to be retained by Nate Oats.

The new head coach is already bringing Bryan Hodgson along from Buffalo, who was the Bulls’ primary recruiter, along with Mike Snowden as strength and conditioning coach.

It also appears that Bucky McMillian, Trendon Watford’s coach at Mountain Brook, will not be part of the staff as some have speculated.

Last, the mothership outlined Bruce Pearl’s dirty deeds, and the list is long.

Further complicating matters are reports that Pearl isn’t cooperating with Auburn’s internal investigation, and that, as a result, he might be fired in the middle of the season. The comments of Auburn president Steven Leath on Nov. 22, 2017 seem to back these reports up.

“There is no rush to judgement here and we have been working with the coach for weeks to find a solution to this difficult situation,” Leath wrote at the time. “Having three of his employees suspended or terminated is troublesome at best. His unwillingness to even talk to me about it is particularly troublesome.

”In addition I have many more facts than the fans and rest assured that I will make any decision based on facts, what is best for Auburn and not on emotion or perceptions from the past. I wish we were not in such a difficult situation, but we are, and Auburn will move past this regardless of the path chosen.”

Will Wade refuses to cooperate and LSU immediately suspends him. Pearl refuses to cooperate, nothing happens. Regardless of what happens tomorrow in the Final Four, have no doubt that Auburn is still the same dirty, skeezy, corrupt pack of goat herders we know and hate.

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

Roll Tide.