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Jumbo Package: Crimson Tide medals at NCAA Championships and picks up major OT commitment for 2020

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We won a national title too...guess what in.

<p zoompage-fontsize="15" style="">Track &amp; Field: NCAA Championships

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Alabama raked in another national championship yesterday, esoteric though it be:

This is an incredibly forward-thinking contest, btw: extraterrestrial mineral extraction, exploration, and eventual human settlement are nearer in our future than they are in the dim pasts of science fiction, as human beings take our first steps towards becoming interstellar travelers.

Congratulations, ‘Bama. Roll Damn Rover.

The SEC has its share of bad officiating. It’s not as bad as, say, the Pac 12 or the Big 12, or as chalk-favorite as the Big 12. But, it does need some work.

Here’s a good piece in SI (by LSU homer Ross Dellenger) on officiating in the social media era and the SEC’s attempts to proactively improve on its most valuable commodity.

Nick Saban often finds himself watching an NFL game, seeing a flag thrown and wondering why, like the rest of us. Seconds later, when a retired official appears on the TV broadcast, he gets his answer. He wants the same for the SEC. “Half the people don’t even know the rule. With the difference between college and the NFL, I’m not certain of what the rule is,” says Saban, entering his 13th season as Alabama head coach. “If we could find the right person to do that, an expert who nobody thought had bias, who could explain these things while they happen, I think it would go a long way in at least starting the chain of communication. That’s something I recommended.”

P.S. Devin White totally targeted Nick Fitzgerald.

Here’s some clarification / correction on the very confusing new bowl tie-ins we covered on Tuesday — especially the weirdness in Vegas.

The Big Ten, Southeastern Conference and Big 12 unveiled bowl lineups for the 2020-25 seasons Tuesday. Other FBS conferences are expected to release their future bowl agreements over the next several weeks.

The Big Ten has six-year agreements with 11 bowls, including new deals with Las Vegas and the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Big Ten will alternate with the SEC in Las Vegas — the expected new home of the Oakland Raiders — and in Charlotte, with the Big Ten taking odd-numbered years in Las Vegas and even-numbered years in Charlotte.

Bruh.

Alabama had five players selected in the MLB Draft yesterday, to go with the six commitment who were also selected. Later this week, Roger will break down what this means, who’s likely to sign with ‘Bama, and who’s likely to give it a go in the Cactus League:

A total of five Alabama baseball players from the 2018-19 roster were selected in the 2019 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Those five joined a group of six incoming signees who were drafted across the league’s three-day event.

The five total selections in the 2019 draft increased the Crimson Tide’s all-time draft pick total to 158 since the event began in 1966. Alabama has now had at least one player selected in 41 consecutive years dating back to 1979 and 48 of the 54 MLB drafts overall. More recently, the Tide has seen 50 players selected in the last 10 years and 85 total across the last 20 drafts dating back to 2000.

Interesting speculation here on teams that are poised to break the traditional playoff hegemony. And today TSN’s Bill Bender identifies one contender among Western teams that may have a shot: Texas A&M:

Would you put an 11-2 Aggies team in the College Football Playoff?

You probably should at that point.

Texas A&M is one of the teams that can play its way into the Playoff with that schedule. We’ll see if they are truly a year or two away from contention.

It’s no secret that Alabama’s secondary has one noticeable weakness — experience depth at safety. After defections to the NFL, and then a baffling offseason transfer, the Tide is left perilously thin in centerfield.

So, when I saw this piece of news the other day, I was very curious if Alabama would make a play to pluck a quality safety right out of the portal. Robinson in particular has the size and demonstrable production that would be a good fit in Tuscaloosa:

West Virginia safety Kenny Robinson entered his name in the transfer portal on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, junior safety Derrek Pitts, who was projected to start alongside Robinson, also entered his name in the transfer portal, as did redshirt sophomore safety E.J. Brown.

Robinson was a first-team All-Big 12 selection in the 2018 season, playing in all 12 games for the Mountaineers, and he was expected to have a significant role on their defense for 2019. The 6-foot-2 safety was tied for second in the conference with four interceptions in 2018 and is currently the career active leader in interceptions for West Virginia with seven.

This was somewhat surprising news from the MLB Draft which began yesterday:

Running back Jerrion Ealy and defensive back Maurice Hampton, two 2019 football recruits, have decided to forgo the MLB draft and will pursue their college careers in football and baseball.

Both Ealy and Hampton were projected as potential high draft picks in this month’s MLB draft, but neither was selected in the first round on Monday.

A strong, diverse Alabama Track and Field squad began competition at the NCAAs in Austin yesterday. And the medals have already begun to come in:

In the sweltering humidity that is Austin, Texas in June, Alabama senior Gilbert Kigen ran tough throughout the night before bursting from the pack over the last 400 meters to take second place in the 10,000 on day one of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships being held at Mike A. Meyers Stadium on the University of Texas campus this week.

”I’m really proud of the way Gilbert battled all the way to the finish,” UA head coach Dan Waters said. “That was a great race and he really went after it. It was a gutsy performance for sure.”

Alabama was really looking forward to the meet in Austin, where they think the heat is definitely in their favor — as opposed to the chill, foggy climes of Eugene.

One major difference heading into this year’s championships is the location. After six years in a row in Eugene, Oregon, the meet is in Austin, Texas this year and next, which brings with it a definite environmental shift.

”It’s obviously hot here in Austin, but that’s the way we like it,” Waters said. “We train in the heat, we understand what it’s all about. Our best performances are always coming in the warmer weather. Even our distances kids are more acclimated to running in the heat, so it should be an advantage for us.”

Looks like Coach Waters was right on this one.

Alabama picked up another 2020 football commitment yesterday, three/four-star tackle Damieon George.

Damieon George is high school teammates with five-star running back Zach Evans, who made an unofficial visit to Alabama earlier this week, according to 247sports.com.

George is the second offensive tackle to commit to Alabama in the 2020 class, joining Seth McLaughlin of Buford, Ga.

It’s hard for me to get a read on George based on his Hudl film. He’s a 3/4-star, has near-perfect size (6’6”, 306) for the passing game, and already has picked up 26 offers (including UGA, LSU, Ohio State, Penn State, Texas, and USC) — so, I’d expect him to rise as his senior season progresses.

Here are his highlights if you want to try and evaluate him for yourself

And, finally, Kirk McNair did a great story on the arms race in facilities and stadium upgrades:

In August it was announced that there would be major upgrades to Bryant-Denny Stadium, Rhoads Softball Stadium, the Jerry Pate Golf Facility for men and women, and the Mal Moore Athletics Building. To come later is what is believed to be an as-yet-to-be-determined change for Coleman Coliseum, the arena for basketball and gymnastics.

The ambitious program will be funded by an equally ambitious Crimson Tradition campaign which has a goal of raising $600 million in 10 years.

The University System Board of Trustees is meeting in Tuscaloosa this week and details will be presented to the board’s physical properties committee, which will certainly approve the plan.

AL.com reported this week that the cost of Phase I of the work at Bryant-Denny Stadium is estimated at $92.5 million, the renovation at Rhoads $3 million, the Pate facility $5 million, and the renovation of the Mal Moore building at $16.1 million.

That’s it for the JP today. We’ll be back later with another countdown. And, for the 10th year, we evaluate the SEC schedule — bye weeks, strength of competition, quality and consecutive games, etc. It’s always a long piece, but this isn’t just an ordinary glib look at a helmet grid. It’s worth the work...and worth the wait.