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Jumbo Package: Alabama is still the elephant in the room at SEC Media Days

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Alabama wasn’t there. But judging from the Q&A, you wouldn’t know that.

NCAA Football: Alabama A Day


Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

I noted this in yesterday’s recap, but the SEC is moving Media Days to Nashville and Atlanta. And there seems to be no real reason for it besides “why not.”

Alabama was not in attendance yesterday, nevertheless the 800-pound Crimson Gorilla in the room was still a topic of discussion:

LSU safety Grant Delpit

On the challenge of facing Tua Tagovailoa and Alabama’s receivers...

“Shoutout to them -- to Tua and that group of wide receivers. They’re great, they’re great athletes. They definitely know what they’re doing. They’ve got that offense down pat. It’s tough to stop them, but I’ll take my secondary, our group of DBs any day.”

Please note: Tua went 25 of 42, 295 yards, 60% completion, with a 2:1 TD:Int ratio, and finished that hostile road game with a passer rating of 129 and a QBR of 95 against an even better LSU secondary last year. That game had the most yards, and the second-worst completion percentage, for the Tigers secondary last season — and Texas A&M went seven overtimes.

Louisiana public education, man.

Delpit was not alone in talking about the Tide. Kelly Bryant, still mad about being completely dominated in 2017, said the Alabama-Clemson score wasn’t a surprise.

Okay, sure, pal.

Five ‘Bama players were named to the Bednarik and Maxwell watch list yesterday.

Crimson Tide running back Najee Harris, wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa were named to the Maxwell Award’s preseason watch list...

Former UA quarterback Jalen Hurts was also named to the preseason watch list.

On the defensive side of the football, Alabama defensive lineman Raekwon Davis and linebacker Dylan Moses were named to the Chuck Bednarik Award’s preseason watch list. That award is annually presented to Defensive Player of the Year at the college level.

Full story here.

In total, 15 SEC players made the Maxwell list alone.

Want to get into some Alabama games for free? Have you considered being a Red Coat?

Open positions currently include event staff (ticket scanners, security, other duties as assigned), ushers, & guest services. Those interested in becoming part of the Alabama football gameday experience will need to apply with our hiring team at Qualified Staffing through this link. To check the status of your application, call 205-391-9041 and select option six at the teleprompt.

Feleipe Franks is coming into 2019 with a lot of hype, with most seeming to hitch their wagons to the promise of a Second Year Mullen Miracle, as happened with Alex Smith, Dak Prescott, and Tim Tebow. But Pat Forde splashes a little cold water on those expectations, detailing how uphill the climb will be with Franks pulling the trigger of the Gators offense:

There may have been a player who spawned more Surrender Cobra dismay in 2017 among his team’s fans than Feleipe Franks, but I’m not sure who it would be. Franks was 99th nationally in pass efficiency (a 113.31 rating), 96th in accuracy (54.6 percent) and 93rd in yards per attempt (6.3). He was occasionally benched and routinely booed, a 6-foot-6 stud with a cannon arm who looked overwhelmed.

As promised, LSU has incorporated the spread into its offense this season. I’m still not sold that Joe Brady’s pro-spread is necessarily a good fit for Joe Burrow, who is a more athletic, less-accurate version of Danny Etling. But, we shall see.

The national writers, with tentacles deep in Swampville, seem convinced. But they are a perennially-deluded lot to begin with.

The solution to increasing athletic department revenues in an era of declining attendance? Some say it’s a matter of better scheduling.

The counterpoint to this argument is that adding high profile P5 vs. P5 games does not at all make attending games any more affordable. And affordability is a large component in this — not just the matchups (as gross as some of these home games may be.)

The Notre Dame-Georgia matchup for instance, has a $466 resell market. And five of the top 10 most expensive retail ticket markets lie in the SEC.

Any solution that does not factor in finances to the fact a family of four would be spending thousands of dollars to attend a quality OOC game is insufficient. We can’t even get stadiums filled for an ACC-SEC matchup.

This is a great interview with Gary Patterson on approaching defensive playcalling, namely about the importance of having pre-set plays vs. just a general concepts or a gameplan; “playing defense like you play offense.”

Call this being a victim of their own success, but the SEC’s long-standing bowl tie-in to Shreveport is in jeopardy — the SEC teams have been too good lately:

Because the SEC has sent a team only twice in the last six years (it has ranked last in where the league sends a bowl-eligible team) because its payout is the lowest, $1 million per team.

In any event, no one expected a game between Alabama and Clemson in Shreveport in the foreseeable future.

The Independence Bowl is scheduled for Dec. 26 this year.

Next year, the SEC will have a new tie-in with the Las Vegas Bowl.

That would be depressing. The Weedeater Bowl, and a dreary Christmas spent in Flavor Country, has been the motivation of many an SEC team to improve on their showing.

It’s also an easy drive for most of the conference and easily one of the most affordable bowl destinations.

The Cowboys still own the rights to super-talented, still-just-29, substance-abusing, pistol-toting, Decatur-headcase Rolando McClain. With Orlando McCain trying to come back to the league, some Dallas media are less than thrilled with the prospect of seeing him don the Silver and Blue star.

If yesterday was Ed O’s master class in failing to temper expectations, then today when Kirby Smart takes the stage, don’t expect a rah-rah speech. Smart is widely expected to downplay the expectations that Georgia faces in Year Four of the Kirby Junta.

No word on who is going to catch passes.

Who thought this was a good idea? Like, at all?

The most important news of the college-football offseason dropped on Monday, the first day of SEC Media Days 2019.

And by “important” we mean “hysterical.”

In coordination with the start of its annual promotional event, the conference everyone loves (and also loves to hate) took a rare, masochistic turn, and launched an official Twitter account for its officiating. The Twitter handle @SECOfficiating went live at 12:42 p.m., or during SEC commissioner Greg Sankey’s opening news conference inside a ballroom at Hoover’s Wynfrey Hotel.

RIP, Marketing intern. RIP.

Captain Transfer, Tom Mars himself, is retiring from the Student-Athlete Transfer Portal game:

[Representing players has] also limited my ability to take on other work that’s a better fit for … my skill sets and experience. LIfe’s not a dress rehearsal & I don’t want to miss out on any more opportunities to utilize my full range of experience.” — Tom Mars

Well, duh. When you have 30 years of experience and can bill $1000 an hour for a complex matter vs. schlubbing around with broke college students or having to wring payments from the street agent gray market, there’s absolutely no question which is better for your career.

Interestingly, one fact Mars did cite for running him out of the field, is that there is simply too much business there now. And that may be the first time I’ve heard a lawyer gripe about that.

Okay, more SECMD coverage coming up today. There’s plenty here though. So, dive in.