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Jumbo Package: Per Nick Saban, Antonio Alfano is assumed to have quit

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We’re going to have to add a new word for quit to the dictionary.

Alabama Spring Game

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Why do the NegaGump stories fall on my days?

Welp. No point in sugar coating this. Here’s what Nick Saban had to say about Antonio Alfano, who has gone AWOL in ways that would make Bowe Bergdahl blush.

“Well, I don’t really know much about that. I just know that the guy basically quit,” Saban said. “He quit going to class, he quit coming here. We tried to encourage him, we tried to help him. We had tried to set up counseling sessions with him to help him every way we could. And all those things are still available to him if he wants them, but he didn’t respond to any of the things, so until he responds, you just have to assume the guy quit.”

There are two interesting points to note here. 1. Per Alfano’s father, it is his wish that Antonio still attend Alabama, and, 2. related to that, despite being ghosted in every way imaginable, Alabama has still made counseling and academic and athletic services available to him.

Who knows what’s wrong with the kid. As his father’s press release said, he is having some adjustment issues at the moment with his grandmother’s illness. And, as Saban alluded to two weeks ago, maybe Antonio screwed up and has been trying to dodge the repercussions since, compounding one screw up on top of another. Maybe it’s just disappointment — an affluent kid who dominated everywhere he went having to scrape and grunt and bleed to earn some snaps late in the game? Maybe his heart just isn’t in to it. Maybe this really is just about his grandmother. And maybe there are other things that simply aren’t being reflected in the record. Perhaps a little bit of everything.

But, no matter the cause/s, even if Alfano decides to stay, and even if he does a 180 on his attitude and actions and mental space, the damage may already be irrevocable. I have no idea how he would retain eligibility for this year — going to class is important, you know. Worse, how could he make this right to the coaching staff and the 84 other people sharing a locker room with him who were counting upon him?

Those are long odds to be sure, but Nick Saban has still left the back door cracked for Alfano to slip back in — an uncharacteristic display of forbearance to say the least. Whether Alfano avails himself of that offer is totally up to him. But the resources have been, and are still, available.

Best of luck, kid.

Tua Tagovailoa nailed down the Davey O’Brien National Player of the week award on the heels of his 444-yard, 5-touchdown performance in Columbia.

Let’s look at some good news, shall we? Alabama basketball is pressing hard for big man Isaiah Jackson out of Michigan. The Tide recently got the #blursed 247 prediction for the 5-star, and Kentucky fans are starting to panic about their frontcourt.

From yesterday’s practice notes:

Alabama spent its walkthrough period open to reporters in its dime packages, with senior Jared Mayden and freshman Jordan Battle at safety. Patrick Surtain, Shyheim Carter, Trevon Diggs, Xavier McKinney and Anfernee Jennings were at the line of scrimmage. Shane Lee also joined that group at times.

It looks like Battle has fully supplanted Jobe as one of the six-best starters. With the heart of the SEC schedule beginning next week, I suspect that this is going to be Alabama’s base dime going forward. The Golden Eagles pass-happy system is a good challenge for Alabama before facing Ole Miss.

Terrell Lewis was on the sidelines for practice, but his snaps and workload seem are being managed, so don’t read too many negative tea leaves into that.

Yesterday Alabama nailed down the rest of its game planning for the Southern Miss game, and with that came Nick Saban’s late-week presser.

The head man was surprisingly philosophical and introspective, though he did begin with the obvious statement we’ve all made in 2019: Alabama has yet to play a complete game:

“The emphasis for our team, which I mentioned earlier, is to really focus on what we need to do to improve, play to our standard, do it for 60 minutes in the game, play a complete game. And I think it’s really important regardless of the circumstances that players respect, you know, their opponent. I think humility, you know, is something that is very, very important. Because it makes you respect all people, makes you respect all things, makes you appreciate things. And when you have humility, you always respect the other team. And I think that’s, that’s very, very important. If you don’t have it, it creates kind of a blatant disregard for doing things the right way. And, you know, that can be a problem in terms of the habits that you create. So, you know, hopefully, you know, we are going about those things, you know, like we need to so we can, you know, improve.

Complete transcript and video are here.

You thought California’s bill was dumb, wait until you see what New York has done with its proposal:

[The] bill goes further than the California bill. In addition to allowing athletes to take outside money while in college, the bill says “at the conclusion of each school year, each college shall take fifteen percent of the revenue earned from ticket sales to all athletic events and divide and pay such amount to all student-athletes.

The Bad Idea Faerie hasn’t just struck the highly-regulated usual suspects; even places like South Carolina are getting in on it. I should cynically note that the South Carolina one screams more of an opportunity to drum up future business than a good faith effort. House Reps. Kimpson and Bambergh, the sponsors of this bill, are both plaintiffs lawyers, with Rep. Kimpson handling class actions. Totally coincidental, I’m sure.

Cui bono, y’all.

Alabama women’s golf, coming off a somewhat disappointing season, has begun play for 2019-2020 and it’s season-opening results were encouraging, given the very stiff field in the ANNIKA event:

The 24th-ranked Alabama women’s golf team closed play in its season-opening event, the ANNIKA Intercollegiate, finishing in eighth place with a 54-hole team total of 881 (295-294-292). The prestigious tournament, which featured 11 of the nation’s top-25 teams and some of the best competition in collegiate golf, concluded on Wednesday at the Royal Golf Club.

There is more encouraging news on LaBryan Ray. Sure, he’s absent for at least six weeks, but he may — may — in the best case scenario, be available for the LSU game.

If all goes well with his rehab, Alabama may be able to get injured defensive end LaBryan Ray back in time for its game against LSU in early November.

That’s the best case scenario, though.

We’ve seen a lot of miraculous rebounds over the years...and we’ve seen injuries linger well after players have been cleared for play. I’m not going to get my hopes up too much. Get well, LaBryan.

Can anyone tackle anymore, play “wad ball?”

In a word, no. No, they cannot.

Finally, check out this long form on former pro bowl DB Vontae Davis, who enigmatically quit in the third week of last year’s NFL season.

It’s a brutal game that takes as much of a mental toll as physical one. We all have breaking points, and Davis just happened to hit his in the middle of a game.

Physically, he felt fine -- there was no twinge from the groin that had long plagued his NFL career. This was different. His mind felt far away -- like he was going through the motions in the game he’d spent more than a decade playing. “I don’t feel right,” he said to his teammates, and as the Chargers sliced through the Bills’ defense, scoring 28 points before halftime, he sat on the bench and realized what was happening.

His mind had finally caught up with his body. Mentally, he was finished. Most athletes who come to this realization have their “aha” moment somewhere in private, but Davis’ was happening right there on the sideline. He felt scared and vulnerable, and he wasn’t sure what to do -- all he knew was that he couldn’t return to the field.

He needed to get away.

”I’m done,” he told his defensive coordinator, who wasn’t sure what Davis was talking about. The team chaplain followed him into the locker room, thinking he was injured, but Davis just kept repeating those same words.

The locker room was empty when he arrived. He took off his jersey and his shoulder pads and texted Megan. “Babe I’m done. I’m hanging up my cleats. I don’t want to put my body through this anymore.” The message startled her. Right now? she thought. In the middle of the game? She knew Vontae didn’t want anyone to talk him out of his decision. Instead, her first instinct was just to be there for him. “OK, I’ll meet you at home,” she responded.

See why we don’t slag players on this site, why we’re still holding out hope for Alfano? There are a lot of things more important than football — the rest of your life, for starters.

Have a great day. RTR