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Jumbo Package: Rejoice, for it is Gump Day

Saban’s coaching tree is important for what comes after his departure.

This is iconic Gumping. Don't do this.
This is iconic Gumping. Don’t do this.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Gump Day.

The vast majority of our readers reside in what we generously term “the greater south” — from the Ohio River Valley south to the Gulf, and from the Arkansas River to the Atlantic, and all places in between. If that is you, then get to high ground and try to stay dry. It has been a trying 15 months of El Nino, and this week has saved its worst for us. Severe flooding in 12 states, workplaces shuttered, businesses closed, schools cancelled. And, with the spring rains soon beginning — and snow still coming for many of us — it’s apt to only get worse.

Stay safe. And, if you don’t know how deep the water is, don’t go in it. That’s how people die.

Who doesn’t love a good feature?

Nate Oats lost his grandfather, Martin, this weekend, and will be traveling for the funeral on the 14th. But, he shares some of his special memories:

A couple of years ago, Martin was placed in hospice care as doctors feared he didn’t have much time left. Oats made sure his entire family went with him and his Buffalo team on a road trip to Northern Illinois to see Martin. The pool shark took a turn for the better, however, and was taken out of hospice care. Oats last saw his grandfather while out recruiting this summer.

“It’s hard in this profession — you’re not where your family’s at. You go where the jobs are,” Oats said. “My family’s from Wisconsin. My mother’s from Minnesota. My father’s from Illinois. So, all my relatives are pretty much back there. Living in Detroit for 11 years and Buffalo for six and now down here, you’re not close by. I learned a lot from him.

“I remember the memories and will try to take a positive outlook on it.”

We send our condolences and best wishes to the Oats family.

Alabama Glue-man, Herb Jones, is ahead of schedule in his recovery following wrist surgery.

“They were predicting three (weeks). I think it’s going better than normal,” Oats said. “I’m hoping for maybe two and a half, maybe a week from today. We’re doing conditioning with him, trying to keep him in shape. He can’t do anything with his left hand really, so he’s doing a bunch of right-hand (drills). We’ll probably bring him back well before he’s 100 percent.

“I mean, that kid’s wanted to play all the time, but the left hand’s still sore — he can’t really do anything with it. We’ve got to get it to a point where he can at least function, where he can pass, catch, dribble some, shoot free throws, at least. And once that gets to that point, hopefully, he does well. He tolerates pain well. Hopefully, another week or so.”

Alabama needs him too. The Tide are 1-3 since his injury — and they travel to the Plains tonight. In Jones’ first meeting against Auburn this season, he was a force that keyed a huge ‘Bama win: drawing four charges, grabbing 12 boards and putting up 14 points.

Hey, it’s almost like some of the dudes are headcases no matter the school!

Eyabi Anoma, the Freshman All-American with some pass rushing kung-fu, is fast-tracking himself straight to Last Chance U. Even Dana Holgorsen has seen enough.

I opined yesterday that fully 75% of these guys that get kicked out of the program usually wind up reoffending, wasting their talent, or never amounting to much. Roger suspects it may be much higher than that. I think he may be right.

So, your mission today is to identify problem players who were drummed out of Tuscaloosa and then still went on to have a productive playing career (college or pro.)

Speaking of headcases, Antonio Alfano notably pulled a no-show after Alabama would not kiss his pampered posterior and then went to go sulk in Boulder and play under Mel Tucker, who did promise recruits the world.

He may have to actually be on good behavior if, as reported, CU legend Eric Bienemy returns to Colorado to coach.

But, it’s going to have to be someone, though. For Mel Tucker is heading to East Lansing.

One of Sparty’s biggest issues has been its inability to recruit at a pace with the elite teams in the conference. Dantonio did a fantastic job with 3- and 4-star players for a dozen years. But, it seems as though 1. MSU wants someone with B1G roots (Tucker played and previously coached in the hinterlands), while 2. still recruiting at a high level and open to a modern offense, 3. fits the Saban/Dantonio defensive scheme and personnel already in place, and 4. is unafraid of rumored sanctions coming down the pipe.

Win now — there may be trouble ahead. Tucker may fit that bill.

Another Nick Saban reclamation / development project to add to his ole’ coaching tree. Sniff. They grow up so fast.

And, if you’re keeping track at home, that now means that Michigan State has had Nick Saban — or a Nick-Saban coaching product — for 21 of the last 25 years, since 1995. It has paid dividends too. For a team that Saban inherited mired in a 5-year losing streak, Sparty has had just five total losing seasons since then, and only three years of losing records in the 21 years of Bobby Williams, Nick Saban, and Mark Dantonio.

That is relevant because, in a distant future when Alabama must replace Nick Saban, he will have left the structural foundation of the program in superb shape. His work at Michigan State, LSU and Alabama show that these turnarounds at flagging programs are not ephemeral; the programs are instead set up for long-term success.

See? This all had a point.

The 2020 NFL Draft has not yet occurred. However, there is a name on the horizon for the 2021 version. Our beloved Cornbread.

Brown was among an Alabama offensive line that ranked third in the nation, allowing just 0.92 sacks per game in 2019. The solid offensive play allowed Tua Tagovailoa and even Mac Jones to put up strong performances for the Crimson Tide, ending with a win in the Citrus Bowl over Michigan.

BOL continues its countdown of the most memorable plays of the Saban era.

How important are the Jimmies and Joes? Turns out, you need talent. The top five recruiting classes averaged over a five-year period are LSU, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, and Clemson. Three of those teams have won titles in that period; another played for a title, narrowly losing in overtime; and the last, Ohio State, lost to Clemson on a controversial penalty or the Buckeyes would have played for one last year as well.

The top of the rankings come as no surprise, with Alabama and Georgia as the only schools averaging a top-three class over the past five years. With two No. 1 classes in the past three years, the Bulldogs have closed the gap with the Tide on the recruiting trail created by Nick Saban’s run of consecutive No. 1 classes at the start and through the middle of the decade. Ohio State and LSU occupy a firm second tier of elite recruiting, followed by a much more crowded third tier that has a surging Clemson at the front and a falling Florida State on the back end, with plenty of familiar faces from the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 in between.

Which brings us to this: The 2020 NSD Class is a week old, and now we turn to the 2010 variety — hey, the early signing period is just 10 months away!

[The] Tide already has three pledges on board in.

UA’s class currently ranks No. 16 in the nation, but is tied with Ohio State (currently No. 1 in the standings with 10 commitments) in per commit grade average of teams with three or more pledges (95.00).

It was a rough day for NCAA prez Mark Emmert yesterday on The Hill:

“The system is deeply unfair… and marred with inconsistencies,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut. “I think this whole system has to be fundamentally reformed, far-reaching fundamental reform. The NCAA has a role to play but only if it gets into the game, which right now it is failing to.”

On several occasions, senators interrupted Emmert’s answers and delivered biting comments about his job performance. They admonished his lack of transparency, none more than Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee who was so displeased with Emmert’s answer to her question about former Memphis guard James Wiseman that she cut him off and reminded him of his job—“You’re the CEO!”—before gathering her belongings and marching out of the room.

Where this all leads is beyond me at this point. But when archconservative Marsha Blackburn and stolidly liberal Richard Blumenthal are both treating you like a punching bag, it’s plain that the NCAA is facing reform on some level. It remains to be seen if that will come from within...or if Congress steps in.

Finally, our favorite mohawked white possession receiver — and Patrick Mahomes bestie — Gehrig Dieter is staying put with the Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs.

Hoops coverage coming up later. Make the most of your soggy Gump Day!