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Jumbo Package: Sankey expresses optimism, King Henry gets his deal

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

CFP National Championship - Alabama v Clemson Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Happy Thursday, everyone. We don’t link to Clay Travis’s site much around here for good reason, but damn if he didn’t manage to pin down Greg Sankey for an exclusive interview. In contrast with some recent comments, Sankey was pretty upbeat about the prospect of playing ball, first noting that positive tests among players have fallen to “near zero,” and then offering this insight.

“So, that’s one of those judgment conversations that we spent a lot of time on in April and May. In fact, when we shut down back in March, it’s because there were so many unknowns. And then we had to think about what that meant for young people. We disrupted the foundation of their lives, their rhythm, their opportunities. We continued with support to the extent that was possible from a distance and then as we headed back to May we took time. Rather than bringing them back June 1, we brought them back June 8, but part of the reality was we had gyms opening up all around the country.

And I was on a Zoom call with a student-athlete who had gone to two different gyms on the same day for two different workouts. And he’s a smart guy, but you know, you don’t know the gym, you don’t know who’s overseeing that, you don’t know the hygiene policies of that facility, and our athletic programs have embedded medical professionals that do this on a daily basis. They look out for the health and well being of our young people. They all had hygiene and sanitation plans. They work in small groups. They follow every one of the guidelines that you could, you could imagine. They have long policies. And it has worked well to the date and they’ve met the expectations of managing themselves. And it’s been a bit of a learning experience for everyone, but it is gone by all accounts shared with me, in the way we had hoped.

Indeed, the environment on campus is controllable by the medical staff. Not enough is said about the additional monitoring, support, and care that being in the program offers the players. This easily offsets any small increase in risk of infection while playing vs. whatever they would be doing otherwise. There will reportedly be uniform testing standards announced as early as today, as well. We will stay tuned on that.

Dacoacho told Mike Pence that we need football.

While the SEC is taking a wait-and-see approach to the upcoming football season due to the coronavirus pandemic, coach Ed Orgeron of the defending national champion LSU Tigers is moving full speed ahead.

“I don’t think we can take this away from these players, take this away from our state and our country. We need football,” Orgeron said Tuesday at an education roundtable with Vice President Mike Pence.

“Football is the lifeblood of our country in my opinion,” he added. “It gets everything going, it gets the economy going, the economy of Baton Rouge, the economy of the state of Louisiana.”

I don’t know that I’d go so far as to call it the lifeblood, but football is an important part of our economic engine. Fantasy sports alone are a multibillion dollar industry, let alone the local economic impacts. And as he says, to cancel the season would be to take something away from the vast majority of the players who want to play.

Meanwhile, part of the conversation at the recent SEC meeting revolved around working with the Big 12 and ACC.

Barring a full, 12-game schedule, three models emerged as strong possibilities with league power brokers: an eight-game conference-only schedule and a nine or 10-game plan that would preserve at least one scheduled matchup with a Power 5 conference program.

The SEC has already lost two Power 5 games with the Pac-12’s decision to hold a conference-only season: Alabama-USC and Texas A&M-Colorado. The league is attempting to preserve its remaining 13 Power 5 conference games, including the aforementioned four Sept. 12 games and most notably the four traditional rivalries with the ACC: Georgia-Georgia Tech, Florida-Florida State, South Carolina-Clemson and Kentucky-Louisville. The other five games are Arkansas-Notre Dame, Georgia-Virginia, Ole Miss-Baylor, Missouri-BYU and Vanderbilt-Kansas State.

TCU is reportedly still in contact with Alabama about replacing USC on the Tide’s schedule, and the Dallas Cowboys are still willing to host the game in Arlington. No idea if that will happen, but I do think that it will be hilarious if these three leagues manage to work out a season together. I’m not going to second guess the decisions of the Big Ten and Pac 12 to go conference only. That may well be the best decision for them, but if the other three leagues could take a wait-and-see approach until the first week of August, then they could have too. Say what you will, but it says here that moral grandstanding was the objective. I hope it backfires and nobody outside their regions watch their little slapfights.

This was an interesting nugget from the Senior Bowl Director.

I’m really not sure what to make of that one.

King Henry will not have to play out a franchise tag after all.

Henry’s deal, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, is for $50 million over four years with more than $25 million of that being guaranteed (meaning Henry receives it no matter what). That’s $12.5 million per year for a player who was already going to get more than $10 million by playing under the franchise tag.

A bump, yes, but not a huge one. While guaranteed money and long-term security had to be important for Henry, this clearly wasn’t just about numbers for either side. It also had to do with respect, for receiving what you deserve and what teammates know you’ve earned.

For the Titans, this was about the rest of the team as much as it was Henry. The deal rewarded a hard-working, team-first leader who never has complained, even when he could have, and continued to improve, becoming the league’s leading rusher last season and nearly carrying a team that barely made the playoffs into the Super Bowl.

More than any other player, Henry embodies the hard-nosed, actions-over-words identity the Titans want to project.

Good for him, and good on the reporter for recognizing the value in the other players seeing that kind of performance rewarded. He is going to be carrying them on his back for a while yet.

Kirk McNair over at 247 has your daily Gump fuel.

SEC teams have gone undefeated and untied in regular season play 35 times. Alabama has 15 of those.

Alabama’s all-time record of 916-331-43 ranks among the nation’s best in both number of wins and winning percentage. And, of course, Bama has gone to more bowl games (67) and won more (38) than any other team.

Just in the so-called poll era, where national championships were selected by either polls (beginning with the Associated Press in the 1930s) or playoff, Alabama has won 12, the rest of the SEC 13.

Bama’s records of 28 consecutive victories (1991-93 and 1978-80) and 27 straight wins against SEC opponents (1976-80) are both best in conference history.

Damn skippy.

Last, this is something that simply has to happen. I just has to.

Please let Auburn or Tennessee play in the first Toilet Bowl.

Please.

That’s about it for now. Have a great day.

Roll Tide.