Happy Tuesday, everyone. Yesterday was the first practice in full pads, and Saban seemed pleased with the effort based on one of his very best press conferences. The most notable quote was about the reason for playing.
“So, why is that so important to people? They love sports. People identify with competition. A lot of the principles and values that make you a good player in sports, whether it’s pride in performance, personal discipline, your ability to sustain effort and toughness and persevere and overcome adversity. It’s been a part of our society since back in the Greek days. That’s why it’s important. Now, is it more important than public safety? No, I don’t think so. Is there a way that we can do that and keep people safe? I think a lot of people are trying to do that, and if we can do that I think we can play. If we can’t do that then I think someone will make the decision that maybe we shouldn’t play. But I don’t think that we should not try.
“I really appreciate the fact that we have a lot of people out there working hard. This is about the players. Everybody acts like we want to play for the money. We want to play for the players. I want to play for the players. We have a lot of guys on our team that can create a lot of value for themselves by playing this season, and we can create a lot of value and these guys have worked really hard to try to create and accomplish something as a team. All those things, to me, are important to the players. And I want to play for the players. I know it’s important to the fans. I love our fans. I love the way they support our team. They’re a part of our team. We want them to continue to be a part of our team in whatever way they can. But this is really about providing an opportunity to the players if we can do it in a safe way.”
Saban also quipped that his gaiter makes him look like Jesse James robbing a bank. People will inevitably call him a liar and point to his salary, but the man has repeatedly proven that he gives a damn about his players, and the players have the most to lose by not playing. Of course, this isn’t going to help.
531 from last Wednesday (this is not the entry testing). If this trend continues unabated, @dchsystem will be stretched thin, in the near future, while thousands will be unemployed. The contact tracing is clear that bars are a large factor in the transmission. https://t.co/5xJJnTtgsv— Walt Maddox (@WaltMaddox) August 25, 2020
Depending on which replies you prefer, this is either a bunch of young people who caught a cold or armageddon. Since this is 2020, it can’t merely be a serious issue that requires mitigation. Saban’s entire press conference is embedded at the bottom.
In actual football news, Brian Branch is making some noise.
Now enrolled at Alabama, the early returns on Branch have been positive. He has received the majority of his practice time at slot cornerback — the “star” position in Saban’s defense — and is in the mix to potentially contribute early in his college career at that spot.
The gold standard during Saban’s time at Alabama for a freshman defensive back could be that of Minkah Fitzpatrick’s first season in 2015. While it is far too early to compare Fitzpatrick and Branch on the field, Branch’s positional versatility between cornerback and safety, and potential for an early impact, could bring that comparison into focus over time.
We will keep an eye on this one.
Brett Hudson has a couple of position updates:
Tucker is next in line, the player hand-selected by competent talent evaluators to immediately fill a need. Considering UA’s lack of receiving threat from the position last year and the threat Tucker was for North Carolina in 2018 (16 catches for 265 yards and two touchdowns), it stands to reason Tucker’s expectations are based in ability as a pass catcher.
The four players UA inserted at the position just so happened to be among the most highly recruited prospects in the class. Anderson, Braswell and Sanders were all top 25 prospects in the nation, according to the 247Sports Composite, and Robinson was the second-best prospect in the state and top 75 prospect nationally.
“I think this recruiting class that we brought in up to this point in camp has been everything we thought they would be,” defensive coordinator Pete Golding said.
The depth in the front seven is better than it has been in a few years.
The situation in the Big Ten isn’t getting any better.
The parents aren’t the only ones asking questions and demanding information. On Wednesday, Penn State coach James Franklin said, “I’m extremely frustrated because we have very few answers to communicate to our young men.” Two days earlier, Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour said she wasn’t sure whether the Big Ten presidents and chancellors had held a formal vote about postponement. (Warren later said they did, although presidents who spoke were more evasive when asked about the vote.)
As one Big Ten coach told ESPN, “We’re just left in the dark. Why wouldn’t you communicate? Why wouldn’t you respond? I don’t get it. Something’s just off.”
Meyer said that some college football observers don’t realize all the work that players put in preparing for a season, on top of their academic responsibilities.
“You’re talking six hours a day put into this thing, and then all of a sudden it’s gone,” he said.
Coaches put in even more hours. It’s an endless grind, especially factoring in recruiting, which never stops. Meyer said he talks daily to his successor, Ryan Day.
“He’s not doing well,” Meyer said.
Hard to believe that Kevin Warren survives this.
Last, check out Tua Tagovailoa.
We’ve seen that a time or two.
That’s about it for now. Have a great day.