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Jumbo Package: College football in Alabama is only a day away

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

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NCAA Football: Austin Peay at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. First, let’s show a little love for Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue, who headed down to Louisiana yesterday.


Equally awesome is that the FCS season kicks off tomorrow night as Central Arkansas takes on Austin Peay in Montgomery on ESPN. The Bears will then turn around and travel to UAB for a game only five days later.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The opening of the 151st season of college football was supposed to be a nationwide celebration, a tailgating extravaganza, a wall-to-wall glut of televised games.

When the FBS kicks off its reimagined 2020 season a week from Thursday, there’s not even a consensus about whether the games should even be played.

UAB athletic director Mark Ingram is one of those emphatically behind playing the fall season. His Blazers will host Central Arkansas in one of the first two FBS games next Thursday night. (South Alabama at Southern Miss is the other.)

“Is the virus going to be any better or different [in the spring]? No, probably not,” he said. “Are the numbers going to be remarkably different? No, probably not. Are we going to have a vaccine? No, probably not.”

UAB vs. Central Arkansas normally wouldn’t draw much of a viewing audience, but I bet it will on Thursday. UAB is paying to have Central Arkansas meet its testing protocols for the week, which raises the question of why major programs couldn’t have done the same for the G5 opponents, but we won’t complain about conference only. It’s going to be fun.

The battle for inside linebacker will be fun to watch as well.

McMillon had the edge on experience last preseason, before his knee injury, but both Harris and Lee now have that experienced. Lee would have to move from the mike linebacker position to the will to play alongside Moses, whereas Harris already has experience there.

Harris’ athletic abilities make him an attractive prospect for the position, and if he has developed mentally to the point that he can make up for McMillon’s experience, he could be the other starter.

Something tells me there will be room in the rotation for the cerebral vet as well as the athletic youngster with a year under his belt. My guess is that Lee works as the understudy to Moses.

Christian Barmore continues to draw hype.

The defensive tackle’s high school coach, Albie Crosby, isn’t surprised at his rapid ascent in Tuscaloosa. Crosby recalls his defensive coordinator Dwayne Thomas predicting this would happen before Barmore ever left Philadelphia.

“‘If you play as hard and as violent as you play, you’ll play one or two years, and you’ll be in the league,’” Crosby said, remembering Thomas’ remarks. “So, I think everything that you’re seeing now is something that we’ve seen.”

What started as advice to a young player about to depart for Tuscaloosa, looks an awful lot like a prophecy now. On Tuesday, the Athletic’s Dane Brugler ranked the defensive tackle 15th overall on his early NFL draft board.

If Christian breaks out as we hope, Freddie Roach will have had plenty to do with it.

“What an unbelievable player he was here, but what an unbelievable person,” defensive coordinator Pete Golding said last week of Roach. “I think the energy he brings to that room — being a little younger, I think the kids relate to him more.

“But it’s not a buddy system. He’s on their ass. He’s gonna make sure they do things right.”

Redshirt junior defensive lineman LaBryan Ray understands the tough love.

“He demands the best of us,” Ray said Wednesday. “He’s a guy who’s going to push us and tell us why, so I think he’s doing an outstanding job.”

We have been missing a little bit of nasty up front. Would be great to see some of it this season.

Terrell Lewis is impressing his teammates.

“That dude, he’s a massive dude,” Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers said. “At first, I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s the guy that they’ve got replacing me.’ Then I saw him at outside linebacker, and I was like, ‘What? What’s up?’”

If Lewis can make that much of an impression just by showing up, then why did he last until the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, joining Los Angeles after 83 other players had been picked?

“To me, I take it as a chip on my shoulder,” Lewis said. “But at the same time, I don’t want to prove it to nobody but myself, so I go in every day with the mindset: Compete with yourself. I don’t have nothing to prove to anybody but myself and basically just prove to myself I know where I should have been taken and I know my value, my worth, and eventually it’ll come out and it’ll be exposed.

Make us proud, Terrell.

Last, we can’t go a day without picking on the Big Ten. Now they want to start when everyone else is finishing.

With parents groups continuing to demand Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren further explain the reasons for shutting down the 2020 football season and eight Nebraska players filing a lawsuit in an attempt to overturn that decision, the league’s football coaches continue working on a revised schedule.

According to two college football people familiar with the Big Ten, those talks have generated a new option, starting a Big Ten season of at least eight games the week of Thanksgiving.

The Journal Sentinel reported earlier this month that league officials were working on a plan to play an eight-game season beginning in January, with the games to be played in indoor facilities.

The parents and players are clearly making an impact here. Just play in the fall, folks. There is new information and you could still start by October 1 if you hurry.

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.