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Jumbo Package: Christian Harris showing growth, Big Ten already feels the pain of no football

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Vrbo Citrus Bowl - Michigan v Alabama Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, everyone. There was FBS football last night, with BYU taking Navy to the woodshed on national television. We have only two more Saturdays to wait before Alabama kicks things off.

When that happens, Christian Harris is a man to watch.

As a summer enrollee, the high school corneerback had two months to familiarize himself with the playbook, and do so at a new position: inside linebacker, the defense’s most complex position.

Harris was thrust into a starting role and handled it the best he could, admittingly with plenty of help around him.

Harris ended his freshman season fourth on UA’s defense in tackles, third with 7 1⁄ 2 tackles for a loss and contributed to the pass rush with five quarterback hurries. Harris’ physical gifts helped him produce some in 2019, and he anticipates a better football mind to help him in 2020.

“The communication, I feel like communication was one of the biggest things I needed to work on,” Harris said. “I’ve worked on that a lot, I feel more comfortable with the playbook. Now I can just go out there and play football, not think and move slow. I can just play football like I’ve always been doing.”

Imagine that whirlwind, having to learn a new position as a freshman and play it in the SEC a couple months after arriving on campus. Harris should be much improved this year.

The financial ramifications of no football are starting to rear their heads.

“It’s decimated,” DeLuce says. “Since the spring, three of our hotels closed temporarily. I don’t think they’re all going to make it—especially now. … Our tourism industry has been decimated by the lack of sports, conferences, group tours. It’s tough. I feel for the small business owners.

“People think about the hotels, for football. But how about the companies that do the port-a-johns outside the stadium for tailgating? What about the florist who does the flowers for receptions? The caterers? It’s terrible.”

DeLuce says an average Illinois home football game results in an estimated $3 million economic impact for Champaign County. In a normal season, that’s roughly $20 million. This was not going to be a normal season.

Layoffs at powerful schools like Texas and Michigan, combined with more than 100 sports being cut at colleges across the country, including 11 at Stanford, paint a bleak short-term picture for college athletics.

“I don’t see how an AD will be able to go to their president, no matter how much pressure is on the program, and justify the cost of some of these buyouts in the current climate,” said Drew Turner, vice president of Collegiate Sports Associates, an executive search and consulting firm that primarily works in college athletics.

In the past five years, an average of nearly 25 of the 130 FBS college football jobs have turned over each year. This year, a safe estimate will be somewhere around five.

There likely will be coaching stability this year, which can be a good or bad thing. What there likely won’t be is a Big Ten season.

Like the hit reality show ‘Survivor’ alliances have been formed within the conference, and so far Schlissel’s sit-out tribe has controlled the fate of the league. With no re-vote coming this week as was hoped for, the Big Ten is still sitting out while lowly Central Arkansas has helped fill the void with two nationally-televised appearances already. The Bears have also reported zero positive tests as well.

So if Central Arkansas can make this work, and high schools across the region can, why can’t a conference with some of the top med schools in the country?

That is the multi-million dollar question, ain’t it?

Stewart Mandel has some very bad ideas.

If you’re a Big Ten or Pac-12 fan reading this, you’re probably saying, sign me up! But if you’re a fan of a team already playing, you may be wondering — why should we delay anything on account of those guys? We don’t want to risk Trevor Lawrence or Najee Harris bailing before the Playoff to start preparing for the draft.

Well, I’ve got a couple of enticements.

Given the unusual circumstances, for this year and this year only, the champions of the ACC, Big 12 and SEC would be given automatic entry to the Playoff. The fourth spot would be reserved for whoever finishes highest among the Big Ten and Big 12 champs, the highest Group of 5 champ, or a wild-card from among the first three leagues.

Um, delay our playoff and add autobids, Stew?

The Big Ten has made their bed. Let them continue to lie in it, pun intended. Seriously, why would the SEC agree to that?

1. Two SEC teams make the CFP: With the Big Ten and Pac-12 punting to later this fall or next spring, there’s an open spot for a potential second SEC team to reach the CFP. Because it’s playing Alabama on the road, Georgia would probably have to win in Tuscaloosa or avenge that loss in the SEC championship game. If the Bulldogs were to drop two games to the Crimson Tide, Florida could sneak its way into the CFP without winning the SEC East. And of course, the No. 2 SEC West team would be a candidate if the SEC East teams falter.

NARRATOR: They have no reason to agree to that.

As usual, Alabama has plenty of NFL representation.

The University of Alabama football program continues to stock NFL rosters at a steady rate as 57 Crimson Tide players are active going into the league’s first week.

Alabama also had six players sign with practice squads. The former players re-signing on Sunday included wide receiver Gehrig Dieter by the Kansas City Chiefs, tight end Hale Hentges, wide receiver Cam Sims and center Ross Pierschbacher by Washington, defensive back Jared Mayden by the San Francisco 49ers and snapper Carson Tinker by the New York Giants. There were reports that wide receiver Robert Foster, who was released by the Buffalo Bills on Saturday, would sign with the Green Bay Packers.

Christopher Walsh has an eligibility tracker, though he is off by one.

But this has been anything but a normal year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and numerous conferences electing not to play this fall.

One consequence was that the NCAA decided that the 2020 season would not count against a player’s eligibility, regardless of if he played or not.

In theory, not only does the 85-man limit get throw out for the immediate future, but teams could have 100-plus scholarship players on the roster.

That’s assuming the school can afford to do so.

Caden Clark is not on the roster as a grayshirt.

Last, a cereal that was made for a champion.

It was made for one specific champion, I say.

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

Roll Tide.