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Double-Size Jumbo Package: Saban SEC Media Days, conference expansion, obscene NIL cash, and more.

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There’s a whole lot to get through today. Dig in.

NCAA Football: SEC Media Days Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Man, this is a non-story I’m absolutely tired of hearing about, so I’ll cover it once and then move along:

Deion Sanders handled being called “Deion” poorly. He wants to be called coach? Fine, then correct the reporter and move along. Don’t stomp out like a petulant child, as Sanders did. My child got put in timeout for showing her ass like that.

As for him dragging Saban into it? Nonsense. Reporters call Saban a variety of things — Nick, Coach, Coach Saban, etc — including calling him “Nick” eight times in yesterday’s SECMD appearance.

Lord, do sports reporters need something to write about when this has been an actual thing for the better part of two days.

Welp. It appears that they just might have something to write about: namely Texas and Oklahoma’s possible entry into the SEC.

Josh hit this last night, but I wanted to follow up with a few other points.

The first is that Texas A&M AD Ross Bjork, formerly of Ole Miss, is particularly displeased about the proposal, and was very candid with regard to the Aggies’ position as the sole and dominant power in the Lone Star State.

Another issue is the informal bloc of SEC voting members who have (allegedly) vowed to scuttle the admission of their in-state rivals into the SEC: Texas A&M (Texas), Florida (FSU), South Carolina (Clemson), and Georgia (Georgia Tech). This bloc has successfully scuttled talks with FSU, made Clemson a non-starter, and has even allegedly blocked talks with other tobacco road programs, particularly NC State and Virginia Tech.

Ignoring other issues and questions arising from that prior expansion experience, a different anti-expansion bloc can and likely will arise and be a potent threat to Texas and OU’s admission. Texas A&M will almost certainly lead the charge against it.

Florida already doesn’t want a cross-division game with LSU, now add Alabama and Auburn to its division. LSU has tried to back out of three high-profile tough games in the previous two years — now add the Horns and Dirt Burglars. Missouri is constantly on the cusp of bowl eligibility and already struggles to recruit at an SEC-calibre — think they suddenly want to be in a glorified amalgam of Big 8 / Big 12 / SEC teams? Arkansas has sold its Texas recruits for years on coming to Fayetteville and playing in the SEC; that motivation evaporates by adding the Longhorns. Think Auburn wants to be moved to a division where it permanently plays Florida and Georgia? Does Kentucky and Vandy want to see Alabama every year? Do you think the perennial stinkers in the Magnolia State want to add two of the six winningest programs in CFB history to their division?

I think there is a lot of movement going on, I really do. And allegedly Texas has already planned to tell the Big 12 next week that they want out. But I wouldn’t count on smooth sailing. Despite the money at stake here (and it would be an ungodly sum), an expansion to 16 teams (with no fewer than 10 of the Top 25 winningest programs) may be just too much for a bloc of ADs to vote for. The SEC doesn’t require unanimity, but they do require 75% of ADs to accede to the move...and I’m not sure they get there.

Besides, as Bjork noted yesterday, the ADs haven’t even met regarding expansion. And, in the Big 12, despite OU not debunking the report, their counterparts at Oklahoma State (and I’m sure others), are going to be very aggressive to keep it from happening.

Whatever happens though, it is bound to happen quickly. Though I think the cash grab here is obvious (and there are dimensions that reek of colluding for NIL purposes), the power grab is even more apparent. In one fell swoop a coalition of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Aggie, Texas, and Oklahoma could dictate the fate of college sports for decades.

Some think their departure is inevitable, and I agree with that. I’m just not sold that it’s necessarily the SEC. And, come what may, I truly do think it would be terrible for all involved.

In Nick Saban’s remarks yesterday, he was very pointed in noting that the offense won’t change, at its core. Much like the defense, Alabama seems to have now found a self-licking ice cream cone, and though the faces behind the whistle may change, the core scheme likely won’t.

That is reassuring to a great many. What the new Offensive Coordinator does with it is entirely up to him, however. I guess we’ll have to see in about 45 days or so.

Think Jimbo is backing down about his proclamation that the Aggies will “beat Alabama’s ass?” Nope. He doubled down.

“I don’t have any regrets,” Fisher said at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover. “That’s what we’re here for, isn’t it? Isn’t that why everybody’s here? That’s what makes this league this league. That’s what we expect to do at Texas A&M.

“In saying all that — Nick and I are friends. We’ve known each other a long time. We coached together. We’re from the same world, if that makes any sense. I have the utmost respect for what he’s done and what he’s accomplished. He’s the standard, and the standard is what you have to play to.”

NCAA Football: SEC Media Days
John Metchie wants you to f’ around and find out.
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Highly lucrative NIL deals are going to pose serious problems with the developmental and mentoring aspect of the sport, according to some. And it’s hard to find fault with the logic.

“Do you realize [Bryce] is making more money than some of the assistant coaches? So, here’s an assistant coach. He sits in a meeting with this guy. He says, ‘Hey, you got to get here on time.’ The guy could be like, ‘OK coach, sure, whatever you say. You know what I make. I know what you make. You are not going to tell me what to do.’

Same thing if they say, ‘You got to start making your grades, you got to go to class, you know what our policies are.’ ‘Yeah, OK coach. I’ll be there tomorrow.’ How are you going to control those guys?”

I don’t have fears about Bryce, of course. He’s a level-headed kid with good parents. And many players that are in line for those sorts of giant paydays are usually about their business anyway...but not all. Can you imagine players like Leonard Fournette, who already bullied coaching staffs and dictated playing time, being handed a 7-figure salary at 19-years-old? Or many of the notoriously undisciplined Buckeyes that Meyer cranked out?

NIL will require college coaches to also be de facto pro coaches now in terms of discipline — as if the portal and transfer rules hadn’t already turned them into part-time GMs. It’s a job that’s getting harder and harder, and one that I think will veer further away from actual coaching. Even LMFK was taken aback by the ungodly money already being splashed around.

I guess the only thing that really will keep many of these players in line is playing nice until they can get drafted. No one wants to be the “locker room problem” at the Combine. But I promise you, that won’t be the case with everyone.

Who’s your money on first, as far as turning out an overpaid headcase? It’s gotta’ be LSU, right?

In our roundup of the season, I gave the highest coaching grades to OC Steve Sarkisian and the new Strength and Conditioning tandem of Dr. Rhea and Matt Ballou.

Yesterday, the latter pair were among the first persons singled out for praise by Coach Saban:

Saban commended the pair for being on the forefront of strength and conditioning philosophy. The coaches helped the Tide shift from a power lifting philosophy to velocity training to minimize injury and increase the team’s explosive movements.

“Last year our injuries were down by about 50%, soft tissue injuries. We increased explosive movement during the season by almost 5%, which we had not done for several years,” said Saban. ”We bought into the things that they do, the players get feedback on a daily basis which they really like, because they can determine the progress they’re making on a daily basis.”

Meanwhile, UGA has seen a positive surfeit of tendon-related injuries over the past 18 months. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

Saban’s edge over the competition is not just about his legendary work ethic. No, the GOAT has been so successful for so long because he shown a remarkable willingness to adapt to a changing game...even if he won’t always do so quietly.

Enter Lane Kiffin.

“We made a tremendous change when Lane came in,” Saban said at SEC Media Days. “Lane had always been the same - kind of, philosophy-wise - as we were in terms of pro-style football. Because of what Ole Miss, and it’s ironic that he’s at Ole Miss now, had done in beating us a couple of times, running the spread, running RPOs, running a lot of screens and things that were difficult to defend... And we weren’t utilizing some of those things which I thought put as a disadvantage.”

Saban took the old adage to heart, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Kiffin had to learn that style of offense too, Saban ensured. But the plan was to take what other teams did successfully and use it against them.

Saban had quite a lot to say yesterday, but one player in particular that he seemed excited about was former UT standout, Henry To’oto’o

“We thought Henry was one of the best defensive players in our conference in watching him play at Tennessee, and we had recruited him in high school,” Saban said. “We thought he was an outstanding player in high school. We’re talking about a fine young man who’s very intelligent, very instinctive player, very conscientious. He wants to know everything about not only what he does, but everybody on the defense. He’s got really good leadership qualities.

“So I think that there’s a lot of positives that he can bring. You always want to have a great signal-caller or quarterback type guy on defense. Regardless of what kind of player they are, those things really enhance the chances of all the other players on defense playing with confidence because they’re confident in the call that they’re getting, the adjustment that they’re making, and I think that’s something that Henry can really add to us as well as being a very productive player.”

All of Saban’s complete remarks can be found here, at AL.com’s handy livestream.

And 247 has you covered with John Metchie’s remarks.

Q. How has social media, how much pressure have you felt with social media to grow your audience and grow your brand because of NIL? And has your Canadian citizenship affected your potential earnings with NIL at all?

JOHN METCHIE: “There were a lot of questions about that with my Canadian citizenship affecting it, but Alabama has done a great job of getting me the help I needed to figure it out. As far as social media, I don’t really feel any pressures from it just because I’m aware that, as long as I continue to make production on the field and do what I’m supposed to do on the field, opportunities off the field will definitely be there.”

On a more somber note, 91-year-old legend Bobby Bowden has been diagnosed with “a terminal condition” and is not expected to live much longer.

His statement was very sanguine, and he is at peace with the inevitable, but I suspect he’s handling this far better than those around him.

Godspeed on the White Ship to the Uttermost West, Coach. “Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.”

FINALLY

Buddy, do I have some cool swag to show you today — the Limited Edition Landon Dickerson bobblehead. Limited to just 321 signed, numbered copies, this bad boy is just $50 from FOCO.

I am trying to wrangle on for a giveaway as we speak. But you can get your own beginning at 11:00 EST today. I’m definitely going to get one for myself, even if I can’t score a free one. Landon Dickerson was simply the heart and soul of last year’s title team, and has become cult hero with Crimson Tide fans...for good reason.

Poll

Should the SEC expand to add Texas and Oklahoma?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Nope. 14 is perfect. Besides, I’m tired of playing Oklahoma in everything.
    (137 votes)
  • 14%
    Nope. I’m still mad about Missouri — and even Arkansas and South Carolina 30 years ago.
    (112 votes)
  • 23%
    Yes, both should be in. The SEC will be the undisputed overlord of the entire college sports milieu
    (186 votes)
  • 6%
    Yes, but Oklahoma only. They seem a better fit.
    (49 votes)
  • 0%
    Yes, but Texas only, even if the Aggies will howl.
    (2 votes)
  • 16%
    Doesn’t matter what I think, Alabama and Florida aren’t going to let their hegemony be overtaken, nor is Aggie going down without a fight.
    (132 votes)
  • 20%
    Why are we even doing this?!
    (165 votes)
  • 1%
    Other
    (15 votes)
798 votes total Vote Now