I knew it was a red-hot night for Alabama’s hoops team, but the best one in a decade? Dayum.
That 63.6% from the perimeter was a new high under Nate Oats (the school record is 71.4%, though admittedly in a far different era, where 15 shots from deep was a bit excessive).
Afterwards, Nate Oats was all smiles...well, mostly smiles. The defense still got toasted a good bit, and the Tide fell down by 11 early. But, it was how Alabama responded that was the biggest takeaway of the night for me. ‘Bama responded to that 11-point deficit by closing out the half with some very good defense.
To Ole Miss’ credit, they happened to be on the receiving end of games we have seen far too often: The Rebels shot well, minimized mistakes, moved the ball well, turned ‘Bama over...and just got lit up by a red-hot visitor in front of a dead crowd.
I almost feel sorry for them. Almost.
That was a dangerous team that whooped Arkansas on the road, and has played its last few weeks of games very close — including against UK and Auburn. So, it was good to be dishing out one of these fluke shooting nights for a change.
Shawn Murphy is a player to watch at linebacker. That’s not me saying it: that’s Dick Butkus raving about the No. 6 LB prospect.
Following last Fall’s NLRB ruling that college athletes could, under certain conditions, be permitted to collectivize (a ruling that is still very much in litigation, I add), a group of players has decided to strike while the iron is hot, filing a second complaint in California to be classified as employees.
This will be the one the NCAA fights to the bitter end, as well as every state Board of Trustees, every school president, every AD — and won’t be settled for a full decade by the time the smoke clears. It’s also the most daunting for players, as there are well over 40 years of consistent case law (including the seminal Gray decision), distinguishing students from employees, because of the unique financial and fiduciary relationship that exists in the educational system.
To the majority of non-revs, this would likely be a boon. To the big money players, I’m not so certain it is a route that best serves their interests. If you become employees, then you are subject to terms and conditions of employment — including termination at-will in over 30 states. A certain tight end, for instance, could have been discharged last fall with absolutely no blowback whatsoever. After all, most of us have been fired for bad fit, screwing up, or just not being able to do the job.
The difference is, there’s no longer the backstop of a college education owed to employees under the master-servant employment relationship. “Godspeed, and hope you don’t wind up on a cardboard box in Seattle with a syringe hanging out of your arm. It’s not our problem now.”
And as I have been warning of consistently here for almost a decade, there will tens of thousands of student-athletes suddenly realizing that benefits do not flow one way, nor do obligations. The big, bad adult world can be a cruel one. So, bone up on your contract law, bring your lunchpail, and be ready to punch the clock without hesitation. You’re entering a world that you did not anticipate but that the mercenary collision with university finances will entail.
And we’re not even getting into what this will do to gut Title IX.
But, hey, this is what you wanted.
Caleb Williams, who was half-out the door the moment OU joined the SEC and Lincoln Riley chickened out for the Left Coast, tried valiantly to portray his decision to go to USC as one of extreme conflict.
That, and a father again micro-managing his child’s future.
According to Williams, “about 10 years ago, my dad actually told me to make a list of schools I wanted to go to, and he said, ‘number one, you can’t have Alabama on there.’”
Riley poaching the OU roster on the way out has become a serious bone of contention between the two schools, so much that Riley is falling back on the lame excuse that “I didn’t take OU players; I took portal players.”
Sure thing, Kirby. Sure thing.
But as a matter of Williams himself, given the fairly transparent reasons for transferring, as well as his over-involved family, I’d say that several schools have likely dodged a bullet. We’ve seen how this plays out time and time again, and it’s generally not good.
Not that Alabama needed WIlliams anyway, or even particularly sought him in the transfer process: the reigning Heisman winner isn’t facing a serious competition this year, no matter how good Ty Simpson may be (and we all suspect he’s very, very good), or how much Jalen Milroe has improved.
Yesterday, one of the NFL’s best interior linemen and former Alabama Gigachad, Jonathan Allen, stepped all in it.
He was lobbed a very easy softball about three people he’d like to go to dinner with. I don’t think anyone expected Michael Jackson to be on that list...
When given the chance to back down, he instead doubled-down, saying that Hitler was a military genius and that Allen wanted to know why the Austrian Landscape Painter did what he did.
Taking those points in turn, Hitler was a stone-deaf doofus who lost Germany the war the moment he engaged invaded Soviet Russian in Operation Barbarossa. Or seizing Stalingrad. Or botched D-Day. Or placed a morphine-addled, incompetent, cross-dressing dandy in charge of the Luftwaffe. Or put the provision of your war economy in the hands of an architect...among dozens of other strategic sins, small and large.
As for the second part?
Gee, Jon, I don’t know why Hitler did what he did. If only he had written it down. Maybe in a book or something...
Allen apologized today, but damn, that was a bad look for everyone.
Signing Day is dead. Long live Signing Day.
Finally, CB will have more on this later, but ‘Bama softball opens play today at the Candrea Classic in Tucson. As usual, the Tide hits the road for several weeks before the weather turns in Tuscaloosa.
No. 2 Alabama finds itself in a very forgiving field to open the season, with the only real competitor of note being No. 9 Arizona — the host school.
That’s it for now. We’ll be back later with more. Roll Tide.