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Jumbo Package: Alabama had “unbelievable year” per Nate Oats

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament- Alabama vs Vanderbilt Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. It was a mixed weekend on the diamond as baseball swept Binghamton but softball dropped a series to LSU after coming in unbeaten.

Oh, and this happened.

Six years ago, Alabama’s Bobby Colantonio Jr. was diagnosed with stage-four cancer. He was given a 20-percent chance of surviving and if he did survive it was likely he would lose a leg to amputation.

Friday night he stood atop the podium at the Birmingham Crossplex in the midst of the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, gold trophy held overhead, the national champion in the men weight throw.

Talk about a story of perseverance. Head coach Dan Waters called the story “a little overwhelming,” and on that we can agree. Roll Tide, Bobby.

As you know, Alabama is a 6 seed in the tournament and will play on Friday at 3:15pm CT or thereabouts, depending on other games. Nate Oats hopes that the fans will be more supportive than critical as they attempt to make a run.

“I think guys got to be reminded of that. I think people around here need to be reminded, too,” Oats said, acknowledging there were “really high expectations” after Alabama won the SEC last season and beat Gonzaga and Houston in back-to-back games this past December.

“But let’s not forget that we’re at a place that’s changing the culture of men’s basketball,” he continued. “It’s been 16 years since they went to back-to-back NCAA tournaments. It’s been 30 years since they went to back-to-back tournaments with a six seed or higher in both NCAA tournaments.

“This group of guys that was here last year and this year — you look at Keon Ellis, [Jahvon] Quinerly, [Jaden] Shackelford, [James] Rojas, Juwan Gary, Darius Miles — these guys that played last year that are now heavy in the rotation this year are doing things for Alabama basketball that haven’t been done in 30 years.

Reading between the lines combined with some previous comments Nate has made, it sounds like outside expectations have weighed on some of the guys. We’ve seen them at their best and at their worst, and which team shows up will decide their fate.

Hope for the best, but his point is valid. Alabama basketball has lost to bad teams for as long as I can remember, but they rarely beat the elite ones as this team has done. Back to back tournament appearances seeded 6th or better in each one, hasn’t happened at Alabama in 30 years.

As Paul Myerberg and Steve Berkowitz note, SEC basketball is only going to get tougher.

And based on industry estimates that project revenue per member school to exceed $100 million annually before the end of the decade, the SEC could soon enter a different stratosphere when it comes to spending on coaching. This ability to make larger and longer financial investments to secure some of the best coaches in the sport has the potential to leave multiple Power Five leagues in the dust and shake up the power structure in men’s basketball.

USA TODAY Sports compiled pay information for 78 of the 83 coaches whose schools are either in the Power Five or have appeared in at least three of the past five NCAA Tournaments.

As these contracts reveal, the SEC has poured more money into men’s basketball coaches contracts and seen tangible results — after sending just three teams to the men’s tournament as recently as 2016, the conference has four teams in this week’s Ferris Mowers Coaches Poll and five teams in USA TODAY Sports’ latest bracketology update.

Pat Forde was spitting fire about Will Wade and LSU.

For three years, the most-asked question I’ve received from people in college athletics is this: “How does Will Wade still have a job?” The answer: LSU, in its rush to the rock-bottom depths of athletic accountability, simply didn’t care about the mockery Wade had made of NCAA rules and competitive fairness. The school should be embarrassed today, but I’m not sure LSU is capable of embarrassment. If it were, LSU wouldn’t be facing a Lack of Institutional Control charge from the NCAA that alleges eight years of sustained misconduct in multiple sports. In the eyes of the investigators, LSU was running a rogue operation and not overly concerned about it as long as the wins kept coming.

Georgia poached rival Florida’s basketball coach.

White has spent the last seven seasons with the Gators where he’s compiled a 142–88 record and appeared in four NCAA tournaments. He’ll now replace Tom Crean, who was fired on Thursday. The Bulldogs sit at the bottom of the SEC at 6–26 this season while the Gators are 19–13.

Despite his consistent success in the regular season year to year, Florida fans have long grown frustrated with White. In all but one appearance—a run to the Elite Eight in 2017—White’s trips to the NCAA men’s tourney have ended in the round of 32. For a program that has long had national championship expectations, many Gator fans got their wish and will have a new coach for the first time since 2015.

This is like Alabama hiring Gus before Auburn had a chance to fire him. Gross, Dawgs. Just gross.

Last, Tom Brady couldn’t make it two months at home with the wife and kids.

He will be 45 this season.

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

Roll Tide.