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Jumbo Package: Evan Neal, Jameson Williams tie NFL Draft record for Alabama

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 10 CFP National Championship Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone. Baseball dropped a close one last night to open an important series at South Carolina. Alabama currently sits at 8-9 in SEC play, and finishing above .500 could be a watershed moment in the Brian Bohannon era. The suddenly reeling softball team gets a much needed weekend off to hopefully get right for tournament play.

It was just a formality, but Alabama football did in fact tie the NFL Draft record with a first round pick in 14 straight drafts.

Alabama has long been a factory for NFL talent under Nick Saban, and on the draft’s opening night in Las Vegas, the program tied an all-time draft record for consecutive years with a first-round pick.

Tackle Evan Neal was selected seventh overall by the New York Giants, extending the Crimson Tide’s current draft streak with a first-round selection to 14 years. That run began in 2009 when another tackle, Andre Smith, was taken sixth overall by the Bengals.

Neal falling to the 7th overall pick in the draft was a travesty, but he will now get a chance to shine in the big city. He and Andrew Thomas, picked by the Giants in the first round last year out of Georgia, should form a formidable pair of SEC trained bookends.

Mel Kiper Jr. said what everyone knows and Georgia fans get testy over.

“He’s an awesome football player,” Kiper said Thursday. “He’s a tremendous warrior on the football field. I’ve always contended they beat Georgia if he plays that entire football game in the national title game.

“Against Georgia, they couldn’t cover this guy. They could not cover Jameson Williams. He got hurt in the second quarter. They win that football game (if he plays the second half.)

It is what it is. The replacements for Metchie and Williams didn’t make plays, and one of them hit the portal after seeing significant time in the national title game. Alabama has plans on being back there this year.

Armed with Young and Will Anderson, arguably the nation’s two best players overall, Alabama received a maximum of 125 points in our post-spring update after all five ballots that were cast tabbed Nick Saban’s program in the top spot. Alabama addressed a couple of needs with high-end additions through the transfer portal and could be looking for another prior to fall camp. Offensive line play is one area to watch early and was a point of emphasis this spring from Saban, despite a couple injuries that limited how this group will actually look in a few months.

Huh. The offensive line might be an issue? Hadn’t heard.

Billy Napier may have some tough sledding early in Gainesville.

Napier is one of only three new head coaches who will face three Power clubs in their first four outings. And while Utah, Kentucky, and Tennessee might not look like the Murderers’ Row of September – the Utes and Wildcats combined for a 20-7 record last year and both earned mention (Utah at No. 7 and Kentucky at No. 21) in ESPN’s Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2022.

Though Billy Napier is a solid hire, he might be in for a rough September. If he does manage to engineer a 3-1 or 4-0 start, he likely won’t get the credit he deserves. He’ll be expected to win, even if it’s an uphill battle that doesn’t look like one.

Last, lost in all the hubbub over Coral yesterday was the impending departure of Mark Emmert, and there is a bit more to that story. A Transformation Committee has been formed that is essentially looking to overhaul college athletics.

Several athletic administrators and college sports insiders discussed the Transformation Committee’s concepts under the condition of anonymity. They include (1) eliminating scholarship caps on sports that offer only partial scholarships; (2) abolishing the limitation on the number of coaches per team; (3) expanding direct payments from schools to athletes; (4) reconfiguring the recruiting calendar; and (5) implementing closed periods in the NCAA transfer portal. At least the first three items will be left in the decision-making hands of individual conferences, if the concepts are approved.

While these are only concepts and not approved measures, the ideas are being socialized across the college sports landscape, both in conference-wide meetings and at administrative summits such as the one in Dallas hosted by LEAD1, an organization that represents the FBS athletic directors. The items will be central topics at league meetings next month, when coaches, athletic administrators and university presidents gather to discuss national and conference legislation.

If they remove the head count restriction on coaches, Saban will have a veritable army on the sideline. Alabama baseball would stand to benefit tremendously from the removal of scholarship limitations, as the wealth from the football program would allow them to offer 35 scholarships and thus eliminate the disadvantage of playing in a state that has too many increpit voters who believe that allowing a state lottery would send everyone in the state to Hades upon earthly demise.

Most importantly, nearly autonomous power is transferring to the conferences, which is almost assuredly at this point going to bring about a divorce of the richest programs and everyone else. The SEC was merely beating the rush by adding Oklahoma and Texas. Look for the infamous alliance to do something in hopes of competing, which will essentially leave about 32 teams in a money driven league and likely lead to playoff expansion.

Sounds vaguely familiar to something we see on Sundays.

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

Roll Tide.