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Jumbo Package: Offensive Line is very much a work in progress

Forget building continuity, for now it’s a matter of finding everyone’s position.

2022 CFP National Championship - Georgia v Alabama Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Good Morning! I’m not sure why 247 led with this tribute yesterday, but I ain’t mad.

That footwork, oh my. I haven’t seen anything move like quick in the hole since prom.

Tell me how this is anything other than pay-for-play? So far, 22 schools have announced that they will give “academic bonuses” to players who get good grades (talk about incentivizing basket-weaving and sociology, eh?). Of those 22, nine are in the SEC, of course including Auburn. Only Georgia has seemed cool to the notion, and Alabama has been mum on the arrangement, but honestly I see this eventually being adopted by every P5 at some point.

Just as we warned you about COA stipends, this too shall be weaponized in laughably fraudulent P4P recruiting schemes.

UPDATE: Alabama is among those utilizing these payouts. They just weren’t telling anyone:

Speaking of Texas A&M... (that segue was so smooth, y’all), Jimbo Fisher is all in his feelings that his corrupt program keeps getting called out for being corrupt. “WHY AM I THE VILLAIN?”

Corey Booker (Micromanaging Smoothbrain - NJ) and Marsha Blackburn (Hayseed Lackwit — TN) have found their pet issue, and it’s frankly bizarre these two collaborate on anything, but collaborate they have on yet another piece of NCAA legislation, half of the contents of which I hate.

NCAA Infractions reform. Ugh.

Among the lowlights:

• The bill requires NCAA inquiries to be completed within eight months of a school receiving a notice that an investigation has opened.

• The NCAA, the bill says, cannot investigate violations that were alleged to have happened more than two years before the notice of investigation was sent to a school. The current statute of limitations is four years.

• The bill would prohibit the NCAA from using “confidential sources” as evidence for a decision.

• And a school can appeal punishments by using a three-arbiter panel, different from the NCAA’s current appeals committee.

While I have no problem with an independent secondary appeal process, or the fact that secret witnesses can’t be used as the foundation for hammering a school (gee, now you roll that out), the mechanics and red tape of it all really suck. Just 8 months to complete an investigation, for an understaffed agency without subpoena power? A two-year window, when four has already been found to be a bit narrow for those systemic cases of oversight? Actual reports to, and lording over the NCAA by, Congress and the Department of Justice? Yes, that will streamline the process.

Tell you what, guys. How about you deal with the many pressing and substantive issues facing the country first instead of bureaucratizing an already-byzantine, overly-complex situation? Put some of that bipartisan goodwill to work and do something about, I dunno — pick one — immigration reform, health care reform, energy policy, passing the latest COVID funding, insert your own! — and then go after some pet vanity issues? Or is that too much to ask?

And, no Marsha, this will not save your beloved Vawls.

Nate Oats, Blessed Be The Three And Rim, has punted damned near the entire roster out of Tuscaloosa. This time, it was Juwan Gary — who we’re all convinced is going back home to play for Sakerlina.

This staff is very serious about slashing-and-burning this roster like a Scythian war band discovering agriculture. And if you think I’m mad about it, well, let’s just say you’ve not been paying attention. For those keeping track at home, that’s now four starters / significant bench players that have...ahem.... now sought other opportunities. Throw in the loss of Jelly, JD and Shack, and we’re basically down to Keon Ellis, Noah Gurley, Angry Chuck Bediako, and Nimari Burnett.

What to replace them with? How about one of the nation’s best scorers, G Mark Sears, who’s coming for a visit next week during A-Day. Show him some love. We need scorers, y’all.

Seriously, I feel good about Alabama’s chances here. Sears is from Muscle Shoals, and what better way to come home than to do so for the Crimson Tide? Yes, his size is a concern (just 5/11”), but Donovan Mitchell is just a shade over 6’ and I don’t hear people negging that guy.

On a programming note, I am finishing up the Basketball end of year report, and will have that for you next week. Hang on to your #butts, hot takes shall be had. Or at least wasabi-mustard-lukwarm ones.

Now, back to what pays the bills around here, football.

Nate Oats is not the only one incredibly over BS; Nick Saban has about had it with Headcase / Shade Tweeter / WR Agiye Hall. Yesterday, Brent called him “enigmatic” and that’s honestly as good a word as any for the talented-but-troubled sophomore. But, let’s just say that this season the Alabama football team is going through one of those cathartic seasons Nick Saban seems to have every 3-4 years: No nutjobs and locker room cancers allowed.

I honestly don’t think we’ll see Hall back in a Crimson jersey either, after Saban announced his suspension yesterday. Seriously, we’ve seen this script play out too many times to not know what happens. Guys get a second chance, but they rarely grow up fully and can turn it around enough to earn a third.

“He is suspended from the team for violations of some team rules, whether they’re academic or whatever, it doesn’t really matter,” Saban said Wednesday. “Everybody has a responsibility and obligation to respect the principles and values [of the program] and do what they need to do — they’re all there to help them be more successful, so to respect those and do those is always really helpful.”

Asked what Hall could do to earn his way back to the team, Saban said Hall already had that opportunity once and, “I don’t know what his plans are for the future.”

Praise Bear for the Portal, eh? While that Free Agency has been helpful for midmajor guys with Power 5 talent and players buried on the bench or who are a bad fit, it has also allowed coaches to enact a zero-tolerance policy for shenanigans.

Bob Bowlsby, long-time B12 Commissioner, stepped down yesterday leaving a significant power vacuum in CFP top tier administration. That leaves Greg Sankey as the longest-tenured and easily most powerful commish in the biz.

Who’s going to fill Bowlsby’s spot? Many people are speculating that Greg Byrne is going to get a very hard look at the job, and honestly, I can’t say that I’d blame him for leaving. Though, if I were Byrne, I should think my vanity if not ego would want me to stick around long enough to put my signature on a historic program: hiring the guy that comes after Saban (and to a lesser extent getting the new hoops coliseum up that I fundraised half-a-decade for).

So, I don’t think it will be Byrne just yet...though I would not be surprised either.

Ready to start talking about the 2024 Crootin’ class? I give you this fast-rising junior RB sporting a new offer from Alabama (and many others), in what I think is going to eventually be a battle that goes off the rails. Gibson has plenty of room to grow, physically and otherwise, and already has gotten offers from the Penn States, Oregons, Alabamas, and Georgias of the world before he’s played a snap of his Junior season.

2024 RB Jerrick Gibson, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy

The SI staff has seen Gibson work several times over the last few months and he seems to impress more each time. Just a rising junior, he already looks like a college back at 5’11”, 190 pounds or so and the profile isn’t misleading in any way. Gibson has elite quickness, speed and is as comfortable working out of the backfield as any at the position in the 2024 cycle.

Yesterday closed the books on the 10th of Alabama’s 15 Spring Practices, and the Ole’ Man has been remarkably upbeat about this season’s potential — as you would hope with the nation’s two best players returning. And you know what tells me that he’s gearing up for a title run? The focus hasn’t been so much on fundamentals as it has been on building leadership and those other Process-related goals, a main one of which is “self-assessment:”

“We’re really trying to evaluate guys that are competitors, that go out there and compete every day in every circumstance.” Emphasis on “every.”

Saban explained, “We do some competition drills in practice and it’s amazing how guys sort of rise up and really compete in those drills. But the practice reps? They don’t have the same energy, they don’t have the same intensity, they don’t have the same focus.

“I think what’s really important is you don’t get into the mode of enduring practice. That you look at every rep in practice as an opportunity to compete and you respect the other player, so if he’s competing against you and he’s doing the best he can and you’re doing the best you can to win your box, whatever that is, whether you’re playing defensive line, offensive line, corner, receiver, it doesn’t matter.

I’ll leave you with something I found particularly interesting from the presser (and which coincidentally ties into CB’s offensive lineman preview from yesterday.)

On competition at Guard / Tackle spots and rotating players along the line:

“We don’t have enough offensive linemen that everybody doesn’t have to sort of rotate around and do different things. So we’ll continue to evaluate. Guys are making progress. But it hasn’t settled down because we have a lot of guys – we only have 10, 11 guys that are able to practice on the offensive line. We’re trying to practice three or four teams a guy. So guys have to mix and match. We have seven guys per group and they have to rotate around. Is it important that we build continuity along the offensive line right now? I think the diversity that we gain from the experience that guys get at various positions is probably more important right now than worrying about what you’re worried about. But we do have some guys that are making progress at tackle and hopefully they’ll continue to improve throughout the spring.”

Thin bench, progress at tackle but no true starter emerging? @Can’t see how that’s a problem at all.@

The rest of Coach’s remarks are here.

That’s it. We’ll see you later, and Roll Tide.


Should Congress and the Department of Justice have oversight over the NCAA Infractions process?

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    Absolutely not.
    (257 votes)
  • 2%
    (10 votes)
  • 14%
    I’d have to see what the final proposal looks like before I pass judgment.
    (68 votes)
  • 30%
    Don’t you people have actual important things to be doing in D.C.?
    (144 votes)
479 votes total Vote Now