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Jumbo Package: Alleged tampering with returning Biletnikoff winner shakes college football

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Arizona v USC Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Happy Monday, everyone. In case you missed it, Nick Saban was in a car accident this weekend. He’s fine though, it was apparently just a minor fender bender. The NFL Draft was a moderately successful one for Alabama players with seven going in the first four rounds, but it also confirms that the 2021 Alabama team was well behind most in the Saban era in terms of premium upperclassman talent. That this team led late in the national title game, and could have won with better hands on offense, speaks volumes about the program.

The potential transfer of Biletnikoff winning Pitt WR Jordan Addison, who was given Jameson Williams’s trophy to this point has never been confirmed to have entered the transfer portal, has shook the college football world. Alabama is reportedly in the mix for him as they will be with any top talent, but all of the smoke is around USC and an apparently massive NIL deal. Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi is not amused.

“This is a really fascinating situation that’s suddenly thrust itself to the forefront of being the biggest story in all of college football,” Thamel said. “Jordan Addison won the Biletnikoff [Award] last year. He was a first-team All-American. The Pitt football staff has essentially accused USC of tampering in this situation. They feel strongly like USC is a possible destination.

“It’s to the point where Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi multiple times called USC coach Lincoln Riley yesterday and had some pointed conversations with him to express his displeasure. I really think we may look back on this as something in college football that’s a little bit of a pivot point. You have one of the most established stars in the sport who will find out in the next 18 hours whether or not he could go on the open market.”

This has become an enforcement nightmare, as anyone with a modicum of foresight would have predicted. It is not within the rules for coaches nor boosters of a program to reach out to a player who isn’t in the transfer portal. There doesn’t seem to be a rule against the player’s agent shopping for potential NIL deals from the boosters of other schools, however, and there will never be a rule against players from different teams communicating with one another. QB Caleb Williams, who Sleazy Riley (seriously, look at the dude and tell me you couldn’t see him selling speakers out of a windowless van) recruited to USC from Oklahoma despite Williams’ standing as the returning starter in Norman, apparently has a relationship with Addison from their high school days. Both are from the DMV area. This isn’t something that is going to stop, and while NIL is a big part of it, I blame its predecessor: the one time transfer waiver for all players.

We’ve had this argument many times over in these parts, but it bears revisiting considering the current landscape. The main argument in favor of waiving the one year residency requirement was that coaches could move freely without penalty, put forth by twits who apparently never heard of a buyout. Like the residency requirement, buyouts are a deterrent to coaches breaking the contracts, and they sometimes work. Thad Matta would likely be coaching Alabama’s basketball team if not for his buyout. While a school official would never publicly acknowledge it, you can bet that there have been instances where coaches haven’t been considered because the receiving school didn’t have the budget to cover buyouts in their current contracts. Since college athletes don’t get paid by the institutions, the residency requirement made sense as a deterrent. This is especially true after the grad transfer exception was passed, the four game redshirt allowed players to maintain eligibility after playing a bit role, and the Blake Barnett precedent was set allowing a player to be eligible for game one after leaving Alabama following the fourth game of the previous season.

Of course, the loudest voices arguing for the one time transfer were also the most emphatic ones saying that players were being exploited by not getting to participate in massive profits because the schools owned their likenesses. I agree with this stance, but since coaches carefully manage contact in practice now the vast majority of career threatening injuries come in the games. It would seem that transferring without the ability to play right away hurts the receiving school but benefits the player who gets the education, room and board, and training without having to risk his body on the field.

Unless, of course, the exposure of playing in the games is actually good for the player which throws a bit of water on the whole exploitation angle. With NIL now in the picture, perhaps actual financial buyouts should be in play. The best thing the NCAA could do at this point is to stop the charade altogether. Make it clear that NIL can be an inducement to come to a particular school, and allow the boosters offering the NIL money to negotiate whatever buyout terms they like in case the player transfers. There will still be transfers, especially among players like Jahmyr Gibbs and Addison who flew somewhat under the radar out of high school then proved themselves to be top level talents at mid-level FBS programs, but at least the dudes who get seven figure deals as 17 year olds will pause before giving back the cheddar required to transfer.

Unless some sort of buyout is in place or the residency requirement is revisited, the consolidation of upperclassman talent will only continue. Being that only 18% of five stars who don’t go to Alabama end up as first round picks, there are quite a few busts out there. It doesn’t take too many seven figure ego fueled “investments” going south before boosters stop giving money so freely to high schoolers. It’s only logical that the “smart” money will instead flow to the more proven Gibbs and Addisons of the world. No matter your thoughts on the matter, you can’t blame the player for getting all he can under current rules.

Oh, and if Addison did come to Tuscaloosa, which I don’t expect, Alabama would bring the current Heisman, Nagurski and Biletnikoff winners into next season plus of course the other hardware Bryce brought home. That has never happened.

That 2017 Alabama team was really good, y’all.

The Crimson Tide made history in day two of the 2022 NFL draft on Friday. When the Commanders drafted Phidarian Mathis at No. 47 in the second round, he became the 39th player taken from Alabama’s 2017 team.

With Mathis’s selection, the 2017 Crimson Tide broke the tie with 2001 Miami for the most draft picks from a single college football team. Before the second and third rounds on Friday, both Miami and Alabama were tied at 38.

Just incredible. 45.9% of the scholarship players on that team heard their names called in the draft.

In installment 2,345,978,379 of “why elite prospects should play for Nick Saban,” the Houston GM shares a bit about the reverence for Nick around the league.

According to Texans general manager Nick Caserio, Saban helped give an in-depth look at how Metchie was handling the injury.

“I would say I have a lot of respect in Nick,” Caserio said. “Whenever you ask him about a player, he is very honest. He has a good perspective because he can give you a comparative view of — he has coached a lot of really good players. I think you better be prepared when you talk to him. You better know what the Hell you are talking about. He doesn’t want to waste a lot of time.”

This is how two receivers who blew out ACLs late in the season, and thus couldn’t work out for NFL teams, still get drafted in the same range that they were expected to go pre-injury.

Blake Toppmeyer remembers Barry Sanders successfully petitioning to be draft eligible as a junior when he looks at Will Anderson.

Barry Sanders had nothing left to prove in college football when he decided in 1989 to challenge the NFL’s rule that prohibited college juniors from entering the draft.

The league allowed Sanders into the draft rather than risk a lawsuit from the Heisman Trophy winner, who had broken the NCAA single-season rushing record as an Oklahoma State junior.

Not everyone agreed with the NFL’s decision, and some questioned whether the ruling would pave the way for freshmen and sophomores to enter the draft.

“This would not have been my ruling,” Dallas Cowboys President Tex Schramm told the Dallas Morning News after the NFL’s decision.

If you want to read some reaction from the fanbases who landed Alabama players, here you go:

Giants fans are ecstatic about Evan Neal

Lions fans are loving Jameson Williams

Texans fans love the speed of Christian Harris

Last, Rece Davis deserves some kind of award for this quip.

The ESPN analyst referenced Thibodeaux, a first-round draft pick of the New York Giants, during Saturday’s NFL coverage and the edge rusher’s use of “stigmatism” when talking about Alabama in January.

“If you miss on high draft choices early there’s certainly a stigma that sticks with you, but you’d have to have some type of real astigmatism not to see the talent from Kayvon Thibodeaux,” Davis quipped.

Thankfully the stigmatism of Rece’s Alabama education, rather than Kayvon’s clearly superior one from Oregon, didn’t keep him from landing a pretty good TV gig.

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

Roll Tide.