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Jumbo Package: More is better? SEC scheduling divides conference haves and have-nots

More SEC is better, IYAM.

Third time’s the charm...

Surprising to absolutely no one, the heart and soul of the Tide’s softball program took home her third All-American honor yesterday, this time on the second-team:

According to the official press release, “Fouts is the tenth player in Alabama history to receive at least three All-America accolades.”

In 190 innings pitched this past season, Fouts gave up 135 hits, 57 earned runs, 53 walks, 275 strikeouts, ten home runs, a 24-8 record, with three saves and a 2.10 earned run average.

Read More: Alabama Softball Ace Earns All-American Honor

Congratulations to Montana on another outstanding effort and another deserved honor.

Now, if only Aly and Murph could give you some run support in the post-slap bunt era.

This is certainly not good news for the ‘Bama baseball team, already thin on productive veterans: two players are in the portal, and one is Owen Diodati. Ugh.

The two announcements come just one day after Alabama’s baseball season officially ended after not receiving a bid to the postseason.

Diodati split time between the outfield and as designated hitter. In 157 at-bats this season, he had a .242 batting average, 38 hits, 26 runs batted in, eight home runs and drew 25 walks.

The Ontario, Canada, native ranks seventh in on base + slugging, eighth in hits, third-most home runs, sixth in runs batted in, seventh in slugging percentage, fourth in walks, and is tied in first for stolen bases percentage.

Mayhaps Roger will have a season recap soon, but whatever Alabama’s roster shall be in 2022, you can bet it will lean heavily on the Portal and Juco prospects; that truly is the only way to leverage competitive teams from year-to-year given the Tide’s scholarship handicap, unique among every other SEC program.

Speaking of the Portal, Alabama has officially proposed a change to the SEC’s portal rules:

The SEC is considering a change to its transfer rules this week at its annual spring meetings in Destin, Florida that would allow players greater freedom to move to another school within the conference.

The change, which was proposed by the University of Alabama, would push the SEC’s intra-conference transfer deadline for fall sports athletes back from February 1 to May 1. That would align it with the NCAA’s deadline to enter the transfer portal and still maintain eligibility to play the upcoming season.

I think either this, or the NCAA’s proposed rule change that would have a dead-season and drop-dead timeline that falls in line with the Signing Periods, would be a good one. It remains to be seen which (if either) will be reshaping the transfer landscape soon.

The biggest bone of contention so far in the SEC’s annual Destin meeting, is how to schedule going forward. 2020 was a revenue blockbuster for a whole lot of teams: conference games are the draw. To that end, Alabama and a cadre of others, want to see a 9-game conference slate in the future (and Nick Saban has been banging this drum for a dozen years too. He doesn’t want to have to find SBC bottom-feeders to give Greg Byrne a 12th game.

But, the poverty programs and second-tiers (think South Carolina et al here), want to keep it at eight.

The eight-game model would feature one common opponent each season with a rotating schedule of seven games. The nine-game model would feature three common opponents with six rotating games a year. Other models, including so-called “pods” and divisions, have already been ruled out.

The battle is largely split along revenue and competition lines, according to SI. The richest schools in the league prefer to maximize the earning potential of the league by increasing the number of SEC matchups to nine. This also allows schools to maintain a few more rivalries — Texas could play both Oklahoma and Texas A&M every year, for example, in this model.

But while the bottom end of the SEC will be happy to get a payout from Texas and Oklahoma entering the league by the 2025 season, competition issues have them sweating. Keeping four nonconference games allows the lower tier programs in the SEC an easier path to reach bowl eligibility before the conference slate even begins. Playing nine conference games would be a headache, especially for a team like South Carolina that already plays nonconference rival Clemson every season.

Personally, with a move to 16 teams, I’d rather see 10 conference games. You get your FCS senior day, fan-friendly game; you get your marquee OOC matchup; and then you get 10 conference games and more opponents on the rotation...and more butts in seats.

What do you think?

As for 8- or 9-game slates, I think we’ll see the cowardly SEC opponents win out on this one. Despite Alabama, Florida and a few others pushing heavily for nine for a decade, the proposition has drawn little support. I suspect that the trash Big 12 teams will be on the side of the poors. They’re already looking at a competitive hit and a loss of prestige that will inevitably occur having to play a real schedule. For a change.

Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban have finally buried the hatchet with their unseemly public NIL spat — getting no-dogged from the Commish and your own AD can do that — and instead have now seemingly rallied together around a shared proposal: the salary cap (or some other system for equal NIL revenues). I guess A&M ran out of money for 2023, huh? /s

The chickenshit part of this, however, is that Jimbo made sinister allusions to Nick Saban’s past just 24 hours ago and then declares that he’s moving on and that it’s done? Nah, dog. It doesn’t work like that. All you’ve done is plant a grudge that will endure for as long as Saban prowls the sideline. When you’ve made it personal — and you have, repeatedly — then you’ve crossed a line that I don’t believe Saban will be willing to forgive or forget.

Finally, on a somewhat somber note, we send out our condolences to the family and friends of Charlie Wilson. The Tide’s basketball manager died unexpectedly yesterday.

May the ground lie softly on you, and Roll Tide, Charlie.


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