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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

Is Texas or USC more back this year?

BCS National Championship - Alabama v Texas Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation and Peach Bowl released the preseason watch list for the 2022 Dodd Trophy, and Alabama coach Nick Saban, naturally, made the list.

The Dodd Trophy celebrates the head coach of a team who enjoys success on the field, while also “stressing the importance of scholarship, leadership and integrity.” The watch list was created by taking into consideration each program’s graduation rate, commitment to service and charity in the community, projected success for the 2022 season and APR.

“College football has seen many changes in recent years, but all of these coaches have held true to our award’s three pillars of scholarship, leadership and integrity,” said Jim Terry, chairman of the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation, in a release. “What separates The Dodd Trophy and truly makes it the most coveted coach of the year award, is our commitment to recognizing all that these coaches do, not only on the football field but in the classroom and throughout their communities as well. This is why we require coaches to have at least two years of experience leading their current programs so that they have had time to establish a precedent, both on and off the field.”

Now what would really be news would be to leave Saban off of a coaching trophy watch list. We all know these awards are essentially the best non-Saban coach each season, kind of like how the NFL Coach of the year for the last 15 years is the best non-Belichick.

A super senior, Moody eschewed the Transfer Portal in favor of a final season with the Crimson Tide. With Henry To’o To’o and Christian Harris going wire to wire in 2021 at the middle and weakside positions, respectively, Moody’s opportunities at linebacker continued to be limited. Harris moving on to the NFL, though, opened things up at will, where Moody stepped in with the first-team defense during 2022 spring drills. He capped the stretch by racking up a scrimmage-high nine tackles and a sack in the A-Day game and was a recipient of the Woodrow Lowe Linebacker Award. Even if he comes off the field in dime situations this fall, Moody figures to rank among UA’s top tacklers for the upcoming season.

The preseason camp battle for the inside linebacker spot beside Henry To’oTo’o promises to be a very interesting one. While Jaylen Moody has the inside track for the job as someone who has played the starting spot in SEC competition before, there’s also a chance that the coaching staff would rather try to get a younger player like Deontae Lawson on the field to start developing.

Of the 17 quarterbacks he’s signed at Alabama who aren’t on the current roster, 13 transferred. Over a six-year stretch of signing classes from 2011-2016, every quarterback Alabama took - Phillip Ely, Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman, Parker McLeod, David Cornwell, Blake Barnett and Jalen Hurts - transferred to complete their eligibility. Hurts, unlike any of those others, played a lot of good football as an Alabama starter before moving onto Oklahoma. He was an exception.

The reality is that most incoming quarterbacks aren’t going to stay longer than a year or two if they don’t see a clear path to a starting role. The list of Alabama quarterbacks signed by Saban who’ve stuck around - AJ McCarron, Blake Sims, Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones - is a lot shorter than the list of exits, and even Sims began his career as a running back.

So why not sign two every year?

If reserve quarterbacks are going to transfer anyway, why not broaden the competition and increase the chances of striking gold? That might or might not be Saban’s thinking in taking two in this class, but the transfer portal is flooded with them, and the quarterback furnace can’t be caught without enough coals.

Some interesting thoughts from Chase Goodbread here arguing the merits of signing two QBs. Obviously, a program can’t pull that off every year, as most of the top QBs won’t sign with a school that already has a QB commit. Mac Jones and Dylan Lonergan seem to be the rare exceptions who are willing to embrace the challenge and possibility of never being a starter.

Harsin is a decent man and good coach, but he was the latest to go through the Auburn Churn that seems to impact every Tigers coach eventually. For a couple of weeks in February, it looked like Harsin had lost his job. In the end, it was JABA — Just Auburn Being Auburn. Something tells me, none of it would have happened had Auburn been able to hold against Alabama. Both coordinators have been replaced, but RB Tank Bigsby is back. By now, Harsin has to know you’re only as good as your next game at Auburn where job security is written in invisible ink. 2021 rating: 2

CBS has released their annual hotseat rankings for every coach in the FBS, and Brian Harsin is 3rd on the list behind Nebraska’s Scott Frost and Arizona State’s Herm Edwards. On the other hand, on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most fireable, Nick Saban was ranked 0.

It’s easy to disregard USC as an unproven team, which it is, but maybe no other big-time college football program will look more different than how it did last season.

USC was a miserable four-win failure last fall, but lost more than three dozen players off its roster, revamped its coaching staff, and added almost two dozen transfers.

Some pretty high-profile transfers, too, including 5-star quarterback Caleb Williams, the No. 1 passer in the 2021 class, paired with Jordan Addison, who led college football in receiving TDs last fall, former OU wideout Mario Williams, and Oregon’s leading rusher in Travis Dye.

So, expect a much better offense. But the Trojans still ranked 89th in total defense and this unit is a very open question. Still, via transfers, it improved at every position.

Don’t expect to see USC in the College Football Playoff race this year, but it should be favored in almost every game save at Utah and against Notre Dame.

For all the craziness that has assaulted the world of college football, one thing remains the same: the media is always going to give USC and Texas plenty of love in the preseason before they’re allowed to start losing games. It’s good to know that there is a rock that one can cling to in the storm.

Roll Tide!