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Jumbo Package: Rejoice! For Gump Day is upon us!

And Brandon Miller may be the best NBA-ready player in the draft

2023 NBA Draft Combine Portraits Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images

Alabama has a new baseball coach.

Roger is enamored of him, and I’ve not heard anyone speak ill of him, as far as a motivator or in-game skipper. Players like him well enough. But this is where I remind you, Brad Bohannon came to Capstone with rave reviews, particularly as a players coach and recruiter. The former would turn out to be iffy — with several players mailing it in and later hitting the portal. The latter was the lifeblood of both the team and the bailiwick of Coach Jason Jackson.

And that is where the largest deficiency in Vaughn’s CV is so glaring as to hit you with sawed off length of rubber hose: His recruiting has been downright atrocious. It not only did not improve when he took over, it dipped slightly in several years. Not a single class has been ranked above 40th, and most are the 50s. Worse, despite finishing 2nd, 1st, and 1st in the B1G, Vaughn was never able to parlay that success to the living room.

A friend of mine from Iowa scouts for the Royals, and before that was on-staff at a Big 10 team. We were texting back and forth about what he called a “curious” hire, saying Shelton State probably has near peer-level talent to that of Maryland: Good guy. Players like him. Energetic. Good baseball mind. Won’t embarrass you. Team player. “Strategic ass-kisser.” But an “average recruiter that the SEC could devour.”

I don’t know about the brown-nosing; heard the rest of the stuff; and yes, the last is a legitimate concern. But you can expect any sort of pain to descend on anyone coming from outside the league, though.

So, we can infer a few things: 1. Vaughn is really good winning games with substandard players; 2. the Big 10 is far, far worse than we thought; 3. He may actually be as bad at recruiting as it seems; or, 4. He has yet to learn the importance of recruiting in a league where no one has talent; good management is enough to get you by? Some other wildcards? A combination thereof, perhaps? Who knows. JJ stuck around, so that will alleviate some of the recruiting pain, we hope.

But again, if your prospective success relies upon keeping the guy who was winning games and recruiting and motivating the players to do so, then it does in fact become “curious” why he wasn’t offered the job. And he was not. So you can be fine with the hire, but not fine with the way in which it was conducted, nor the way in which loyalty and damned good work were disregarded. And I am fine with the hire in a vacuum. No one wishes Vaughn and his family and the program anything but the best. Hope he loves it, that he wins games, that he sticks around — that he becomes a Tuscaloosa institution, even. But none of that changes or will ever change that the decision was one not made in a vacuum, and thus it is okay to not be fine with the way it played out: At the least, make JJ say no to a job he had earned consideration for.

Anyway, we shall see how it shakes down over the next few years.

If it works out beautifully, then barring a dramatic fiscal strategy shift, Alabama will never be able to afford to keep him and/or will lack the institutional seriousness to do so. If it works out swimmingly by Alabama standards (see 2023), then great. And if doesn’t work out at all, then Vaughn will be out on his ass in a few seasons, and it will be a problem for the next Alabama athletic director (though, let’s be honest, I don’t how many more of these searches Roger can handle).

I’ve grown too jaded to become attached to baseball coaches, or to expect much of them. This is the fourth skipper Alabama has had in five years now, and Vaughn inherits the most handicapped school in the SEC. Worse, he does so with questions looming about recruiting and the sledgehammer to the face that an SEC learning curve will present.

You can read Rog’s glowing review of the press conference below. In it, Vaughn was crisp; good, even, if you want to believe press conferences. But again, I would hope we have learned to tune these sorts of things out. (Remember Avery Johnson? Remember Bohannon? Nope. Never again ought we fall for another presser rah-rah.)

Guarded optimism all the way to tabula rasa seem appropriate reactions until talent signs on the dotted line and wins mature in the score column.

More baseball! The Field of Dreams game is coming to Rickwood. Tide 102.9 has an awesome story about the film and the game too, FWIW:

B Mill has First Pick talent:

Brandon Miller, Alabama

If Wemby wasn’t in this draft, purely from a basketball standpoint, I think Miller would be the No. 1 pick because of what he projects to be and how good he can be in the first few months of his rookie season. Miller was clearly college basketball’s best freshman last season, averaging 18.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and shooting 38% from 3-point range.

At 6-9 and with a 7-foot wingspan, his body type and skill set is the prototype for an NBA wing. He’s a good shooter, good cutter, can play with physicality and has the traits to be an impactful player immediately. I do think fit and culture will be an important factor here, but in terms of all-around basketball ability, Miller is second only to Wembanyama in terms of being able to produce meaningfully in his first season in the NBA. — Matt Norlander

I’m so excited to watch Miller ball. We were fortunate to have this young man in Crimson and White.

But Norlander is right: With Wembayana in this class, everyone was playing for second. Wemby is freakish talented. The 7-foot Frenchman is either going to be the transcendent talent most project, or he will easily be the biggest bust in any major sport. Ever. There’s no in-between.

Vaughn’s off to a good start, at least, saying the right things about the sport Greg Byrne cares about football:

“I got to meet Coach Saban yesterday and I almost passed out in there,” Vaughn said to laughter during his introductory press conference. “That was one of the more intimidating things I’ve ever been a part of. But what a special thing you get the best coach of all-time right down the street from us here.”

Vaughn, who met with the media for the first time Tuesday after leaving Maryland to become Alabama’s coach, also spoke highly of Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats and softball coach Patrick Murphy. Vaughn highlighted Oats’ developmental work on the basketball court and called Murphy “the best, if not one of the best, softball coaches in the country.”

Saban really is a selling point, though. He didn’t create the Alabama brand, but he took it mainstream, corporatized it, and it attracts talent.

This is a really cool, outside-the-box story from TSN on five sleepers for the CFP. There are some I hate (Tennessee, for a start). But one I absolutely adore, simply because with a few close Ws last year, it could have happened already:

Pac-12: Oregon State

Oregon State won 10 games last year and lost by three points to USC and Washington. The Beavers also avoid USC on this year’s schedule and get Utah, Washington and UCLA at home. Jonathan Smith has built depth at quarterback with Clemson transfer DJ Uiagalelei, returner Ben Gulbranson and four-star freshman Aidan Chiles. Uiagalelei will be the focus, of course, but once the former five-star recruit settles in, the results will be productive. Leading rusher Damien Martinez is back, too. Losing linebacker Omar Speights to the transfer portal hurt, but Smith has quietly compiled a roster that can compete with anybody in the Pac-12 now. The Beavers play Washington and Oregon in back-to-back weeks to close the regular season. That could be the most-exciting stretch for the program since the 2000 season.

Dangerous, dangerous team that lost little talent and has a decent schedule this season. And as you are all aware, if you don’t watch what you’re doing, Beaver can always sneak up on you and then work you over.

CBS Sports tried its hand at modeling a nine-game SEC schedule based on what the Big 10 will do with its “Flex Protection Plus” plan.

Here’s what they’ve got for Alabama:




Ole Miss*

Breakdown: Some of the holdup on moving to a nine-game SEC schedule with three permanent opponents seems to be Alabama’s reluctance to accept a format that would require it to play Auburn, Tennessee and LSU each season. In this scenario, Auburn and Tennessee remain permanent rivals, but LSU falls off. Ole Miss is a fun “two-play” partner since the Nick Saban vs. Lane Kiffin coaching matchup makes for good entertainment.

I absolutely hate everything about this. I’d rather keep LSU — the most meaningful and impactful rivalry, and Third Saturday — the most hateful cross-border one, with preferred protection for Mississippi State — our oldest rival. It would be a shame to pull the plug on 110 years of meetings because some greedy knob polishers and bell-end carpetbaggers just had to add deeply unlikable, poverty Big 12 teams to our glorious conference.

More to the point, why on earth protect Ole Miss? Arkansas is far more heated; State has more history; Aggie and Alabama’s connections run deep and that blood is bad blood. Ole Miss is just...Ole Miss. Meh.

But I suppose one saving grace here is that in the SEC we’ll never have to wonder if Texas is back — that answer will always be “No.” Nor will we face the specter of a fraud 12-win Oklahoma team promptly getting embarrassed in the playoffs — they won’t make the playoffs.

But everyone will be making more money, so the system works, huh?

HBO is about to run a glorious documentary on Bishop Sycamore, and my body is ready:

Ivins said he’ll never forget what he saw. Bishop Sycamore’s infamous scam came crashing down in front of a national audience as IMG won, 58-0, on ESPN.

“I was quickly like, ‘What’s going on here?’” Ivins recalls. “It just kind of took off on social media. The more you dug into it, you started reading different things and putting two and two together.”

The incident spawned an HBO documentary, BS High, which will premiere June 14. And multiple longtime 247Sports evaluators said it changed how they do their jobs.

So how did it happen?

“They lied a lot, and a lot of people didn’t fact-check,” said Steve Wiltfong, 247Sports’ Director of Recruiting. “I think offers were reported that weren’t real. It all came crashing to a halt in the middle of that game, though. That’s when the jig was up.”

Not sure if you guys saw this, but Tennessee Goonball on the hard court is about to take a serious hit with changes to the charge call. Starting this year, contact won’t be allowed with play resuming. The player will be set, and then it’s a charge. Or they will not, and then it will be foul. More importantly, you can’t draw a charge inside the circle now. The Vols in particular have made a living sliding under airborne players near the post to affect shots and draw charges.

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee on Thursday approved several rule changes including a modification to the legal guarding position on block/charge scenarios involving defenders around the basket which will go into effect for the 2023-24 season. Under the new rule, a defender to draw a change must be in position at the time an offensive player plants a foot to go airborne to attempt a field goal. If the defender arrives after the offensive player plants a foot to launch towards the hoop, officials will be coached to call a block if or when contact occurs.

They also changed the secondary-charge rule too, to require a player be set outside the circle to draw a charge. See also, Tennessee who loved to chip guys setting legal screens.

That’s it for today. Sorry it took so long. Had a lot more to write than I thought. Have a great Gump Day, and we’ll see you later. Roll Tide.


Which one of Alabama’s three main rivals should be left off the schedule for fairness when the 9-game rotation begins?

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