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Jumbo Package: Limited options to solve Saban’s SEC schedule beef

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Alabama Spring Game Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, everyone. We’ll start off with Matt Hayes, who wonders if Nick Saban will get his way as the SEC eventually adopts nine games.

Will the conference bow to Alabama, and eliminate Tennessee or LSU from the Tide’s permanent 3 opponents in an effort to pull the SEC’s premier program back to its longstanding position of favoring 9 games over 8?

It’s a dangerous move, one that clearly places 1 program over the remaining 15 — and something the SEC has avoided for decades, from the infant stages of the conference.

Nick’s real issue has never been about who Alabama will play as much as who the other SEC powers will play relative to Alabama. The leaked groupings have LSU getting an annual game with Ole Miss, Georgia getting one with Kentucky, newcomers Oklahoma and Texas getting Mizzou and Arkansas, respectively, Tennessee getting Vandy, and Texas A&M getting Mississippi State. While it will generally work out with six rotating opponents, it is fair to look at the list and conclude that Alabama has the toughest draw outside of Auburn, who at least gets Vandy to go with Alabama and Georgia.

An easy fix would be to trade LSU to Arkansas for Ole Miss. “The boot” is something of a rivalry, there is no real rivalry between the Hogs and Rebels, and Saban would have nothing to complain about at that point. Mizzou, Texas, LSU doesn’t seem like too heavy a lift for Arkansas, either. Ole Miss would have Alabama, LSU, and the Egg Bowl.

I still would personally rather see Alabama vs. Mississippi State, the team that Alabama has played more than any other, remain a permanent opponent, but the path to that is less obvious if Auburn and Tennessee are to remain as two of Alabama’s three.

Kirby Smart notes that playing the SEC Championship Game is now a big disadvantage.

That won’t be an issue for the SEC champion. Likely, the conference champ would earn one of four byes into the quarterfinals. Those byes are reserved for the four best conference champions.

But, the loser in Atlanta will experience an unprecedented turnaround from conference championship to playoff. Smart describes such a scenario as a “competitive disadvantage” for the SEC’s runner-up. Hard to argue with his logic.

“You might have to play (two weeks) after playing that (SEC Championship), which will be the most physical game you play all year,” Smart said last week at the SEC spring meetings.

Whoever Craig Haubert is at ESPN thinks that Alabama’s newcomers rank only 23rd overall.

Replacing Bryce Young will be extremely difficult. Buchner brings experience and reunites with his former OC at Notre Dame, Tommy Rees. Benson will present a big-play target with speed, promise and impact ability.

A 2019 ESPN 300 prospect, LB Trezmen Marshall comes over from Georgia after having contributed to its two title runs. Jaylen Key wasn’t a high-profile addition from UAB, but he arrives in Tuscaloosa with experience, versatility and depth in the secondary.

Long-term overview: Flush with talent. We’ll see some of the 23 ESPN 300 prospects in Bama’s class sooner rather than later. Alabama signed the top two running backs, and while Richard Young can be physical, the more versatile Haynes looks ready to contribute first, especially after a strong spring performance. Downs, the top safety prospect, could be in the mix quickly. Five-star OT Kadyn Proctor is a powerful and agile big man who could lock down a starting role.

Seems dubious.

Athlon beat the rush and put out a season preview.

With two of Saban’s best-ever players in Young and Anderson gone, Alabama enters 2023 with more questions than it has faced in several years. Alabama annually has one of the most talented rosters in college football, but it has fallen short of the College Football Playoff in two of the past four seasons. Returning to the playoff this season will require the Tide’s next offensive star to emerge, either at quarterback or wide receiver.

Antonio Langham is up for the CFB HOF.

The College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024 ballot includes one nominee from Alabama – cornerback Antonio Langham.

Thirty-six other Crimson Tide players could have been included.

Thirty-seven Alabama players were eligible for the ballot for the Class of 2024 – and that doesn’t include 60 other Crimson Tide alumni who meet the first standard for consideration for the College Football Hall of Fame but aren’t in the current eligibility window.

Last, Greg McElroy shared why he’s more confident in this Alabama team than last. Just don’t tell Erik his reasoning.

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

Roll Tide.