Alabama athletics

Bo Scarbrough takes jab at UCF with ‘real championship rings’ tweet

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For the fifth time since Nick Saban took over, Alabama football players have added some serious bling to their personal collections.

At the football team’s annual Steak & Beans dinner Monday night at the Mal Moore Athletics Facility, both the student-athletes and coaches were presented with their 2017 national championship rings.  The thrilling overtime win over Georgia in the College Football Playoff title game was the program’s fifth since Saban came to the Crimson Tide in 2007.

The rings are, to say the least, impressive, encrusted with over 150 stones per the school.  Of those 53 represents the number of wins for this most recent senior class.

Saban’s six national championships as a coach, including one at rival LSU, are tied the legendary Bear Bryant for the most in the sport’s history.  The Crimson Tide has won a total of 17 national championships, the third-most in big-time college football history behind Princeton’s 28 and Yale’s 27.

Of course, numerous Crimson Tide football players took to social media to show off and celebrate their latest title hardware.  The best use of Twitter, though, belonged to running back Bo Scarbrough, who took a not-so-thinly-veiled jab at UCF and the Knights’ unveiling “the only 2017 undefeated national championship ring this past weekend.

What do Urban Meyer and Jimbo Fisher have that Nick Saban doesn’t? A No. 1 overall NFL draft pick

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The NFL draft is coming up later this week, and a handful of college football coaches could potentially have their first player chosen first overall. Among those looking to join a short list of active head coaches with a top overall draft pick on their watch includes Penn State’s James Franklin, USC’s Clay Helton and Wyoming’s Craig Bohl.

There are just six active head coaches in FBS that have sent a player to the top of the NFL draft order, and only one of those coaches are currently at the same school they had a player go No. 1 overall. Stanford’s David Shaw was the head coach of the Cardinal when Andrew Luck went with the first overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft to the Indianapolis Colts. The other five coaches on the current list have since moved on to another job since they had a player go with the first pick in the draft. Three of those active coaches will have new jobs starting this fall.

Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M was the head coach of Florida State when quarterback Jameis Winston went first overall in 2015. More recently, Sonny Dykes was the head coach at Cal when Jared Goff went to the Los Angeles Rams in 2016. Dykes is now the head coach at SMU. And just last year, Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin saw defensive end Myles Garrett go to the Cleveland Browns from Texas A&M with the first pick.

The two other coaches on the list of active coaches with a top draft pick are Urban Meyer of Ohio State and Mark Richt of Miami. Meyer was getting settled in at Florida after leaving Utah, but he was watching admirably as Utah quarterback Alex Smith went to the San Francisco 49ers with the first pick in 2005. Richt’s top draft pick from his time at Georgia was quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was taken first overall by the Detroit Lions in 2009.

You may have noticed (as if the headline didn’t give it away) there are some notable head coaches in college football without a top overall draft pick. Despite all the success of Nick Saban at Alabama, including a factory of NFL talent sent through the draft in recent years, a top overall pick continues to elude Saban. Not that he is worried about such a thing of course. Alabama’s NFL draft output is far more impressive when you realize quantity and quality are not short on supply in Tuscaloosa. During Saban’s time at Alabama, the highest draft pick from the school has been running back Trent Richardson with the third overall pick of the 2012 NFL draft (Oakland Raiders). Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus also went third overall to the Buffalo Bills in 2011.

But again, Alabama may not have a first overall pick, but the Crimson Tide lead the pack when it comes to first-round draft picks.

Here is a list of all the active head coaches with one No. 1 overall NFL draft pick:

  • Kevin Sumlin, Arizona: Myles Garrett, DE (2017)
  • Sonny Dykes, SMU: Jared Goff, QB (2016)
  • Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M: Jameis Winston, QB (2015)
  • David Shaw, Stanford: Andrew Luck, QB (2012)
  • Mark Richt, Miami: Matthew Stafford, QB (2009)
  • Urban Meyer, Ohio State: Alex Smith, QB (2005)

Wyoming’s Josh Allen is considered one of the favorites to be chosen with the first pick Thursday night in the NFL draft, which would add Craig Bohl to the list (and he gets some of the credit for No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Carson Wentz, too). Penn State running back Saquon Barkley would add James Franklin to the list. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is another trendy pick for the top pick, but his head coach, Jim Mora, is no longer an active coach at this time. Sam Darnold of USC would add Clay Helton to the list, and Lincoln Riley would make the jump into the conversation if Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield happens to go first overall.

We’ll find out Thursday night if a new coach joins the list or not.

Tua Tagovailoa suffers setback in return from hand injury, spring game status uncertain

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Tua Tagovailoa suffered a setback in his recovery from the hand injury that has cost him much of spring practice and may force him out of next Saturday’s A-Day game, Nick Saban confirmed Saturday.

“You know, Tua had a little setback yesterday with his hand,” Saban said, via the Tuscaloosa News. “Doctors are trying to evaluate the best course of action and what we do with him the remainder of spring. That said, I can’t really tell you any more. He didn’t take any snaps today. He did take a lot of snaps yesterday. We’re going to try to protect this and make sure that this thing is not going to be an issue for him in the fall.”

Tagovailoa was expected to compete with incumbent Jalen Hurts for the Tide’s starting quarterback job, but thus far that competition has not materialized. Tempting as it may be to hand-wave any issue Alabama faces with “They’re Bama,” missing much of spring practice is a significant loss for Tagovailoa. Alabama is looking to replace Calvin Ridley, whose 63 receptions accounted for more than every returning wideout — combined. Alabama is also working in two more voices to the play-calling process, as Mike Locksley ascended to offensive coordinator and Dan Enos was hired as associate head coach and quarterbacks coach after Brian Daboll left for the Buffalo Bills.

Alabama will practice twice this week ahead of Saturday’s spring game. Tagovailoa’s status for all three events is unknown, trending toward doubtful.

If the sophomore is unable to go, Alabama will be down to two healthy scholarship quarterbacks: Hurts and Mac Jones. Jones is a 4-star recruit from Jacksonville who redshirted in 2017.

“I think Mac had made a lot of improvement,” Saban said. “He’s a guy that has to mature in terms of… He’s very competitive. When you’re the quarterback, how does what I’m doing affect my unit? So when things don’t go well, you can’t always show your emotions, show your disappointment. You have to be positive, like ‘We’re going to get them on the next play.’ That’s a part of his leadership we have to continue to work on. But he’s made more and more good plays. We feel really good about his development. We’re just trying to get him to focus on being the best player that he can be. Because he’s going to be in position this year where he’s not going to be far away from having to play.”

Alabama’s 2017 title team visiting President Trump, White House today

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For the fifth time this decade, the Alabama football team will be taking a trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, although there’ll be a decidedly different host this time around.

As had previously been announced, the Crimson Tide is set to be honored at the White House at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday afternoon.  The 2017 College Football Playoff champions will be feted for the first time by President Donald Trump, who also played host to the Clemson Tigers football title squad last year.

The first four trips to the White House came during President Barack Obama‘s administrations.

Despite the fact that some champions in other sports flat-out refused to be feted by the current POTUS, there doesn’t appear any hint of reservation on the part of the ‘Bama team — thanks in very large part to head coach Nick Saban.

“Coach Saban addressed it and just said, ‘Hey, we’re doing this regardless of your political thoughts. We’re going, just to celebrate this team. It’s an honor. And just to be able to say that you’ve gone to the White House is something that you can cherish forever,'” offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher said by way of al.com in the run-up to the visit. “So that was basically the extent of that.”

“It’s an incredible honor for us to be invited to the White House,” said running back Damien Harris. “It’s something that comes with being national champions, so we’re definitely thankful for the opportunity. There’s a lot of young guys that haven’t been able to make that trip yet. We’re glad we’ve got guys that can go for the first time and experience it the way that we did when we were young. Obviously, all the older guys have been there, and we’re looking forward to going back again.”

Incidentally, if you’re so inclined, you can watch the festivities live at whitehouse.gov.

Did Alabama blink in Nick Saban-LeBron James barbershop beef?

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One of the more bizarre — and asinine and inane, it should be noted — plotlines of the past few college football offseasons has taken yet another (final?) twist.

First, what led us to this point.

Earlier this week, it was reported that LeBron James‘ multimedia company, Uninterrupted, had sent a letter to Alabama’s football program expressing concern over a possible copyright infringement regarding an online video series capturing typical barbershop conversations.  The Alabama version, called “Shop Talk,” shows a barbershop-like conversation involving Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban and former Crimson Tide standouts Julio JonesEddie Jackson and Ryan Anderson; LeBron’s version, dubbed “The Shop,” had already seen a pair of episodes released prior to UA doing theirs.  There was also a similarity in logos, inasmuch as scissors can potentially be intellectually co-opted as well.

As the kerfuffle continued to grow, Saban stated Wednesday that, when it came to UA’s version of the barbershop series, “we’re going to continue to do it.” Not long after, the NBA superstar responded by stating that “I’ll be damned if I’ll allow someone to use our platform or try to do the same thing we’re doing and just think it’s OK.”

“The lawyers will figure it out,” The King added ominously.

Wednesday night, the Alabama football Twitter account unveiled what was the second episode of the series.  The most noteworthy development in that release?  What was previously called “Shop Talk” had been officially changed to “Bama Cuts.”

Here’s to hoping that will placate The King as, prior to his Highness’ web series debuting, it’s quite obvious and indisputable no one had ever thought of barbershop talk being the focal point of an entertainment delivery system.  If you’re Eddie Murphy, Ice Cube or even Brutus “The Barber” Beefcakeor even Mitch Mitchell for a far more meaningful purpose — your mileage may vary on that particular assertion, though.

The only thing this barbershop dustup tells me?  There’s little doubt that the tea leaves are suggesting LeBron will leave the Cavaliers for the Clippers this NBA offseason.