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Stanford’s Love, Wisconsin’s Taylor still Heisman betting favorites, but Tua Tagovailoa gaining ground

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Nothing has actually happened in college football since Tua Tagovailoa‘s 41-yard rainbow landed in Devonta Smith‘s hands to win Alabama the 2017 national title, but that hasn’t stopped fans from laying bets on the 2018 Heisman winner.

According to the updated odds released Monday by LVSuperBook, Stanford running back Bryce Love is still the favorite, trailed by Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor — same as the initial 2018 odds and the most recent update. Love opened at 7-to-1, moved to 5-to-1 last month and sits at 6-to-1 today. Taylor started at 8-to-1, increased to 7-to-1 last month and is now back at where he started, 8-to-1.

But those runners have been joined by the man who ended the 2017 season: Tagovailoa. After starting in fourth place (10-to-1) and remaining there in June, Tagovailoa is now level with Taylor at 8-to-1.

Tagovailoa’s ascent has come at the expense of Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, who started in third place at 9-to-1 and is now among a gaggle of fourth-place contenders at 15-to-1.

6-to-1: Love
8-to-1: Tagovailoa, Taylor
15-to-1: Georgia QB Jake Fromm, Oregon QB Justin Hebert, Penn State QB Trace McSorley, Tate
18-to-1: Alabama RB Damien Harris
20-to-1: Washington QB Jake Browning, Ohio State RB J.K. Dobbins, West Virginia QB Will Grier, Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray, Michigan QB Shea Patterson, Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham, Georgia RB D’Andre Swift

Vegas — or, at least, those who give their money to Vegas — is banking on Heisman voters breaking form in a major way by riding with Love as the favorite. The last non-Alabama running back to win the Heisman was USC’s Reggie Bush in 2005, and the last one before that was Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne in 1999. Meanwhile, no Alabama quarterback has ever won the Heisman.

Love is the nation’s leading returning rusher, carrying 263 times for 2,118 yards (8.05 a pop, the most for any player with at least 200 carries) and 19 touchdowns. Taylor ranks just behind Love with 1,977 yards and 13 touchdowns on 299 totes. Tagovailoa completed 49-of-77 passes for 636 yards with 11 touchdowns against two interceptions while rushing 27 times for 133 yards and two touchdowns; though the sophomore appeared in nine games in 2017, he has yet to start one.

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.

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.