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Jumbo Package: SEC Media Days are upon us

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Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Happy Monday, everyone. Just under seven weeks away from the season opener, SEC Media Days kick off today in Atlanta. Alabama’s session is tomorrow, with Nick Saban joined by an incredible trio of players in Will Anderson, Jordan Battle and reigning Heisman winner Bryce Young.

The junior signal-caller for the Crimson Tide won the Heisman Trophy last season despite playing behind a porous offensive line that failed to protect him on a consistent basis. Can he repeat the feat? How good can he be if the offensive line can take even the slightest step forward?

Young is one of the three Crimson Tide players who will join coach Nick Saban on Tuesday, so we’ll get a chance to find out just what he expects from himself, and what is expected of him, now that he’s in his second season as the Tide’s starting quarterback. Archie Griffin is the only player to win the Heisman Trophy twice. Young, however, is set up for an even better encore performance as long as he can get a tad more help.

Most expect the Tide to be a near unanimous pick to win the league.

Alabama brings back arguably the nation’s two best players in reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young and pass rusher Will Anderson Jr., the SEC’s active leader in career sacks and tackles for losses. Both are projected top-10 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft along with Georgia’s Jalen Carter, a pass rusher whose reputation is beginning to grow exponentially like Travon Walker’s did this spring prior to his selection at No. 1 overall. Three of college football’s last five national champions have been ranked No. 1 in scoring defense, so that side of the football is paramount to both of these front-runners’ success this season in the playoff race.

That’s an interesting note about defense. Though the top defenses allow more points per game than they used to and are still prone to getting shredded at the hands of a high functioning passing game, particularly one with precisely executed RPO concepts, the team that gets the most stops is still more likely to win it all.

Pete Fiutak put out a comprehensive preview of the 2022 Alabama squad. He thinks there will be a loss somewhere along the way due to the schedule difficulty, but like most he is pretty bullish on the Tide.

Even so, Emil Ekiyor is an NFL blocker at guard, JC Lathan should be fine at right tackle, and things should be fine if Steen does what he’s supposed to.

There are two big differences, though, for this year’s line. Bryce Young should be an even faster decision maker thanks to his experience, and they have a different type of back to block for.

Brian Robinson was a terrific, tough guy runner, and Najee Harris was obviously special before his life as a Pittsburgh Steeler. Bama hasn’t had a home run hitter at RB, though, like Jahmyr Gibbs in a while.

Many hands have been wrung over the 2023 recruiting class at this stage of the game, but after pulling in an elite running back over the weekend, things may be just heating up.

The biggest name coming down the pipeline is star tackle Olaus Alinen. The Finnish four-star is set to announce on July 22 and has the Crimson Tide in his top five of Miami, Oregon, Ohio State and Georgia. Crystal Balls are split between Miami and Alabama. Whichever school adds the 6-foot-6, 315-pounder will have a piece with upside in the 2023 class.

“It’s a pretty nice town. I’ve lived in big cities like Atlanta and I used to live in a small city in Finland so I’m kind of used to both type of cities. It’s a really pro-style program,” Alinen told Rivals’ Adam Friedman.

One of Alabama’s 2023 commits, 5 star safety Tony Mitchell, had the right answer to a dumb question.

cause ppl wanna win

— Tony Mitchell (@DatGuyTM) July 16, 2022

Fabulous.

Dennis Dodd wrote some more about realignment.

Regarding the Pac-12, ESPN and/or Fox don’t necessarily want to overspend on a property they’ve already decided is far less valuable than the Big Ten and SEC. It’s also no sure thing ESPN gets any of the Big Ten’s secondary rights. If they don’t have the Big Ten, perhaps that opens their pockets for College Football Playoff expansion, the next major college rights deal on the docket (after the Pac-12 and Big 12).

“I’ve sort of refocused my thinking. I think we’re no longer really talking about college sports through the lens of the NCAA, the Power Five,” Hacker said. “College sports is now completely controlled by ESPN and Fox.”

Dodd also makes an interesting point that a merger of the Pac 12 and Big 12 would reduce the Power Five by one, opening the door for renewed negotiation over autobids in a 12 team playoff.

Blake Toppmeyer decided he’d rank SEC coaches for today’s offseason filler content, and you know who tops the list.

The greatest coach of all time endured a rough stretch these past several months. He lost to a former understudy, Jimbo Fisher, last October, then fell to another, Smart, in the national championship. And Texas A&M bested Alabama for the No. 1-ranked recruiting class. Saban’s frustration bubbled over at a speaking engagement this spring. Some saw it as a sign that Alabama’s dynasty is teetering. That’s absurd. Saban continues to recruit well. Now, he’s adding top-shelf transfers to fill holes, and he’s developing quarterbacks at a Heisman Trophy level. Alabama was reloading last season after a swath of departures followed the 2020 team’s national championship. This year’s team is loaded.

Deion Sanders notes that as fans lament players’ perceived prioritization of NIL money over football opportunities, the schools are choosing TV money over tradition and rivalries.

“What do we want to do?” Sanders asked. ”Do we want to sit back and adhere to tradition? Or do we want to put ourselves in a financial situation where our school prospers? You’ve really got to factor that in and weigh those options. There’s some tremendous options that some of the schools are going to be faced with. We’re already speaking about it.”

All but three Division I HBCUs play currently play in the MEAC or the SWAC, which are comprised entirely of HBCUs. There are no HBCU schools at the FBS level.

No matter the level, conference realignment is about money, Sanders said.

“You call it realignment. You can really call it chasing the bag,” Sanders said. ”That’s all they’re doing, they’re chasing the bag.”

Last, Big Phil Mathis got to be the latest former Alabama player to make his Momma cry over her new house purchased with NFL money.

These are always great. Congratulations to both for a dream realized.

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.

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