TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — With the Power 5 conferences all acting very differently, and in some cases extremely selfishly while trying to figure out how to handle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the college football landscape looks a lot like the political one nationally: Chaotic.
Count Alabama coach Nick Saban among those who would like to see some more continuity for the sake of the game. When asked during his Monday press conference for his thoughts on whether college football needed a commissioner, he offered his support.
"I think that it’s important — at least I look at it as if it’s important that we have something or someone, some organizational body who can bring everybody together," Saban said. "I don’t know if that’s a commissioner, if it’s some council, I don’t know if it’s a committee someplace. I really don’t know the best way to do that, but I do think that it would benefit college football if the five major conferences could always sort of come together on what’s best for college football. I’m not saying they don’t all have those intentions. They do. But sometimes they don’t all sort of marry up, which is kind of the situation that we have this year.
"Do I think it would be beneficial if we had some way we could tie all that together? The solution to that, I’m not sure what that would be."
If some if that sounded a little familiar, at least his overall take, there's a reason why.
Back in 2016, Saban made numerous statements about how there needed to be someone overlooking college football.
"It would be good if there was somebody, and I don't know who, but somebody that looked at the game from 1,000 feet," Saban said at the time. "Not as an AD. Not as a conference commissioner. Not as an offensive guy or a defensive guy, but somebody who's looking at it from the entire scope.
"It's not what's best for the SEC or the Big Ten or the Pac-12, but what's best for the game. That way, there's no self-interest."
The hot topic at the the time was satellite camps. Saban described college football as being like "the Wild, Wild West at its best," during the spring meetings in Destin and talked about it against at SEC media days in Birmingham.
When Alabama met Washington near the end of that season in the Peach Bowl, Huskies coach Chris Petersen told reporters that not only did he favor having a college football commissioner, but also “I think Coach Saban would make a great one.”
Alabama promptly drilled Washington, 24–7.
The guess here is that every opposing coach would like to see Saban as commissioner, if for no other reason than to end his time at Alabama.
The chances of that happening? About none.
Here are 12 other things that recently got our attention:
1] We'll start with something on the lighter side. One of the more fun moments of the Zoom press conferences so far occurred when Saban was asked what's different about practicing during a pandemic.
"I really don't see anything," he responded. "We practice, we still do the same footwork drills, receivers run the same routes, quarterbacks got the same reads, offensive linemen gotta block, defensive players gotta tackle, everybody's gotta key and read the right thing. So when we're out there on the field, everybody's focused on, 'What do I have to do to be a good football player?' The wearing of the mask, the staying apart when you're not in there [are different], but when you're in there playing, it's your turn, it's your rep, we expect you to be 100% focused on doing your job and doing it the right way. So I don't see anything different. There's no difference for me except this thing around my neck that I wear that, when I put up here, I can't seem to get the same emphasis that I'd like sometimes. I mean, I look like Jesse James robbing a bank. And I can't get on people like I like to. It muffles the sound a little bit. So when we need to get someone's attention, we have to come out of bank-robber mode."
See it really is like the Wild, Wild West.
Saban's mood may be a little tougher to read this season as everyone's feeling a little more stress, but his being in good spirits early in camp is traditionally a positive sign that he really likes his team.
2] With two major conferences not playing this season, SI decided to change its rankings this season from Top 25 to Still Standing 16. Where is Alabama? No. 2. Where was it before? No. 2. "Plenty of teams would accept an 11–2 record, a Citrus Bowl bid and a second-place finish in the country’s most difficult division, the SEC West. Not Alabama. Last year the Crimson Tide had arguably their worst season since 2013. And that means it’s time for a rebound."
3] Just missed: The SI99 made its debut this week, with Alabama having eight commitments on the initial list. Among those who just missed was wide receiver Agiye Hall of Valrico (Fla.) Bloomingdale
"A physically imposing and well-built prospect, Hall has some impressive physical tools along with that great frame. He is long, much faster than his size suggests, and is about as physically well-positioned as any wide receiver in the class. Despite bouncing around a few different schools in the last year, Hall has shown up and flashed athleticism and ball skills in select offseason settings. Continued refinement in his route running and overall consistency should set the tone ahead of his time in Tuscaloosa, where the edge he plays with can enhance his three-down value."
4] No signs: Kirk Herbstreit gave a radio interview Monday during which he said ESPN still plans to take College GameDay on the road this season, but without fans surrounding the set. SI's Jimmy Traina speculates that 85-year-old Lee Corso won't be making the trips.
5] No pressure: North Dakota State, led by potential top-five NFL draft pick quarterback Trey Lance, will play just one game this fall.
6] There's been a lot of talk about how things are starting to really click offensively for Crimson Tide basketball player and team captain Herb Jones. During an appearance on Wimp and Barry Sanderson on Tide 100.9 FM last week, Nate Oats said: "He’s been shooting the ball remarkably well compared to what he had in the past here."
7] If you think fans are going to abide by mask requirements at football games this fall, look at how many people took theirs off when the Chiefs opened their practice to fans.
8] If you didn't see the story Doctors Say They'd Play in the NBA and NHL, but not NFL and MLB we strongly suggest checking it out. A sticking point was a recent study of recently recovered COVID-19 patients showed myocardial inflammation in 60 of 100 participants, “independent of preexisting conditions, severity and overall course of the acute illness.” UCLA pulmonologist Scott Oh says that means an added risk factor for “Particularly linemen, who are in each other's space constantly. The biggest players are at the biggest risk.”
9] If you look closely at the practice video from Monday, when the quarterbacks go by during stretching drills there's no No. 9. That's the number worn by freshman quarterback Bryce Young. Alabama had a few people not practicing, while freshman running back Kyle Edwards was in a black no-contact jersey. Saban isn't expected to update anyone's status until Saturday.
10] If you've ever wondered "What was he thinking" about a quarterback, check out the cover story for the SI football preview: The Impossibilities of Russell Wilson.
Coaches, trainers, academics and Wilson himself—watch three of his greatest hits in a film session—attempt to explain how these moments come to be.
“There are people who have this crazy ability to adapt. Their body will find a way, even if it’s not the motor plan that you and I would have picked.” Russell Wilson has, in a sense, evolved.
While we're at it, NFL and fantasy previews for every NFL team. Let's just say that they include a LOT of former Alabama players.
11] Rashaan Evans, who many believe is poised for a big season with the Titans, has gone old-school in preparing for the upcoming season opener.
"I just personally use the old school sleds," he said during a video teleconference with reporters Sunday. "I go back and just use those sleds to work on technicality to make sure you use the right leverage and tackling the proper way in order to protect yourself also, and then too, we do a lot of drills with open-field tackling. Even when we're in team, we try to make sure we get around the ball as much as possible and focus in on trying to make that tackling-type movement, even if we’re not hitting it."
12] Something no one is missing this year: Complaints about Alabama's schedule. Considering all the home-and-home games against prominent programs in the coming years, including Texas, Florida State, Notre Dame and Oklahoma, it may be a long time before anyone does again.
Christopher Walsh's notes column All Things CW regularly appears on BamaCentral