no wonder we hired Hunter Lochmann
"let's not have that tourney run" –Big Ten ADs [Fuller]
The Big Ten athletic directors have gathered in Illinois to stroke their chins and issue pronouncements about the state of the games. As per usual some of the things they're saying are from space aliens unfamiliar with English. Northwestern's Jim Phillips exhibits a mild version of the affliction. The reporter's paraphrase is the worst bit:
One-and-done play is symptomatic of the problems that plague college athletics, Phillips said at the Big Ten spring meetings, in that it does not benefit the student-athlete at large.
"Frankly speaking," Phillips said, "shame on us. We've allowed the National Basketball Association to dictate what our rules are, or influence what our rules are at the collegiate level."
Phillips said NBA executives "look at us as the minor leagues."
"Nobody feels great about kids going to school for a semester and then leaving," he said. "That's crazy. It's absurd. So we've got to fix it.
"Why have we accepted that? Why have we just allowed that to happen without any pushback?"
I do have some sympathy for the resentment colleges must feel that the NBA has imposed one-and-done on them. It really is the worst possible system for the NCAA, which draws piles of criticism for the way CBB feels right now despite having done nothing.
But as per usual with the NCAA, the proposals on the table to deal with the problem cling tightly to a blinkered image of reality developed by watching "Newsies" 24 hours a day for the last decade. One-and-done does nothing to anyone who's not a one and done. For those who are, the NCAA has no ability to "benefit" them. They're just cooling their heels for a year because they have to before they are very wealthy. One and done is an entirely cosmetic issue. It is an issue, as it leads to things like Kentucky. I find Kentucky under Calipari annoying.
But the Big Ten's freshman ineligibility proposal is the clumsiest possible way to address the situation. It is nuking an anthill from orbit. As John Gasaway mentions, one-and-dones were a mere 14 kids last year.
Statistically it would be similar to terming "adults who have to visit the ER after using a pogo stick" a "culture." http://t.co/ojPoHzzK8Z
— John Gasaway (@JohnGasaway) May 20, 2015
Mitch McGary is that culture's king. I digress.
The Big Ten is trying to sell us the idea that students are not prepared to enter college, go to class, and compete for its teams at the same time their APR scores look like this.
Big Ten APR Scores (football; basketball)
Illinois: 957; 957
Indiana: 972; 1,000
Iowa: 969; 971
Michigan: 975; 990
Michigan State: 962; 980
Minnesota: 962; 960
Nebraska: 980; 947
Northwestern: 991; 980
Ohio State: 972; 977
Penn State: 954; 964
Purdue: 961; 985
Wisconsin: 989, 975
So which is it? Do you "continue to shine", as this BTN article claims? Or is it dire enough for the Big Ten to want to impose ineligibility on the 95% of their athletes that are just fine thanks?
Part of the problem is that if the NBA does come to the table looking for a reasonable solution (like NHL style draft-and-follow), they're going to hear the most impossible nonsense coming from the other side. No, you can't go to summer league. No, you can't have an agent. No, you can't even go to pre-draft camps to get a more accurate picture of where you stand. We're gonna have a freshman ineligibly snit fit over 14 guys.
The Big Ten has a problem with one-and-done. Fine. But Jim Delany's proposal is unserious. It is never going to happen. Having a "national discussion" is rhetoric on the level of that Nationwide Your Kid Just Died commercial. You can have that discussion. It is going to be about how much you suck and nothing else.
This is a toddler saying "NO, MINE" to someone who can take the toddler's toys away whenever he wants. If the NBA is going to listen, the NCAA is going to have to come to them with a serious proposal instead of a temper tantrum.
our very own MarktheNomad leads the way
Well done. The EDSBS charity challenge has completed, with Michigan once again lapping the field several times over:
By collectively cracking 30k, the commentariat has forced Spencer into getting a Michigan-themed tattoo. He reports being interested in some sort of wolverine-in-profile wearing a top hat. I am taking submissions, both good and bad. Load up the photoshop and do your best. Or worst! Either way.
Jeff Goodman's on the bandwagon. Hopefully this edition of the Big Ten can be as entertainingly proficient as the 2012-13 version that Indiana won (and Michigan did not win by a micron) with their Zeller/Oladipo outfit:
Big Ten is gonna be so strong next season. Not much separation between Maryland, Michigan St, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, even Purdue.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 26, 2015
You can make a legit argument that eight of the top dozen or so teams may come from Big Ten and Big 12 next season.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 26, 2015
Not sure I'm seeing it with Purdue but otherwise, yeah. How Wisconsin transitions away from the Dekker/Kaminsky teams is uncertain—they have Hayes and Koenig back but lose the kPOY, a lottery pick, Josh f-ing Gasser, and Traevon Jackson. That latter might be their secret weapon.
I assume they'll be good, because when have they not been good under Bo Ryan, but they should be taking a significant step back. I don't know who their 6'10" guy who shoots threes and looks like the perfect player for Beilein is going to be.
I am mildly surprised at this. Max Bielfeldt is transferring and getting interest from schools that are a bit bigger than hometown Bradley:
Bielfeldt confirmed to MLive on Saturday that he made his first visit on Friday, traveling to Ames, Iowa to tour Iowa State and that he's in the process of setting up more visits.
The current list of schools that have contacted Bielfeldt and are under consideration includes Boston College, Kansas State, Iowa State, Bradley, Stanford and DePaul.
Obviously Iowa State's Hoiberg Home For Lost Big Ten Boys was going to get involved here. Due to a bizarre footnote in NCAA regulations the city of Ames will be expelled from the surface of the earth if they do not have a basketball player who used to call a Big Ten school home.
The half-dozen other power conference schools are more than I thought would knock on Bielfeldt's door. He must fit better on teams that aren't averse to running out two posts at the same time—he's a lot more plausible as an old-timey power forward than a center.
And it is possible we are doing Johnny Dawkins a solid for keeping his kid stashed in witness protection long enough for Michigan to swoop in on him.
Could this be related to last year's injuries? Michigan is looking for a new basketball athletic trainer. People move on to new jobs all the time, etc., but the timing there suggests that maybe Beilein wasn't particularly pleased with the way Walton's injury was handled. Add Spike's hips, LeVert's twice-broken foot, and Mitch McGary's general unavailability and that's a lot of injuries for a basketball team comprised of 18-20 year olds.
Your parents must be very interesting. Remember Equanimeous St. Brown, the California wide receiver who speaks several languages and ended up at Notre Dame? There is another.
There is apparently a third St. Brown pass-catching brother who goes unnamed in that article. The possibilities are endless. Sahara? Odin? Vladivostok? Benzene? The mind boggles.
I'm just here on name patrol but FWIW, St. Brown says he's headed to Sound Mind, Sound Body and will visit Michigan as part of that trip.
UPDATE: Ace points out the younger brother is Amon-Ra!
Scouting Austin Davis. Scout's Brian Snow took a look at Michigan's latest commitment and came back reporting something in line($) with what everyone else is saying:
When on the floor in terms of actual skill, Davis is very good on the low block. He has pretty good footwork around the rim, soft hands, and a nice touch. Most of his damage comes close to the bucket, and he is able to overwhelm opponents with size and has the skill to go with it.
He's not a jumping jack of an athlete and has to compete at the 5 with Teske since neither has the ability to guard anyone on the perimeter. There's been some chatter that Davis might take a prep year and come in in 2017 if that is mutually agreeable, FWIW. That would somewhat ease the coming logjam at center and give a developmental big some more time to develop.
Rutgers: the team that gravity remembers constantly. Land-Grand Holy Land checks in with Rutgers first season of Big Ten competition. How'd they do? Fourth in women's soccer. Not so good in almost everything else:
So to recap, not only did Rutgers fail to capture a single league title in their first season,they haven't even come close, only cracking the top four in two sports. Rutgers finished (or is currently ranked) last or second to last in an astonishing eight sports. Their football program was their best male team sport, and they didn't crack the top six of the conference. Rutgers has been uniformly terrible at nearly every level.
Plus, not only has Rutgers been awful on the field, those mid-week flights from places like Nebraska and Iowa to New Jersey are probably just awesome for student athletes, right Delany?
But hey, TV sets. Location. National brand. Enjoy those hypothetical Nielsen ratings the next time you have to watch a terrible Rutgers sporting event in the near future.
Maryland is vaguely defensible. Rutgers is just an anchor.
Sounds good. Freshmen ineligibility isn't going anywhere. There are a thousand reasons for that. Here's one: even the NCAA's president, our nation's most skilled double-talk practitioner, is pretty much like nah.
"It's a really interesting notion that's worthy of debate," Emmert said. "It has all kinds of problems. It is highly controversial."
"It has all kinds of problems." This is a person who publicly states that the NCAA itself has no problems. DOA.
They're all over on satellite camps, BTW. They'll be banned by next year.
Etc.: Lax misses Big Ten tourney. Many Big Ten fanbases have no life balance. Robert Washington's weekend commitment was… interesting. Sling TV reviewed. Brian Kelly is "the worst coach Notre Dame has ever allowed to oversee its football team for at least 65 games." Nebraska adds satellite camp. Gasaway on early entries.
Jim Harbaugh is Jim Harbaugh and will remain being Jim Harbaugh. The parable of the donut shop.
Yesterday, the NFL settled with a group of former players who had sued them for using their identities without permission. What's more, the NFL had an insane-seeming clause barring those same players from using their own identifies:
Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea and five other retired players filed the federal class-action lawsuit in Minneapolis in 2009 accusing the NFL of blatantly exploiting retired players' identities in films, highlight reels and memorabilia to market the league's "glory days."
"The retired players who created these glory days, however, have gone almost completely uncompensated for this use of their identities," the plaintiffs said. "Notably, while exploiting the identities of retired players for commercial gain, the NFL prohibits retired NFL players from using their own identities as players to promote themselves commercially."
Instead of facing down a court case, the NFL settled to the tune of 42 million dollars. Because they were going to lose, hard. Yesterday was a good day for Ed O'Bannon.
O'Bannon, of course, is the former UCLA basketball player irritated enough that he was in an EA Sports game to launch a class-action suit against the NCAA for almost the same issue the NFL just settled on, down to the insane-seeming cause. In the NCAA, those athletes sign away their publicity rights in perpetuity as a condition of the scholarship they get. But as anyone who's followed discussion about a coach's multimillion dollar buyout clause knows, just because it's in a contract doesn't mean its enforceable. Thus the pending class action.
O'Bannon and company have shifted tack from the relatively paltry amount of money provided by video game publishers to the Big Kahuna, amending their complaint to target game broadcasts. The NCAA's last response is to prevent the class from being certified thanks to a precedent they earned in a different breathtakingly cynical fight:
The NCAA relies heavily on its victory in a case regarding scholarship limits. Walk-on football players filed a class action against the NCAA arguing that in the absence of the 85 scholarship limit, they would have received full athletic scholarships. The court in that case refused to certify the class, because each player would have to prove individually that he would have received a football scholarship.
Yesterday, a bunch of motions in that case were made public, and everyone seized on this Jim Delany statement to laugh at the most hollow threat not made by a Jong-Il in the past 50 years:
Rather, it has been my longstanding belief that The Big Ten's schools would forgo the revenues in those circumstances and instead take steps to downsize the scope, breadth, and activity of their athletic programs. Several alternatives to a "pay for play" model exist, such as the Division III model, which does not offer any athletics-based grants-in-aid, and, among others, a need-based financial aid model. These alternatives would, in my view, be more consistent with The Big Ten's philosophy that the educational and lifetime economic benefits associated with a university education are the appropriate quid pro quo for its student-athletes.
Stupid or deceitful? I think the latter given Jim Delany's extremely malleable opinion on playoffs, but then again he is the man who gave us "Leaders and Legends" and wrote an open letter about how the SEC is poopy pants in 2007, thus dooming us to ALL THE SEC since. We may never know.
This is an organization that feels a university education is a sufficient quid pro quo for work that earns various people seven-figure salaries to play glorified secretary, and then fights lawsuits that would open up those university educations to more people because that might impinge on those seven figure salaries.
And this, of course, is a man who has spent the last twenty years thinking about nothing but money. He created a television network for money. He added Nebraska for money. He split Michigan and Ohio State in the vague hope of getting more money if they played twice. He added Rutgers and Maryland for money despite the fact that 11 of the 12 fanbases in the Big Ten would rather boil themselves in oil than play those teams in anything. Once he is presented with the idea he might have to share some of his money, he threatens to take the whole damn thing out of the system, into another system that will be exposed to the same legal precedent that prevents you from outrageously sharecropping athletes. The answer is probably "both." As Michael of Braves and Birds put it on twitter:
Delany's declaration is one step removed from threatening to attack Fort Sumter. "Our whole economic system is built on exploitation, so if you require that we pay our labor, we'll secede!" - Delany as Jefferson Davis.
As it becomes increasingly clear that the value of a university degree is coming unhinged from how much it costs, athletic departments continue to pile up more and more money that has to go somewhere. Increasingly, that is to the Jim Delanys of the world:
Michigan Budget, 2006
- Revenue of 68 million dollars
- 21 million spent on "salaries, wages, and benefits"
- 11 million spent on "financial aid to students"
Michigan Budget, 2013
- Revenue of 130 million dollars (a 91% increase)
- 44 million spent on "salaries, wages, and benefits" (a 109% increase)
- 18 million spent on "financial aid to students" (a 64% increase)
Despite the increase in athlete outlays, really there is no increased value there for the folks actually making the money. Instead the athletic department adds sports (lacrosse) and the University continues its unsustainable tuition spiral. The net for the athlete is the degree, then and now. When Texas A&M offered Bo a million dollars and he was reduced to tears because he had to choose between securing his family and staying at Michigan, that was maybe plausible. Today? Bitch, please.
According to a recent report in USA Today Sports, athletic directors at FBS schools are paid an average of $515,000 annually, an increase of more than 14 percent since … 2011. At the low end of the scale, Louisiana-Monroe AD Bobby Staub took home $109,923; at the high end, Louisville's Tom Jurich pocketed $1,401,915. Over the last two years, the number of athletic directors making $1 million or more has jumped from six to nine, while the number making $800,000 or more has risen from nine to 15. None of this is entirely new. Back in 2010 -- that is, when unemployment was at 9.9 percent and the nation was still reeling from the worst financial crisis since 1929 -- at least 10 public schools gave their athletic directors pay raises of $75,000 or more.
But you feel that a university education is the same bonus it's always been. You feel that it's fair that every extra dollar the players on the field make is destined for someplace other than their pockets. I feel that if every athletic director in the country disappeared tomorrow, no one outside their families would notice, and that if you took the best player off of every BCS football team the country would collapse into riots and chaos by Thursday. Useless vampires of college sports, I hope the courts annihilate your business model so thoroughly you end up shining Denard Robinson's shoes.
"People who have talent and bring something significant to the party expect to be paid fairly. I have no problem stepping up and paying talent for what they deserve."
So ESPN is almost tripling what they pay for the Rose Bowl:
ESPN’s deal with the Rose Bowl runs from 2015 through 2026, making it concurrent with the new playoff structure. The Rose Bowl’s new $80 million annual rights fee represents a 167 percent jump from the $30 million the network currently pays.
The Rose Bowl’s partners, the Pac-12 and Big Ten, keep all of that media revenue, except in years when the Rose Bowl is a semifinal game in the playoffs. When the bowl is part of the playoffs, that media revenue would flow through the playoff system and be distributed to all of the FBS conferences. That method of distribution has not been determined yet.
And suddenly the Big Ten and Pac-12's desire to have the Rose Bowl not be a semifinal as often as possible is clear. Money, money, money, the same story as always. That's why the Big Ten walked away from the dream of national semifinals at home sites. To Protect The Rose Bowl…
"For us it's critical to keep the Rose Bowl in the equation," Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis told reporters Tuesday after Big Ten meetings hashed out the conference's likely preferred plan.
…by which they mean their money. No more boggling necessary. Explanation money, explanation accepted. Explanation disappointing but unsurprising. Cynicism: achieved.
not so fast, my friend!
Except… has anyone noticed that the current four-team playoff plan does exactly nothing to protect the Rose Bowl? By adopting this system the Big Ten has condemned the thing to a consolation prize, which is what it still could be if home semifinals were part of the mix, and then they wouldn't have to worry about years in which they don't get that mad cheddar. Also there would be home games.
I mean… let's envision a scenario where M is #2, Wisconsin #6, USC #1, and Oregon #9.
HOME GAME SYSTEM
#2 Michigan hosts
#1 USC hosts
Rose is UW-UO
THIS SYSTEM, ROSE NOT HOSTING
#1 USC plays semifinal somewhere
#2 Michigan plays semifinal somewhere
Rose is UW-UO
THIS SYSTEM, ROSE HOSTS
#1 USC plays semifinal at Rose
#2 Michigan plays semifinal somewhere else
UW, UO pound sand
The scenarios play out similarly when only one team from either conference makes the playoff. The Rose is always the same except when it hosts semis—which it doesn't want to do!—and the only difference is where the non-Rose semis are held. Which is "never Michigan Stadium or anywhere else on a college campus."
In no way is the system with home games worse for the Rose than this one, except sometimes it hosts semifinals that may or may not have Pac-12 and Big Ten teams in them. Which the Rose hates. This is in fact a worse system for preserving the ancestral heritage of the Rose Bowl so pined for in that infamous teleconference above. With the Rose actively trying to back out of its appointed number of semifinal slots, keeping the Rose "part of the equation" clearly can't have anything to do with making a path to the national title.
Conclusion: the Big Ten got pwned at the negotiating table and came back with this Rose Bowl sob story as a face-saving cover. The the face-saving cover is total fiction, but this is not a group of folks above stretching their view of the world to fit whichever narrative makes them look like a proactive accomplisher.
PS: 2.0 space engagement dongle
BABY PLEASE DON'T GO
Burkedate. You've probably seen this from Beilein:
My coaching staff and I have met with Trey and his parents several times over the past two weeks. Collectively, we have gathered and shared with each of them some necessary information that we feel will help Trey make the most informed decision for his future.
The Burke family has been very receptive to our assistance and appreciates that we have encouraged Trey to take his time and look at all of his options between now and the April 10 deadline.
With only one full week of classes remaining, Trey and his teammates, like all students at Michigan, are working diligently to complete their assignments and prepare for final exams.
Hopefully we can exhale about that Guptill tweet. A reader noted that "move sci" is one of those massive 101-level lectures that doesn't take attendance and probably has as multiple choice exam—ah, Anthro 101 fulfilling my R&E requirement. Burke's probably not missing anything other than quality time with the Daily crossword.
As for where the needle's pointing on a departure, it hasn't moved since yesterday when the forecast called for despair with a small pocket of hope starting at about 3 PM. I don't have anything new, and given the situation anything other than an official declaration one way or the other is going to be worth little.
Go Ferris. Ferris State beat Union yesterday to advance to the NCAA hockey championship game against a rampant BC. For state pride and underdog status and to put the Ferris program on solid footing in the coming hockey New World Order, a Bulldog championship would be sweet. The game is tomorrow at 7 on ESPN2.
In danger. Josh Furman's absence from practice has been attributed to "administrative" issues that aren't academic, and this gives off a whiff of doghouse:
When asked how safety Josh Furman has been doing during camp, Mattison reversed course and said Michigan head coach Brady Hoke would have to answer that.
Dollars to donuts Furman's got a strike or two to his name. Being held out of spring practice is not a good sign. Meanwhile, Marvin Robinson will plead to a lesser charge in his having-a-"concussion"-that-held-him-out-of-eight-games case. He's practicing, so extrapolate Furman's situation from that.
RELEASE THE MCALBRECHTKEN. It's back to the drawing board for the internet nickname but it looks like the brief, passionate courtship between Michigan and Spike Albrecht will come to a satisfactory conclusion. The NWI Times reports that he's "expected to sign" today—should be "commit" since the signing period doesn't start for a few days. Coach quote:
"Spike always played at a high level for us," Swan said, "but to see what he did at the highest level of prep school ball this past year, that was remarkable.
"I know the Michigan staff is very excited about Spike and I know I am really happy for him. He's worked really hard for this opportunity."
Finally we have our revenge on Appalachian State. Can we cancel that game now?
Albrecht's presumed commitment gives Michigan a point guard in the event of a Burke departure; they've still got one or two open slots for 2012 depending on how that goes and a third scholarship they could spend on a grad-year transfer. Speaking of…
Another name for the transfer mill. Boston College's Matt Humphrey has decided to spend his last year of eligibility elsewhere. He's more of a wing or shooting guard and did not stand out amongst the wreckage that was BC's most recent season, but he was their second-leading scorer. BC Interruption on his game:
Humphrey was an enigma during his times with the Eagles. At times he was the offensive and defensive rock for BC, providing veteran leadership to a very young and inexperienced team. On the other hand he was impatient (shooting 35% from the field), and averaged two turnovers a game. He also showed an impatient fiery streak, sometimes making big turnovers in crucial moments.
As literally the only non-freshman who played more than a third of BC's minutes, it's hard to judge how he'd contribute to a better team. BC was 9-22 last year. His efficiency numbers are poor—he was 40% from 2, 31% from three—but shot selection had a lot to do with that. Presumably the shots would be better here.
With a BC degree in hand the academics shouldn't be a problem.
Why do you keep hitting yourself? Ramzy posts up an 84-year-old OSU program written by Brady Hoke:
You there with the helmet: go forth and show that beaver subphylum what Ohio is all about. Well done.
Insert usual amusement at OSU fans getting terribly peeved about That School Up North not calling them by their official name. Not Ramzy in particular, just, you know, them.
Seven teams, pi semifinals, one and a half finals: The Delany Plan. I don't have to mention that Jim Delany's ludicrous three-semifinal plan for a "plus one" is ludicrous, right? This is how that would have looked the past five years:
Semifinals: No. 1 LSU-No. 5 Oregon (replacing Stanford), No. 2 Alabama-No. 3 Oklahoma State
Rose Bowl: No. 4 Stanford-No. 10 Wisconsin
Semifinals: No. 1 Auburn-No. 6 Ohio State (replacing Wisconsin), No. 3 TCU-No. 4 Stanford
Rose Bowl: No. 2 Oregon-No. 5 Wisconsin
Semifinals: No. 2 LSU-No. 5 Georgia (replacing Ohio State), No. 3 Virginia Tech-No. 4 Oklahoma
Rose Bowl: No. 1 Ohio State-No. 7 USC
The Rose Bowl has survived years in which it's lost one of its tenants to the national title game just fine. Over the last five years it would have had to replace three of its eight berths with… 11-1 Michigan (2007), 11-1 Stanford (2010), and 10-2 Oregon(2011). The Rose Bowl will survive a move to a four-team playoff just fine.
Tom Fornelli has the plan I endorse anyway.
Think of the children. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott surveys his players for their desires in re: playoff:
While the players expressed a range of opinions, the "common thread" was their desire for some form of playoff. "If you're a competitor, you want a chance to play for it on the field, versus being voted for. That was made loud and clear," said Scott.
This has long been the case but now it matters because people have to backtrack on their lame justifications of the previous system.
Kind of, yes. Joe Nocera's been hammering the NCAA for months now but never has he taken on a more harpoon-worthy whale than that condescending ad you learned to hate over the course of the NCAA tournament. Not the Spandeau Ballet one. The other one:
If you’ve been watching the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball championship — a k a March Madness — you’ve undoubtedly seen the commercial. It’s an N.C.A.A. ad that shows college athletes pumping iron, running sprints and playing games. The voice-over, though, talks not about athletic achievement but academic accomplishment. “African-American males who are student-athletes are 10 percent more likely to graduate,” says the narrator. As the ad concludes, a female athlete looks into the camera and says, “Still think we’re just a bunch of dumb jocks?”
Well… it appears you can't do math:
But Richard Southall, who directs the College Sport Research Institute at the University of North Carolina — along with two colleagues, E. Woodrow Eckard of the University of Colorado-Denver and Mark Nagel at the University of South Carolina — have done rigorous studies that show the opposite. In comparing college basketball players with their true peer group — full-time college students — their data show that the athletes are 20 percent less likely to graduate than nonathletes. They also parsed the data by race: of the teams in this year’s March Madness, for instance, the black athletes are 33 percent less likely to graduate than nonathletes.
There are a lot of good reasons this may be. By the time a lot of players get to college they've been set up to struggle. But the relationship between money, prestige, and cut corners is clear.
Etc.: ESPN revamps its 2012 basketball rankings a final time. GRIII is #18, McGary #27, Stauskas #76. The overall class has dipped to #11. The OHL Draft is this weekend. Keep an eye on where commits Kyle Connor and Dylan Larkin go—the lower the better. More Albrecht scouting from people hitting up the full-game youtube videos of his team playing. An early look at the Alabama offense.