Alabama football: Second scrimmage and NCAA rules headline Easter weekend

Welcome to The Rammer Jammer, SEC Country’s daily Alabama athletics recap. Today, we look at NCAA rule changes, recruiting violations and a frustrating secondary defense. 

I hope Nick Saban’s Easter was relaxing, because the rest of his weekend almost certainly wasn’t.

The NCAA handed down its latest rule changes on Friday. While they included the addition of a 10th on-field assistant, which Saban has long lobbied for, and the restriction on satellite camps that preserves some of his competitive advantage, it also ratified some restrictions on recruiting, camp staff and coaching hires that Saban has publicly harangued. He sees the NCAA’s efforts to inhibit indirect pay for play by hiring a top high school prospect’s coach as unnecessarily restrictive and a softball to teams without the initiative and resources of an Alabama-sized program.

On one count, I have to agree. The NCAA’s rule changes make it essentially impossible for a coach at a school with top recruits, like, say, every 7A high school in Alabama, to break into the collegiate ranks at anything below an on-field position. With the sheer amount of coaching turnover, it makes it dramatically more difficult to bring new coaches into the college game.

The NCAA also eliminated 2-a-day practices but made other concessions that Saban said nullified the NCAA’s supposed intent to increase player safety. 

In other NCAA news, Alabama received minor but inconvenient sanctions related to Bo Davis’s recruiting violations during his time as an Alabama coach. His replacement, Karl Dunbar, is prohibited from certain recruiting activities for a month and Alabama was given a warning and an order to dissociate from a booster — provisions reminiscent of Alabama’s darkest football days.

More seriously, defensive back Deionte Thompson was booked as a so-called ‘fugitive from justice‘ after turning himself over to the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. He’ll be sent home to Texas to face an outstanding warrant for felony assault.

Davis was given a 2-year show cause, which bars him from off-campus recruiting until April 2019. He will remain on staff at UT–San Antonio. 

On the field, Saban dealt with an injury-riddled scrimmage that left him fuming at his secondary — again. 

ICYMI

Built by Bama

Kenyan Drake swapped jerseys with Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson, who Drake has known since boyhood. Jersey swapping is most popular in professional soccer spheres, but Drake has taken the tradition across sports boundaries.

David Robertson got the save for the White Sox after closing a 3-1 win against Minnesota with a scoreless, 2-strikeout inning. For Detroit, catcher Alex Avila is quickly impressing his major league bosses. 

Bud Cauley finished tied for ninth at the RBC Heritage, 9-under for the tournament.

In the NBA playoffs, JaMychal Green was effectively silenced by the San Antonio Spurs, posting 3 points and 1 rebound in 15 minutes as the Grizzlies lost, 111-82.

Around the Capstone

Alabama needed the performance of a lifetime and some helpful results to have a shot at the gymnastics national championship this season. Instead, the wheels came off early and the Gym Tide coasted to a season-ending sixth-place finish. While Alabama had the talent to beat nearly anyone in the country, it never was able to consistently post scores indicative of that, and its finish as the sixth-best team in the country is fair and well-earned. While the season didn’t play to expectations, Alabama still is one of the titans of college gymnastics and the only team to make the Super Six every year for the last decade. 

And Oklahoma was always going to win, anyway.

The softball team dropped a series at Tennessee this weekend, losing Sunday morning on a walk-off home run.

The baseball team couldn’t plate its runners en route to a series sweep against Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide has won just 2 SEC games and is dead last in the conference with half the season to play.

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