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New Alabama AD Greg Byrne

Alabama football: Alabama wanted Greg Byrne, so it went and got him

Welcome to The Rammer Jammer, SEC Country’s daily Alabama football recap. Today, we look at Alabama’s new athletic director, gymnastics ranking and a memento from coach Paul Bryant. 

Details of Alabama’s pursuit of its newest leader emerged in the cold light of day on Monday. Cecil Hurt of The Tuscaloosa News reported that Alabama was so set on hiring current Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne to replace current Alabama AD Bill Battle that it accelerated Battle’s departure date twice to secure his signing.

And for good reason. As Kevin Scarbinsky writes, the hiring of Byrne could change the complexion of Alabama athletics, creating the kind of universal success that Alabama has flirted with but never enjoyed as consistently as schools like Florida and Oklahoma. That’s why Dennis Dodd of CBS said the hire ‘indicates Alabama wants to be the best at everything.’

He also has great taste in music.

Hurt’s story also notes that Byrne came to Tuscaloosa to meet with Nick Saban last week, receiving the esteemed coach’s sign-off. This bodes well for their working relationship and reaffirms that no matter what, football, and the football coach, is king in Tuscaloosa. Saban won’t be bossing around Byrne, but Byrne will also be smart enough to leave one of the great coaches in college football history to run his program and sign the checks when needed.

Of course, Byrne is a long-term solution for Alabama at athletic director, so it’s important that he have a healthy working relationship with his coaches. The fact that Saban was consulted indicates — at least, in my opinion — that the coach hasn’t indicated any plan to retire in the near future, despite any speculation. If the two only had two seasons to work together, Saban’s input wouldn’t really have been important. Another half-decade or more, however, demands a meeting.

ICYMI

Sticking the landing

The Alabama gymnastics team remained No. 4 in the national rankings with an average score of 196.9. The Tide rank behind Oklahoma (197.888), LSU (197.7) and Florida (197.5). Utah and UCLA are close behind. In individual rankings, Kiana Winston is ranked fifth in all-around competition, averaging 39.55. National teamer and Olympic alternate Maggie Nicholas of Oklahoma leads that category at 39.737.

Alabama is ranked seventh on vault, fifth on uneven bars, fourth on balance beam and fourth on floor exercise.

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