Good morning. The Rammer Jammer is a daily rundown of everything you need to know about Alabama athletics, published every weekday morning.
Lane Kiffin was officially introduced as Florida Atlantic’s next head coach at a press conference on Tuesday. Introductory press conferences are generally mundane affairs — the coach-elect answers some routine questions about his future staff, his vision for the program and why he thinks the team can win a championship under his guidance. Motivational headlines get written, everybody goes home jazzed up for the future, signature hashtags get their life.
Kiffin’s took on more meaning than that. For a coach with a long history of causing trouble for himself by his public statements, this was the first test he had to pass to begin to convince the public he was ready to be a head coach again. For those who followed his image rehabilitation at Alabama, it was a chance to parse the subtext for any lessons absorbed from Nick Saban’s tutelage.
Kiffin clearly wants to convince his audience that he’s a changed coach. His opening sentiment — “It will not be about talk; it will be about work” — speaks to that. He said he made a list for Tom Herman of 32 things he wished he had known when becoming a head coach. His statement about continuing to work for Saban while focusing on FAU when needed is an exact echo of Saban’s own thoughts about pulling double-duty while working as an assistant in the NFL and preparing to become the coach of Michigan State (it’s also an excellent recruiting pitch). He quoted Saban’s philosophy on outside noise — “Why should I waste my time?”— which is really a philosophy on the monomaniacal focus Saban has on his program.
He even adopted Saban’s trademark hand gestures.
I’m not sure I buy that Kiffin would have been back at Alabama next year. I’ve heard Saban and Kiffin praise their relationship and I’ve heard press and others condemn it; I think the truth is somewhere in between.
It’s clear Kiffin is genuinely grateful to Saban for the opportunity he was given. He’s said the same line about his phone not ringing after being fired at USC whenever he’s been asked, and it’s clear he’s considered how much he owes the man (which is not to say that Kiffin’s hiring was an act of charity. Saban benefitted as well). It remains to be seen just how much of a difference the last three years have made.
- Every day for the next two weeks, we’re counting down the top 10 players of Alabama’s season. Tuesday: No. 9 Cam Robinson.
- In recruiting news, Alabama landed the JUCO top defensive end out of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
- Former Alabama director of player personnel Geoff Collins will become Temple’s head coach, according to multiple reports. He was most recently Florida’s defensive coordinator.
- Kiffin’s replacement at Alabama will have to be as flexible as his predecessor, from AL.com’s Rainer Sabin.
- Incidentally, Kiffin and his staff at Tennessee were once banned from a school near FAU after he insulted its town.
- Michael Casagrande asked several of college football’s high-profile players to weigh in on Jalen Hurts’ freshman season.
- Six Alabama players are CBS All-Americans.
- Star recruit Tua Tagovailoa is the Gatorade Player of the Year for Hawaii.
- Guess who’s the quarterback for 247Sports true freshman All-American team?
- Washington coach Chris Petersen called Alabama ‘probably the best college team I’ve seen.’
- Alabama will have Big Ten referees in the Peach Bowl.
Your MVP and a new poll
Last we asked, “Who was Alabama’s best player in the regular season?” 74 percent of you selected Jonathan Allen. 15 percent selected Jalen Hurts, while 10 percent went for ArDarius Stewart. A sad 1 percent went for Damien Harris.
This is about what I was expecting, although I’m a little surprised by the blowout. I thought Hurts would do better, but Allen is by far the best player on the team, and I’m not sure I recall a play where he made a notable mistake. He’s a top-5 NFL pick, certainly, and Alabama fans do love their defensive linemen.
The poll for this week requires a little more input on your part. I want to know which non-playoff bowl intrigues you the most, whether from a storyline, gambling or tangentially-Alabama-related point of view. Don’t restrict yourself to the three I’ve selected. You can check the full schedule here.
Built by Bama
- Landon Collins, Dont’a Hightower and Julio Jones were named to the ProFootballFocus Pro Bowl teams.
- JaMychal Green recorded 8 rebounds in 29 minutes and went 1 for 10 from the field as Memphis lost to Cleveland.
Need a gift idea?
Firestone has signed a licensing deal with Alabama to make Crimson Tide tires, starts at $139 each pic.twitter.com/3OLU0WQl2G
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) December 14, 2016
Around the Capstone
- Baseball season tickets are on sale.