Good morning. The Rammer Jammer is a daily rundown of everything you need to know about Alabama athletics, published every weekday morning.
The beginning of bowl season also marked Alabama’s return to practice ahead of the College Football Playoff semifinal. As it looks now, Alabama will field a relatively young team in the Peach Bowl, as the dinged-up team prepares to take on Washington.
Alabama also announced the hiring of Steve Sarkisian as its next offensive coordinator on Friday. According to practice reports, he’s already supervising practices. Sarkisian’s promotion, apparent as it seemed all season long, is a rebuttal to the notion that Nick Saban has grown tired of Lane Kiffin’s play-calling and offensive philosophy. If anything, Sarkisian has been more aggressive in developing packaged plays and no-huddle offenses.
But where Kiffin was an offensive idealist, endlessly devoted to stretching the offense ahead of the game-draining runs in the second half, Sarkisian is slightly more pragmatic. When he took over at USC, Sarkisian managed to retain his offensive philosophy of fast-paced, defense-stretching action, while embracing the power run game suited for USC’s personnel.
Of course, Sarkisian’s promotion raises the specter of his firing from USC. Sarkisian was infamously terminated as coach of the Trojans as his alcoholism spiraled out of control. Now, a year later, Sarkisian is in treatment and fully deserving of a second chance. As Cecil Hurt writes more ably than I could, the Sarkisian hire deserves the benefit of the doubt.
At USC, Sarkisian’s drinking problem was actively ignored and swept under the rug for “the good of the program.” At Alabama, there is no secret to be kept. Where he was cut off from his “football family at USC,” the health of the Alabama program depends on the support Sarkisian receives. It is in everyone’s best interest — not least their basic human interest — for Sarkisian’s recovery to be spectacularly successful.
- In my favorite story of the weekend, Tommy Deas talked to Chris Ault, mastermind of the pistol offense, about Lane Kiffin’s use of the jet sweep, and why it works.
- Defensive lineman Dakota Ball shot his finger. With a gun. On accident. One assumes.
- Reuben Foster was starstruck when he met Dick Butkus last month.
- For more practice coverage, Travis Reier of BamaOnline has video and analysis from Sunday’s session.
- Roll Bama Roll’s tribute to Alabama’s seniors continues with Adam Griffith.
Our guy FunnyMaine hasn’t abandoned us ahead of the Peach Bowl. He’s back this weekend with “How Bama fans watched the early bowl games.”
Built by Bama
— Mark Ingram II (@MarkIngram22) December 18, 2016
- Today, in much ado about nothing, Mark Ingram yelled at Saints coach Sean Payton after getting pulled on the 1-yard line. Ingram finished with 78 yards on 17 carries and 14 receiving yards on 2 catches as the Saints beat Arizona, 48-41.
- Derrick Henry carried the ball 9 times for 58 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Titans beat the Chiefs.
- With Shaun Dion Hamilton out with a torn ACL, Rashaan Evans will start in the College Football Playoff. To Saban, there’s no reason to worry about that.
- Marcell Dareus guaranteed his Bills would beat the Browns. He was right.
- Former Auburn DB Jerraud Powers thinks current teammate and Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley is good at football. Agree.
- Mosley posted 13 tackles in a Baltimore win on Sunday.
- T.J. Yeldon recorded 28 rushing yards on 8 carries and 34 receiving yards on 5 catches as the Jaguars fell to Houston, 21-20.
- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix picked off 2 passes as Green Bay beat Chicago, 30-27.
- In basketball, JaMychal Green posted a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds in 32 minutes as Memphis lost to Utah, 82-73.
What to watch: Bowl edition
Bowl season continues with The Miami Beach Bowl, featuring Central Michigan (6-6) against Tulsa (9-3). Tulsa is favored by 12.5 points, which is a sizable spread. If you’re wondering why you should care about a game like this, know that the over/under is set at 70, and each team has an explosive offensive that is worth a watch. CMU’s quarterback Cooper Rush stands just short of 3,300 yards on the season, while Tulsa features a 1,500-yard running back/1,000-yard wide receiver tandem of James Flanders and Keevan Lucas. The game kicks off on ESPN at 2:30 p.m. ET, for some reason.