Morning Kickoff: Crimson Tide News 3/20


Get your day started with the Morning Kickoff. All your Crimson Tide news in one place.

Alabama Football: How Defensive Injuries Will Impact Crimson Tide’s Spring

"Alabama will be a little short-handed on the defensive side of the ball this spring.Cornerback Cyrus Jones and linebacker Denzel Devall—two regular defensive starters and rising seniors—will miss the spring with injuries suffered during the season, according to an announcement from Alabama coach Nick Saban after Friday’s first session of the spring. Devall had foot surgery while Jones had cartilage in his hip repaired.These two injuries aren’t the end of the world by any means. In fact, long-term, they may end up being blessings in disguise."

Good look from Marc Torrence on any problems injuries could cause on the defensive side of the ball.

In basketball, Alabama must make an investment

"The University of Alabama Athletic Department surprised me Sunday afternoon.I was not expecting the administration to let men’s basketball coach Anthony Grant go after the team’s second disappointing year in a row. Reports from various media outlets in the State of Alabama indicated he would be retained for a seventh season in Tuscaloosa, Ala.There was much backlash from Crimson Tide hoops fans at this time a year ago when it was confirmed Grant would be coming back after a 13-19 (7-11) season with no postseason berth. After taking over prior to the 2009-10 season, Grant went 63-39 in his first three years, including leading the team to the NIT finals in 2011 and making the NCAA Tournament the following year. But the Tide was bounced in its opening game of the tournament and never made it back in Grant’s final three seasons.After six seasons, Grant was never able to build a team that consistently won meaningful games and played in meaningful postseason games. Players began to transfer, and Auburn decided to hire Bruce Pearl last offseason, injecting excitement into a floundering Tiger program.Meanwhile, Alabama basketball fans had mostly lost faith in Grant, whose results weren’t satisfactory. To make matters worse, Grant did nothing in his time at Alabama to promote the program, an unspoken requirement when you coach basketball in a football state."

There is no reason a basketball coach can’t be successful here. Give the right man the control and let him go with it. Bring Saban in with the interviews. Sign a wanted coach and let it roll. If the rumors of offering $4 million a year are right, at least Battle is taking the steps to get it done. You can’t fault the man at all.

Alabama heralded freshman quarterback Blake Barnett ‘thrives on competition’

"The scholarship offer from Alabama came last February during the buildup to Barnett’s senior season, three months after Barnett verbally committed to Notre Dame following a trip to South Bend for the Fighting Irish’s game against USC.Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly had called Barnett and his family into his office prior to the game and told Barnett, “You have something that’s unique and special. And because of that, I’m going to offer you a full scholarship to the University of Notre Dame.”Excited about playing at a tradition rich school with the history of Notre Dame, Barnett committed weeks later.The second thoughts came later on, and Barnett told his father that he wanted to decommit immediately after receiving the offer from Alabama during a phone call with offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.Barnett decommitted from Notre Dame following a visit to his favorite school growing up, Oregon, in early June. The Barnetts were in Maryland for the Rivals 100 Five-Star Challenge days later when Lance got a text from Kiffin asking for the elder Barnett to call him.“So I called him,” Lance said, “and he said, ‘Hey, we saw that Blake decommitted, and we’d really like to get you guys down here for a visit. We’ve always been really high on you, but we respected your commitment to Notre Dame. Now that he’s decommitted, we want to show you what we have to offer.'”"

Great stuff from on freshman quarterback Blake Barnett.

CECIL HURT: John Brannen making best of a tough situation

"Somewhere in America, someone might be coaching under tougher circumstances than John Brannen — although I can’t imagine who that might be.Even if there is someone in such tough circumstances, it is hard to imagine that they are handling it any better than Brannen, the University of Alabama assistant-turned-interim basketball coach in charge of the Crimson Tide’s NIT appearance.Most assistant coaches dream of being a head coach at some point, but Brannen would never have wanted this kind of promotion. Former UA head coach Anthony Grant was more than a boss for Brannen. Grant was a long-time mentor and friend. Brannen’s loyalty and his respect for Grant is obvious and understandable. He even asked for Grant’s approval before taking the interim post."

Cecil Hurt doing what he always does – telling it like it is. Brannen had those boys playing out of their mind during the first round of the NIT.

Barnes 4th in Women’s Hammer on Opening Day of John Mitchell Alabama Relays

"Nia Barnes opened action at the 2015 John Mitchell Alabama Relays for the Alabama Crimson Tide on Thursday afternoon with a fourth-place finish in the women’s hammer throw. Barnes was the lone Crimson Tide athlete in action on Thursday, the first day of the annual track meet at the Sam Bailey Track & Field Complex on the campus of the University of Alabama."

Swimmer Starts Women’s NCAA Championships Off with School Record

"The Alabama swimming and diving team wasted no time in breaking a school record on day one of the Women’s NCAA Championships being held in Greensboro, N.C., this weekend. Sophomore Bailey Scott lowered her own school mark in the 50 freestyle as the leadoff of the Tide’s 200 freestyle relay, the meet’s first race."

Women’s Tennis Continues Conference Season vs. LSU and Texas A&M

"The No. 9 Alabama women’s tennis team will play its final two road matches of the 2015 regular season when it travels to LSU and Texas A&M for a pair of conference matches vs. the Tigers and Aggies. The Crimson Tide (12-3, 4-2 SEC) will square off with the Tigers on Friday at 4:00 p.m. CT in Baton Rouge, before a 12:00 p.m. CT first serve vs. the Aggies on Sunday in College Station."

Men’s Tennis Hosts Trio of Matches This Weekend

"The No. 60 men’s tennis team (12-10, 2-3 SEC) returns home this weekend for a trio of matches, hosting No. 23 LSU (13-3, 3-2 SEC) on Friday, March 20, at 5 p.m. CT before welcoming No. 7 Texas A&M (9-3, 4-1 SEC) and Mercer (7-9) for a doubleheader on Sunday, March 22, at 1 p.m. CT and 5 p.m. CT, respectively. Matches will be played at the Alabama Tennis Stadium, and admission is free."