Alabama football coach Nick Saban shouts during Saturday afternoon's practice in Tuscaloosa, which was the fifth spring workout for the Crimson Tide.

Saban rant

"The person that loses in that is the player."

That's how Nick Saban ended his rant over the weekend when discussing players entering the NFL draft early.

He quoted stats — 380 or so players declared early over the last five years, Saban said, and half are out of the league in three years — and pointed fingers about the BID-ness that is the NFL and mentioned agents and whatnot. (Actually the number of underclassmen from 2014-18 to enter the draft was 479 and 155 went undrafted.)  

And for players who leave early and do not get drafted, yes, that hurts the player.

But players leaving early also hurts the program, and Saban knows that very well. All coaches do, and to not even mention that hollows out the original point of his rant in a lot of ways because it screams disingenuous in some ways.

Saban even said he has changed how he talked to recruits now, and he said he makes sure to tell players the reason they  go to college is for the days you can no longer play football not as a conduit to the NFL.

Again, that's fine, but for any college football coach to pretend his motives in this are altruistic and pure is at best disingenuous and at worst a bold-face lie.

Saban is not recruiting players who have the dreams of a college degree. He's recruiting elite athletes who have dreams of, designs on and a very good shot at playing in the NFL. And he's great at it.

But he also aims to get every player's replacement before said player leaves. Ask Jalen Hurts. And again, in a sport this violent where injuries have to be the expectation, Saban's ability to stack depth and make five-stars wait and reload every season is the reason he is the best ever. Ever.

And players leaving early damages that process, and we all know how much Nick loves the process. (And don't even get us started on how hypocritical it is to have a history of processing players and then complain about the one avenue in the entire process in which players actually have the power of choice.)

Plus, to try to pigeon hole every player leaving early into one category is grossly short-sighted.

What if a kid is struggling? What if a guy has a family? What if his mom or grandma needs money? What if they are worried about injury or even the hot-shot five-star recruit Saban or Kirby or Dabo is bringing in behind them? What if they are concerned about the miles on their tires and the beatings on their bodies and are trying to cash checks now?

We could go on, and here's betting that underclassmen would be more open to staying if they were paid six-figures so that Alabama can earn nine figures in football. But no one will ever toss that one out in that format would they?

Saban is not wrong of course. The players who go undrafted and leave without a degree are hurt in this process.

But so is the program, and Saban is paid greatly — actually we have always said he's underpaid at any price — to care about the program first and forever.

Does he care about his players? Absolutely he does. More than most of the elite-level coaches in my opinion

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Corey Conners celebrates after winning the Valero Texas Open on Sunday, securing the final available spot in the Masters.


What a week. 

If you haven't been, I'm sorry. If you get a chance, take it. It's worth the effort and the coin.

Hey, I have I mentioned recently that I've played Augusta National? Two times in fact.

Keith Mitchell, the former Baylor School and UGa star, has also played it numerous times. Here's TFP all-around ace David Paschall on Mitchell getting ready for his Masters debut. (The last time we chatted with Mitchell on Press Row, he was finishing up plans on getting in a big-money game with Phil Mickelson and dem boys in a practice round.) 

OK, Masters contest. Let's cover the rules of the Masterfully Mastering the Masterpiece that is the Masters Challenge.

Pick five golfers. Top four count, and the lowest score wins. (If you pick the winner, the runner-up, and two dudes that tied for fifth and a guy who missed the cut, the scoring would be 1-2-5-5 and your score of 13 would almost assuredly win. The missed cut would be wiped away as the top four count.)

Any questions? I need the entries by end of business Wednesday. Deal? Deal.

As for my picks, well, glad you asked. I'm going Tiger, Rory, Dustin, Keith Mitchell (heart pick) and.

Jordan Spieth.

Yes, I know his swing is rickety right now. Yes, I know he fights 8-footers like pre-teen siblings. Yes, I know the demons will be there. (More on that in a moment in our Masters Rushmore.)  

And yes, I know Spieth is dropping in the world rankings without a parachute. 

But, this is Augusta, and there is no substitute for course knowledge and recollections of success. Spite's finish in his five Masters: third, T-11th, T-2, win, T-2, and in a contest like this, that type of consistency is a huge plus.

Masters history lesson: OK, if Tiger is in contention on Sunday, well, hide the women and children. It will be a monster.

But Tiger at 43, fighting Father Time and the tots who have emulated his waggle-whack-wedge game which in a lot of ways was crafted to attack par-5s at places like Augusta is tough. And history is not on his side.

There have been 447 majors in golf history. There have been 14 winners who were 43 or older. That's roughly three percent of the tournaments. There has been exactly one — Mickelson at the 2013 Open Championship — in the last 23 years.

Happy Masters Week everyone. (Ty Jerome double-dribbled.)  

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Former Tennessee head coach, Phillip Fulmer, is seen an NCAA college football game between Tennessee and South Carolina Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Rocky times avoid?

UT kept one hoops coach and reportedly hired another Monday. 

As TFP ace sports columnist Mark Wiedmer writes here it was a big day for the biggest of UT supports and athletic department honcho Phil Fulmer. And Weeds is right because if you lose a hoops coach and Jeremy Pruitt becomes the dean of your three major programs as he approaches year two, well, that puts a lot of things in flux.

So Fulmer convinces Rick Barnes to stay. Be it more coin for Barnes or his staff (or some of both) or commitments to facilities or what have you, the simple scoreboard says, "Fulmer 1, UCLA 0" and the horn sounded.

Then reports came that the Lady Vols have hired Kellie Harper. Here's more on the latter from Gene of Many Hats Henley, the TFP UT beat ace. 

So instead of two openings. Fulmer and the Vols have none. That's a full days work.

But, these moves are linked beyond the location of the vocations. UCLA's plummet to program purgatory is astounding, and they wanted Barnes to reverse that trend.

And to be fair, UCLA needs to hire someone close to Barnes' 63 years so they can remember the glory days of Bruins blazing beatdowns and the Wizard of Westwood. Now, we have to review whether UCLA is truly an elite program anymore considering the number of folks turning down the chance.

Which leads us to the Lady Vols, who have taken a downward turn since being the class of women's college basketball under Pat Summitt.

Here's hoping that Harper is the answer. Because there was a time when UCLA men and Tennessee women in basketball circles were the pinnacle and a comparison to either was the most elite of compliments.

Now, no one wants to be compared to the current state of UCLA hoops, especially a Lady Vols program that really knows the reaches of that summit of excellence.

This and that 

— In a title game that was supposed to be sluggish title game between the two best defensive teams in the country — it felt like it was 4-3 for the first 10 minutes — Virginia continued to find ways to deliver miracles in the final seconds. Kudos UVa. Ty Jerome double-dribbled.

— Speaking of the NCAA title game, here's hoping the guy who had the $1,500 futures bet on Texas Tech to win it all at 200-to-1 (yes, that's 300K) hedged his wager big time. Like a six-figure bet on Virginia on the money line big time.

— Well, we know one fan base that does not like Chuck Barkley. Here's the Chuckster getting booed Monday night in Minnesota. Granted it was after he said the Timberwolves suck. Chuck going to Chuck gang.

— Dwyane Wade plays his final game in Miami tonight. Some of you know how much I enjoy the Dan LeBatard Show on ESPN radio. I know a lot of folks who loathe it. But I am not sure how many folks know how good a writer Dan LeBatard was before doing full-time radio. Here's his latest work, thanking Wade for his imprint and lasting legacy on the Heat and the entire city of Miami. 

— Speaking of D-Wade, heard this morning that he has made it known that he is seeing a therapist to handle the transition into retirement and I think that is brilliant and very self-aware. In fact, the leagues should make that available for any player that wants that because going from D-Wade, NBA superstar and super-attention-getting dude to Dwyane, dad and guy in line at Starbucks waiting for a Cup o' Joe seems like it could be a challenge. 

— Oh my Chris Davis. In the longest hitless streak in the history of Major League Baseball, Davis, the Baltimore first baseman with a $160-plus-million contract, is now 0-for-his-last-49. It's a streak that spans this year — he's 0-for-28 with 15 Ks — and last. He has 29 Ks in the 49 at-bats. Davis' last hit was Sept. 14, 2018, and since then, according to ESPN Stats & Info, 75 hits have been recorded by pitchers, including three from Brewers pitcher Brandon Woodruff; Christian Yelich has 36 hits, 12 homers and 35 RBIs; and Martin Prado has not struck out.

— Braves are playing well. And Ronald Acuna sent a first-inning rocket into right-center. Hey, there are a lot of entertaining things in sports, and watching Acuna hit is high on my list. 

Today's questions

True or false? We'll say true. It's a Tuesday.

True or false, tens of thousands of dollars will be wagered in Phil Mickelson's big-money game today.

True or false, Saban's biggest concern in his rant was his players not his program.

True or false, UCLA men's basketball has fallen more than any college sports basketball or football program.

As for today, well, April 9 is the day that would have been Hugh Hefner's birthday. He would have been 93. See Ballesteros would have been 62.

General Lee surrendered on this day in 1865.

All the President's Men was released on this day in 1976.

OK, Monday was the best shots in Masters history. Today, let's do a Rushmore of the most worst shots in Masters history.