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TRips: Three Monday thoughts

Apparently, the Lurleen B. Wallace Bridge was repairable after all. Either that or Lance Thompson's return to Tuscaloosa will include a car jump the likes of which we haven't seen since the movie Hooper.

In 2008, Thompson played a large role in assembling one of college football's all-time recruiting classes.

Following a departure for the greener (as in greenbacks) pastures of east Tennessee in January 2009, a move at the time seemed to have nixed any chance for a return, Thompson will reportedly rejoin the Crimson Tide coaching staff.

Alabama fans still seething over the manner in which Thompson left UA for one of their team's fiercest rivals best get over it. With Sal Sunseri taking the Thompson Train to Knoxville, Alabama was in need of a top-notch recruiter who can double as a serviceable assistant coach.

Enter Thompson.


Has it really been three years since Thompson vowed UT would "own Memphis" in recruiting? To say a lot has happened since Thompson made that statement would be, well, an understatement.

Since 2009, Alabama has captured two national titles, with both teams featuring key Thompson recruits (Trent Richardson, Mark Barron, Julio Jones, etc ...). Meanwhile, the Vols have compiled an 18-20 mark, a stretch that saw UT post one winning season.

History will show that Lance got Lane'd while Sal got the rings.

Moving forward, with Sunseri taking over as defensive boss at UT and working off the assumption that Thompson will return to his previous UA post as outside linebackers coach, should this be considered an even swap between Derek Dooley and Nick Saban?

In terms of recruiting, Sunseri was very productive on the road, but it's unlikely Alabama will miss a beat with Thompson back in the fold. On the practice field, Sunseri, who made no secret of his desire to coach the Thompson out of UA's jack and strongside linebackers after joining the staff in 2009, has no peer.

The question is, will Sunseri prove to be as effective as a defensive coordinator as he was as a position coach? While a coach with a resume as impressive as Sunseri's is a good bet to succeed, without previous FCS level coordinator experience, there are no guarantees.

From the UA perspective, the presence of defensive line coach Chris Rumph will help ease the blow of Sunseri's departure.The guy understands pass rush and is a good recruiter in his own right.

While all the right things will be said in regards to the third installment of the Thompson-UA trilogy, you wonder if he cringes when recalling a comment he made to a group of UT supporters the day after Signing Day in 2009.

“(Saban) ain’t getting any more of my (recruits),” Thompson said on February 5, 2009.

As Thompson would now attest, never say "never" when it comes to college football recruiting.

REPLACING THE QUARTERBACKS SIDE OF COACH MAC: If Washington offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier does indeed sign on to replace Jim McElwain, he'll step into some pretty big shoes, especially where quarterback coaching is concerned.

Here is a sampling of what the position accomplished under McElwain:

*Each of McElwain's three starting signal callers, John Parker Wilson, Greg McElroy and A.J. McCarron, played in 1 vs. 2 matchups.

*McElwain's three starting quarterbacks at UA each had an efficiency rating of 122.3 or higher.

*McElroy and McCarron each won national championships.

*McElroy earned 2009 SEC championship game most valuable player honors.

*McCarron was tabbed offensive MVP of the BCS national championship game.

There likely won't be a significant difference in Alabama's post-McElwain offensive approach, but it'll be interesting to see if the next guy can maintain UA's momentum at quarterback.

Replacing McElwain won't be easy, but Nussmeier's background suggests he'll do well in Tuscaloosa. In addition to spending five seasons in the NFL as a backup quarterback, the 41-year-old mentored Jake Locker and Keith Price at UW; Marc Bulger of the NFL's St. Louis Rams; and Drew Stanton and Jeff Smoker at Michigan State.

NO SAFETY IN NUMBERS: While both players had very good seasons, it wasn't the best of weekends for former UA safeties Roman Harper and Charlie Peprah. Not only were their teams eliminated in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, the New Orleans and Green Bay defenses gave up a combined 629 passing yards and six touchdown passes in season-ending losses to San Francisco and New York.

Both Harper and Peprah were involved in plays that went a long way in deciding the outcome for their respective teams.

San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis caught seven passes for 180 yards and two scores, including the game winner with nine seconds remaining, against Harper's Saints, while Peprah and the Pack secondary gave up a Hail Mary touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Hakeem Nicks on the final play of the first half.

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