Hi, Alabama and Auburn fans. Remember basketball? It's time to fall in love with the game again.
I know college basketball is just a diversion between the three major sports, football season, recruiting season and spring football. And I know the Iron Bowl is looming, lopsided as it will be.
Maybe you've had a brief fling with basketball in the past. Maybe it was way back when Charles Barkley was the round mound of rebound at Auburn. Or when Wimp Sanderson was scowling on the Alabama sideline and wore those sport coats that looked like bachelor-pad upholstery.
It's time to start paying attention to basketball again.
Now, neither Alabama nor Auburn burst impressively out of the gate. It's still a long way to national prominence for two programs building on flimsy foundations. But it's headed that way, primarily because of two dynamic coaches, both of which were bold hires by the directors of athletics.
Auburn hired Bruce Pearl last season. He atoned for his NCAA sins at Tennessee. He shook hands and kissed babies and campaigned his way into Mr. Popularity on campus.
Then Alabama did the best it could to match or trump Pearl. Bill Battle hired Avery Johnson, with his impressive NBA resume and exposure on ESPN. Recruits will see Johnson as a help-me-up into pro basketball.
Both guys can coach. Pearl won an SEC title and led Tennessee to the Sweet 16. Johnson took a team to the NBA Finals and was the league's coach of the year.
With these guys, the basketball version of the Iron Bowl is fixing to get real, real interesting and fun.
You used to have crush on basketball? It's time to fall in love now.