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Shareef O’Neal, Greg Byrne to attend Arizona-Alabama basketball game

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Byrne returns to Tucson, while O’Neal takes another unofficial visit

Oregon State v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Some folks have referred to Saturday’s basketball game between the Arizona Wildcats and Alabama Crimson Tide as the Byrne Bowl.

That’s when Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne will return to Tucson to watch his current employer take on his previous employer. Greg Hansen of the Arizona Daily Star wrote that Byrne will sit behind the Alabama bench.

It will be interesting to see if Arizona showcases Byrne’s return and what the reaction will be if it does.

Byrne, the AD at Arizona from 2010-2017, was endeared in Tucson before his departure last January, but it seems the public perception of him has soured a bit after a couple scandals — the track and field one and the FBI basketball recruiting one — came to light shortly after he left.

While Byrne did not hire Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller, he hired several of the school’s top coaches, including football’s Rich Rodriguez, soccer’s Tony Amato, women’s basketball’s Adia Barnes, and baseball’s Jay Johnson.

“He’s probably going to be wearing the wrong colors so he’s going to have to stand in the tunnel,” Rodriguez joked. “You can be seen with him, but not [mingling] too much with the enemy so to speak. But no, Greg is a great guy and I’m sure he’s happy and he’ll see a lot of people while he’s here.”

Arizona will also be hosting 2018 basketball recruit Shareef O’Neal on an unofficial visit Saturday (and possibly Shaq, too?).

The four-star forward signed with Arizona last month, but inked non-binding financial aid paperwork instead of a traditional National Letter of Intent which means he can still renege from his commitment to Arizona if he so chooses.

The motive for that is so O’Neal has an out if the Arizona program is slapped with any punishment due to its involvement in the FBI recruiting bribery scandal.

In the meantime, O’Neal reaffirmed that he is still “100 percent” committed to Arizona.

“I’m still sticking with the family until something happens,” he told USA Today. “Whatever happens after that happens, but I’m sticking with them right now.”

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Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire