Tag:Nick Saban
Posted on: March 8, 2012 1:40 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Alabama

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Alabama.

Spring Practice Starts: March 9

Spring Game: April 14

Returning starters: 7 offensive, 4 defensive, 2 specialists

Three Things To Look For:

1. Motivation level at low Tide? Ask Nick Saban what the difference was between his 2009 and 2011 national titlists on one side and his 2010 disappointments on the other (for a given definition of "disappointment," of course), and he'll tell you that the former teams were driven, focused squads that put everything into their practice time, and the latter was a little too happy with the previous year's championship. We'd argue the bigger difference was the mile-deep rivers of experience that flowed through the Tide defense in '09 and '11, rivers that helped convert Saban's frightening stockpile of talent into two of the better defensive units in college football history ... but that's neither here nor there, really, since that talent is still there in abundance. Even if the experience isn't, if the Tide adopt the work ethic of their recent champions, there's no reason they can't at least approach their success, too. Spring will give us our first glance if that's the case or not. 

2. How well are the defensive holes being plugged? Of course, no matter how many four- and five-star studs are waiting in the wings, losing Mark Barron, Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Dre Kirkpatrick, Josh Chapman, DeQuan Menzie and Jerrell Harris is still losing Mark Barron, Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Dre Kirkpatrick, Josh Chapman, DeQuan Menzie and Jerrell Harris; the Tide have their work cut for them. It's time to see if Jesse Williams can fill Chapman's shoes, Adrian Hubbard Upshaw's, Trey DePriest Hightower's, etc. The spotlight will be particularly bright on the secondary, where even the return of Robert Lester may not be able to mask losing players --and leaders -- the caliber of Barron and Kirkpatrick.

3. Is T.J. Yeldon the real deal at running back? While owning the nation's No. 1 recruiting class gives Alabama fans plenty of options when it comes to their favorite newcomer, there's probably an especially soft spot in the heart of the Tide faithful -- and a diamond-hard one in the chest of your average Auburn fan -- for early-enrolling freshman running back Yeldon, a five-star recruit who committed to Auburn early and stuck with the Tigers until mere days were left before his enrollment ... whereupon he switched to the Tide. The neutral observer might not blame him, given the opportunity presented to him: with Trent Richardson on his way to the NFL, de facto starter Eddie Lacy out for spring following surgery for turf toe, and one-time star recruit Dee Hart coming back from an ACL tear in spring 2011, it's possible Yeldon could exit spring as the Tide's No. 1 tailback. And given that the last two guys to hold that honor both wound up attending the Heisman Trophy presentation before their careers were out, that would be a very, very nice place to be.

To check in on the rest of the SEC and other BCS conferences, check out the Spring Practice Schedule

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 5:35 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 5:37 pm
 

SEC announces Media Days dates, schedule

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



For those of you who see SEC Media Days as the starter's pistol signaling the final dash to the end of another endless college football offseason, we have good news: that pistol is going to fire earlier than ever.

The SEC announced its schedule for the 2012 edition of Media Days Monday, which will run from July 17 through July 19 in its typical home at the Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham. (Journalists in attendance should begin sharpening their complaints about the Wynfrey's notoriously difficult Internet access now.) That July 17 date stands as a full three days earlier than any of the past five year's editions, and if you don't think that's that big a deal, you've forgotten how it feels in mid-July when every scrap of football news is a delicious morsel to save. (Also, you may be sane.)

Here's the full schedule: 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

1st session (approx. 1 – 3:30 p.m.) – South Carolina, Texas A&M
2nd session (approx. 3:20 – 6 p.m.) -- Missouri, Vanderbilt

Wednesday, July 18, 2012
1st session (approx. 8:30 – 11:20 a.m.) – Florida, Mississippi State
2nd session (approx. 10:50 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.) – Arkansas, Kentucky
3rd session (approx. 2:30 – 5 p.m.) – Auburn, LSU

Thursday, July 19, 2012
1st session (approx. 8:30 – 11:20 a.m.) – Alabama, Tennessee
2nd session (approx. 10:50 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.) – Ole Miss, Georgia

Our expected highlights from each session:

Tues., 1stSteve Spurrier casually joking about asking Kevin Sumlin where he might be able to find an old-school Fun N' Gun-style quarterback like Case Keenum, then afterwards seriously asking Kevin Sumlin where he might be able to find an old-school Fun N' Gun-style quarterback like Case Keenum.

Tues., 2ndJames Franklin being asked about James Franklin, followed by James Franklin being asked about James Franklin.

Wed., 1stWill Muschamp oh-so-subtly suggesting he might welcome Dan Mullen back to Florida if things don't improve this season in Gainesville; Dan Mullen oh-so-subtly suggesting he might go back to back to Florida if things don't improve this season in Starkville.

Wed., 2ndBobby Petrino being unable to stifle his chuckles from the back of the room as Joker Phillips outlines the steps forward he expects his offense to take this season.

Wed., 3rd: The stoic-at-a-molecular level in front of press Gene Chizik and the molecularly un-stoic in front of press Les Miles causing a press-conference antimatter explosion when they shake hands.

Thurs., 1st: Derek Dooley and Nick Saban singing a duet on the Dooley-penned bluegrass tune "Your Best Interests Have Tamed My Triflin' Heart." As it turns out, Saban plays the most technically proficient banjo you've ever heard.

Thurs., 2nd: Hugh Freeze asks Mark Richt if he arm-wrestle him for that "League's Nicest Guy" coffee mug he thought he spotted in his office.

The best news? The actual Media Days will likely be even better than our expectations. July 17 isn't that far away, and it still can't come soon enough.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:45 pm
 

Saban says Tide will offer four-year scholarships

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Alabama was one of 30 BCS conference schools to recently vote against NCAA legislation that would allow -- though not mandate -- schools to offer multiple-year scholarships over the previous system of annual scholarship renewals. And the Tide football program had declined to offer them this past February, with Nick Saban citing lawsuits issued during the previous era of multiple-year scholarships as reason for the program's opposition.

Despite that stance, Saban told the Tuscaloosa News in a Tuesday story that the Tide would join Auburn and Florida (and, with the legislation's survival of the override vote, likely the rest of the SEC) in offering four-year scholarships starting with the 2013 class.

"We're going to offer four-year scholarships," Saban said. "Our whole conference is going to do it, all the schools, I think. And we're happy to do it."

Though we're skeptical a program truly "happy" to offer four-year scholarships would instead vote to prevent anyone from offering those scholarships, themselves included, Saban again referred to the legal ramifications when explaining the opposition of "some of the schools."

"We had the (four-year) rule years ago, and there were legal challenges to it," Saban said. "So we changed to the one-year scholarship then. I think that was why some of the schools had concerns." 

A four-year scholarship would conceivably make it more difficult for Saban to oversign in February and then "cut" players afterwards -- the Tide have seen widespread departures between spring practice and the start of fall camp each of the last several years under Saban -- but he forcefully denied either cutting players or that the new scholarships would have any impact on that issue at any school.

"We don't cut players," Saban said. "I don't know anyone who does. So I don't think that's an issue ... The player will still have to be academically eligible. He will still have to obey team rules and regulations. And the player is still going to have the same rights and the same appeals process that he has now."

Saban is entirely correct that just because School X has committed its four-year promise in writing doesn't mean Player Y is going to be able to skate through four years of school without worrying about the consequences. (He's also right that this could conceivably lead to some legal appeals here and there.) But given the ease with which schools have dismissed players on one-year scholarships in the past -- it's surprising to hear Saban say he "doesn't know anyone" who cuts players, given that SEC West rival Bobby Petrino declined to renew the scholarships of five different players just last year -- we disagree that nothing has changed.

Even if having a promise of four years' worth of education in writing is still just a promise, that's more commitment from their new schools than those players have gotten before.

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Posted on: February 16, 2012 4:52 pm
 

Will Muschamp has a sweet jacket



Posted by Tom Fornelli


All 14 of the SEC's head coaches stopped by the conference's offices in Birmingham on Thursday, and Chuck Dunlap was kind enough to share a photo commemorating the event on his Twitter account. As I think you can see in the photo above, the true star of this photo is Will Muschamp's leather jacket.

You can't help but notice it. It makes Muschamp look like the cool kid hanging out behind the local convenience store, smoking a Pall Mall unfiltered while carrying another 19 in a pack rolled up in the sleeve of his white t-shirt. Just waiting to hop on his bike and tear off toward the sunset, possibly never to return.

He's the guy all the coaches want to be, and all the ladies want to be with.

Well, except for Nick Saban, but we all know he's not prone to our human emotions. No, Saban is a machine sent back in time from the future. A machine that's sole reason for being is to take the game of college football and beat the hell out of it. He has no time for joy, only soul-sucking, life-smothering defensive domination.

Muschamp can wear the leather jacket, Saban wants only to murder the cow from whence it came. 

You can see the original photo, and other fun stuff, at the Eye On College Football Facebook page.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 5:16 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 5:18 pm
 

Report: Saban tried to get WVU SEC invitation

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As of this moment, there is -- almost without question -- no more powerful coach in all of college football than Alabama's Nick Saban. But as it turns out, even Saban couldn't pull enough strings to get someone other than Missouri the coveted 14th invite to the SEC.

That's according to the account provided to the Charleston Daily Mail by West Virginia senator Joe Manchin, West Virginia University graduate, who said he and Saban had spoken and "were working toward" snagging that invitation for the Mountaineers before the league settled on the Tigers. Both Saban and his wife Terry are West Virginia natives, and Saban spent two seasons in the late '70s as a defensive assistant for the Mountaineers.

"I thought we could have been in the SEC," Manchin said. "I talked to my dear friend Nick Saban about that, and, like me, he said, 'I would like West Virginia in the SEC,' and we were working toward that."

The Charleston Gazette also reported in October that Saban had been lobbying behind the scenes for West Virginia. But to no avail: Missouri was officially added as the SEC's 14th team in early November.

"They chose Missouri instead, and then you never heard a thing else about it," Manchin said.

That decision helped lead to a bitter political struggle between Manchin and Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell. McConnell, a Louisville graduate and Republican, reportedly attempted to block the Mountaineers' bid to join the Big 12 with the hopes of getting the Cardinals the invitation instead; Manchin, a Democrat, responded by publicly calling for Congress to hold hearings on whether McConnell had committed an ethics violation.

In the end, of course, Manchin and the Mountaineers got their happy ending -- they're not even going to have to wait an extra year -- and Manchin says the feud with McConnell is in the past. But with as powerful an ally as Saban on his side, you have to wonder if he doesn't wonder what might have been if the SEC had lent a more friendly ear.

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Posted on: February 6, 2012 3:22 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 4:06 pm
 

Report: Charges against Dre Kirkpatrick dropped

Posted by Chip Patterson

Former Alabama cornerback and 2012 NFL Draft prospect Dre Kirkpatrick did himself no favors with potential employers by getting charged with possession of marijuana less than a week after declaring for the draft. But according to the Sports Business Journal's Liz Mullen, the charges against Kirkpatrick have been dropped.

The details of the arrest indicate that Kirkpatrick claimed to be unaware of the drugs' presence when he was a passenger in a truck driven by former Alabama player Chris Rogers. The vehicle was pulled over in Bradenton, Fla. after being spotted driving on the wrong side of the road.

Kirkpatrick is listed as the No. 10 overall prospect in the 2012 NFL Draft, and Rob Rang has the Tide cornerback drafted by Dallas at No. 14 in his most recent NFL Mock Draft. Pro Football Talk's Evan Silva suggested that the arrest likely would not affect Kirkpatrick's draft stock, but the dropped charges should assist in putting this matter away and moving forward.

For all the latest player rankings and mock drafts, head over to our NFL Draft Home.

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Posted on: February 2, 2012 12:29 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 3:45 pm
 

National Signing Day Winners and Losers: SEC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Breaking down who won and who lost in the SEC on National Signing Day:

 

WINNERS

Mike Slive. Anyone who doubted Missouri's conference cred had to fall silent for at least a day as the Tigers introduced the nation's No. 1 recruit into the SEC East. The rest of the Tigers' class may not be as deep as many of their new league rivals', but when said class also includes a star as overpoweringly bright as Dorial Green-Beckham, it's hard to see any flaws.

Players to watch: WR Dorial Green-Beckham, G Evan Boehm, QB Maty Mauk.  

Alabama. Yawn--just another No. 1-ranked class of 25-plus blue-chips for Nick Saban's perpetual recruiting motion machine, with the surprise signing of highly regarded Virginia defensive tackle Korren Kirven the icing on a cake the Crimson Tide had baked long before Wednesday. By his own admission, Saban said they "didn't have any surprises," for worse or -- this being Alabama -- better. Once Kirven had declared and top safety Landon Collins had finally gotten his mother on board, the drama in Tuscaloosa was over.

In fact, after a big Junior Day haul, Saban and Co. are already off and sprinting for 2013. Come next February, it's likely there won't be any surprises then either. It may not be exciting for anyone hoping for stunning announcements, big rankings swings, and overheated speculation -- the Tide may have used it all up in last year's Cyrus Kouandjio saga -- but it's the same lethally efficient formula that's netted Saban two national championships in three seasons. Nothing much changed for Alabama on Signing Day, but unfortunately for the rest of college football, that means nothing much has changed when it comes to the difficulty of knocking the Tide off their perch, either.

Players to watch: S Landon CollinsRB T.J. YeldonCB Geno SmithVideo: Saban on being No. 1 on the recruiting trail. 



James Franklin. When Franklin's blazingly hot start last summer netted him a commitment from All-American running back Brian Kimbrow, the nation's no. 52 player, the response from many observers around the SEC was "That's impressive. It'll be even more impressive if he actually signs."

Not every one of those early Vanderbilt commitments made it across the finish line. But Kimbrow did, along with 20 other quality players that had the 'Dores in the CBS Sports National Signing Day  Top 25 a week beforehand. Vandy couldn't quite hang on to that lofty ranking, but even having the SEC's eternal doormat in a "top 25" conversation is an achievement for Franklin arguably on par with Saban's in Tuscaloosa. 

Players to watch: RB Brian Kimbrow, DE Caleb AzubikeQB Pat Robinette.

Steve Spurrier's nerves. South Carolina isn't traditionally the first team you'd think of when looking for a comparison to Alabama when it comes to recruiting success. But the Gamecocks might be this year, thanks in part to joining the Tide in the team rankings top 10 (believe it or not, Carolina quietly finished third in the SEC). But like Alabama, the Gamecocks also enjoyed a pleasantly uneventful Signing Day, with 19 of the 25 Gamecocks who signed today having already committed before the 2011 season started. 

“It’s been a peaceful Signing Day today, which was kind of nice,” recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier Jr. said. And when you peacefully land players like Shaq Roland and Jordan Diggs, doubly so.

Players to watch: WR Shaq Roland, RB Mike DavisDB Jordan Diggs. Video: Spurrier talks recruiting impact. 


LOSERS

Mark Richt's nerves. On the other side of the spectrum from Alabama and South Carolina, there was Georgia's National Signing Day. The day started with the disappointment of missing out on receivers Cordarelle Patterson (Tennessee) and JaQuay Williams (Auburn) (leaving the Bulldogs with just one wideout in the class), then picked up with a commitment from Maxpreps top 100 linebacker/safety Josh Harvey-ClemonsBut that a.m. joy dissolved into p.m. worry as Harvey-Clemons grandfather and legal guardian reportedly refused to sign Harvey-Clemons' letter of intent. Adding insult to injury, Richt's premature public comments on Harvey-Clemons may have even constituted a minor NCAA violation.

With or without Harvey-Clemons, the Bulldogs are still going to boast a star-studded class with nearly as many top 100 recruits (five, or six) as any team in the country. But the potential of losing Harvey-Clemons to hated Florida with the Gators already sitting some 15 spots ahead in the team rankings is likely to cause a restless evening (or evenings) in Athens all the same.

Players to watch: OL John TheusRB Keith MarshallDE Jordan Jenkins. Video: Will Muschamp on Florida's Signing Day.

LSU's in-state clout. There's about 105 FBS teams or so that would gladly trade classes with LSU's, especially after the addition of out-of-state gems like Oxford (Ala.) linebacker Kwon AlexanderBut in a somewhat down year for talent in the Pelican State, the Tigers had to lock down the borders to put together a truly elite class, and that didn't happen--not only did Collins and highly-regarded linebacker Denzel Devall stick with their Alabama commitments, Texas shocked Les Miles by snatching away the Tigers' blue-chip linebacker Torshiro Davis. (Davis rubbed salt in Miles's wound by saying LSU's players "don't seem that happy.")

Those were the top three players in the state by many accounts, and LSU didn't land any of them. It's not the end of the world, but for a program built on an annual harvest of blue-chippers from the bayou, it's a worrying sign all the same.

Players to watch: OL Vadal Alexander, WR Avery Johnson, LB Trey Granier.  

Arkansas. As usual under Bobby Petrino, the Razorbacks signed a respectable-but-not-spectacular class that Petrino will no doubt turn into something far more than the sum of its parts once it comes together in Fayetteville. But to come as close as they reportedly did to signing the player that would have helped cement their status as a national power and come up short has to sting.

Players to watch: LB Otha Peters, OG Jeremy Ward, RB Jonathan Williams.

SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN

Auburn. On the good side: wide receivers JaQuay Williams and Ricardo Louis each stuck with their original commitments to the Tigers, offensive lineman Will Adams flipped from Georgia Tech, and top tackle Avery Young gave Auburn a top-100 cornerstone at Georgia and Florida's expense. On the not so good side: Eddie Goldman, Ronald Darby, Leonard Williams, Alexander and Jordan Moore all had Auburn as one of their finalists and all went in a different direction. Gene Chizik's boom-or-bust Signing Day somehow managed to neither quite boom nor bust.

Players to watch: QB Zeke Pike, RB Jovon Robinson, DB T.J. Davis. And to wrap things up, here's some video of Derek Dooley:


Posted on: January 22, 2012 3:18 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2012 6:46 pm
 

The SEC responds to Joe Paterno's death

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Responses to the death of Joe Paterno have been pouring out from across the country, and the SEC hasn't been any different.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier issued a statement through the university, which reads:  

"I have the utmost respect and admiration for Joe Paterno. I've coached around 300 college games and only once when I've met the other coach at midfield prior to the game have I asked a photographer to take a picture of me with the other coach. That happened in the Citrus Bowl after the '97 season when we were playing Penn State. I had one of our university photographers take the picture with me and Coach Paterno, and I still have that photo in the den at my house. That's the admiration I have for Joe Paterno. It was sad how it ended, but he was a great person and coach."

Nick Saban spoke to ESPN Sunday morning about the loss of the Nittany Lion legend, and the Birmingham News transcribed his comments:

"Joe Paterno gave his life to college football ... He gave his life to the players and college football.
"Not just at Penn State, but when I was the head coach at Michigan State, we had a player who could get a sixth year because of an injury, and Joe was the head of the committee. He got it done for the player, and that player actually ran a touchdown against them that could have cost them the game later that season.
"But never I never doubted with him that he was going to do what was best for college football, and the players that played it, and I think that should be his legacy ..
"Probably as much as anything what we all try to get as coaches, a well-disciplined team that gives tremendous effort, plays physical, has the ability to execute down-in and down-out and play winning football.
"And when you played Joe's teams, that's exactly what you were playing against. They always had real good athletes, but to me it was the level they performed at that was indicative of the kind of program that he ran, the kind of influence that he had on the players."

Saban's counter at Auburn, Gene Chizik, also released a statement:

“Coach Paterno is one of the greatest coaches in all of sport, and his achievements in college football may never be surpassed. More important is the lasting impact he left with the countless players who played for him. I’m saddened of the news of Coach Paterno’s passing and my thoughts and prayers are with the entire Paterno family.”

Paterno also received a tribute from one of the conference's most respected former coaches, with retired Kentucky head coach Rich Brooks sending out the following tweet:

 

It's not just the SEC's coaches expressing their respects, either. Not every tweet issued by swaggering Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu could be called "respectful," but this one ...

 

... certainly can be.

During his 45-year head coaching career, Paterno squared off against the SEC's current 14 squads in 16 different bowl games, including two Sugar Bowl classics (1978 vs. Alabama, a 14-7 loss, and 1982 vs. Georgia, a 27-23 win) that stand as two of the most memorable games of his entire tenure. He finished with an 11-5 record in those 16 bowls.

Since Paterno's hire in 1966, the current 14 members of the SEC have been coached by 110 different head coaches (not counting interim coaches), an average of 7.9 coaches per team. 

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com