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Arkansas Losing D-Coordinator Ash To Ohio State

chris-ashWhen Urban Meyer arrived at Ohio State two seasons ago, he ruffled the feathers of then-Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema by attempting to woo committed prospects from the Badgers to the Buckeyes.  Wonder how Bielema feels today knowing that Meyer has lured away his defensive coordinator?

Chris Ash — named the Hogs D-coordinator in December of 2012 – is pulling up stakes and joining Ohio State’s staff as co-defensive coordinator.  Ash is the second key coach to leave Arkansas’ defensive staff this offseason.  Charlie Partridge became the head coach at Florida Atlantic.

Here’s the irony in UA losing two coaches from it’s defense — it’s defense struggled in 2013.  The Razorbacks ranked 12th in the SEC in scoring defense (30.8 points per game allowed), 9th in total defense, 11th in rushing defense, and 11th in passing defense.

Bielema attempted to calm any Razorback fan who might be concerned that their defensive coordinator had bolted after one year by tweeting the following: “Have always felt transition on my staff has allowed us to get even better.  Have had success hiring right people and will again.”

He then added: “Very happy for former coaches that decide to move to new challenges, the respect our staff gets nationally will continue to grow.”

Sounds good, but Bielema has previously stated that one of the main reasons he left Wisconsin — in addition to coaching in Barry Alvarez’ shadow — was that school’s unwillingness to pony up big cash to retain assistants.  One can’t blame Partridge for taking a head coaching job, but Ash’s move is different.  Granted, Ohio State is closer to a national title right now than Arkansas, but the Razorbacks — as Bobby Petrino proved — are capable of competing at an awfully high level, too.  And Ash will be moving from a coordinator position to that of a co-coordinator.  In other words, it’s likely the Buckeyes offered the ex-Hog coach more money.

This leaves Bielema in the position of trying to find a new coordinator.  Or does it?  Former Miami (FL) and NFL defensive coordinator Randy Shannon is already on the Arkansas staff, serving in the role of linebackers coach.  Ash worked with the safeties at Arkansas so there is some wiggle room if Shannon fills the coordinator slot.  Taver Johnson, cornerbacks coach, could take over the secondary in full, leaving room for a new linebackers coach to be filled.  Or Shannon could continue to work with the linebackers as coordinator and Bielema could hire another safeties coach.  Or he could just bring in a new coordinator altogether.

One name to keep an eye on?  The once rising star, Manny Diaz.  Diaz has coached safeties and linebackers and became a hot name nationally while briefly serving as Mississippi State’s defensive coordinator.  Mack Brown tossed him overboard midseason in 2013.  He should have recruiting ties to the Lone Star State after three years on the Longhorn staff.

Bielema hired Samford defensive line coach Rory Segrest to replace Partridge.

Ash had worked for Bielema for four seasons, including the coach’s final three years at Wisconsin.

 

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SEC Headlines 12/31/2013

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo reportedly set to talk to Georgia Southern about its head coaching vacancy. Makes $575,000 a year at Georgia under a three-year contract. Mark Richt: “I’m not shocked that Mike’s getting some attention in that regard.”

2, Bobo on Jacksonville: “Our philosophy is Jacksonville is just an extension of Georgia.”

3, Is LSU coach Les Miles still a Big Ten man at heart? LSU A.D. Joe Alleva on Miles: “He has five years left on his contract, and I expect him to be our coach for a long time to come.”

4. Enjoy the Johnny Manziel to Mike Evans connection tonight.  Could be the last time you see them in Texas A&M uniforms. The Aggies Malcome Kennedy nearly two months ago: “It was fun playing with them.” Watch them tonight in person for under 10 bucks.

5, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin once interviewed at Tennessee for the wide receivers coaching position.  Job went to Pat Washington (now at Missouri) instead.

6. A win for Dan Mullen today would give the Mississippi State head coach the most bowl victories in school history.

7. One of the reasons why the SEC is going for its 8th straight title?  Avoiding major NCAA penalties.  ”This can’t be overstated enough.”

8. Who benefits most from the four-week layoff before BCS title game?  Kirk Herbstreit says it’s Florida State’s defense.

9. Herbstreit on Alabama-Oklahoma:  ”I think the game will be much, much closer than what a lot of people who I’m listening to or talking to think.”

10. Is Alabama junior safety HaHa Clinton-Dix NFL bound?  Says he’s yet to make up his mind.

11. Alabama’s struggles at the cornerback position this year are something new for defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.

12. South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward to Jadeveon Clowney: ”I told him, ‘You’ve gotta slow down.’ Life is precious.”

13. Why exactly is Wisconsin favored to beat South Carolina?

14. LSU and the Outback Bowl: “For a litany of reasons, some that still don’t make a ton of sense, the interest in this game has been lukewarm from the LSU fan base.”

15. Missouri’s L’Damian Washington has been bothered with a sore foot but expected to play in the Cotton Bowl.

16. With all starters coming back, the linebacking corps projects as a position of strength at Florida.

17. The future at Ole Miss: “The team’s top two rushers, top two receivers and 15 of its top 20 tacklers all have eligibility remaining…”

SEC Media

18. ESPN hires Tim Tebow as analyst for the SEC Network.

19. Richard Deitsch: “ESPN’s research department has pushed a singular mantra when it comes to college football: You can never have too much SEC. ”

Extras

20. University of Texas A.D. Steve Patterson says he hopes to have a replacement in place for Mack Brown by January 15. Cross Jimbo Fisher off the list?

21. Why Peyton Manning could lose his record for single season passing yardage.

22. Want to read the University of Kentucky’s entire contract with Nike?

23. What would you name a newborn in Alabama?  Krimson Tyde of course.

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SEC Headlines 12/17/2013

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has looked at film of Florida State. “The thing that jumped out to me is speed, super fast,” he said.

2. Malzahn said he hopes to keep his staff intact this offseason after a successful first year at Auburn.

3. Malzahn, by the way, downplayed talk of his name with the Texas job. He said he’s a good fit for Auburn.

4. Alabama is coming off a loss to Auburn while Oklahoma’s last game was a win over rival Oklahoma State.

5. Alabama’s coaches played a role in helping Oklahoma install its 3-4 defensive scheme.

6. Former Arkansas assistant Charlie Patridge thanked Arkansas fans on twitter after he was announced as the head coach at Florida Atlantic.

7. LSU coach Les Miles backed away from any Texas speculation. “Oh please. Oh please. Let’s not kick my name around,” he said.

8. Miles expects a fight from Iowa when the two teams play in the Outback Bowl.

9. Mississippi State has seen its defense improve recently. The Bulldogs have turned opponents over 14 times in their last four games.

10. Ole Miss is preparing for its matchup against Georgia Tech in the Music City Bowl.

11. Pat Dooley writes the deck was stacked against quarterback Tyler Murphy, who has decided to transfer from Florida.

12. Georgia wide receiver Chris Conley and cornerback Damian Swann are both expected to return for their senior years.

13. Oklahoma State is Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Henson’s alma mater. But he’s working to help Missouri beat the Cowboys this time.

14. Texas A&M would have to pay coach Kevin Sumlin everything remaining on his contract if he’s fired without cause.

SEC Basketball

15. Florida has been better in crunch time this year. The Gators might need to be tonight when they play at Memphis.

16. The Kentucky-Louisville game scheduled for Dec. 28 has become very important for unexpected reasons.

17. Alabama is preparing to play undefeated Wichita State tonight.

18. Vanderbilt practices have become more intense as coach Kevin Stallings is looking for a more disciplined team.

Extra

19. Mack Brown and Texas are both better off because he decided to exit gracefully, writes Gregg Doyel.

20. Nebraska’s athletic director says the school did not contact Brown after he resigned at Texas.

21. John Infante explains why Chip Kelly’s show-cause penalty makes him an unlikely candidate at Texas.

22. Arizona and Tampa, Fla., will host college football’s 2016 and 2017 national championship games.

23. Athlon Sports has its top 25 freshman for the 2013 season.

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Sanctimonious Saban Lays It On Way Too Thick About His Non-Move To Texas

BCS Championship FootballSports fans, you already know about the one story that dominated the sports scene last week — If Mack Brown is out at Texas, will Nick Saban replace him?  Day after day, minute after minute, Brown/Saban/Texas talk swirled.

Then finally on Friday word came that Saban would sign yet another new deal with Bama.  (No wonder, UA’s giving him extensions and raises every few months.)  On Saturday, the coach had this to say:

 

“The way this sort of got spun, it was a little bit more like, ‘OK, he got a new contract at Alabama, so he’s going to stay at Alabama instead of going to Texas.  I never considered going to Texas.  That wasn’t even a conversation.

I knew that if Mack stepped down, there would probably be an opportunity, but it wasn’t something I was interested in doing, not at this stage in my career…

We’ve been trying to do this thing with Alabama all the way back into the season.  It really wasn’t about the contract.  It was about staying at Alabama, wanting to be at Alabama, wanting to continue to do good things for Alabama and our commitment to the players here, the university and the community.”

 

That whole “it really wasn’t about the contract” part?  Yeah, that’s a lie.

Readers of the site know that this writer in particular doesn’t view Saban’s dismissal of the Bama job while still the Miami Dolphins’ coach as that big of a deal.  Coaches blow off job opportunities and dance around job offers in order to keep their teams focused all the time.  That goes with the territory.  Sure, Saban was pressed again and again until he finally flat-out lied about the Alabama situation.  But again, what was he supposed to do?  Tell the truth and derail the Dolphins’ year?

This situation, however, is very much different.  The Crimson Tide team doesn’t have another game for weeks.  And last week’s nonsense was 100% about the contract.  If it were really only about “staying at Alabama, wanting to be at Alabama,” Saban could have spoken out before getting his new contract, couldn’t he?

Before Tide fans chime in — and, for the record, we said repeatedly that we didn’t believe he’d leave Tuscaloosa — Saban had said previously that he wanted to stay at Alabama.  We know that, no need to email.  When he signed a new deal in March of 2012 the coach said: “From my standpoint, the acceptance of this extension represents our commitment — my commitment, our family’s commitment — to the University of Alabama for the rest of our career.  We made that decision after the season when other people were interested.”  He then had his contract “amended” and “restated” again this past April.

But here’s our question: Why?  Why the need for a new contract this week?  If he’s already committed to Alabama for the rest of his career, why did Saban need his salary jacked again?  Why did he dance around the job topic while on ESPN a week ago?

Now we could have let all this slide had Saban not gotten a tad too sanctimonius about the way this all worked out for Texas’ Brown:

 

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mack Brown.  Mack Brown is the coach at Texas.  He deserves the right, based on his body of work, to be able to leave the program the way he wants to leave the program.  It wasn’t fair to him or to me to be speculating about this job, which I haven’t talked to anybody there about.

Really, the whole thing from my perspective stunk, but there wasn’t a hell of a lot I could to about it.”

 

Total.  Complete.  Utter… BS.

Unless Saban was so deep into “the process” that he was totally incommunicado, he could have could put an end to the Texas talk any day last week prior to finalizing his Bama pact.  He could have let Bill Battle or Jimmy Sexton put out a press release stating, “We’re working on a new deal and Saban is not even considering leaving Alabama.”  He could have let Miss Terry do the talking.  He could have pulled out his cell phone and called any writer or talkshow host in the country with a definitive answer to protect poor ol’ Mack Brown.

He didn’t.

He didn’t because doing so would have given away leverage and contract negotiations are all about leverage.  Anyone over the age of 10 with an IQ higher to match knows that to be true.  So there is no arguing what just happened in the Heart of Dixie.  Saban and Sexton — the wonder agent who’s mastered this routine — let everyone sweat just long enough to make sure the coach’s new deal would be super-sized and Tide fans would appreciate their beloved leader just a little bit more.  No more of this underappreciation crap for Saint Nick.

The coach may be committed to Bama, just not so much so to tell the school, “The last contract was fine, I’m not leaving, put that cash back into the academic side of the school.”  Not so much to shut down the Texas talk and help out Brown until he received another extension and another raise.

Fair enough.

But for Saban to then come out and say — after the contract was agreed upon — that “there wasn’t a hell of a lot” he could do about all the speculation?  Please.  We believe a line from “The Outlaw Josey Wales” sums up our feelings pretty well…

 

Don't piss down my back and tell me its raining

 

 

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SEC Headlines 12/16/2013

headlines-monSEC Football

1. Nick Saban’s new annual salary is higher than the budget of 12 Division I athletic departments.

2. Texas president Bill Powers on the Saban-to-Texas talk: “So all of those rumors — the lunches, the meetings — they are simply groundless.”

3. Vanderbilt’s James Franklin and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn are two coaches Bruce Feldman expects to be considered for the Texas job.

4. Johnny Manziel’s Heisman Trophy Ballot: 1. Jameis Winston, 2. Andre Williams, 3. himself.

5. Linebacker Cassanova McKinzy has worked on becoming a run-stopper for Auburn’s defense.

6. Here are 10 things to know about Iowa as LSU prepares to play the Hawkeyes in the Outback Bowl.

7. Mississippi State held its third bowl practice Sunday in preparation for Rice. Here are few shots from practice.

8. Quarterback Tyler Murphy has decided to transfer from Florida rather than battle Jeff Driskel for the starting position.

9. Improved health at tackle will be important as Florida tries to improve offensively next season.

10. Steve Spurrier expects South Carolina to have plenty of motivation for its bowl game.

11. Missouri has plenty to prove when it plays Oklahoma State. Left tackle Justin Britt: “You know, the story ain’t over. There’s still stuff to be written.”

SEC Basketball

12. Missouri escaped with a 66-60 win over Western Michigan Sunday night. Video Highlights

13. Guard Ky Madden has become a confident scorer for Arkansas.

14. “This Kentucky basketball team was overhyped,” writes John Clay.

15. The start is disappointing, but don’t be too hard on Kentucky, writes Gary Parrish.

16. Freshman Luke Kornet is adjusting to a new role for Vanderbilt.

Extra

17. Mack Brown had a classy exit as he announced his resignation from Texas.

18. Brown will be remembered as a legend, writes Dennis Dodd.

19. Stanford coach David Shaw won’t pursue any NFL jobs, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

20.  Michigan State is preparing to play the underdog role when it faces Stanford in the Rose Bowl.

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Herbstreit On Saban-To-Texas Rumors: “There’s No Chance”

gfx - they said itAppearing on KESN-FM in Dallas yesterday, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit tried to put the kibosh on all those Nick Saban-to-Texas rumors.  Asked who might replace Mack Brown once the Longhorns’ current coach steps down, the ex-Ohio State QB had this to say:

 

“Just scratch Nick Saban from the list.  Immediately scratch that, and then go from there…

There’s no chance.  No chance of that happening.  Nick Saban will work TV sitting next to us on our set before he’ll be the head coach at texas… He’ll be at Alabama for another five years, and then he’ll be working TV after that… I know Nick Saban beter than anybody.  It’s not going to happen.”

 

Strong words.  Alabama fans are likely jumping for joy after reading them.  Herbstreit is respected in the industry.

Texas fans, however, will most definitely be reminding one another — and everyone else who’ll listen — that Herbstreit isn’t always right about such matters.

 

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University of Texas President: “I’ve Never Talked To Nick Saban”

gfx - they said itWith Internet rumors running wild on Thursday that the University of Texas was in hot pursuit of Alabama coach Nick Saban, school president Bill Powers evidently felt the need to clarify the situation and the status of current coach Mack Brown.  Here’s what he said to the Austin American-Statesmen. 


“I’ve never met Nick Saban. I’ve never talked to Nick Saban. We have not hired Nick Saban. Mack’s our coach, and I can say flatly that the rumors we have hired or come to an agreement with Nick Saban or even talked to him are false.”

However, Powers did acknowledge that a current Texas regent and a former Texas regent did reach out to Saban’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, back in January about the possibility of Saban replacing Texas coach Mack Brown.

 

“There was an outreach to his agent, and I exempt that from this discussion. Whatever happened then happened. We don’t have any plans one way or the other (to replace Brown). And we don’t have an opening.”

 

A more legitimate rumor this week linked Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier to the job opening at Washington with ESPN saying he was scheduled to interview Thursday.  But ESPN”s Joe Schad is reporting this morning that the Huskies will hire Boise State coach Chris Peterson. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel (who quickly shot down the rumors) and Vanderbilt coach James Franklin were also mentioned as potential candidates this week.

 

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Saban’s Wife To Wall Street Journal: “This Is Where We Are Going To End Our Career”

nick-terry-sabanHey, we’ve never bought into the Nick Saban-to-Texas rumors.  Regular readers know that we’ve pretty much pooh-poohed them right into the same category as the Jon Gruden-to-anywhere/everywhere rumors.

But just for good measure, Terry Saban — wife of Nick and the woman rumored to have been checking out “vacation” properties in Austin recently — told The Wall Street Journal:

 

“You come to a crossroads and the expectations get so great, people get spoiled by success and there gets to be a lack of appreciation.  We’re kind of there now.”

Uh-oh.  That sounds ominous.  But asked if she’d been house-hunting in Austin, Mrs. Saban called the reports “rumors with absolutely no foundation.”  She then added:

 

“We’re staying.  We’re not going anywhere…

We feel more like it’s home (in Tuscaloosa), like we are a part of the community and pulling up stakes again would be difficult.

We are trying to educate ourselves, to change ourselves.  We can’t change expectations or change lack of appreciation.  We have to change our mind-set.  We have decided: This is where we are going to end our career.”

 

The “lack of appreciation” talk needs to stop.  Terry’s husband is the highest-paid employee in the state of Alabama and the highest-paid coach in the country.  If fans aren’t showing up for games against Georgia State and Chattanooga, there’s a simple fix — Saban shouldn’t schedule so far beneath his own weight class.

That said, it certainly sounds as though the 60-something Sabans aren’t looking to start all over again at Texas, where Mack Brown happens to be the current coach.  In fact, it sounds a whole lot more like a “You better treat us better,” leverage play by Alabama’s first couple.  And that’s not the best way to endear yourself to a fanbase.

(It’s a very interesting little article delving into the Sabans’ relationship and and how they make job decisions.)

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Nick Saban Says He’s “Totally Committed” To Alabama

CommittedRumors link Nick Saban to the job at Texas.  Saban denies rumors.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  For the second time in the last two months, the Alabama coach has been confronted with stories linking him to the job in Austin.

We chronicled the latest such story earlier today when an AP report surfaced with an email sent to a Texas regent.(Saban’s agent Jimmy) Sexton confirmed that UT is the only job Nick would possibly consider leaving Alabama for, and that his success there created special pressure for him.”

It didn’t take long for Saban to respond.  The topic of his agent and Texas officials came up in a conversation with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi.

 

“Well I don’t know where these reports come from. I’ve sort of addressed the situation before. I’m totally committed to the University of Alabama, looking forward to the game we have this week and all my focus has been on LSU and what our team needs to do to play their best.”

 

Texas is 6-2 this year under longtime head coach Mack Brown.   The Longhorns just hired Arizona State athletic director Steve Patterson to replace the retiring DeLoss Dodds

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SEC Headlines 10/3/2013

headlines-thursdaySEC Football

1. Why was Steve Spurrier’s TV show pulled?  He felt he was “too negative” toward some coaches and the team’s performance. “I’m going to be more positive.” Some background on a story that generated some buzz.

2. Will Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell start against LSU?  Dan Mullen: “That’s the plan. ”

3. LSU coach Les Miles says he needs more cowbell.

4. Gus Malzahn vs. Hugh Freeze -  ”believed to be the first game between two successful longtime high school coaches in a BCS conference.”

5. Will Auburn freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson redshirt this year?

6. Southern Miss transfer Anthony Alford is imitating Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall in practice this week for Ole Miss.

7. Opponents converting just 17.8 of the time on third down against Florida’s defense.

8. We know Florida’s defense is good but their offense is struggling – ranks ahead of only Kentucky in scoring points.

9. Florida coach Will Muschamp is impressed with Arkansas running back Alex Collins: “He’s a heck of a football player.”

10. Collins one of many Arkansas players with Florida ties.

11. Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham was suspended for the Vanderbilt game last year - but he’s ready for this year’s game: Has emerged as Tigers top target.

12. Playing Georgia this week, Tennessee assistant coaches John Jancek and Willie Martinez downplay their connections to the Bulldogs program.

13. This one seems to come up just about every year.  What would happen if Alabama played an NFL team?

14. Will weather play a role in the Ole Miss-Auburn game? Tropical storm Karen expected to make landfall in Alabama.

Practice/Injury Reports

15. Tennessee running back Marlin Lane “50-50″ for the Georgia game.

16. Georgia safety Tray Matthews didn’t practice Wednesday (hamstring).  Running back Todd Gurley still sidelined (ankle). Wide receiver Michael Bennett’s knee was bothering him.

17. One Kentucky quarterback is getting the majority of reps in practice, but coach Mark Stoops isn’t saying who it is.

18, Auburn cornerback Chris Davis not listed on the depth chart but could play Saturday.

19. “60 Minutes” crew at the Alabama practice. Crimson Tide change some player uniform numbers in order to prevent having two players with the same number on the field at the same time.

SEC Basketball

20. Anticipation running high at Kentucky -record number of campers for Big Blue Madness.

21. Kentucky forward  Alex Poythress: “The sky is the limit for this team, so why not aim at 40-0?”

22. Rutgers transfer Eli Carter will be sidelined for the start of practice at Florida.

23. Until Bud Walton Arena is repaired from flood damage, Arkansas will workout in the PE building.

24. Missouri coach Frank Haith likes his backcourt.

NCAA News

25. NCAA data obtained by ESPN.com shows SEC generates more of its total athletic department revenue from football than any other conference.

26. Would SEC Commissioner Mike Slive support the “Olympic” model - where athletes can receive money off their own name?

27. By moving to the Big Ten, Rutgers expects an additional $200 million over 12 years.

28. Who’s going to serve on the selection committee for the College Football Playoff?  Reportedly West Virginia A.D. Oliver Luck will.

29. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops loves to talk about the SEC. Steve Spurrier asked about it.

30. Ed Orgeron’s opportunity at USC.

Media

31. Did Texas coach Mack Brown get a sideline reporter for the Longhorns radio network fired?

32. Rick Pitino’s brief appearance on Boston radio.

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