Posted on: February 4, 2011 4:14 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Former Mississippi State head coach and current St. Louis Rams running backs coach Sylvester Croom met with Nick Saban last weekend to talk about the lone opening on the Alabama coaching staff, as wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator. While it seemed that Croom had a good shot at landing the job, he told the Tuscaloosa News on Friday that he was no longer in the running and would be staying with the Rams.
"It was a very intriguing opportunity that Coach Saban and I discussed," Croom said. "My visit was more of a get-to-know-you with Coach Saban and the staff. It was a great visit. I really enjoyed it.
"I mentioned to him if certain possibilities developed I would be interested. That's how the visit came about. Just looking at the possibility when I was down there, he was not positive which way to go with the position that was open."
Croom, of course, played at Alabama under Bear Bryant and then spent a few years as an assistant on Bryant's coaching staff as well. According to the report, current Louisville quarterbacks coach and former Alabama grad assistant Mike Groh is now the frontrunner for the job.
Posted on: February 3, 2011 12:22 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
After several years of coming to a steady boil, it appears the media spotlight on oversigning and grayshirting has hit critical mass; when the president of one of the nationa's highest-profile schools is putting pen to paper himself to essentially call out the presidents and coaches of his own conference, you know this isn't an issue that's about to go away quietly.
Which is no doubt why the usually taciturn Nick Saban -- who's previously treated questions about the topic the way most of us would treat questions about our commitment to dental hygiene -- took advantage of his Signing Day press conference to address the accusations leveled at his program head on :
"We have never gotten rid of a player because of his physical ability," Saban said ... "Any player that has left this program prematurely has created his own exit route ... He's created his own conditions for leaving, if that makes any sense, whether they're academic in terms of not doing what he needs to do academically, whether there's some violation in terms of team rule or policy, whatever it is.Even Saban's critics will have to give him credit for confronting the growing furor publicly (with something more revealing than his famous "the fans don't need to know " commentary from 2008), and for admitting to his recruits up front that he considers the Tide's scholarship offers only good on a year-to-year basis rather than a four-year commitment.
But even that honesty likely won't do him any favors in the press once the 5-10 players Alabama is believed to need to trim from the roster to reach the 85-scholarship limit begin departing the program. (It's also worth asking if Saban is stretching the truth by claiming the team has never grayshirted a player who didn't "know" he'd be grayshirting; Harrison Jones knew it was a possibility when he signed last spring, but Saban also allowed Jones to move into a university dorm before informing him he'd have to wait until spring to enroll. "It's disappointing when you don't really expect it," Jones's mother said.)
Whether the players involved "created their own exit route" or not, the atmosphere surrounding oversigning has become charged enough that this likely won't be the last time this offseason Saban has to take to the podium to defend his program.
Posted on: January 31, 2011 7:10 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Virginia Tech-centric blog Gobbler Country posted an interested study today, examining the breakdown of championship-winning coaches' ages in the modern era of college football. The question raised is "how old is too old," and excepting some obvious outliers, the answer is "younger than you think."
What's even more unsettling to programs with older coaches is the breakdown of championships by age bracket:
Not only is there a precipitous dropoff from the early 50s to 60+, those five titles were won by just three coaches: The aforementioned Bowden with two, Bear Bryant with two, and Joe Paterno -- the three most celebrated coaches of the modern era of I-A football. What's more, Bryant had won his first title at the age of 50, while Paterno won his first at 56. Bowden didn't win his first until he was 64, but that was after six straight top-five finishes in the final poll for Florida State. In other words, each of those three coaches firmly established his national championship bona fides before his 60th birthday, while every other coach who ever hit 60 in the last 50 years was quite evidently past his prime.
It's not really surprising, then, to have seen Maryland jettison longtime head coach Ralph Friedgen, who was 63 at the end of the 2010 and who clearly wasn't about to win a title at such a mediocre football school (no offense, Terps, but let's be honest). Incoming coach Randy Edsall will have just turned 53 at the outset of the 2011 season, and while one might joke that Maryland's only got two seasons of Edsall in his prime before it all goes downhill, it's not as if he's got 15 years in front of him with the Terrapins.
So with all this in mind, here are a few more notable coaches and their ages as of the start of the 2011 season. It would be incorrect to say there's a "new generation" of coaches on the move (seven years or so doesn't really constitute a generational gap) but it's pretty clear that a few of these guys aren't lasting much more than five years -- especially if they're not winning 10 games a year anymore.
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech, 64
Now obviously, not all of these schools are going to win national championships in the next 5-10 years. But by and large, most of these schools do pay their coaches a gigantic salary -- to the point that the expectation of competing on a national level is inevitable. If a coach is struggling in his fourth or fifth year with a program, is an athletic director going to be more apt to fire the coach if he's 57 instead of 47? Is that age discrimination, or common sense?
Tags: Al Golden, BCS Championships, Bear Bryant, Bo Pelini, Bob Stoops, Bobby Petrino, Brady Hoke, Brian Kelly, Chip Kelly, Chris Petersen, College Football Coaches, Dan Mullen, Frank Beamer, Gary Patterson, Gene Chizik, Jim Tressel, Joe Paterno, Joe Paterno, Kirk Ferentz, Kyle Whittingham, Lane Kiffin, Les Miles, Mack Brown, Mark Richt, Mike Gundy, Mike Leach, Nick Saban, Will Muschamp
Posted on: January 21, 2011 1:25 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
After Alabama followed up their national championship season with a disappointing -- by preseason No. 1 standards, anyway -- 10-3 campaign, it's no surprise that the Crimson Tide underwent some mild turnover on their coaching staff. Defensive line coach Bo Davis was hired away by Texas for the same position without what seemed like much resistance or counter-offering from Nick Saban and the Tide. And offensive line coach Joe Pendry retired, to be replaced -- immediately -- by former Miami assistant Jeff Stoutland.
If Davis and Pendry were fully committed to staying in Tuscaloosa, they probably still would be. But after the Tide arguably underachieved this season along both lines of scrimmage, and given how prepared he appeared to be for their departures, it's also doubtful Saban lost too much sleep over those changes.
But there's now fewer than two weeks remaining before Signing Day, and if losing two coaches might be useful to keep the staff fresh and motivated, replacing a third of your assistants in one offseason probably qualifies as a headache. And it's now a headache Saban will have to deal with as Tide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Curt Cignetti has taken the head coaching job at Division II Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Unlike Davis and Pendry, Cignetti's motivations are perfectly transparent; IUP is the same school where his father Frank Cignetti coached for 19 seasons. But also unlike Davis's and Pendry's departures, Cignetti's decision leaves Saban scrambling (well, for a given definition of "scramble") to have the position filled before Signing Day. And though few coaches would say no to drawing a Crimson Tide salary and coaching Tide-grade talent, the lateness of the vacancy means the pool of candidates might be somewhat shallower than it would be otherwise.
Even those concerns would usually be trifling ones for Saban's well-oiled machine, but that machine is showgin some minor wear-and-tear on the recruiting trail for what might be the first time in Saban's Capstone tenure. Blue-chip in-state linebacker-slash-running back recruit Brent Calloway recently flipped his commitment from the Tide to Auburn. Major wide receiver recruit Malcolm Mitchell chose home-state Georgia over the Tide last night, despite speculation he had been an Alabama lean. And there are indications the Tide may be unable to pull the nation's consensus No. 1 recruit, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, away from hometown South Carolina.
Arguably no program in the country is better-equipped to withstand those kinds of setbacks, or whatever other setbacks might arise as a result of Cignetti's exit. The Tide will be fine. But when the expectations are nothing less than annual contention for a national title, even minor stumbles can prove to be major developments.
Tags: Alabama, Alabama recruiting, Auburn, Auburn recruiting, Bo Davis, Brent Calloway, Curt Cignetti, Curt Cignetti, Frank Cignetti, Georgia, Georgia recruiting, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Jadeveon Clowney, Jeff Stoutland, Joe Pendry, Malcolm Mitchell, Miami, Nick Saban, SEC, South Carolina, South Carolina recruiting, Texas
Posted on: January 12, 2011 6:56 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2011 7:04 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
New Miami head coach Al Golden did not decide to retain many members of Randy Shannon's staff when he arrived in Coral Gables to take over the Hurricanes program. Some of the few pieces he did keep are reportedly migrating to the SEC.
Wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill recently left to join Will Muschamp's staff at Florida after originally being retained by Golden. Now offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is making a similar move, joining Nick Saban's staff at Alabama. The Miami Herald is reporting that Stoutland, who served as Miami's interim coach for the 33-17 loss to Notre Dame in the Sun Bowl, will assume Joe Pendry's role in Tuscaloosa as the offensive line coach. Pendry, 63, is retiring from coaching after 30+ years in the collegiate and professional ranks. He was the only offensive line coach under Saban at Alabama, and served as assistant head coach in 2010.
Stoutland was reportedly well-liked by the Miami players, and should be a good fit for Saban. As for Miami, Golden is now left with plenty of positions to fill on the offensive end. In addition to filling Stoutland's spot on the offensive line, he still needs to hire an offensive coordinator. Stoutland's departure also only leaves one coach, linebackers coach Michael Barrow, from Randy Shannon's staff in Miami.
Posted on: January 7, 2011 2:51 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
It was reported yesterday that Alabama stars Mark Ingram and Marcel Dareus would forgo their senior year of eligibility and join the NFL, pending an announcement today. That announcement has in fact happened, and Ingram and Dareus were joined by a special guest at their announcement today: Julio Jones. Did Jones have good news for Nick Saban and the rest of the Alabama team? Not really, no: Jones is going pro as well.
This is a wise move for all players involved. Ingram's stock isn't going to rise any higher while he's splitting carries with Trent Richardson (who's probably already better than Ingram), and Jones and Dareus have both proven themselves to be more than capable of hanging with the big boys at the next level. They've all got championship rings and now Capital One Bowl wins to show for their collegiate careers; not really much unfinished business here.
Posted on: January 6, 2011 8:23 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
If this whole football career thing doesn't work out for Barry Sanders Jr, maybe he can give being a college football reporter a try. Yesterday the high school running back and son of Barry Sanders broke the news that Alabama running back Mark Ingram was going to enter the NFL draft. Sanders said he was told this by Nick Saban on a recent recruiting visit.
Now, not even 24 hours later, the news has broken that Ingram is in fact going to leave Alabama, and he won't be alone when he does so. He'll be joined by defensive end Marcell Dareus.
Now Alabama fans must sit around and wait for Julio Jones to make his decision. Most people seem to think Jones will follow his teammates to the NFL, but if Andrew Luck is willing to go back to school, I'm not taking anything for granted.
Posted on: January 5, 2011 6:07 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2011 6:07 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
I don't think anybody would be shocked to find out that former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram was going to skip his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft. It's just that when and if the announcement was made, you'd expect it to come from Alabama or Ingram himself. However, this is not the case, as it seems that the son of a Hall of Fame running back is the one who has broken the news.
While on a recent recruiting visit to meet with Barry Sanders Jr, Nick Saban told Sanders that Ingram was going to be leaving and that he needed running backs. Sanders then leaked the news to OKBlitz.com.
Heritage Hall running back Barry Sanders, Jr. briefly met Alabama coach Nick Saban Wednesday, and Sanders said Saban told him junior running back Mark Ingram will declare for the NFL Draft.
“He just said ‘We need running backs,’” Sanders said. “How Trent [Richardson] would be a senior if I were to go [to Alabama]. He told me Ingram’s leaving, he’s making it public probably Friday.”If Ingram does leave, it would be good timing for the running back. After winning the Heisman as a sophomore, he battled through an injury this season, yet still managed to rush for 875 yards and 13 touchdowns. In reality, he has nothing left to prove on the college level. He has the Heisman, and he has a national championship ring.