Tag:Nick Saban
Posted on: January 3, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Gators hire Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

After some false starts and blind alleys, Will Muschamp has his right-hand man on the Florida defensive staff, as Seattle Seahawks defensive line coach Dan Quinn will become the Gators new defensive coordinator , the Gainesville Sun has reported. Quinn will officially join the Gator staff following the Seahawks' (probably short-lived) playoff run

Forgive Gator fans, though, for wondering if maybe one of those alleys (particularly the one labeled "Kirby Smart") might have led somewhere more exciting than Quinn. Muschamp is familiar with Quinn from their brief shared tenure working under Nick Saban for the Miami Dolphins, where Muschamp served as Saban's defensive coordinator and Quinn coached the defensive line, but Quinn has no prior experience as a coordinator at the FBS level -- he spent one season as the DC for the since-terminated Hofstra program in 2000 -- and hasn't been a college coach in any capacity in a decade.

The good news is that with Muschamp around, the Gators could have promoted Albert and Alberta Gator to co-defensive coordinators and still have more than enough defensive know-how to get the job done. Quinn has precious little experience calling defensive plays (particularly against the spread that's becoming the ever-more-predominant college base offense), but if Muschamp handles that responsibility, Quinn's NFL seasoning and Saban/Muschamp grooming should make him a useful stragegist all the same. The biggest hurdle might be learning the recruiting ropes at a major program like Florida, but the Gators have never seriously struggled in that department regardless of who was on staff.

So is Quinn a home run hire? No. But Muschamp knows what he's getting and knows from defensive coaches, so until/unless Quinn proves him wrong, he'll also deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Posted on: December 23, 2010 5:10 pm
 

Nick Saban expresses doubt about new NCAA rules

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Back in September, the NCAA introduced legislation to make it possible for coaches to be suspended over secondary NCAA violations. Naturally, this idea is causing consternation among those in the coaching ranks, as secondary violations are generally regarded on the same level of seriousness as parking tickets. In the NCAA's eyes, of course, that mindset is itself a problem, so down this road we go.

Nick Saban sees all this, and Nick Saban doesn't like what he sees. Here's what he told reporters Tuesday, according to TideSports.com:

“I thought originally in our discussions, in some of our meetings, that this was a rule that was going to be sort of implemented for people who had multiple secondary violations,” Saban said. “In other words, there was a disrespect for the rules shown by someone continuing to do the wrong thing. It wasn’t like you had one thing that happened that’s bad … and you could get suspended for a game.”

“I think it hurts the players when you start suspending coaches, so I’m not sure I’m in agreement. But I’m not sure that I have a solution, because we do respect the rules and we do want everybody to abide by the rules,” Saban said. “If this punishment is what’s going to change someone’s behavior, then I think it’s good. But if it’s not going to change anybody’s behavior, then I don’t really think it’s good.”

This is actually a remarkably sane approach to the issue. Punishment for the sake of punishment isn't necessarily a positive response to a widespread problem (see: Drugs, War On). Saban correctly recognizes that if the amount of secondary violations doesn't appreciably decrease, football would be worse off if some number of coaches are suspended than if none are suspended.

Further, it's worth remembering that it's really easy to commit a secondary NCAA violation. Derek Dooley just committed one the other day when he accidentally posted on a recruit's Facebook wall, after all. Arkansas had recruits try on jerseys and is under investigation. In basketball, Tom Izzo caught a one-game suspension for paying the wrong guy to run a weekend basketball camp.

So between this and Saban's inartful (yet not incorrect) comparison of unscrupulous agents and "pimps," it's plainly evident that he has a better grasp on incentives and disincentives than most people. Compare Saban's willingness to examine whether a rule is good or bad based on its evident effects on behavior with this from NCAA president Mark Emmert a month before his arrival with the organization, earlier this year:

"I'm really pleased with how we're working with the universities and colleges to try to correct behaviors that are not in the school's best interests," Emmert said in a phone interview Tuesday from Seattle. "Under my leadership, we're not going to see any diminutive effect of that effort. But I like where we're going right now."

"I can't talk about any [current] cases, but the fact that we've got strong enforcement going on, I think, is a good thing," he said.

Now, we're not about to accuse Emmert of not knowing or caring whether every one of those rules is appropriate for the NCAA. That would be wrong. It just seems that with extremely limited disincentive for, say, an agent to make subtle overtures to a prospective pro or a tattoo shop to offer the hookup to a football player in return for some swag, merely increasing the punishment on players taking advantage of such a relationship isn't going to solve any long-term problems; it'll probably just mean more players get in trouble. And if football suffers when its teams lose coaches to suspension with no effect on behavior, it sure as heck also suffers when more of its players are suspended for doing logical things like selling goods for money.

So while we'll stop short of recommending Nick Saban be the next president of the NCAA, in our estimation, the organization would be better off if Saban takes an advisory role on policy once he decides to take his career in a less demanding direction. Or think about it this direction: if Nick Saban's writing the rules, do you really think Terrelle Pryor or A.J. Green sit for a third of the season just for selling things that were given to them in a transaction that doesn't get the other side in trouble at all?

Posted on: December 23, 2010 5:10 pm
 

Nick Saban expresses doubt about new NCAA rules

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Back in September, the NCAA introduced legislation to make it possible for coaches to be suspended over secondary NCAA violations. Naturally, this idea is causing consternation among those in the coaching ranks, as secondary violations are generally regarded on the same level of seriousness as parking tickets. In the NCAA's eyes, of course, that mindset is itself a problem, so down this road we go.

Nick Saban sees all this, and Nick Saban doesn't like what he sees. Here's what he told reporters Tuesday, according to TideSports.com:

“I thought originally in our discussions, in some of our meetings, that this was a rule that was going to be sort of implemented for people who had multiple secondary violations,” Saban said. “In other words, there was a disrespect for the rules shown by someone continuing to do the wrong thing. It wasn’t like you had one thing that happened that’s bad … and you could get suspended for a game.”

“I think it hurts the players when you start suspending coaches, so I’m not sure I’m in agreement. But I’m not sure that I have a solution, because we do respect the rules and we do want everybody to abide by the rules,” Saban said. “If this punishment is what’s going to change someone’s behavior, then I think it’s good. But if it’s not going to change anybody’s behavior, then I don’t really think it’s good.”

This is actually a remarkably sane approach to the issue. Punishment for the sake of punishment isn't necessarily a positive response to a widespread problem (see: Drugs, War On). Saban correctly recognizes that if the amount of secondary violations doesn't appreciably decrease, football would be worse off if some number of coaches are suspended than if none are suspended.

Further, it's worth remembering that it's really easy to commit a secondary NCAA violation. Derek Dooley just committed one the other day when he accidentally posted on a recruit's Facebook wall, after all. Arkansas had recruits try on jerseys and is under investigation. In basketball, Tom Izzo caught a one-game suspension for paying the wrong guy to run a weekend basketball camp.

So between this and Saban's inartful (yet not incorrect) comparison of unscrupulous agents and "pimps," it's plainly evident that he has a better grasp on incentives and disincentives than most people. Compare Saban's willingness to examine whether a rule is good or bad based on its evident effects on behavior with this from NCAA president Mark Emmert a month before his arrival with the organization, earlier this year:

"I'm really pleased with how we're working with the universities and colleges to try to correct behaviors that are not in the school's best interests," Emmert said in a phone interview Tuesday from Seattle. "Under my leadership, we're not going to see any diminutive effect of that effort. But I like where we're going right now."

"I can't talk about any [current] cases, but the fact that we've got strong enforcement going on, I think, is a good thing," he said.

Now, we're not about to accuse Emmert of not knowing or caring whether every one of those rules is appropriate for the NCAA. That would be wrong. It just seems that with extremely limited disincentive for, say, an agent to make subtle overtures to a prospective pro or a tattoo shop to offer the hookup to a football player in return for some swag, merely increasing the punishment on players taking advantage of such a relationship isn't going to solve any long-term problems; it'll probably just mean more players get in trouble. And if football suffers when its teams lose coaches to suspension with no effect on behavior, it sure as heck also suffers when more of its players are suspended for doing logical things like selling goods for money.

So while we'll stop short of recommending Nick Saban be the next president of the NCAA, in our estimation, the organization would be better off if Saban takes an advisory role on policy once he decides to take his career in a less demanding direction. Or think about it this direction: if Nick Saban's writing the rules, do you really think Terrelle Pryor or A.J. Green sit for a third of the season just for selling things that were given to them in a transaction that doesn't get the other side in trouble at all?

Posted on: December 15, 2010 12:53 pm
 

UF to become Alabama-Gainesville under Muschamp?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Will Muschamp had the pleasure of working under both head coaches from last year's national championship game, serving as Nick Saban's defensive coordinator at LSU (and again with the Miami Dolphins ) and as Mack Brown's DC and coach-in-(not)-waiting-(any longer) at Texas.

But the early reports on his tenure and yesterday's introductory news conference left no doubt which of those two coaches Muschamp wants to emulate, whose methods he has the greater respect for, whose program he wants to refashion for himself in Gainesville. We'll give you a hint: it's not the guy whose staff he just abandoned.

No, it's Saban who Muschamp appears to be taking his cues from, starting with Muschamp's attempts to pluck away Saban's current Muschamp-in-training, Kirby Smart. As a Saban-trained coordinator himself, Muschamp could have looked to bring in a coach with a different philosophy and blend the two approaches; instead, he appears to be trying to hire a coach who can impart what he -- and the coordinator, if Smart or another Saban disciple is hired -- learned from the master with the minimum amount of confusion (or dissent) possible.

Even more telling is Muschamp's approach to the Gator offense :

 

"We will be a pro-style attack offensively and defensively," said Muschamp, who has agreed to a five-year, $13.5 million contract ...

"I know there's going to be a lot of people who ask what type of style offense are we going to be," Muschamp said. "I think it's important that we have some pro-style systems to what we want to do.

" ... Will there be more pro-style ideas in our offense? There certainly will be. We want to be balanced in what we do."

Muschamp also said he wanted his new offensive coordinator to have NFL experience. Despite the overwhelming success of the spread in the current college game -- both of the offenses in this year's BCS title game will be helmed by spread gurus who, far from being NFL veterans, were a New Hampshire assistant and a high school coach just a few short years ago -- it may be a good time to move towards a pro-style set, as those offenses become rarer and enjoy some of the change-of-pace aspect the spread utilized in the past.

That doesn't mean it'll be easy, however. The current Gators were recruited exclusively for Urban Meyer's/Dan Mullen's spread-option attack, and the offensive staff will have to be completely overhauled. But the Saban-taught philosophy Muschamp is trying to instill requires a run-heavy, clock-killing, two-tight-end-power approach to give the hypothetically-overpowering defense its opportunity win the game (not to mention appeal to NFL-hungry recruits), and so that's what the Gators will do.

These are all good ideas, of course. There's a reason Saban has been as overwhelmingly successful as he's been at every stop of his college career, and even the reasons that go beyond his X's-and-O's or administrative prowess -- his inhuman work rate, his ability to close the deal with recruits, his detail-focused willingness to control every aspect of his program -- are traits that Muschamp would seem to share. There's no reason to blame Jeremy Foley for asking Muschamp to provide a second Crimson Tide in Gator colors, especially since the odds appear so good that Muschamp's going to give it to them.

But what if he doesn't? Part of what has made Florida Florida over the past two decades has been their unorthodox thinking under two coaching mavericks in Steve Spurrier and Meyer. Both of them arrived with offenses derided as effeminate jokes that would never work in the SEC, then departed with national title rings and new Heismans in the school's trophy case. Gator fans have been accustomed not only to winning, but of winning in a uniquely identifiable, Florida-first fashion.

That's not to say they won't accept victories as a kind of SEC East edition of the current Tide; if what we might call Alabama-Gainesville winds up with a championship or two under Muschamp, you could probably sell them officially-licensed UAG t-shirts. But if Muschamp can't deliver the goods, if it turns out Foley hasn't hired the new Saban but only the Nutrasweet facsimile of the real thing, Florida fans may wonder (and wonder quickly, and vocally ) if they shouldn't have found another coach -- like Spurrier, like Meyer -- willing to build the Gators in his own image rather than someone else's.

 

Posted on: December 10, 2010 11:11 am
 

Trial delayed in Alabama for BCS title game

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It happened last year when Alabama made it to Pasadena to play for a crystal football, so it's no surprise that it's happened again now that Auburn has advanced to Glendale to do the same: a scheduled trial in the most college football-mad state in he union has been delayed by a federal judge so that one of the lawyers involved can attend the BCS National Championship Game. As the Birmingham News reports:
Michael Mulvaney, one of the attorneys representing the Hartford Fire Insurance Co. in a civil case in federal court in Mobile, filed a motion Wednesday requesting that a trial scheduled for January begin on Jan. 17 or be continued to February in light of the championship game.

"As a life-long Auburn fan, I am asking the Court for grace and mercy to allow me to take my family (wife and 3 daughters) to the game, which is set for January 10, 2011 ... " Mulvaney writes in his motion ... "Since the last National Championship Game for Auburn was 1957 (and I was born in 1965) it is fair to say that this is a once in a life-time opportunity," Mulvaney wrote. "Without Cam Newton (or Nick Saban as our coach) it is hard to imagine this ever happening again."
There are many remarkable details included in the story. A few of them:

1. Mulvaney included several photos of his daughters wearing Auburn clothing as part of his argument. The ruling judge cited "Exhibit A," a portrait of his youngest in an Auburn cheerleading outfit, as reason to delay the trial.

2. As an Auburn fan herself, the judge claimed a "unique understanding" of Mulvaney's complaint.

3. The mention of Nick Saban as a coach more likely to take his team to the national title game was included, Mulvaney said, "in case the judge was an Alabama fan."

4. The other lawyers involved in the case -- one of which was an Alabama fan who acknowledged that a similar request was granted last year -- seemed universally in agreement that the trial should be delayed.

It seems reductive and stereotypical to say "only in Alabama" ... but until the legal system starts taking its cues from the college football schedule somewhere else in the country, it's also probably only fair.
Posted on: November 24, 2010 3:47 pm
 

Barrett Jones likely to miss Iron Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's obvious that this year's Alabama team is not the same as the squad that won the national title last year.  All you have to do is look at the Tide's record, and see those two blemishes in the loss column to figure that out.  While there are a few reasons for this, one of the bigger factors has been the offensive line's inability to block for Greg McElroy.

Only Tennessee and Vanderbilt have allowed their quarterback to be sacked more often in the SEC this year than Alabama, who have given up 27 sacks. In the Iron Bowl on Friday, while Auburn's defense as a whole hasn't been all that impressive, the Alabama offensive line is going to have its hands full with Nick Fairley and company.  A task that may be even tougher now that it looks like guard Barrett Jones isn't going to be able to play.

“Barrett Jones is still struggling a little bit,” said Nick Saban after practice on Tuesday. “He hasn’t been able to practice much. He may try to do some things tomorrow and I think that would be the indicator of whether he would be able to participate in the game or not.” 

Jones suffered a sprained left ankle in the Mississippi State game, and sat out of the team's ritual sacrifice of Georgia State last week.  He has been practicing, but he's been wearing the black "no-contact" jersey.  If he can't go on Friday, he'll be replaced up front by Anthony Steen who filled in for him against Georgia State.
Posted on: November 18, 2010 12:45 pm
 

Nick Saban has an incredible poker face

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

If there was ever a game in which you could give the coach and players of the favorite the thumbs-up on dropping the usual "we respect everyone/we're not looking forward to next week/no, seriously, even though our opponent is starting a cardboard cutout of Jar Jar Binks stolen from a shuttered Blockbuster at outside linebacker, we could lose this game" front, you'd think it would be tonight's matchup between reigning national champions Alabama and FCS Georgia State , a program in its very first year of existence. After all, the Crimson Tide rescheduled the game from Saturday to Thursday specifically to get some extra preparation in before next week's day-after-Thanksgiving showdown with Auburn . It is, almost by definition, a game you look past.

But give Nick Saban credit: even this week, even against the Panthers, the traditional coach's poker face has stayed resolutely in place :

"We're not concerned about anything else," Saban said. "We're not concerned about anybody else but the team that we play this week."

Saban has sold the Alabama-Georgia State as a strong test.

"This team (Georgia State) played to overtime against Jacksonville State who beat Ole Miss," Saban said. "We respect the players that they have. We respect the good job of coaching that they do."

This is the first time in recorded human history that "went to overtime against Jacksonville State " has been cited as a reason for Alabama to be concerned with an opposing football team. That Saban can offer it up with a totally straight face is a poor-mouthing job of truly Lou Holtz -ian proportions, and he should be commended not only for that but for apparently convincing his team of the same:
"We know that every game we play is important," Alabama defensive back Robert Lester said. "Every player in college is an athlete and can make plays. We can't look ahead to Auburn and look past Georgia State, because they could sneak up and beat us, which obviously wouldn't look good."
No, no it wouldn't. But even though the spectrum of all potential possibilities is wide enough that Georgia State could win tonight, in the quantum sense of the word, it's not something Lester and his Tide teammates actually have to worry about. That he's bothering to express sentiments to the contrary should tell you: yes, even in what qualifies as a disappointing season in Tuscaloosa, this is every inch Nick Saban's team.


Posted on: November 16, 2010 10:55 am
 

Trent Richardson may miss another game

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Alabama running back Trent Richardson hasn't played since scoring a touchdown during the Tide's loss to LSU nearly a week and a half ago, thanks to a knee injury he suffered on the play.  Which means that Alabama's two-headed monster at running back was just a one-headed Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram against Mississippi State last Saturday.  Which didn't really seem to hurt Alabama all that much during its 30-10 win.

The Tide now have a short week, as they're going to be hosting Georgia State on Thursday night, and Richardson's status for the game is still up in the air.  Though Nick Saban did sound optimistic that Richardson could play in the game.

"He actually wanted to play in the last game, but we didn't feel like he'd practiced enough or he was ready enough," Saban told the AL.com. "I still think we have to evaluate that day-to-day. It will be interesting. He really didn't do anything on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, so he's had three recovery days as well as rehab days to see where he is today, and that will determine a lot as to how ready he will be to play in this game and what contribution he'll be able to make."

Which is good to hear if you're Richardson, but seriously, what exactly would be the point of playing Richardson against Georgia State if you're Alabama?  You aren't going to need him to win this game, as the rest of the starters will probably be out of the game before the end of the third quarter.  So why risk having Richardson aggravate the knee injury in a game he isn't needed when there's that whole Iron Bowl looming on the horizon?

Last I checked, that game means more.
 
 
 
 
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