Tennessee fires AD John Currie, replaces him with Fulmer

If there is a celebration to be had in Knoxville at the moment, then surely today is an early tonic: Tennessee has just fired John Currie, its athletic director.

They have now replaced him with Phil Fulmer, who was run out of Knoxvville as head coach in 2008, despite winning the Vols a National Championship.

Although Currie was regularly attacked for the Greg Schiano incident, where he reportedly offered the Ohio State DC the job, and then had VolNation throw it back in face with such force that he had to rescind it again, he really should have left his post some time beforehand.

Under his eight-month guidance, Tennessee football was a shambles. The Vols didn’t win a SEC game and finished the season with such style that Vanderbilt dropped more than 40 points on them at home in the ‘Battle Of The Winless’. Their head coach Butch Jones was a running joke throughout the season, and no-one seemed to tell him when to shut up. Oh, and the rock, which seems to paint slogans every five seconds in Knoxville, spat out hatred for Currie, for Schiano, and Jones.

Thanks to the Schiano incident – which could cost Tennessee millions if Schiano sues the school for slandering his ‘good’ name – the once proud Orange is now one of the most poisonous jobs to take in college football. The school is run by its boosters and by social media, and no longer by its head coach. The school must be looking at itself and saying: “We shouldn’t have gotten rid of Phil Fulmer”.

Currie’s choices (by social media) about who to appeal to have been head-scratchers. Davie Doeren of NC State and Jeff Brohm of Purdue has reportedly walked away from offers. There have been no discussions with Memphis head coach Mike Norvell, who is in charge of one of the most fun offenses in college football, and there have been no discussions with Tee Martin, who was the QB on the last National Championship Tennessee had.

If Currie had done is job properly he would have fired Jones after the Kentucky game. While it was excusable to get blown out by Alabama and Georgia, losing to Kentucky was not. He should have gone them – and it probably would have saved his job.

Aldso under his job, Tennessee athletics in general has been mired in failure. While it has always spawned good athletics, the school hasn’t won a National Championship in any sport since Women’s Indoor Track & Field took home victory in 2009. Currie’s job was to change that, and he failed to do so.

But for now, Tennessee fans can celebrate. Currie is out, and the school can move on. And will do with Fulmer at the helm.

Will Georgia or Auburn win the SEC Championship Game?

Wow. The 2017 SEC Championship Game between Georgia and Auburn will be the first SEC Championship game since 2013 not to feature Alabama.

It’ll be Auburn’s first trip to the SEC Championship Game since it won a 59-42 shoot-out against Missouri in 2013, and it’ll be Georgia’s first trip to Atlanta since they lost 32-28 to Alabama in 2012 in one of the greatest SEC Championship Games in living memory.

This year, both teams come with one spot in mind: The College Football Play-Off. Basically, the winner will go to the College Football Play-Off, while the loser will be on the outside looking in.

Of course, there’s a revenge factor for Georgia. On November the Bulldogs were schooled at Jordan-Hare, losing 40-17. Auburn comes with momentum, having toppled two No.1 teams in a row in Georgia and Alabama in the Iron Bowl (with an untidy performance against Louisiana-Lafayette in the middle).

In other words, no-one in the South – or in college football – can wait for this one.

Here’s why both teams will win.

WHY GEORGIA WINS

The revenge factor. Georgia was hammered at Jordan-Hare. There are arguments that if WR Riley Ridley had caught Jake Fromm’s throw, things might have been different. Of if Georgia had decided not to give 75 yards on seven, stupid penalties. Having said that, that wasn’t the real reason the Bulldogs lost. The Bulldogs lost because they couldn’t stop Kerryon Johnson, who pummeled Georgia’s offensive line. They lost to an Auburn defensive line that shut down Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and they lost to the better quarterback in Jarrett Stidham. But now, all this doesn’t matter. Kirby Smart’s team have been looking forward to this for a week (they are pretty well-rested after easily dusting Georgia Tech in ‘Clean Old-Fashioned Hate’ (or whatever that rivalry’s called), and they now know how to stop Malzahn.

Georgia’s also going to win because they are sick to death of being told how they will ‘Georgia’. In other words, how they will miss out on the epic victory, like Mark Richt managed over and over again (with the exception of the 2005 SEC Championship Game – the last time the Dawgs won the trophy). This time it’s different, it’s personal. Chubb and Michel are both fit – unlike Johnson, who is listed as ‘probable’ by the Tigers, but we both know that with the pain that he left the Iron Bowl in, he’s unlikely to be at the top of his game. They also know how to win, and how to take advantage of what is still a week Auburn secondary.

Oh, and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium isn’t going to be a game at Jordan-Hare, either. It could feel like a home game for Georgia.

WHY AUBURN WINS

There is no team in college football with greater momentum than Auburn at the moment. After all, they’ve dispatched of two No.1s. And not only have they beaten Georgia and Alabama, but they’ve comfortably beaten them. No-one’s playing as well as their defensive line, led by Jeff Holland, Marlon Davidson, Derrick Brown and Dontavius Russell. They’ve got back-up players (Nick Coe and Andrew Williams) who are nasty as well. This defensive line didn’t just stuff Georgia – they stuffed Damien Harris and Bo Scarborough. Unless Jake Fromm turns into the new Baker Mayfield, the invasion of the Georgia offensive line will continue.

Oh, and there’s the offense, too. QB Jarrett Stidham played two of the best games of his season against Georgia and Auburn – even if his TD stats didn’t show it against the Tide (he threw for 3 TDs and 214 yards against Georgia). He’s taken control of the offense at just the right time, and he’s going to cause Georgia’s defense problems on broken plays with his legs as well as with his arms. And we ‘almost’ (hee! hee!) forget about Kerryon Johnson. Not only does he throw touchdowns, but he’ll also run over defenses. He was IMMENSE before getting injured against Alabama, and even better against Georgia. All season long he’s been incredible, running for 1,276 yards and 17 TDs, running over defenses who have tried to stop him. Gus Malzahn’s confident he’ll play.

And in terms of offensive brains, you’d take Malzahn over Kirby Smart or his offensive coordinator, Jim Chaney. So we can’t wait for the pack of cards to come out.

WHAT VEGAS THINKS

Auburn’s a two-point favorite.

WHAT WE THINK

This is going to be a damned classic. There’s no way this is going to be as one-sided as people think. We think Georgia’s D is going to come in angry as hell, and they are going to target Johnson’s shoulder (fairly or unfairly). That’s going to mean that Stidham will be forced to throw more against a very good Georgia secondary. And the revenge factor – and the fact that it will be a home game for the Dawgs – is huge.

Oh, and we’re still quite smug about Vegas only making Georgia a 11-point favorite against Georgia Tech last week. They blew that out mid-way through the third quarter. Thanks for the money!! 

SO OUR PREDICTION…

Georgia 35, Auburn 28.

Other predictions: Oklahoma will slam TCU in the Big 12 Championship Game, Clemson will have no problem with Miami (thanks to the fact that not only is it the better team but also Charlotte’s a home game for the Tigers), and Ohio State will beat Wisconsin by 14 in the Big Ten Championship Game, and USC will beat Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game. And Lane Kiffin will win with FAU (beating North Texas) and Scott Frost will take UCF to an unbeaten season by beating Memphis in a high-scoring, must-watch classic.

Will Georgia raise a cocktail? Week 9 SEC Preview

It’s Cocktail Party week, when the Georgia and Florida fans descend on Jacksonville and get blind drunk before the 3.30 pm kick-off, and provide an atmosphere that’s OK. During the week before, Florida’s been talking a lot of crap, while the head coach has been telling stories (which might be true) about death threats.

If we’re honest, that’s going to be the most interesting game of the week. The ones are a little bit of a struggle.

  1. No.3 Georgia (-14) vs Florida: Georgia fans are going to run, run, run the ball down Florida’s throat, and hope that Jake Fromm’s not forced into passing. Despite what people say, UF has a good secondary, and every game that they’ve lost have been a lot closer than 14 points. The problem for Florida is that they are facing a great defense, and their offense absolutely sucks. PREDICTION: Georgia by 17.
  2. Tennessee vs Kentucky (-4): The Butch Jones death train spirals downwards to Lexington, KY, where eyes are going to be on whether the Vols survive after last week’s brutal beating by Alabama. The news that the Volunteers’ top running back got himself suspended can’t have helped the humor around the program either. Kentucky last week wasn’t too great itself, getting its hind pots booted by Mississippi State. This could be awful to watch. PREDICTION: Kentucky by 7.
  3. Mississippi State (-1.5) vs Texas A&M: After beating the crap out of Kentucky, people are talking again about whether Mississippi State’s losing streak was an aberration, while Texas A&M isn’t as bad as people think. We love Christian Kirk, a lot. But then again, we love Nick Fitzgerald a lot, too. This is going to the wire. PREDICTION: Texas A&M in the mild ‘upset’, winning by 3. 
  4. Arkansas at Ole Miss (-3.5): This is how bad Arkansas is, people. Ole Miss, which is rumored to be mailing it in, has no defense to speak of and now doesn’t have a quarterback that’s any good after Shea Patterson’s season-ending injury. Arkansas is still an underdog to Ole Miss this week. The pressure on Bret Bielema’s hotting up – and is possibly hotting up on AD Jeff Long, who despite talking a good game at College Football Play-Off time, should really look after the games the Razorbacks are playing. PREDICTION: Ole Miss by 10. 
  5. Vanderbilt at South Carolina (-7): Jake Bentley is a solid quarterback and South Carolina really isn’t a bad team, and they are coming across a Vanderbilt side that’s aching to turn things around after being run on by everybody since they were crushed by Alabama (and that includes a poor Ole Miss side). We fancy the Gamecocks to roll. PREDICTION: South Carolina by 14. 
  6. Missouri (-13) vs UConn: UConn’s secondary is despicable, giving up 373 passing yards per game. Missouri’s found a bit of faith in its offense, and there are prayers that the defense can actually hold the UConn offense, which is mediocre if not terrible. We think Drew Lock throws a bundle, and Missouri wins handily. PREDICTION: Missouri by 30.

It Just Means More: A Guide to Hating Every SEC Fanbase

The most important thing about the SEC is our passion. In other words: “We love our program, and therefore hate yours.” The hatred between teams is probably encapsulated best either in the Alabama – Auburn rivalry or the four days of carnage known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party featuring Florida and Georgia, in which there will no doubt be a lot of trash talk and fighting between fans.

So in this, we thought we’d give you a guide about what to hate about EVERY team’s fanbase in the SEC. Oh, and we hate CBS’ music, Brad Nessler (he’s from Minnesota) and Gary Danielson (I don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to throw a chair through the TV when he’s commentating), and every other conference in college football (and Notre Dame, the pious Catholic mother****ers). And don’t start us on Paul Finebaum…

JUST REMEMBER: IT JUST MEANS MORE. 

So here we go, in alphabetical order:

  1. Alabama: The fact that the houndstooth wearing, three-brained Bama brethren take everything as a ‘slight’ or ‘bulletin board material for the team’, when it’s probable that the team don’t read the media as much as they do. They don’t like sarcasm and they hate losing. So much so that they’ll poison your shrubbery, or scream that Saban should leave. They can’t work out what the best mascot is for a ‘Crimson Tide’, so they bring in a weird elephant with a terrible trunk,. They insist that their fans are really nice, but really they are super arrogant. Oh, and Finebaum’s an ostrich, with the only difference being that the ostrich buries his head in the sand, while Finebaum buries his head up Nick Saban’s ass. Oh, and the ‘Rammer Jammer’ thing is bad when they give your teams a beatdown. Which happens, often. How many Alabama fans actually went to Alabama, anyway?
  2. Arkansas: Southeastern Conference my ass. It’s a pain in the butt to get too (I really hate I-20 and I-22), and the fanbase can’t stop moaning about how much they hate Texas and or/Oklahoma. THAT SHIP HAS SAILED, people. The ‘Pig Sooiee’ chant is weird.
  3. Auburn: Is it ‘War Eagle’ or ‘War Tiger’? We never know. Like Alabama, they love their live mascot (the eagle) but they’ve got a furry mascot too (a person in a Tiger’s suit). Auburn fans think that their job is the best in the SEC (it’s really not). Oh, and then there’s the $Cam Newton thing, that we all felt in the SEC (it wasn’t just Alabama). If they beat you, they’ll throw toilet paper on the trees, which are coming back after the Harvey Updyke disgrace (sometimes the trees are more revered than the football team).
  4. Florida: Florida might be in the South, but they ain’t Southern. The whole ‘Gator Chomp’ thing is one of the most annoying things in college football, and they all wear jorts (jean shorts to the uneducated) to football games instead of dressing properly. Oh, and Steve Spurrier and Tim Tebow can screw off, too.
  5. Georgia: We hate guys woofing. It’s weird, and that’s what Georgia fans do all the time (calling it “Calling the Dawgs, while some might call it “Acting like an idiot”). They also piss and moan if they lose, and they are arrogant as hell if they win. UGA fans haven’t learned about the art of sportsmanship yet. Georgia’s arrogance is actually hilarious if you think that Missouri’s won more division titles than they have in recent years.
  6. Kentucky: Hey, just give them a horse race and be done with it. We know the real fact: Kentucky is a basketball school and in Lexington, all the fanbase talks about is ‘basketball season’. Which makes it all the funnier when they don’t make it to the Final Four. Look, we GET that Kentucky’s got a good history of the round ball, but they’ve also got a history of sucking in the SEC, which makes them embarrassing for us to watch.
  7. LSU: WE GET THE SUN’S GONE DOWN ON TIGER STADIUM. EVEN WHEN IT HASN’T. IT DOESN’T MAKE THE FANBASE SMELL LESS OF CORNDOGS. We’ve heard enough about night games at Death Valley (CBS usually steals the big ones for the 3.30 slot, so really they’re screwed there) to last a lifetime. Oh, and shut up about how great you are at tailgating. We’re all amazing at tailgating here in the SEC. That’s what we live for. And you ain’t French, either.
  8. Ole Miss: Blah blah blah, Oxford tailgate blah blah blah. It’s a cliche now, isn’t it? Oh, and Eli Manning went there? No s***. You’ve never mentioned it, Ole Miss fans. Or that his Dad went there. Or that Peyton should have gone there. And how the NCAA have it out for you. Listen, you knew Hugh Freeze was/is a pious dirtbag when you hired him (he had a reputation coming from high school, we hear), and he finally got what was coming to him. Oh, and the continued linking to a – shall we say – checkered – past is also weird and quite scary, too.
  9. Mississippi State: The Cowbells. Oh my God. The Cowbells. The loudest, most irritating sound in the SEC. You get headaches for weeks and months afterwards. The fans can’t stop talking about who’s the bigger cheater – them or Ole Miss. We don’t know, and we’re past caring. All we do know is: Shut the **** Up with those Cowbells.
  10. Missouri: In the same way as Florida really ain’t Southern, Missouri isn’t either. It’s Mid-West and should have stayed there. And those Missouri fans aren’t sarcastic, they are plain rude. Also, how dare they come into the East and win division titles.
  11. South Carolina: Please stop saying “Go Cocks”. It’s weird and embarrassing. And ‘Sandstorm’ is also one of the most terrible tracks ever known to man. It wasn’t written by an American either, but by a Finnish dude. Whereever the hell that Finland place is.
  12. Tennessee: Gaudy? Tasteless? We’re not describing the butt-chugging (they all deny it but we KNOW it’s true) that they are into in Knoxville. No, it’s the Orange. How does anyone want to wear that? Oh, and shut up about Peyton ****ing Manning, you three-toothed Hillbillies. Oh, and Philip Fulmer’s fat and he’s a snitch. And when UT ran him out of town, his replacements have been a horror show (The only time Lane Kiffin has ever shut up is when Nick Saban told him to). Which is funny, because Vols fans are now as mad as hell. As those weird hippie Pac-12 people say out West, when they aren’t taking LSD and talking about the damned Sixties? Karma.
  13. Texas A&M: HAVE  YOU MENTIONED THE 12TH MAN LATELY? PLEASE TELL US AGAIN. We are reminded that David Koresh went to Waco and not College Station. Had he wanted to get away with it all, all he would have had to do is don a Texas A&M shirt and chat to a dog and he would have been a welcomed part of the fanbase. Oh, and you’ve gotta start playing Texas again – mainly because you can’t stop singing about them, talking about them, and giving the ‘horns down’ at every opportunity. And yes, we get that Johnny Football was pretty good, too. Whatever happened to that guy, anyway?
  14. Vanderbilt: As this is the only private school on the list, Vandy people will talk to you but only with their nose in the air. Commodore fans simply don’t show up for football games, despite being in the heart of Nashville, one of the South’s greatest towns.

Nick Saban signs extension but raises questions

Nick Saban has signed a contract extension this year that will pay him $11.1 million in 2017 as part of an eight-year deal that will pay the coach a total of $65 million – and that’s before bonuses that could pay him another $700,000 per year until 2024.

Also seeing their salaries bumped are new AD Greg Byrne (who only took the job in June), as well as his assistants, led by co-defensive co-ordinator Tosh Lupoi, who will earn $950,000, while new offensive co-ordinator Brian Dobell has re-signed until January 2020 in a $1.2 million salary deal.

Record

Saban’s record at Alabama is stunning – 119-19 over the last 10 years, with four of those years leading the Crimson Tide to a National Championship.

During his tenure at Alabama Saban has not been immune from the loss of co-ordinators, who have gone on to varying successes. Former OC Jim McElwain is the head coach of Florida, former DC Kirby Smart is the head coach of Georgia and most recently, OC Lane Kiffin in the head coach of Florida Atlantic University, while offensive line coach and recruiter supreme Mario Cristobal is now the co-offensive co-ordinator at Oregon.

The deal is great for Saban, his family, for Alabama fans still worrying he might leave for Texas, and of course, his agent Jimmy Sexton, who should be pocketing a tidy amount for the negotiation.

Alabama and other schools

In the time that Saban has been in charge of Alabama, the school has made more than $100m from football – which is absolutely stunning. And football’s success and the subsequent financial income has meant good news for the other non-revenue-making sports ‘on the Alabama roster’, which are being kept afloat by the thousands of fans buying tickets, shirts, hats and probably pets called ‘Crimson’ just for bathing in the light of the pigskin.

Oh, and rival schools – whether they like to say it or not – probably love Saban’s success, because every time the Crimson Tide come to town there is more fanfare than a Royal Wedding in Britain, leading to higher TV exposure. The SEC certainly loves Alabama’s success – Saban’s made the conference look better. ESPN and CBS have enjoyed the Crimson Tide for viewing figure purposes, and those charming people on the secondary market who concentrate on Tuscaloosa games are probably driving Mercs.

But what about the students?

The biggest annoyance we have with a deal like this for Saban is that Alabama players over the years of Saban’s multi-million dollar success have been paid exactly $0. Of course, there are stipends (and we suspect under-the-table ‘players’ donations’ given by boosters (it being the SEC), but that’s nothing if you consider what Alabama has made in terms of sports revenue.

Of course, the likes of Paul Finebaum and many Alabama fans will argue that Saban’s contract is worth it, and we’d agree – if you are thinking about the price paid by the university itself. There are a ton of players who have profited from Saban’s teaching, too. Especially the 22 first round picks who played for Saban in Tuscaloosa (65 in total have gone pro).

But there are a ton of players who have played for Saban and have come out with exactly nothing, while their coach has reaped the financial rewards.

I’m sorry, but that doesn’t seem right.

 

Should Alabama fans be pleased with their new OC?

What a few months it’s been for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

After coasting (most of the way) during the regular season, the Crimson Tide destroy Florida to win the SEC Championship. Then offensive coordinator/genius Lane Kiffin leaves for the bright lights of a head coaching job at Florida Atlantic University. The Crimson Tide win their Play-Off semi-final against Washington convincingly to set up a monster clash with Clemson, who had hammered Ohio State 31-0 in its own semi-final. Lane Kiffin is told not to come to the National Championship Game. Steve Sarkasian is given the OC job for the National Championship Game. Clemson beats Alabama in the last second. Steve Sarkasian gets the OC job. Steve Sarkasian bolts for the Super Bowl-blowing Atlanta Falcons to be OC there, much to the annoyance to Bama Nation.

Nick Saban seemed to ignore all of that and still dominate the 2017 National Signing Day. We heard stories of kids that were offered scholarships by Alabama, but didn’t receive actual letters from the school, so went elsewhere. Such is the power of what’s happening down in Tuscaloosa.

Anyway, back to the offensive coordinator. There were rumors that he would join forces with offensive guru Chip Kelly, who did genius things at Oregon but not in the NFL. Instead, Saban went to his old friend Bill Belichick, and asked: “Who have you got on your coaching staff I can have?” So Belichick said to current tight ends coach Brian Daboll that he might want to go and have an interview down in the Southland. Daboll did, and now he’s the new offensive coordinator for the most demanding college football coach in the history of mankind (and that’s probably an understatement).

Daboll’s had 17 seasons in the NFL, which is fantastic longevity, and should be an excellent recruiting tool for Saban. Now he can bring someone to the party who can say to NFL players: “I know what NFL scouts are looking for! I spent 17 years in the NFL! If you come play for me, I can get you to the next level!”

For us, we can’t wait to see Daboll getting yelling at on the sideline.

 

Steve Sarkasian leaves Alabama for Falcons

Steve Sarkasian has left Alabama to be the new offensive coordinator at the Atlanta Falcons.

Sarkasian, who only took charge of Nick Saban’s offense just before the National Championship loss to Clemson, took over the Falcons role just after former OC Kyle Shanahan left to be the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

According to SB Nation, ‘the relationship between Saban and Sarkisian deteriorated amid disagreements in ‘system philosophy.’

It’s not unusual that Nick Saban should fall out with his offensive coordinators. His fall-outs with Lane Kiffin during his time at Bama are stuff of YouTube legend. What seems strange that Saban – who talks often about giving people ‘second chances’, didn’t seem too upset with Sarkasian’s decision to go to Atlanta.

‘We appreciate all Coach Sarkisian did for our program during his time here,’ Saban said. ‘He is an outstanding coach, and we wish him the best in his new role as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator. As always, when we have an opening on our staff, we will use it as an opportunity to go out and hire the best coach available.’

What’s interesting is that last month Mike Locksley was named co-offensive coordinator. He was an offensive analyst for Alabama and before that worked at Maryland.

Alabama fansite BamaHammer is already saying that Locksley’s going to be the new OC. ‘Book it’, the site says.

It seems to us that whoever the new OC at Alabama is is that they are going to have to obedient to Saban. Saban doesn’t like anyone who disagrees with him.

This could be interesting.

If Locksley doesn’t get the job, names of recently fired Oregon coaches like Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich have had their names thrown around.

Suddenly, this is the most intriguing battle of the offseason – particularly with the weapons that Alabama is bringing in from National Signing Day to help the new OC (and Saban) out.

Who’s going to win Alabama vs Washington?

I sorted of jumped around in my seat when I saw that Vegas had narrowed the prediction of Alabama’s margin-of-victory to under two touchdowns before their College Football Play-Off game with Washington in Atlanta.

There are no doubts that Washington’s a good side. Their sole loss of the season – to a USC side that probably would be playing in its place if the Trojans had had any early season form (they were good for about a quarter against Alabama on Opening Saturday!) – wasn’t great, but otherwise, Chris Petersen’s side was effective.

All the odds stack up in Alabama’s favour. It’s defense – Nick Saban’s pride and joy – is the best in the country. Washington will give you a chance, but their secondary feasts on stupid decisions by quarterbacks. They had 19 interceptions in the regular (plus Pac-12 Championship Game) season. Alabama’s defense is downright FREAKY – its linebackers and secondary players seem to average a touchdown and a Pick-6 EVERY SINGLE GAME.

On  the offensive side, Alabama’s offensive line is – as we know – incredible, and everyone from Bo Scarborough – who’s going to battle it out for a Heisman in 2017 to Calvin Ridley to OJ Howard are frigteningly good. Washington has playmaker John Ross who can destoy a mistake-making secondary, but wouldn’t Nick Saban have focused on ways for him NOT TO GET THE BALL?

The question will be, then: Who is the quarterback to avoid those problems. Jake Browning, if we’re honest, hasn’t really been the same since he was torched against USC for two interceptions and safety, while Jalen Hurts has been convincing all season. Of course, there have been moments that he’s given up the odd stupid INT, but with the offensive line as it is, I sincerely doubt that Washington’s going to get the pressure.

PREDICTION: Alabama by 21 and the only reason why it’s that close is that Saban shows respect for Petersen.

And Ohio State vs Clemson is going to be a battle royale between two great teams. If it was on coaches alone, we’d take Urban Meyer every time, but Clemson  has a better quarterback, more talented receivers, and an attacking defense and more’s the case, has got a team that’s been there before. The problem with Clemson is that Dabo Swinney can see his team take a big lead, and then becomes far more conservative, which in fact ended up hurting him in the National Championship and several games this season. It would be wise of him not to do that against the Buckeyes.

PREDICTION: Clemson by 5 in AN INSTANT CLASSIC.

Lane Kiffin to leave Alabama, reports say

Lane Kiffin is to leave his job of offensive coordinator at Alabama to become the new head coach of Florida Atlantic, multiple reports have said.

Florida Atlantic will apparently pay Kiffin $1 million-per-year – a near-30% drop – from the $1.4 million-per-year he’s being paid by Nick Saban.

Kiffin was praised by legendary Miami and Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger who told Fox Sports: “He was a great player, himself, and a fine coach. He’s got a good track record and he’s qualified.

Kiffin will continue to coach the school during the College Football Play-Off – in which Alabama is an overwhelming favorite to take home the title. Nick Saban was supportive of the move.

We think this is a wonderful opportunity for him,” Saban said. “He’s done a great job here.”

It’s weird and wonderful that this news comes just a day after the SEC Blog wrote the article: Why can’t Lane Kiffin get a head coaching job?

 

 

 

Why can’t Lane Kiffin get a head coaching job?

This year the rumors were hotter than ever that Lane Kiffin would get a prized coaching job. And even hotter that they would be in Houston, following Tom Herman’s decision to go to Texas to be the new head coach.

It looked a slam-dunk. The good people at USA Today reported so. And then suddenly, there was a U-Turn in the Houston ranks, who instead decided on former UH offensive coordinator Major Applewhite to be the head coach.

The school’s logic? Houston’s board of regents chairman Tilman Fertitta (great name, by the way sir) called into a radio station and said: ‘”Lane Kiffin did not show me anything that Major Applewhite did not show me. Sure, he’s been a head coach, and he’s been an OK head coach. But I can tell you this: It was not a safe hire.”

OK, so what did he mean by safe hire?

Was the term ‘safe hire’ about really being an ‘OK head coach’?  At Tennessee he moved the Vols from a 5-7 record to a 7-6 record, but his mouthing-off about Alabama and Florida didn’t help him when lost to them. And there seemed to be a bunch of hope. So when he left for SC, Kiffin was actually better than most people believe at USC – particularly after the postseason bans and loss of scholarship players in the 2010 season that dropped his would-be 85 scholarship players to just 71….and he came with an 8-5 record. The next season – with another bowl ban – USC had a 10-2 record. In 2012, he showed a lot of self-confidence — even voting the Trojans to No.1 in a preseason poll….and finished with an 8-5 record. In 2013, the most famous move for him was being fired at LAX after starting the season with a 4-7 record. And as an offensive coordinator at Alabama, he’s seen nothing but success, helping Nick Saban to a National Championship in 2015 (and probably in 2016, since the Crimson Tide looks unstoppable under his offensive tutelage) and back-to-back-to-back SEC Championships. Oh, and there’s been a Heisman Trophy thrown in there for Derrick Henry, too. But there is this fact: In two out of three of his head coaching jobs, Kiffin has been fired. And both of them have been unceremonious. Houston probably couldn’t face a controversy like that again.

….But he’s proved to be excellent offensive coordinator… As an offensive coordinator at Alabama, he’s seen nothing but success, helping Nick Saban to a National Championship in 2015 (and probably in 2016, since the Crimson Tide looks unstoppable under his offensive tutelage) and back-to-back-to-back SEC Championships. Oh, and there’s been a Heisman Trophy thrown in there for Derrick Henry, too.

Was the term ‘safe hire’ about loyalty? The University of Houston probably looked at Kiffin’s one-stop ‘drop’ of Tennessee (and the way he did it) and thought to themselves: ‘As soon as ‘bigger job’ comes up, he’ll walk. And we don’t want to be seen as a ‘feeder school’ to big-time programs.

But remember this… Kiffin was fired at the Oakland Raiders. And he was fired at the Trojans. He didn’t leave them.

Was the term ‘safe hire’ about his mouth and actions? OK, so here’s the problem that Houston probably thought about Lane Kiffin. While every time you’ve seen Kiffin on the sidelines next to Nick Saban, Saban’s been the one giving out the abuse (Kiffin’s taken it…much to my admiration, if I’m honest). But that hasn’t always been the case. He was called a ‘flat-out liar’ by Oakland’s ownership in 2008 because the rumors were floating about his considering college football roles…and then he denied it. That probably didn’t score any points with the Houston guys. Then, there was his arrival in Tennessee, when not only did he say in an overly-confident arrival that he would beat Florida and Alabama (he didn’t), but a few weeks after said that Urban Meyer – then the Florida coach – of cheating and NCAA violations. That probably didn’t go down well. Then he was rude about other SEC competitors.

Was the term ‘safe hire’ about his actions? And speaking of actions, there have been a bunch of accusations  – that we won’t print – about Lane Kiffin’s off-the-field behavior that certain boards of regents might be unhappy with. But then again, Major Applewhite didn’t exactly do himself any favors in that department, either.

So how will it play out? We don’t know. Kiffin’s obviously an offensive genius but he’s got the hirers really, really worried about his mouth, his history with ownership, leadership, and SEC and NCAA administrators when a head coach. Nick Saban has openly supported Lane Kiffin finding a head coaching job, and has said that he’s ‘ready again’ to take the job. That’s an excellent reference if you ask us. Florida Atlantic are said to be going for Kiffin, but the talks have stalled. How does this blog think things will go? Kiffin will stay for another year as OC of Alabama. And God Help Us All. 

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