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.

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. 

Alabama: The next RB star will be….?

Derrick Henry’s gone, Kenyan Drake’s gone, and T.J. Yeldon’s but a distant and beautiful memory for Alabama fans. The future for the next hero in Tuscaloosa is almost certain to be one or more of these things (not necessarily in this order):

  1. A Heisman + 2-3,000 yard season
  2. NFL riches
  3. A National Championship
  4. A SEC West title + Championship
  5. Worship from Alabama fans because you beat Auburn and LSU

In a bar last night I was shown a video of would-be replacement sophomore Bo Scarborough weave through multiple Michigan State defenders in the CFB Play-Off semi-final win, and it put a smile on my face to think of yet another exciting running back coming out of Tuscaloosa (via Florida).

Scarbough has been called the rising star of Alabama football, the big future, and the way people are drooling over him as a physical freak and a future Zeus, he may well be. The 6-2, 230lb dreadlocked flurry of speed is going to exhaust SEC West defenses, and I fully expect him to destroy USC’s defensive line when he plays them in JerryWorld on Opening Day. The stats have been strong in opening scrimmages, if you believe what they release in Saban Country (remember, they aren’t going to release anything remotely crappy, are they?)

And if his academics are good enough, could we possibly be talking about a possible trip to New York in 2016? It’s very possible. What’s also possible – and probable – is that Scarborough doesn’t yet have the experience to leave in 2017 for NFL riches. He played 4 games last season and put up 104 yards at an average of just over 5 yards a carry – but most of them was against mighty Charleston Southern (he went for 68).

The other guy will be Damien Harris, who is also in his second year but had a great Spring Game for the Tide. Harris is 3 inches shorter than Scarborough at 5-11 and less muscly at 215lb, and he had a great Spring Game where he had 114 yards rushing on 20 carries. Harris played second fiddle to Henry last year and still played in 12 games, had 46 carries and 157 yards. Harris’ biggest games were against mighty MTSU and THAT Charleston Southern defense, while he was basically ignored in the other games.

And there’s always B.J. Emmons, who’s a four-star freshman listed as the second best running back in the country.

Whatever happens, Alabama fans shouldn’t fear too much is going to fade away despite the departure of Henry and Drake. Plus, it looks like the country’s best offensive linesman is not going to jail after all in Cam Robinson. And knowing the forgiving nature of Tuscaloosa, Robinson won’t miss the first game of the season….

Cal coach interviewing with Missouri

Cal Coach Sonny Dykes is one of a few coaches that are interviewing with Missouri, reports have said.

Dykes – who is one of the Pac-12’s great offensive minds – is being interviewed alongside Air Force’s Troy Calhoun, Utah State’s Matt Wells, and Colorado State head coach and former Georgia offensive co-ordinator Mike Bobo.

It seems obvious that Missouri is desperate for something offensively after a season where the team ranked 125th in the country in total offense – ahead of only Boston College, Kent State and UCF. They were 120th in rushing offense and 114th in passing offense.

Having said that, the rumor mill is swirling that current defensive co-ordinator Barry Odom – who is doing a terrific job for the Tigers (and gets players into the NFL – might be leading the way for the role. Odom is reportedly also talking to Memphis about the head coaching job after Tigers head coach Justin Fuente signed for Virginia Tech.

 

 

Dan Mullen’s getting close to leaving Mississippi State

If you believe the news, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen is talking to Miami about the head coaching job in Coral Gables.

The connection for Mullen and Miami isn’t a particularly difficult one. Mullen was the offensive co-ordinator and quarterbacks coach at Florida between 2005 and 2008, and is know as one of the better quarterback coaches in the game.

Under Mullen’s leadership at Mississippi State, Dak Prescott became one of the best quarterbacks in college football in 2014 and 2015, and Mullen’s team also managed to get to No.1 in the polls in the regular season for the first time in the school’s history last year.

Mississippi State had a 54-35 record with Mullen, who is currently God in The Land Of The Cowbell.

But it’s getting obvious that Mullen’s looking for a better opportunity, and with openings available from Athens to Charlottesville to Miami opening up, the opportunities are there for the former Florida man to be well paid once this off-season is over.

So why would he be leaving? It’s pretty easy. Miami and the State of Florida are two of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the nation, and is one of the biggest names in college football – far bigger than Mississippi State. You can also expect Miami – one of the wealthier private schools in the nation – to be able to stump up around $5m – more than the current $4.2m he’s being paid by MSU.

And will Dan Mullen leave? Well, now with the graduation of Dak Prescott, Mullen’s going to have to rebuild again. MSU’s currently 18th on the 24-7 recruiting ranks – good for 8th in the SEC. Nick Fitzgerald and Elijah Staley would be battling it out for the starting QBs job on the team, which loses six starting seniors and could lose as many as 10 starting juniors (although that’s unlikely).

In Miami, Mullen might have to rebuild again, but he’ll be able to rebuild quicker – especially with the talent at his hands in South Beach.

 

Missouri’s the worst team in the SEC: Week 8 rankings

OK, so I’m still trying to work out who the worst team in the conference (Missouri, South Carolina or Vanderbilt). I know one thing for certain: Missouri’s got the worst offense (and one of the best defenses). South Carolina got a win after Spurrier left, but they are still awful. And Vanderbilt is still….Vanderbilt. And that’s despite beating Missouri. Jeez, it’s difficult. Anyway, I took some smelling salts (sold to me by Maty Mauk) and came up with the answers….

After a lay-off of rankings last week, here’s our rankings after Week 8:

  1. Alabama (1): Derrick Henry will be a Heisman candidate. If it wasn’t for him – and some horrific Tennessee field goal kicking – this game against Tennessee could have quite easily been lost. Cigars for the team, but no cigars for the performance.
  2. LSU (2): We still love Leonard Fournette, and this offense is improving. We will see what happens against Alabama, but it’s looking like Cam Cameron actually has an offensive idea that’s not “Give the ball to The Destructor”.
  3. Florida (3): Goes to three after beating bye week.
  4. Ole Miss (5): The defense was great against Ole Miss, only conceding three points and harrying Kyle Allen all night long. A good win for the Rebels, who keep the SEC West in their own hands.
  5. Texas A&M (3): Kyle Allen is looking like 2014 Everett Golsons. That’s not a compliment. A lot of people are crying out for Mr Spavital’s job. Weird, because two weeks ago, we could have sworn that the Aggies looked great.
  6. Mississippi State (6): Dak Prescott and the Mississippi State offense is starting to tick – see as they dropped 42 points on Kentucky on the weekend..
  7. Arkansas (7): Won a huge fourth quarter game against Auburn. Why huge? The Hogs should make a bowl game from here.
  8. Tennessee (8): SHOULD have beaten Alabama. If the secondary wasn’t so poor in the fourth quarter and the kicking game wasn’t so poor all game long, they would be the ones celebrating the biggest upset of Week 8.
  9. Georgia (9): How does it feel when good miracles happen to a hated rival, Georgia? See Georgia Tech for details.
  10. Auburn (10): Win over Kentucky made this team close-ish to being bowl eligible…the four-overtime loss to Arkansas means that they probably won’t make it.
  11. Kentucky (10): Yeah, so getting blown out at Mississippi State isn’t a good look.
  12. South Carolina (14): South Carolina might have lost to Missouri, but they are a better team now the Head Ball Coach is playing 400 rounds of golf a day. 
  13. Vanderbilt (13): HUGE win over Missouri ensures that the Commodores won’t get the 0-fer in conference play. Defense is looking better and better, too.
  14. Missouri (13): As was well said on the “Mizzodcast”, the Tigers could well be unbeaten if the team could find an offense. But the offensive line could rival Penn State for its awfulness. Everything’s going wrong in Columbia. And it went further wrong losing to Vanderbilt, too.

 

Will Alabama win at Georgia? Week 5 SEC Predictions

After a weekly state that saw Tennessee and Arkansas choke away leads, Ole Miss and LSU cough a lot against Vanderbilt and Syracuse respectively, and Auburn not manage to score a touchdown against Mississippi State, this week’s back with a vengeance with a monster clash between National Championship Contenders Georgia and Alabama in Athens.

So without further ado, here’s ranking your SEC games for Week 5…

  1. No.13 Alabama at No.8 Georgia

Alabama’s record against Georgia is a good one: 37-25-4, with the Crimson Tide winning the last two, which included an incredible SEC Championship Game and a 41-30 stuffing of the Bulldogs in Athens in 2008. This year, Alabama’s home loss to Ole Miss has meant the SEC West isn’t in Nick Saban’s hands anymore, while Georgia’s still the class of the SEC East. Georgia’s got a legitimate Heisman contender in running back Nick Chubb, while Alabama’s got a legitimate Heisman contender in running back Derrick Henry. Both teams have pretty good defenses, and both quarterbacks – UGA’s Greyson Lambert and Alabama’s Jacob Coker will be hoping to get some time to throw the ball. But if Saturday’s clash on what could be on a crappy, rainy day (70% chance) is anything like the game the two teams played in 2012, then we can’t frickin’ wait.

PREDICTION: Alabama’s a two-point underdog (first time in 72 matches blah blah blah…). We’ll take Alabama to win, because of their superior defense. By 7. 

2. No.3 Ole Miss at No. 25 Florida

Florida came back from a double-digit fourth quarter deficit to beat Tennessee, while Ole Miss struggled with Vanderbilt after their huge win in Tuscaloosa. This week, Robert Nkemdiche & Co roll into The Swamp, where the atmosphere is going to be electric. If Ole Miss wins this time, you won’t get the big Tim Tebow speech like there was after an unranked Ole Miss side stunned the No.4 Gators in 2008, because a loss will be pretty much expected. But this Florida’s defense – led by future first rounder Vernon Hargreaves – is very, very mean, so don’t expect a monster day from Chad Kelly, either. Can’t wait for Hargreaves’ clash with Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell. Nor can the NFL Scouts.

PREDICTION: Ole Miss is a 7-1/2 point favorite in Vegas. We’ll take Ole Miss by 10 after three quarters of a scare. 

3. No. 21 Mississippi State at No. 14 Texas A&M

Texas A&M’s only unbeaten because Arkansas couldn’t hold onto a big lead in JerryWorld last week, but this week, the Aggies had better watch out for Dak Prescott, who’s the best QB in the SEC right now. WR De’Runnya Wilson could cause some havoc in the secondary if he’s got the time….and the Cowbellers are pretty good at converting opportunities. On the other side, we’re sure that A&M’s future All-American Christian Kirk WILL cause havoc with his punt returning or wide receiving adventures. The great thing for Texas A&M is that Mississippi State doesn’t exactly have a monster running game (Arkansas exploited it last week).

PREDICTION: Texas A&M’s favored by 6-1/2. We’ll take the Aggies by 14. 

4. Arkansas at Tennessee

BIG NEWS FROM KNOXVILLE: Extra counsellors have been hired to monitor the 100,000-odd crowd who are going to be sat there in the peeing rain in Neyland Stadium for the inevitable:  One of these two sides losing in the heartbreaking fashion. The counsellors won’t change the game on the field, but they might stop the losing fanbases attempting to end the life of their head coach.

PREDICTION: Tennessee’s favored by 6-to-7 points. Oh hell. We’ll take Arkansas by 3 in fun shoot-out. 

5. South Carolina at Missouri

With Maty Mauk getting suspended indefinitely for an unspecified rules violation, Missouri fans are suddenly happy again. That’s because Mauk has been pretty much awful so far this season, and the rest of the offense has been – as the brilliant podcast “The Mizzodcast” puts it – “Hot Garbage”. The pressure will be on freshman Drew Lock to do the job against a South Carolina side who’s on its third quarterback – Lorenzo Nunez. Pharoh Cooper will be the person to watch – as usual – as the potential gamebreaker. This won’t be a game for the neutrals.

PREDICTION: Missouri’s a 3-point favorite. We’ll take Missouri by 7, winning, er, 10-7??

6. Vanderbilt at Middle Tennessee State

The bookies seem to hate Vanderbilt so much that they’ve installed Middle Tennessee State as a 1.5 point favorite on Saturday (although that’s fallen from 4). It’s weird, because Vandy’s defense was fantastic at offensive juggernaut Ole Miss, limiting them to 26 points and intercepting QB Chad Kelly twice. MTSU this season has lost to Alabama (37-10) and Illinois (27-25) and beaten Jackson State and Charlotte. And put up 70 points in each game.

PREDICTION: Vanderbilt with the ‘upset’, locking the defense and winning by 7.

7. Eastern Michigan at LSU

We’ll only be keeping an eye on this because of Leonard Fournette.

PREDICTION: LSU’s a 45-point favorite. Which we’re not sure about. The Tigers will win, though.

8. Eastern Kentucky at Kentucky

Patrick Towles and the Wildcats return to the site of their monster victory against Missouri last week by hosting Eastern Kentucky. Will this game really matter? Leading up to the game we got the appalling news that EKU redshirt freshman defensive linesman Joey Kraemer – who was only 19 – was killed in a car crash over last weekend. Our condolences, EKU Family. 

PREDICTION: Kentucky by 21, but it’s closer that it seems. 

9. San Jose State at Auburn

If Auburn doesn’t get a touchdown in this game, then we might see the trees burn in Auburn.

PREDICTION: Auburn’s a 20-point favorite. We think they win by 28. Won’t really ‘make a point’ to the rest of the SEC, but it’ll make everyone smile.

 

 

 

 

 

Former Auburn TE star Lutzenkirchen killed in car crash

Former Auburn star tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen has been killed in a car crash.

Lutzenkirchen died in Georgia after a 2006 Chevy Tahoe containing he and three others “ran a stop sign and careened out of control for roughly 450 feet before overturning several times, coming to a rest on its roof“, according to a USA Today report.

It is not known whether alcohol was a factor in the accident.

Lutzenkirchen played for all four years of his Auburn career – although his final season was cut short by a hip injury that cost him a NFL future. He caught 14 TDs over his 59-game career for the Tigers for 628 yards. He also was one of the mainstays in the Auburn Tigers’ 2010-1 National Championship victory in which the Tigers beat not only favored Alabama but also Oregon.

I’m deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Philip Lutzenkirchen,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said in a statement. “He was a great young man who touched the lives of everyone he knew in a positive way. On the field, Philip was a great player and competitor, but more importantly, he was a great teammate and friend off the field.

He added: “My thoughts and prayers are with Philip’s parents, Mike and Mary, and all of his family and friends who are grieving his passing. This is a sad day for the entire Auburn family. I find peace knowing that even though Philip was taken from us too soon, that he lived his life to the fullest, leaving a lifetime of great memories for his family and friends to cherish forever.

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