Saban takes a jab at Boise State title talk


“Should Boise State be in the national championship discussion?”

Throughout the preseason and, especially, after Boise State’s 33-30 win over Virginia Tech Monday night, that’s a question that’s been asked of a Broncos team that’s suddenly turned from Cinderella to the wicked stepmother of college football.

From fans’ comments on this site to gallons of ink being spilled by major newspaper columnists to talking heads on TV/radio, everyone seems to have two copper Lincolns as to Boise State’s worthiness in being mentioned amongst the big boys and their pursuit of the BcS crystal.

You can now count Nick Saban amongst the everyone.

Speaking on his weekly radio show, the Alabama head coach took a shot at Boise State, hinting that if the Broncos were in his conference and had to run through their gauntlet of league foes — not just one game against the Hokies — it might be a different story.

He noted that Alabama defeated Virginia Tech in its 2009 opener and defeated “six other teams that were the caliber of Virginia Tech, or maybe better. And maybe more than that if you throw in Texas and Florida in the SEC Championship Game. …”

“It’s the full body of work. It’s not just that you can beat one team, but if you have to beat six or seven other teams and have to play with consistency to do it, I think that goes a long way in saying a lot about what kind of football team that you have. And that’s no disrespect that you have, because they may certainly be able to do the same thing if they were put in that circumstance.”

First of all, who were these six presumably SEC teams in 2009 — in addition to Florida and Texas — that Saban’s team hurdled en route to the national title and were equal to or better than the Hokies?  LSU?  Georgia?  Ole Miss or Arkansas?  Tennessee under Kiffin?  Please with your six-plus, Coach Woodcock.

Certainly I have a very, very high opinion of the SEC, too high based on some of the comments in many of my posts; Saban’s, however, is the reason a good chunk of college football despises the conference.

Secondly, and to address Saban’s quasi-quality final thought, you simply don’t know what would happen if Boise State were to be dropped into the middle of the SEC.  Or the Big Ten.  Or the Pac-10 (The Big East is another story, though; that’s a league title and automatic BcS berth right there).  Certainly there can be conjecture, but the “put them in the (conference name) and they wouldn’t even finish .500” take is one of the most patently asinine arguments in the sports world today.  Such a concrete statement on a what-if argument is a stance of the feeble-minded, too weak to wrap their heads around anything but the most simplistic of concepts and too self-centered to realize that football is played at a very high level outside the South/Midwest/Texas.

Of course, there is a one way that this argument could be solved, at least in part.

A playoff.

Oops, never mind.  The weak of mind can’t wrap their heads around that simple concept, either.

Win over Grambling approved, Cal officially becomes bowl eligible

Jared Goff
Associated Press
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Earlier today we had the report that Cal, they of the normally bowl-eligible six wins on the season, were not actually bowl eligible. The hang up was due to some NCAA red tape on how many scholarships Grambling, a 73-14 victim to the Bears on opening Saturday, had actually awarded this year.

Why the number of scholarships awarded by an opponent of a 6-5 team could determine what glorified exhibition said 6-5 could or could not play is a matter for another time, but the fact is it mattered.

But according to a report from Kevin Gemmell of, the Bears received approval to count the win toward their total, meaning Sonny Dykes and company will go bowling for the first time since 2011.

“We have conferred with both Grambling and the NCAA,” Cal spokesman Wes Mallette told ESPN. “As anticipated, Grambling has confirmed their football program has met the 90 percent financial aid requirement over the rolling two-year average. Therefore, Cal football’s win over Grambling counts toward bowl eligibility. Cal football is bowl eligible.”

The Bears have a chance to become bowl eligible the old fashioned way with a win over Arizona State Saturday in Berkeley.


Tulane reportedly set to fire head coach Curtis Johnson

Curtis Johnson
Associated Press
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The end of the college football regular season brings with it bowl bids, conference championship entries and rivalry games. Along the way, though, come end-of-season firings. So many end of-season firings.

According to a report from Dan Wolken of USA Today Wednesday night, the first one is already on the books. Or at least close to it.

Wolken reports Tulane is set to part ways with head coach Curtis Johnson following the Green Wave’s Friday finale against Tulsa “barring a last-minute change of direction.”

Johnson is 15-33 in nearly four complete seasons at Tulane, reaching a high point of a 7-6 mark wtih a New Orleans Bowl appearance in 2013 but winning two, three and three games in his other three campaigns.

If and when the move becomes official, Tulane will become the 15th FBS school to change head coaches this season, matching the total number of changes during the 2014-15 cycle.

Wolken reports Tulane will hire a new athletics director within the next week, and once that hiring is complete the school will then embark on hiring Johnson’s replacement.

Reports: Michigan DC D.J. Durkin a “strong candidate” for Maryland vacancy

D.J. Durkin
Associated Press

Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin has emerged a “strong candidate” for the Maryland job, according to reports from Yahoo‘s Pat Forde and Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman Wednesday.

“Durkin, 37, met recently with Maryland officials, sources said,” Forde wrote. “No job offer was made, but the interview went well, sources said.”

Added Feldman:

Durkin is in his first season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, helping the 9-2 Wolverines jump from 14th to third nationally in yards per play allowed (4.77 to 4.15) and 27th to sixth in scoring defense (22.4 to 14.9).

Prior to working on Jim Harbaugh‘s staff, Durkin served as Will Muschamp‘s defensive coordinator at Florida for two years, and as his special teams coordinator for two years before that. He previously worked at Stanford, Bowling Green (his alma mater) and Notre Dame.

Should he be offered and accept the job, Durkin would immediately become Big Ten East rivals with his mentor Harbaugh.

“This week is so important to our guys, my 100% focus is on this game and our players — that’s what this profession is all about. You’ve got to make sure you’re taking care of the job you have week in and week out. It’s a tough task, especially with this team we have this week,” Durkin told the Detroit Free Press when asked about the reports.

“My goal is to get the best game plan possible together for Ohio State and have our guys go play well. To answer rumors or speculation right now and put something to it, my total focus is 100% on Ohio State and nothing else.”

Illini to decide on fate of interim head coach Bill Cubit by Sunday

Bill Cubit
Associated Press

Illinois will decide whether or not to retain interim head coach Bill Cubit for the full-time job by Sunday, interim AD Paul Kowalczyk told WSKJ-FM Wednesday.

“We need to make that call and figure out which way we’re going for everyone’s sake,” Kowalczyk said, via the Chicago Tribune. “For me, it’s posthaste.”

Illinois closes its regular season Saturday against No. 16 Northwestern in Champaign. The Illini are 5-6 on the year and, for what it’s worth, Cubit desperately wants the job.

Also worth noting: the athletics department is operating under a total state of dysfunction in the wake of AD Mike Thomas‘s firing.

From 670 The Score in Chicago on Wednesday:

Sources tell 670 The Score that as overwhelmed university officials are dithering and providing little guidance, the group of trustees, boosters and alums left to run things can’t yet agree on much.  Some want to hire a search firm with a spotty recent track record, others want to form their own search committee, while another faction thinks they need to act faster by using their own contacts to target specific AD and coaching candidates right now and just get moving.

Any support for retaining Bill Cubit is getting strong push-back from those who don’t believe he wasn’t aware of Tim Beckman’s aberrant behavior, and from some who feel strongly about making a more dynamic hire.

For those keeping score at home: Illinois is dealing with a power vacuum of trustees, boosters and alums battling for control while an interim chancellor and interim athletics director work to reach a resolution on an interim football coach.

And the coaching carousel starts spinning in full four days from now.