Saban on today's players: 'They don't make 'em like they used to'

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Given the current climate surrounding the game of college football, especially as it pertains to head injuries and with a Rutgers player paralyzed from the neck down still fresh in everyone’s mind, recent comments coming from Alabama head coach Nick Saban may not sit well with some.

For old-school souls, however, it will be music to their ears.  Or their hearing aids, as the case may be.

Following the Tide’s win Saturday over Ole Miss, Saban let loose a diatribe on the state of college football, railing against what he perceives to be the lack of toughness of today’s players as compared to the good ol’ days.

“That’s what I tell the players all the time, and they hate to hear it, but now I’m going to say it publicly so they can really get upset about it,” Saban said according to al.com, at which point a member of the school’s media relations was heard to utter “forget it, he’s rolling.”

“You’re telling the other guy you’re beating me up, I’m hurt and I’m going to stay down here. It’s just like a boxer. If you go down, get up. If you’ve got to come out for a play, come out for a play. But that’s just me. I’m old-fashioned. I know they don’t make ’em like they used to. …

“But a guy lays on the ground and eight trainers go out there and everybody thinks he’s hurt and he gets up and runs off the field. When I played, my coach, you wouldn’t want to meet him on the sideline. So if you stayed down, you’d better really be hurt.”

While we certainly agree with a lot of what Saban said — to a certain extent — there’s also something that he’s either failed to take into account or simply forgot as he was trying to get his message across.  Today’s players are simply bigger, stronger and faster than anything the coach or his football forefathers ever had to face.

All of that mass moving at a greater velocity?  It’s the perfect recipe for not only more injuries, but more severe injuries as well.  That’s an opinion shared by at least one member of the Tide football program.

“They don’t really, because those guys are slower than we were,” wide receiver Marquis Maze said. “They don’t make guys like they make them now. That’s how I joke back with him. Back in their day, they played with leather helmets. Didn’t have much protection.”

Certainly some players may take advantage of the heightened sense of awareness surrounding the safety issues in the game by taking an on-field siesta after what may appear to be an innocuous collision, but the fact is there’s an atmosphere that leans toward erring on the side of caution these days.

Was Saban wrong for blasting the toughness of today’s players?  That’s for others to decide, although reigning Heisman winner Mark Ingram, perhaps with his tongue stretching toward one of his cheek,s agreed with his boss.  

“He’s our coach,” Ingram said. “Whatever he says, whatever he does, we’re always behind him. … If that’s what he says, then that’s what’s right.”

Ingram having his coach’s back notwithstanding, there’s little doubt that Saban, right or wrong, will likely catch some flack and a little heat for his most recent ascent to the pulpit.

(Tip O’ the Cap: Mr. SEC.com)

Second Vols player this week could be on his way out

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Attrition is hitting Tennessee’s depth on the defensive side of the ball this early on in the spring.

Tuesday, reports surfaced that safety Stephen Griffin had decided to transfer out of Butch Jones’ Volunteers football program.  Two days later, it appears one of Griffin’s former teammates, linebacker Gavin Bryant, is headed toward a similar departure.

The football program has not addressed Bryant’s with the Vols moving forward.

A four-star member of UT’s 2014 recruiting class, Bryant (pictured, taking a knee to the helmet) was rated as the No. 10 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Alabama. After redshirting as a true freshman, Bryant played in 21 games the past two seasons as a reserve linebacker.

Griffin, meanwhile, was a three-star 2015 prospect who played in 10 games last season. He started one of those contests.

D-II head coach to reportedly take RBs coach job at Syracuse

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It appears Dino Babers is on the verge of, once again, completing his Syracuse coaching staff.

FootballScoop.com is reporting that reporting that Justin Lustig (pictured, left) is leaving his job as the head coach at Div. II Edinboro (Pa.) College to take over as running backs coach at Syracuse.  Additionally, Lustig will serve as special teams coordinator for the Orange.

This will mark Lustig’s first job at a Power Five program.

Lustig replaces Mike Hart, who left earlier this month to take the running backs coach job at Indiana.  Tom Kaufman, who oversaw Syracuse’s special teams as well as coached linebackers, took the defensive coordinator job at an FCS program two weeks ago.

Hired in January of last year, Lustig took over an Edinboro team that finished 0-11 in 2015 and turned them into a 9-2 squad one year later.  For that turnaround, he was named the Div. II Coach of the Year.

Lustig’s last job at the FBS level came at Ball State, where he served as running backs coach/special teams coordinator from 2011-15.  He also earned the title of assistant head coach prior to the start of the 2015 season.

Former Baylor TE Tre’Von Armstead arrested in connection to 2013 sexual assault

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The cloud habitually hovering over the Baylor football program continues to get darker.  And more ominous.

According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, “[f]ormer Baylor football player Tre'Von Armstead was arrested Wednesday… on three second-degree felony sexual assault charges stemming from an alleged 2013 sexual assault while he was a member of the Baylor football team.” While the alleged rape occurred in mid-April of 2013, the case was suspended by the Waco Police Department, ESPN.com writes, “after the alleged victim chose not to pursue charges against Armstead and former Bears running back Myke Chatman, who she accused of sexually assaulting her at her apartment.”

The victim in that alleged assault, a former “Baylor Bruin” recruiting hostess for the football program, filed a lawsuit in late January of this year in which it’s alleged that 31 Baylor football players committed 52 acts of rape over a four-year period starting in 2011.  It was further alleged in the lawsuit that BU assistant football coaches, including current Florida Atlantic assistant Kendal Briles, contributed to what was described as a “culture of sexual violence” around the football program.

“Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players,” Briles, the son of disgraced former BU head coach Art Briles, told one recruit according to that lawsuit, one of many the university is currently facing as a result of the sexual-assault scandal.

Despite the 2013 allegations of Armstead being involved in a sexual assault, he remained with the football program until his dismissal in September of 2015.  A little over a week ago, Armstead was arrested on multiple charges in Las Vegas after he allegedly physically assaulted a woman.

Louisville clarifies titles for revamped defensive coaching staff

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The offseason shuffling of Bobby Petrino‘s defensive coaching staff appears to be complete.

Thanks to Todd Grantham‘s move to Mississippi State earlier this offseason, Petrino was forced to overhaul his staff on that side of the ball.  Peter Sirmon, who Grantham replaced at MSU, was hired by the U of L as defensive coordinator in mid-January.

As the Cardinals kicked off spring practice this week, the football program detailed the responsibilities for the defensive side of the staff.

New defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon announced on Wednesday that he has finalized position changes on his defensive staff. Sirmon will mentor the defense, but will also coach the outside linebackers. Lorenzo Ward will coach the secondary, while Cort Dennison will now mentor the inside linebackers. L.D. Scott will stick with coaching the defensive line.

Last season under Grantham, the Cardinals were 31st nationally and sixth in the ACC in scoring defense (23.8 points per game).  They were 14th and third, respectively, in total defense (319.6 yards per game).