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)

Arizona State, Mississippi State ink home-and-home

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Arizona State and Mississippi State on Tuesday announced a home-and-home series to be played in 2024-25. Arizona State will host the first game in Tempe on Sept. 7, 2024, and the clubs will meet in Starkville on Sept. 6, 2025.

The Sun Devils and Bulldogs have never met previously.

The Arizona State trip is not Mississippi State’s only upcoming trek from the Deep South to the Southwest. The Bulldogs also lined up a visit to Arizona in 2020 and Texas Tech in 2029. Mississippi State will open the 2024 season against Eastern Kentucky and visit Southern Miss the week after its Arizona State visit, on Sept. 14. The Bulldogs have no other games lined up in 2025 as of yet, according to FBSchedules.

Likewise, Mississippi State is not the Sun Devils’ lone upcoming SEC opponent. Arizona State has a home-and-home with LSU on the docket for 2026-28, per FBSchedules. The Mississippi State games complete both of the Sun Devils’ non-conference schedules for these respective seasons. Arizona State opens with Wyoming and visits Texas State in 2024, and hosts Northern Arizona and Texas State in 2025.

UCLA lands Texas Tech graduate transfer OL Justin Murphy

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Help is on the way for Chip Kelly‘s offensive line. One graduate transfer offensive lineman has the Bruins on his list, but another has already pulled the trigger for UCLA.

Texas Tech graduate transfer Justin Murphy on Tuesday committed to UCLA in a post on his Twitter account.

A native of Belton, Texas, Murphy signed with Texas Tech in 2014 and made four starts at right guard as a redshirt freshman. He again started four games at right guard in ’15 before moving out to tackle, where he started another four games. But after battling a series of knee injuries, Murphy announced in the middle of the 2016 season he had medically retired from the game.

After sitting out 2017, Murphy announced in March he planned to make a comeback.

UCLA remarkably started the same offensive linemen in all 13 games last season, but tackle Kolton Miller entered the NFL draft, guard Najoee Toran and center Scott Quessenberry graduated.

Toledo posts, then deletes, tweet offering to change mascot to Shrek

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There are plenty of annoying trends on Twitter, but perhaps the worst is the “I’ll do X if this gets retweeted X-thousand amount of times.” I blame Wendy’s.

But blanket policies are never a good way to go through life, and an exception was made on Tuesday when Toledo offered to change its mascot from a rocket to Shrek with 500,000 retweets.

Sadly, some dreams are simply too beautiful to live in this fallen world, and the tweet was outed to be a hoax. “We are definitely not changing the school mascot to Shrek,” Toledo media relations specialist Christine Billau told USA Today. “The tweet was meant to be fun, but it caused too much of a distraction.”

Meanwhile, Bowling Green gleefully hopped on the dog pile with both elbows pointed out.

UMass grad transfer lineman narrows choices to Auburn, UCLA, USC

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It’s not yet known to where Jack Driscoll will transfer, but the field has been significantly narrowed.

Earlier this offseason, Driscoll decided to transfer from UMass.  Tuesday, the offensive tackle confirmed to Rivals.com that he’s down to three schools as a potential landing spot — Auburn, UCLA and USC.

Neither football program will have to wait long for a decision as Driscoll expects to make an announcement Wednesday.  Driscoll had taken an official visit to all three of the campuses prior to whittling down his transfer to-do list.

“It will come down to one of those three schools,” the lineman told AuburnSports.com. “I feel like all three of the schools would be a good fit.”

Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 at whichever program he selects.  The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.

After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017.  All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.