Kirby Smart, Courtney Upshaw

Smart money on DC sticking with Tide?


It didn’t take long after Will Muschamp was hired as Florida’s new head coach for the speculation connecting Kirby Smart to Gainesville to begin in earnest.

A day after Muschamp was tabbed as Urban Meyer‘s successor, reports began to surface that Smart had been offered the coordinator job on Muschamp’s UF coaching staff.  That connecting of the dots made perfect sense; Muschamp and the Alabama defensive coordinator have worked together at a couple of coaching stops the past two decades, are long-time friends and remain very close.

Ultimately it was reported that Smart was leaning toward staying with the Tide.  As Nick Saban does not normally allow access to his assistants, Smart has been mum, at least publicly, on joining his friend with the Gators.  That changed Thursday as Smart addressed the media for the first time since the rumors surfaced and attempted to snuff out the speculation.

Asked if he and Muschamp had discussed working together again, Smart gave the ever popular “not really” denial.

“That’s kind of a gray statement there, informal conversation,” Smart said. “Will and I talk all the time. He’s one of my best friends. I’ve known him for more than 20 years now. And he and I talk a lot, but not really about me coaching with him, no.”

Smart did intimate that, when he does move on from the Tide, it will likely be for heading his own football program as opposed to making a lateral move that his current boss so frowns upon.

“Yeah, obviously that’s the next step I’d like to take is to be a head coach,” Smart said. “I’m at a great place now. My wife and my family, we’re all happy at the University of Alabama. Coach (NickSaban’s been very good to me, and the University of Alabama’s been very good.”

All of the speculation surrounding Smart and Florida should come to an end, one way or the other, next week; UF athletic director Jeremy Foley said Wednesday that most or all of Muschamp’s coaching staff should be in place by Tuesday.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.

Unitas Award whittles watch list in half down to 15

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Trevone Boykin #2 of the TCU Horned Frogs looks for an open receiver against the Texas Longhorns in the second quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season?  Watch lists are being whittled.

The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior.  The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.

The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).

The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten.  The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).

Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.

Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah