Update: Tide’s Richardson, Kirkpatrick, Hightower headed to the NFL

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Somewhat lost in the afterglow of a second BcS title in three years was the fact that Alabama could very well lose at least a couple of key pieces to early entry into the NFL draft.

Thursday afternoon, that “could very well” turned into a definitive need for Nick Saban to reload at two key positions yet again.

At a previously scheduled press conference, running back Trent Richardson and defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick (both pictured) announced that they will be leaving eligibility on the table and making themselves available for the April draft.  Both are projected to be taken in the first round, which, along with possessing two championship rings apiece, prompted both players to do the expected and leave Tuscaloosa early.

“These young men have done a fabulous job of representing the University of Alabama, their families and themselves with their hard work, their dedication and their commitment to excellence, not only on the football field, but also by the kind of people that they have been,” said head coach Nick Saban in a statement. “I know it is a difficult decision for these guys. They both love the University of Alabama, but they have worked hard all their lives to create the opportunity to play at a place like this, to have the success they have had at a place like this and also to create opportunities for themselves and their future. I want you to know that we are 100 percent supportive of both of these young men in terms of what their choice is.”

Richardson was a first-team All-SEC selections following the 2011 season, while Kirkpatrick was a second-team pick for the second straight season.  Richardson was also second-team selections in 2010.

As for replacing the duo, Richardson’s successor may have the “easiest” go of it based simply on sheer numbers; while Eddie Lacy doesn’t possess Richardson’s explosiveness, the junior-to-be does appear to be a more-than-solid candidate to at least carry a sizable chunk of the Tide running game.  Or there’s Jalston Fowler or Dee Hart — provided he’s fully recovered from a knee injury and has no setbacks — or T.J. Yeldon or… well, you get the point.

The loss of Kirkpatrick, on the other hand, is magnified by the fact that the other starting corner, DeQuan Menzie, is gone as well due to expired eligibility.  Additionally, star safety Mark Barron will be lost to graduation as well.

As they seemingly do every year, though, Saban and his coaching staff will merely reach into the cupboard and pull out highly-touted players to replace the ones lost to early NFL entry or graduation.  That’s just how the Tide rolls, I guess you could say.

UPDATED 3:49 p.m. ET: Just to take care of this little bit of housecleaning, Alabama confirmed in a press release that LB Dont’a Hightower has decided he will also declare for the draft.

“After four great years at the University of Alabama, I have decided it is time to make myself eligible for the NFL Draft,” Hightower said. “The chance to be a key part of our national championship team this year made for the perfect end of my Alabama career. I can’t thank Coach Saban, Coach Smart and the entire coaching staff enough for helping mold me in the player and person I am today. I also want to say thanks to my teammates and everyone at the University of Alabama that helped make this such a special experience.”

The redshirt junior was a consensus All-American in 2011, and started 40 games during his Tide career.

There was some good news on the attrition front for the Tide as the same release confirmed that offensive lineman Chance Warmack and defensive back Robert Lester will be returning.

Purdue responds to Jim Harbaugh’s ‘after-the-fact’ facility complaints

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In what could only be considered a stunning development, Jim Harbaugh is making headlines.  Again.

Following Michigan’s 28-10 win over Purdue Saturday, Harbaugh took issues with the facilities at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette.  From no air conditioning in the visiting locker room — there is in the home team’s locker room — to just two urinals, total, for the entire team and staff to use to lack of on-site medical facilities, Harbaugh was highly critical of the situation, calling on the Big Ten to address the situation league-wide.

The situation was so bad from their perspective that Harbaugh afforded his starters the opportunity to take pregame respite on the team bus from unseasonable heat that was close to 100 degrees on the field

From mlive.com:

There’s no air conditioning,” Harbaugh said. “It was so cramped, so hot. It was like a hot box. Really the only way to get relief was to open the doors, and you have people watching you dress. It’s not good.

“The number of urinals for players and staff, I think there was two. There’s not even a private door. …

“There has to be a minimum standard of care for the players,” Harbaugh said. “We put a lot of emphasis into the health and safety of the players, but it doesn’t even seem sanitary.

“I wish I had taken a picture of the actual table that is given to the visitors to put players on that are injured. It looked like it was from the 20s.

Not surprisingly, Harbaugh’s criticisms didn’t sit well with Purdue.  In fact, the football program felt compelled to issue a lengthy statement addressing the issues raised by the opposing coach — flatly stating that there were options UM could’ve taken advantage of but didn’t.

Below is that statement, in its entirety:

Purdue regards the welfare of all student-athletes as its No. 1 priority. We would fully support a conversation regarding a conference-wide set of guidelines for visiting football team accommodations because we have experienced less-than-ideal conditions on the road. There is no place for gamesmanship when it comes to player care and safety.

The after-the-fact concerns expressed by Michigan are somewhat surprising because a member of its football staff conducted a walk-thru of our facilities with our athletics department staff at Ross-Ade Stadium on July 18.

Furthermore, to help teams prepare in advance, our visiting team manual highlights in bold type “there is no air conditioning in the (visiting) locker room,” with accompanying Purdue Athletics staff contact information about how to request preferred temporary accommodations. We did not receive any such request.

Basic x-ray is available within our athletic footprint and more-sophisticated capabilities are located two blocks away, similar to the arrangements at many other schools. Our sports medicine staff members, in fact, have received numerous compliments from their Michigan counterparts regarding the care they received at Purdue.

Mark Richt’s ‘guess is’ Ahmmon Richards ‘will be ready to go’ for Miami vs. Duke

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It appears No. 14 Miami’s passing attack will be bolstered for its ACC opener this coming Saturday.  Maybe.

On his radio show Monday, Mark Richt seemed cautiously optimistic that Ahmmon Richards will be available to play in the Week 5 game against Duke this Saturday.  Richards hasn’t played at all yet this season as he’s been dealing with a hamstring injury that surfaced in the middle of summer camp.

The wide receiver did, though, practice Sunday, leading to Richt’s hope that the sophomore will see the field for the Hurricane against the Blue Devils.

“We didn’t do a lot on a Sunday, but he seems to be doing fine,” the head coach said by way of the Sun-Sentinel. “My guess is he’ll be ready to go.”

Last season, Richards’ 934 receiving yards and 19.1 yards per catch were tops on the Hurricanes.  His 49 receptions were second on the team.  Following that breakout season, he was named a consensus Freshman All-American.

With Richards sidelined, Braxton Barrios leads the ‘Canes in receiving yards (140) and yards per reception (17.5), while Christopher Herndon‘s nine catches through two games lead the way as well.

Boise State’s Michael Young arrested on drunk-driving charge

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For the second time in as many days, it’s time to push the “Days Without an Arrest” ticker back to double-zeroes.

The latest to do the honor is Boise State’s Michael Young, with the Idaho Statesman reporting that the defensive back was arrested early Sunday morning on a charge of driving under the influence.  KTVB-TV in Boise reported that Young failed a field sobriety test and blew a .142 on a breathalyzer test.

The arrest and charge came after Young was pulled over for allegedly running a red light.

“Boise State is aware of Michael Young’s arrest earlier this morning,” a statement on the incident from the university began. “As is always the case, the matter will be handled appropriately and internally.”

Young is a backup defensive back who has played in the last three games after missing the season opener for undisclosed reasons.  He had a career-high four tackles in the 19-point loss to Virginia in Week 4.

Young is also the second Broncos football player arrested in a little over a week.  Last weekend, defensive lineman David Moa was charged with disturbing the peace following an incident outside of a Boise nightclub.  Moa, a starter who was first-team All-MWC last season, did not play at all in the first quarter in the first game after his arrest this past weekend.

Effort to schedule Georgia Tech-Georgia State makeup game fails

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Georgia Tech lost a game to Hurricane Irma, a Sept. 16 trip to Central Florida. Georgia State also had a game canceled due to Irma — Saturday’s scheduled game with Memphis, which was axed to makeup the Memphis-UCF game that was supposed to be played Sept. 8.

So if Georgia Tech lost a game, and Georgia State lost a game, and the Atlanta schools stadiums’ sit just 2.2 miles away from each other, wouldn’t it make sense to try to get them together?

The sides tried, but the effort isn’t going to work.

As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia Tech and Georgia State officials attempted to find a date that worked for both sides, but one simply is not available.

Georgia Tech attempted to arrange the game for Oct. 7, the Jackets’ original bye week, but Georgia State has a conference game against Coastal Carolina on Oct. 7. Georgia State is off on Nov. 18, but Georgia Tech visits Duke that day. The rare Championship Saturday makeup isn’t even possible (provided Georgia Tech doesn’t win the ACC Coastal) because Georgia State hosts Idaho on Dec. 2, in what is Idaho’s final game as a Sun Belt member.

Incidentally, Georgia Tech and Georgia State have never met on the field despite being two miles apart. Perhaps this episode will spur the Atlanta neighbors to invite the other over to play sometime down the line.