Nick Saban

2012 spring practice dates

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The 2011 season is still somewhat visible in the rear-view mirror, and already preparations for the 2012 season are set to commence in earnest.

All 124 Div. 1-A (FBS) programs — UMass (MAC), South Alabama (Sun Belt), Texas State (WAC) and UT-San Antonio (WAC) will make the jump to big-boy football this season — will begin spring practice at some point this month and next — some West Coast schools such as Oregon State won’t start until April — culminating in the respective program’s spring game.

Army has already begun using their allotted 15 spring sessions, while Texas, TCU, Texas Tech and Duke are among the handful of schools that start in February as well.  The vast majority, however, will begin spring practice next month.

Below the jump is a list of the start dates for each individual school plus the date of its spring game, separated by conferences.  Some programs have yet to announce their spring dates, so we will add them to this list as they become available:

ACC

Boston College: first practice — Feb. 18; spring game March 31
Clemson: first practice — March 7; spring game — April 14
Duke: first practice — Feb. 21; spring game — March 31
Florida State: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 14
Georgia Tech: first practice — March 26; spring game — April 20
Maryland: first practice — March 10; spring game — April 21
Miami: first practice — March 3; spring game — April 14
North Carolina: first practice — March 14; spring game — April 14
North Carolina State: first practice — March 23; spring game — April 21
Virginia: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 14
Virginia Tech: first practice — March 28; spring game — April 21
Wake Forest: first practice — March 1; spring game — April 14

BIG EAST

Cincinnati: first practice — March 1; spring game — April 14
Louisville: first practice — March 21; spring game — April 14
Pittsburgh: first practice — March 15; spring game — April 14
Rutgers: first practice — March 20; spring game — April 28
Syracuse: first practice — March 20; spring game — April 21
Temple: first practice — March 12; spring game — April 14
UConn: first practice — March 20; spring game — April 21
USF: first practice — March 21; spring game — April 21

BIG TEN

Illinois: first practice — March 7; spring game — April 14
Indiana: first practice — March 3; spring game — April 14
Iowa: first practice — March 24; spring game — April 14
Michigan: first practice — March 17; spring game — April 14
Michigan State: first practice — March 27; spring game — April 28
Minnesota: first practice — March 21; spring practice — April 21
Nebraska: first practice — March 10; spring game — April 14
Northwestern: first practice — March 3; spring game — April 14
Ohio State: first practice — March 28; spring game — April 21
Penn State: first practice — March 26; spring game — April 21
Purdue: first practice — March 6; spring game April 14
Wisconsin: first practice — March 22; spring game — April 28

BIG 12

Baylor: first practice — March 6; spring game — April 14
Iowa State: first practice — March 20; spring game — April 14
Kansas: first practice — March 27; spring game — April 28
Kansas State: first practice — April 4; spring game — April 28
Oklahoma: first practice — March 8; spring game — April 14
Oklahoma State: first practice — March 12; spring game — April 21
TCU: first practice — Feb. 24; no spring game
Texas: first practice — Feb. 23; spring game — April 1
Texas Tech: first practice –Feb. 17; spring game — March 24
West Virginia: first practice — March 11; spring game — April 21

CONFERENCE USA

East Carolina: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 14
Houston: first practice — March 21; spring game — April 13
Marshall: first practice — March 27; spring game — April 28
Memphis: first practice — Feb. 22; spring game — March 31
Rice: first practice — March 6; spring game — March 30
SMU: first practice — April 2; no spring game
Southern Miss: first practice — March 5; spring game — April 14
Tulane: first practice — Feb. 22; spring game — March 24
Tulsa: first practice — March 6; spring game — April 7
UAB: first practice — March 28; spring game — April 21
UCF: first practice — March 13; spring game — April 14
UTEP: first practice — Feb. 28; spring game — April 6

INDEPENDENTS

Army: first practice — Feb. 13; spring game — March 9
BYU: first practice — March 5; spring game — March 30
Navy: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 14
Notre Dame: first practice — March 21; spring game — April 21

MAC

Akron: first practice — March 20; spring game — April 21
Ball State: first practice — March 27; spring game — April 21
Bowling Green: first practice — March 16; spring game — April 13
Buffalo: first practice — March 20; spring game — April 14
Central Michigan: first practice — March 13; spring game — April 14
Eastern Michigan: first practice — March 13; spring game — April 15
Kent State: first practice — March 27; spring game — April 21
Miami: first practice — March 28; spring game — April 28
Northern Illinois: spring practice — March 28; spring game — April 21
Ohio: first practice — March 27; spring game — April 21
Toledo: first practice — March 14; spring game — April 13
UMass: first practice — March 27; spring game — April 28
Western Michigan: first practice — March 16; spring game — April 14

MOUNTAIN WEST

Air Force: first practice — Feb. 24; no spring game
Boise State: first practice — March 12; spring game — April 14
Colorado State: first practice — March 21; spring game — April 21
Fresno State: first practice — Feb. 27; spring game — March 25
Hawaii: first practice — March 20; spring game — April 28
Nevada: first practice — March 30; spring game — April 21
New Mexico: first practice — March 24; no spring game (subject to change)
San Diego State: first practice — Feb. 21; spring game — March 18
UNLV: first practice — March 12; spring game — April 20
Wyoming: first practice — March 21; spring game — April 21

PAC-12

Arizona: first practice — March 5; spring game — April 14
Arizona State: first practice — March 13; spring game — April 21
Cal: first practice March 13; no spring game
Colorado: first practice — March 10; spring game — April 14
Oregon: first practice — April 3; spring game — April 28
Oregon State: first practice — April 3; spring game — April 28
Stanford: first practice — Feb, 27; spring game — April 14
UCLA: first practice — April 3; spring game — May 5
USC: first practice — March 6; spring game — April 14
Utah: first practice — March 20; spring game — April 21
Washington: first practice — April 2; spring game — April 28
Washington State: first practice — March 22; spring game — April 21

SEC

Alabama: first practice — March 9; spring game — April 14
Arkansas: first practice — March 14; spring game — spring game — April 21
Auburn: first practice — March 21; spring game — April 14
Florida: first practice — March 14; spring game — April 7
Georgia: first practice — March 20; spring game — April 14
Kentucky: first practice — March 21; spring game — April 21
LSU: first practice — March 2; spring game — March 31
Mississippi State: first practice — March 21; spring game — April 20
Missouri: first practice — March 6; spring game — April 14
Ole Miss: first practice — March 23; spring game — April 21
South Carolina: first practice — March 13; spring game — April 14
Tennessee: first practice — March 26; spring game — April 21
Texas A&M: first practice — March 31; spring game — April 28
Vanderbilt: first practice — March 16; spring game — April 14

SUN BELT

Arkansas State: first practice — March 14; spring game — April 14
FAU: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 14
FIU: first practice — March 2; spring game — March 30
Louisiana-Lafayette: first practice — Feb. 28; spring game — March 30 or 31
Louisiana-Monroe: first practice — March 5; spring game — March 24
Middle Tennessee State: first practice — March 17; spring practice — April 14
North Texas: first practice — March 26; spring game –April 21
South Alabama: first practice — Feb. 15; spring game — March 24
Troy: first practice — March 18; spring game — March 31
Western Kentucky: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 14

WAC

Idaho: first practice — March 22; spring game — April 20
Louisiana Tech: first practice — March 16; spring game — April 14
New Mexico State: first practice: March 29; spring game — April 28
San Jose State: first practice — March 6; spring game — April 13
Texas State: first practice — Feb. 25; spring game — March 31
UT-San Antonio: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 15
Utah State: first practice — March 27; spring game — April 28

ECU transfer QB Kurt Benkert moves on to Virginia

In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 East Carolina quarterback Kurt Benkert rolls out to pass during NCAA college football practice in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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On April 25, East Carolina announced that Kurt Benkert had decided to transfer out of the Pirates football program.  Less than a week later, the quarterback has found himself a new football home.

On Twitter Sunday afternoon, Benkert confirmed that he will be enrolling at Virginia and continuing his collegiate playing career with the Cavaliers.  Beckert also acknowledged his decision in a text message to 247Sports.com.

“I’m really excited to be here,” Beckert said in a portion of the brief text.

As Beckert is headed to UVa. as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play for the Hoos immediately in 2016.  Not only that, but he will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Beckert was named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, but sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season.  In Charlottesville, Beckert will join a competition that includes returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.

Mark Richt continues to be the classiest of acts in college football

Mark Richt gestures after being introduced as the new University of Miami NCAA college football head coach, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015,  in Coral Gables, Fla.  (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
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In my seven-plus years at CFT, I’ve never been shy in expressing my absolute and utter respect for Mark Richt, whether it was for an honorable against-the-grain stance on transfers or honoring a high school football player who tragically drowned before he could become a walk-on at Georgia or myriad other things.  Sunday, Richt solidified that respect.

As you may know, Richt and UGA parted ways this offseason, with the head coach ultimately moving on to Miami to take over his alma mater’s football program.  As expected, his departure from Athens was classy.

Just as expected, one of Richt’s returns to his old stomping grounds further showed his class.

Not to be outdone, Richt’s replacement showed his class as well.

Bravo to both head coaches.  Sometimes, most times, being classy is the absolute right move — even as Richt’s successor could take some lessons from his predecessor when it comes to transfers.

Ohio State draftees to sign contracts worth in excess of $110 million

Urban Meyer
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Forget about going shirtless at a satellite camp or a sleepover or climbing up a tree or any of the like; this is what you call a recruiting pitch.

During the course of the three-day NFL draft, a dozen former Ohio State Buckeyes were drafted.  While OSU failed to break its own record for most picks in a single draft, the 12 selections in the first four rounds were the most ever.

And, not surprisingly, those players are going to get paid.

According to PennLive.com‘s David Jones, those players will sign contracts that could be worth a total of $120 million.  Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch has the number pegged slightly lower at $111,462,707.  Either way, that’s a lot of cash — and a lot dollar signs for Urban Meyer to flout in front of potential recruits.

Of course, not all of that money is guaranteed, although the guaranteed dollars involved aren’t too shabby either.  From the Dispatch:

Just the signing bonuses alone, which range from Bosa’s projected $17,017,226 to Jones’ $383,393, have an expected total of $60,526,660. Unless a player does something to cause his contract to be voided, signing bonuses are theirs to keep.

Regardless of how you spin it, former Buckeyes did quite well financially the last couple of days.  And, as Jones alludes to when it comes to James Franklin and Penn State specifically and the Big Ten in general, Meyer and the Buckeyes are in an entirely different zip code than the rest of the conference — a fact that will no doubt come up on the vast expanses of the recruiting trail.

The good news for Franklin and Penn State: They had three of those 11. The bad news for them and everyone else in the league: Urban Meyer is probably preparing a recruiting flyer right now with a 9-figure dollar amount printed in big bold numbers.

Veteran NFL assistant reportedly to fill Alabama’s coaching vacancy

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Buffalo Bills
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On the same day some details emerged on an Alabama assistant’s “resignation,” that assistant’s potential replacement has been identified.

Citing unnamed sources, al.com is reporting that Karl Dunbar is expected to be hired as the Tide’s new defensive line coach.  Dunbar would replace Bo Davis, who “resigned” Friday amidst allegations of potential NCAA violations.

Dunbar served as Nick Saban‘s strength & conditioning coach at LSU from 2001-02, and then returned to Baton Rouge as Les Miles‘ line coach in 2005 after spending two years (2003-04) in the same position at Oklahoma State.

Most of Dunbar’s coaching career, though, especially recently, has come at the NFL level.

From 2006-11, Dunbar was the line coach for the Minnesota Vikings, and then held the same job with the New York Jets from 2012-2014.  Hired by Rex Ryan to coach the Buffalo Bills’ line in 2015, Dunbar was fired in March of this year.

Dunbar is a former NFL defensive lineman who played for Arizona in 1994-95, when Ryan was one of his Cardinals assistant.