Tide clinches SEC West, seals Chizik’s fate

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Georgia did its part on rivalry Saturday, easily taking care of business in dropping in-state rival Georgia Tech.  A few hours later, Alabama easily did the same.

And, in all likelihood, put the final nail in the coffin of their in-state rival for good measure.

Entering the game as anywhere between 31- and 35-point favorites, the Tide did the expected, rolling to a 42-0 halftime lead over the hapless and helpless Tigers en route to 49-0 woodshedding for the ages.  It was the worst margin of defeat for either side since Alabama dropped 55 on Auburn while shutting out the Tigers way back in 1948.

And it could’ve been an even more of an historical shellacking had the Tide kept its foot on the Tigers’ throat.  In jumping out to that 42-point lead after two quarters, Alabama had outgained Auburn 338-99 in total offense, with the dogs — or elephants as the case may be — being called off in the second half.

The Tide’s evisceration also officially sets up a winner-take-all SEC championship game next weekend in Atlanta.

Alabama, No. 2 in the latest set of BcS rankings, clinched the SEC West with the win and will face Georgia, BcS No. 3, in the Georgia Dome Saturday.  Barring the near-impossible transpiring next Sunday night when the final regular season rankings are released, the winner of the conference title game will fill one of the two spots in the BcS championship game Jan. 7 in Miami, giving the SEC the opportunity to extend its streak of BcS titles to seven.  If Notre Dame can handle USC later tonight, it would set up an Irish-Bulldogs/Tide matchup for all the crystal footballs.

Looking ahead to the upcoming conference title game, the Tide and Bulldogs did not face each other in 2012.  In fact, the two haven’t squared off since 2008, a 41-30 Alabama win over then-No. 3 UGA in Athens in Nick Saban‘s second season as UA’s head coach.

As for Chizik’s fate on The Plains?  The combination of yet another NCAA investigation (somewhat) and miserable on-field performances the past two years (mainly) has the fourth-year coach ticketed for the unemployment line in short order.

The Tigers have lost 10 straight SEC games, with their last win coming Oct. 29 of last year against Ole Miss.  Since winning the BcS championship last season, AU’s 11-14 overall and 4-12 in SEC play, hitting rock bottom in 2012 with a 3-9 record and its first winless conference slate since 1980.  Doug Barfield was fired as head coach following that season, replaced by Pat Dye.  Coincidentally enough, Dye has become one of Chizik’s staunchest supporters.

Whether that support can keep Chizik from being Barfield’d remains to be seen, although there’s even been erosion on the Dye front of late.

Regardless of whether an ex-coach does or doesn’t have the current coach’s back, it’s expected Chizik will be fired as early as Sunday.  The embarrassing loss to Alabama won’t be the determining in Chizik’s fate, though; it’ll merely serve as the icing on a cake that’s gone stale sans a dash of Cam and a pinch of eye of Newton.

Colorado State adds Rice grad transfer V.J. Banks

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Rice’s loss has turned into a fellow Group of Five football program’s gain.

Saturday, Colorado State announced that V.J. Banks has transferred to the university and will play for Mike Bobo‘s Rams. As the cornerback will be coming to Fort Collins as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2018. The upcoming season will serve as Banks’ final year of eligibility.

Banks had announced on Twitter in late January that he had decided to transfer from the Owls.

Banks started 22 of the 36 games in which he played for the Owls, including 11 starts in 2016 and nine in 2015. The defensive back started the first two games of the 2017 season before an unspecified leg injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year.

For the Rice portion of his collegiate playing career, Banks totaled 75 tackles (one for loss), seven passes defensed, two interceptions and a forced fumble. He also returned seven punts for 30 yards (4.3 yards per return).

NC State board approves new deal for Dave Doeren

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In late November, after rejecting overtures from Tennessee in order to remain at North Carolina State, Dave Doeren agreed to a new contract with the university, pending the board rubber-stamping the agreement. This past week, that rubber met the stamp.

NC State confirmed that, on Thursday, the system’s Board of Trustees formally approved the new five-year deal for Doeren. The head coach’s new contract will now keep him with the Wolfpack through Dec. 31, 2022.

“We are on an exciting upward trajectory in football under the leadership of Coach Doeren,” said NC State athletic director Debbie Yow said in a statement. “He has assembled a terrifically talented coaching staff, as well, and that continuity and stability has been important to our current student-athletes and recruits.

“We are pleased that Dave will continue to lead NC State football, playing in one of the most challenging divisions in college football, the Atlantic Division of the ACC.”

In five seasons with the Wolfpack, the 46-year-old Doeren has compiled a 34-30 record, including a 15-25 mark in ACC play. The 2017 season was his best of the five, with a 9-4 overall mark that saw NC State finish in second place in the Atlantic after divisional finishes of seventh, fifth, fourth and tied-fourth the first four.

Under Doeren, the Wolfpack has played in a bowl game each of the last four seasons, posting a 3-1 mark in the postseason.

Nebraska clinches spring game attendance crown, Georgia pushes past Alabama

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Georgia got its revenge on Alabama on Saturday, I guess. Months after letting a lead slip away in the national championship game, Georgia wiggled past Alabama in the spring game attendance standings on Saturday but the Dawgs still had to settle for second place overall. A record crowd at Nebraska led to the Cornhusker faithful having the highest attendance for a spring game this season.

Nebraska set a school record on Saturday with 86,818 fans attending the spring game in Lincoln, the first under new head coach Scott Frost. It was the first time Nebraska recorded a crowd over 80,000 during the past five years. Nebraska surged to the top of the Big Ten spring attendance standings as well, and stayed comfortably ahead after Penn State recorded an estimated 71,000 fans at its spring game on Saturday. Ohio State had led the Big Ten the previous three years but stadium renovations limited Ohio State to 79,000 available seats this year at Ohio Stadium, and weather and schedule adjustments to the spring game resulted in a crowd of 47,803 for Ohio State’s spring game.

The SEC once again dominated spring game attendance numbers this year. With LSU and Mississippi State numbers still pending, the SEC has five schools in the top 10 in spring game attendance as of today; Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, and Texas A&M. As a conference, the SEC eclipsed the 400,000-fan mark for the fourth time in the last five years. Although the Big Ten is typically the second best conference in cumulative spring game attendance, the conference’s number took a big dip this season thanks to weather issues across the conference. Still, the number pulled in by Nebraska, Penn State, and Ohio State helped keep the Big Ten in second place ahead of the ACC.

Keep in mind spring game attendance is treated differently by every school, and the numbers often include estimates so the accuracy can be questioned. Even though there are still a handful of spring games left, none will rival the numbers put up today.

The updated top 10 is listed below, and a full database of spring game attendance can be found here (complete with conference breakdowns and a five-year record of spring game attendance figures by school).

2018 Spring Game Attendance Top 10

  1. Nebraska – 86,818
  2. Georgia – 82,184
  3. Alabama – 74,732
  4. Penn State – 71,000
  5. Tennessee – 65,098
  6. Florida State – 60,934
  7. Clemson – 55,000
  8. Florida – 53,015
  9. Oklahoma – 52,102
  10. Texas A&M – 48,129

Jeremy Pruitt felt some Tennessee players ‘flat out quit’ in spring game

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New Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruit has a message to his players and Tennessee fans. If you are going to enter Neyland Stadium, you better be prepared to work.

Following Tennessee’s spring game in Knoxville, Pruitt reflected on his first spring game as head coach with the media and he was not about to let anyone off the hook for a mediocre performance in the spring game. One thing you never want to hear from a head coach is that some of his players seemingly quit. That was the case for Pruitt today, without naming any specific players.

Even fans received some gripes from the new head coach.

Tennessee estimated a total of 65,098 fans came out to watch the Tennessee spring game, which is an impressive total and right around the average Tennessee typically draws for the spring game. But the crowd buzz must not have impressed Pruitt, who could be setting the tone for the fans in the fall in hopes they turn things up a bit once the games actually matter.

The same message is now being sent to the entire team. Pruitt has a high standard in mind, which is to be expected after being an assistant at Alabama. Was Pruitt truly this displeased with his team’s effort in the spring game? Or was he simply trying to play things down in order to let his players know there will be no room for poor efforts?