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Saban on playoffs: ‘You can’t sneak yourself in’


Alabama coach Nick Saban was just finished dusting off the confetti from last night’s BCS championship victory over Notre Dame — his fourth championship in eight years — when he took the podium this morning for a press conference.

Saban touched on and was asked about a variety of topics — yes, the NFL thing came up; no, Saban wasn’t happy about it — including his opinion on a four-team playoff, which is coming up in two years.

Here’s what Saban said about the selection process:

You can’t sneak yourself in,” Saban said, adding that teams should have to play in a conference championship game. Currently, four of the five major conferences in college football hold such a game; only the 10-team Big 12 does not.

Personally, I feel the Big 12 has it right. Play nine conference games in a round robin league and have a clear a path to a playoff spot with a good enough overall record. Financially speaking, the Big 12 doesn’t need a conference championship either. If a playoff selection committee truly places an emphasis on what teams have done in the regular season, then sneaking in based on whether or not your conference has a championship game doesn’t seem likely when the field is still just four teams.

But if we’re talking about “sneaking in,” it’s tough not to tell Saban to look in the mirror after what happened following the 2011 season. The Tide did not win the SEC West and therefore did not play in the SEC championship game, but because there was a strong push for “the two best teams” to play in the BCS championship, Alabama got the nod over Big 12 champion Oklahoma State.

A four-team playoff is far from perfect and it won’t resolve every problem, but “sneaking in” doesn’t feel like it will be an issue.

Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil to return for Texas A&M on Oct. 24

Associated Press
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As if this day wasn’t busy enough, Ole Miss announced late Monday evening star-crossed offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil‘s suspension has been capped at seven games, meaning he’ll miss Saturday’s trip to Memphis but return in time for Texas A&M visit to The Grove on Oct. 24.

From the university:

The University initially withheld Tunsil from competition at the start of the season as both the NCAA and the University examined several alleged improper benefits.  During the course of the process, it was determined by the NCAA that Tunsil received impermissible extra benefits that included the use of three separate loaner vehicles over a sixth-month period without payment, a four-month interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle, two nights of lodging at a local home, an airline ticket purchased by a friend of a teammate, and one day use of a rental vehicle.  In addition, it was determined that Tunsil was not completely forthcoming when initially questioned by NCAA investigators regarding the loaner vehicles.  He later corrected his account and since apologized. 

As part of his reinstatement conditions, the NCAA imposed a seven-game suspension, ordered Tunsil to pay the value of the extra benefits to a charity, perform community service, and he will also make the vehicle down payment.

Said Tunsil: “I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made and want to thank everyone for their continued support. I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and the entire Ole Miss family for how my choices affected our program. This was a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to being back on the field with my team and redeeming myself. The last 10 months have been a physical and mental battle for me, but I love playing this game more than anything else. I want to be here for my teammates who are depending on me to finish what we started together.”

The news is, obviously, great for Tunsil and head coach Hugh Freeze personally, as well as the entire Ole Miss football program. It’s also a nice plus for NFL scouts, as it means Tunsil’s first live action of 2015 will come against possible future No. 1 draft pick Myles Garrett.

Hope he’s been practicing.

Report: Steve Spurrier set to retire

Steve Spurrier

Say it ain’t so, Steve.

According to a report from Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated Monday evening, Steve Spurrier is set to retire.

Spurrier, 70, is a legend the likes college football has never seen before and never will again.

He was a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback at Florida, then returned to his alma mater and turned the program into a juggernaut, leading the Gators to 122-27-1 record from 1990-01 and a national championship in 1996. After a stint with the NFL’s Washington Redskins, Spurrier landed at South Carolina, where since 2005 he’s racked up a school record 86 wins.

But those wins slowed down of late. After an SEC East championship in 2010 and three straight 11-2 seasons from 2011-13, the Gamecocks fell to 7-6 in 2014, and are off to a 2-4 mark this fall. With the possibility of losses to nemeses old and new like Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida and Clemson ahead, Spurrier, it appears, would rather fade away quietly to the putting green.

Perhaps no two sentences summarize Spurrier, then and now, more precisely than this:

Combined with his three years at Duke, Spurrier closes up shop with a 228-89-2 mark, and a bust in the coaches’ wing of the Hall of Fame waiting for him.