Tide’s Kirby Smart becomes latest million-dollar coordinator

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The subject of many a rumor on the last couple of spins of the coaching carousel, Kirby Smart has instead remained at Alabama as Nick Saban‘s defensive right-hand man.

In recognition for both that loyalty and the productivity of the Tide’s defense, Smart will become the latest collegiate coordinator to hit the seven-figure mark in annual salary.

As expected, UA’s Board of Trustees approved Tuesday a significant increase in pay for the football program’s defensive coordinator.  Per the terms of the new deal, which runs through January of 2016, Smart will make $1.15 million in 2013 and $1.35 million in both 2014 and 2015.

Around this time last year, Smart’s pay was increased from $850,000 to $950,000 for 2012.  Smart’s 2013 salary will be more than 54 FBS head coaches earned in 2012.

Smart joins Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris ($1.3 million) and LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis ($1.1 million) in the million-dollar-plus club.  The trio will be joined next year by new LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who will make $600,000 in 2013 before his salary jumps to $1.3 million in 2014.

Smart’s counterpart on the other side of the ball, Doug Nussmeier, saw his salary increase from $590,000 in his first year on the job to $680,000.  The offensive coordinator’s contract was also extended into 2016.  The four other assistants who were on Saban’s 2012 coaching staff also received raises of varying degrees according to al.com: outside linebackers coach Lance Thompson ($400,000), special teams/tight ends coach Bobby Williams ($400,000), defensive line coach Chris Rumph ($360,000) and running backs coach Burton Burns ($315,000).

Saban, the highest-paid head coach in the game at just under $5.5 million, did not realize an additional salary increase coming off the Tide’s third BCS title the past four years — he received a $50,000 increase under the terms of a new deal agreed to in 2012 —  but did see his bonus structure tweaked.  To coincide with the new four-team playoff that will begin following the 2014 regular season, Saban will earn a $200,000 bonus for a semifinal appearance; a $300,000 bonus for winning a semifinal and making it to the national championship game; and a $400,000 bonus for winning a national championship.

Jalen Jelks eschews leaving early for NFL, will return to Oregon

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We haven’t yet reached the first-ever early signing period, and Oregon has already bolstered its 2018 defense.

Jalen Jelks confirmed to The Oregonian that he has decided to push off the NFL and will instead return to Oregon for another season.  The redshirt junior indicated that he needs to work on his game before he takes it to the next level.

“I’m back for sure,” the redshirt junior defensive end told the newspaper. “I talked to my parents and my family and everything and just probably the best decision for me is to make the best out of next season and make a lot more plays than I did this season.

“I missed a lot of plays, and if I can capitalize on that and translate it to next season I could contribute a lot to the draft.”

This season, Jelks led the Ducks in tackles for loss with 15; in sacks with 6.5; and in quarterback hits with four.  The tackles for loss were second in the Pac-12 to Washington State’s Hercules Mata’afa‘s 21.5.

Rashaan Salaam’s 1994 Heisman up for auction, could fetch $300K

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A little over a year after his death, one of the most noteworthy pieces of Rashaan Salaam‘s athletic career finds itself up for sale to the public yet again.

According to the Denver Post, the former Colorado star running back’s 1994 Heisman Trophy will be auctioned off next month and is expected to sell for upwards of $300,000. A portion of whatever the trophy fetches will be donated to CTE research.

Salaam, who took his own life at the age of 42 last December, was diagnosed with CTE symptoms postmortem.

After rushing for more than 2,000 yards, Salaam in 1994 became the first, and thus far only, Buffaloes football player to win the most prestigious trophy in college football.  In 2013, Salaam sold the trophy to a sports memorabilia dealer who subsequently sold it to the unnamed individual who is selling it at auction. “The trophy also includes a letter from Salaam, acknowledging the 2013 sale,” the Post wrote.

Based on what we’ve found, the largest amount a Heisman Trophy has ever brought in was the $395,000 a California businessman paid for Minnesota’s Bruce Smith‘s 1941 award in 2005.

Nick Saban, other write-in votes may have helped decide Alabama’s contentious Senate election

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Could Nick Saban have inadvertently played a role in the outcome of a historic election?  Believe it or not, that may actually be a valid question.

As this is a college football site, we won’t go into the background of the contentious U.S. Senate campaign waged between Democrat Doug Jones and scandal-plagued Republican Roy Moore in the state of Alabama.  In the run-up to the special election in the state Tuesday, however, one Democrat-leaning political action committee urged Republican voters who couldn’t vote for a Democrat and were leery of voting for Moore to use a write-in vote, specifically using the name of the Alabama head football coach to illustrate that option.

With 99 percent of the vote tabulated, NBC News reported earlier this morning that Jones held a lead of just under 21,000 votes.  It has since been reported that, with 100 percent of the votes in, there were nearly 23,000 write-in votes cast, with Jones’ lead still holding at just under 21,000 votes.

Because of a new state law, some are saying it’s likely we’ll know exactly how many of those write-in votes were for Saban.  From fivethirtyeight.com late Tuesday night:

With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Jones has a margin of 0.7 points over Moore, and the share of write-in votes is more than double that, at around 1.7 percent. Who were people writing in? If that difference holds, we’ll know in due time. In 2016, the Alabama state legislature passed a law requiring the write-in votes to be tallied if the share of write-ins exceeds the margin between the first- and second-place candidates — exactly the situation we’re in now.

“I’m a life-long Republican,” voter Gary Dobbins told MSNBC by way of al.com. “This is the first time in my entire life that I haven’t voted for the Republican candidate.

“I wrote in Nick Saban instead. The reason why is at first I was going to vote for the other guy. Then, I had a crisis in the voting booth and started thinking about what Richard Shelby had said and Condoleezza Rice. I just wrote in Nick Saban.”

West Virginia the landing spot for ex-Michigan DB Keith Washington

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After a brief pit stop at the junior college level, Keith Washington has found his way back to the FBS level.

The defensive back announced via Twitter that he has committed to West Virginia and will continue his collegiate playing career with the Mountaineers. As Washington spent the 2017 season at a Mississippi JUCO, he will be eligible to play for WVU immediately in 2018.

Washington held two other Power Five offers in this second round of recruitment, and both were from fellow Big 12 programs — Kansas and Texas Tech. East Carolina, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, Toledo and UAB had extended offers as well.

Washington was a three-star member of Michigan’s 2015 recruiting class, Jim Harbaugh‘s first with the Wolverines, coming out of high school in Alabama. After redshirting as a true freshman, he played in nine games during the 2016 season.

Before the start of this past season, he decided to transfer from the Wolverines.