Report: UT regent reached out to Saban’s agent in January

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All things considered, this will not end well.  On any level.

Over the past several years, even prior to Texas’ middling on-field play the past three seasons, the speculation has gone that, once Mack Brown retires or is forcibly shown the door, UT officials will make an all-out effort to hire Nick Saban as its next head football coach.  Never mind that it’s a laughable proposition to even think Saban would consider leaving the best job at the FBS level for the cash-rich Longhorns; that’s been the rumor buzzing across many a message board and even amongst some in the media.

Thursday, however, brought a new development to what’s previously been nothing more than nameless, faceless Internet rumormongering.

Speaking on the record to the Associated Press (for some reason), current UT regent Wallace Hall confirmed that he had spoken to Saban’s agent in the days after the Tide’s most recent BCS title this past January about Saban replacing Brown.  A former regent, Tom Hicks, was also on the call.  Hicks is the brother of current regent Steve Hicks, and Tom Hicks played a pivotal role in hiring his good friend Brown away from North Carolina in 1997.

What’s unclear is whether UT initiated the contact or if it was Saban’s agent, Jimmy Sexton.

What is clear, at least in Hall’s eyes, is that he was contacted by an unidentified person about meeting Sexton, with that information passed on to UT officials.

“I notified then-chairman Gene Powell, who then informed vice chairman and athletic liaison Steve Hicks, which resulted in a conference call with Mr. Sexton,” Hall wrote to the AP in a statement. “Introductions were made and then I withdrew from the process.”

Tom Hicks reportedly met with Brown and asked the coach about the possibility of retiring.  The AP writes that Brown “said he wanted to keep coaching and the matter was dropped.”

Steve Hicks confirmed to the AP that, before the matter was dropped, the conversations revealed by Hall all indeed took place.

“Wallace Hall brought this to the chairman and myself. Nothing was authorized by the board and the chairman and myself thought the board should not be involved,” Steve Hicks said. “Tom and Mack are friends and talk often. They simply visited and just talked the idea through. It was dropped and nothing happened … It was a short conversation.”

After that January conversation, Hall said, he had no further contact with Sexton.  The regent added, though, he does not know if others affiliated with UT have or haven’t been in contact with the agent.

Again, there should be little or no worry on the part of either the university or Tide Nation that the 61-year-old Saban would leave Tuscaloosa for Austin.  What this does ensure, however, is that if/when Brown is canned and thanks to this report, rumormongers will have concrete, on-the-record proof of UT’s interest in the man who’s building the preeminent football program at the FBS level.

Ex-USC DL Noah Jefferson won’t be transferring to Arizona after all

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In early March, Noah Jefferson announced on Twitter that he would be transferring from USC to Arizona.  Nearly five months later?

Never mind.

Wednesday, UA head coach Rich Rodriguez announced that Jefferson will not, as previously expected, be playing for the Wildcats this season.  No reason for the abrupt and unexpected about-face was given.

The coach did, though, intimate that a future pairing between the player and the program isn’t out of the question.

Jefferson wouldn’t have been eligible to play in 2017 for the Wildcats even if his move to the desert had come to fruition. He would’ve, though, had two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018 at his disposal.

A four-star member of USC’s 2015 recruiting class, Jefferson played in 14 games, starting one of those, as a true freshman. After starting the season-opening loss to Alabama last season, Jefferson never played another down for USC.

Hugh Freeze makes first public comments since exiting Ole Miss in disgrace

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For the first time since his unceremonious exit from Ole Miss, Hugh Freeze has spoken publicly.  Somewhat.

In what was described as a brief interview with USA Today Sports Wednesday, the former Ole Miss head coach said his family and church have helped him get through the storm of the last few days. When asked if his family was standing by him, Freeze responded, “Oh, gosh, yeah.”

“God is good, even in difficult times,’’ Freeze told the website. “Wonderful wife and family, and that’s my priority.”

“I got some good friends,” the former head coach added.

The stunning news dropped last Thursday night that Freeze’s tenure as the head coach at Ole Miss had come to an end because of at least one call from his university-issued cell phone to a known escort service.  While Freeze blamed the call on a misdial, the administration found a “pattern of misconduct” during a deep dive into his phone records, leading the school to confront the coach about the situation.

After meetings with Freeze Wednesday night and then again Thursday morning, it became apparent that, if he didn’t resign, the school was going to fire him.

Because of a moral turpitude clause in his contract, there was neither a buyout nor a settlement.

Five-star 2017 Auburn signee undergoes ‘minor procedure,’ should be a go for start of summer camp

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It appears Auburn has dodged what could’ve been a significant injury bullet.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, Brandon Marcello of the Auburn arm of 247Sports.com is reporting that Calvin Ashley underwent a procedure on one of his eyes recently.  SECCountry.com described it as “a minor procedure”; both websites stated that the touted offensive tackle will be ready for the start of summer camp on July 31, this coming Monday.

The reports come a few days after Ashley posted a picture on social media of what appeared to be him in a hospital room.

The football program has not yet, at least publicly, addressed what if any type of health issue with which Ashley is dealing.

A five-star member of the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class, Ashley was rated as the No. 6 tackle in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in Washington D.C.; and the No. 27 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Ashley was the highest-rated player in AU’s class this year, the only five-star recruit pulled in by Gus Malzahn and company this cycle.

The 6-6, 310-pound Ashley is expected to compete immediately for the starting job at left tackle.

USC the media’s choice to win 2017 Pac-12 title

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Thanks to how they finished the 2016 season, USC is getting substantial preseason love heading into the 2017 season.  Not surprisingly, that affection continued Wednesday.

At the Pac-12 Media Days Wednesday, 28 of the 52 media members covering the conference picked USC to win the league’s title this season.  Another 22 picked reigning champion Washington to defend its title, while there was one vote each for Oregon and Utah.

Both USC and UW received 49 first-place votes when it comes to winning the South and North divisions, respectively.  Oregon, Stanford and Washington State received one first-place vote each to win the North Division, while Colorado, UCLA and Utah received the same for the South crown.

Also of note from the opening of media days:

  • The Pac-12 Championship Game will remain at Levi’s Stadium through the 2019 season, with an option for 2020 as well.  The home of the San Francisco 49ers has been the venue for the conference’s last two title games.  New NFL stadiums in Inglewood and Las Vegas will be options beyond that.
  • Halftime of games broadcasted on Pac-12 Networks will be reduced from 20 minutes to 15.  In an attempt to further shorten the length of games, commercial breaks during those games will be reduced as well. “We are trying to be progressive and experiment with ways to manage the game presentation through a reduction of TV timeouts and some of the 30-second commercial spots,” commissioner Larry Scott said as the league targets three hours as the ideal game time.
  • The conference has centralized its replay reviews for all 12 teams this season after experimenting with centralization for two teams in 2016.