Nick Saban

Saban chides Tide fans who leave games early


Memo to those members of Tide Nation attending football games at Bryant-Denny Stadium: Nick Saban has spoken. And, as evidenced by the photo directly to the right, he’s hoppin’ mad.

OK, maybe not hoppin’ mad in the literal sense, but somewhat irked nonetheless. Or mildly perturbed. One of the two.

In the fourth quarter of Alabama’s romp over Arkansas Saturday, the Tide’s home field looked like, well, The U’s home field as fans made an early exit with yet another victory firmly in hand.  A photo posted on Twitter by‘s Michael Casagrande (@ByCasagrande) showed a whole helluva lot of fans dressed as empty seats in what was apparently an early mock run for some type of Halloween costume contest:

Tide Fans

That scene left an impression on Saban.  The coach, who has talked to his players about “playing for 60 minutes in the game and competing for 60 minutes in the game,” is of the impression that fans should do the same regardless of the score.

And if they’re not going to put in a full 60?

“Maybe if you’re not interested in doing that, you should let someone else go who would really like to go because I have a lot of people who want to go,” the coach said.

In fairness to the Tide’s rabid fan base, the home slate of the team they live and die for 24/7/365 hasn’t exactly been filled with either quality opposition or nail-biters.  Alabama has played four home games this season: Colorado State, Ole Miss, Georgia State and Arkansas.  Exiting the third quarter of those games, the Tide has been up on the scoreboard by a combined score of 123-9.

Aside from pleasing the head coach, what’s the incentive for hanging around and witnessing additional carnage?

If nothing more, Saban says, stay for the kids.  Specifically, the recruits who are in attendance at the game and who may be swayed by the atmosphere — or lack thereof — in the stadiums they visit.

“We have lots of recruits there, we like to see an enthusiastic full stadium,” Saban said. “We have a beautiful stadium and one of the nicest venues in all of college football and I think we all should show our appreciation for it by staying and supporting our team for the whole game.”

And there you get to the root of Saban’s displeasure with those who bolt early.  Recruiting is the life-blood of every football program, and nobody does it better than Saban & Company.

Saban uses every advantage he can on the field; the same goes for the recruiting trail.  If the coach who’s won four BCS titles in his career sees something that could potentially harm what he continues to build in Tuscaloosa, he’s not going to sit on his hands and say nothing.

It’s up to the fans whether they want to heed the coach’s admonition.  And, in that same vein, up to the athletic director to get rid of the Colorado States and Georgia States on the home slate, too.

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.

Penn State fires offensive coordinator John Donovan

Penn State football practice, Sept 9, 2015

Penn State has fired offensive coordinator John Donovan, the program announced Sunday.

“I have tremendous respect for John and the work he has put in the last five years,” head coach James Franklin said in a statement. “I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”

Donovan originally hooked up with Franklin when the two were at Maryland, then coordinated his offenses at Vanderbilt and later Penn State.

Despite playing with what many project to be a future first-round pick in quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Penn State ranked 101st nationally in scoring, 108th in total offense and 80th in yards per play.

Penn State dropped its final three games of the regular season and averaged only 14.6 points in its five losses.

Purdue retains head coach Darrell Hazell, fires both coordinators

Markell Jones
AP Photo

It’s never a good thing when a head coach has to fire both of his coordinators on the same day. Of course, it’s never a good thing to be 6-30, either.

Both are realities at Purdue, as the Boilers announced Sunday head coach Darrell Hazell will return for a fourth season in 2016, but offensive coordinator John Shoop, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson and defensive line coach Rubin Carter will not.

“I appreciate the efforts of each of those guys over the last three years,” Hazell said in a statement. “They are quality men who are well respected by their players and their peers, and I am disappointed that things didn’t work out better. But I believe that in order to turn around this program, we need to make some significant changes and move in a different direction at those positions.”

Purdue, 2-10 in 2015, ranked 115th nationally in yards per play and 112th in yards per play allowed.

Virginia Tech announces Justin Fuente as head coach; Bud Foster to stay on as DC

Associated Press

Justin Fuente is officially Virginia Tech’s new head coach. A day after reports linked the two parties, the Hokies made the match official by announcing the 39-year-old as their new head coach on Sunday afternoon.

“Justin is a very impressive individual who also happens to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football,” Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said in a statement. “He elevated Memphis to unprecedented heights. His recruiting philosophy is progressive and comprehensive. Coach Fuente has displayed tremendous talent in evaluating players and developing young men as they strive to reach their full potential. Simply put, Coach Fuente exudes all the qualities that Hokies hold near and dear. We are excited to officially welcome Justin Fuente as the leader of the Virginia Tech football program.”

Fuente went 26-23 in four years as Memphis’s head coach, but his success runs far beyond a simple won-loss record. After going 7-17 in his first two seasons, Fuente guided the Tigers to a 19-6 mark in 2014-15, which included a 15-game winning streak, a No. 13 national ranking and a win over rival Ole Miss within that run.

Simply put, it was the absolute peak of modern Memphis football.

And now Fuente is tasked with taking Virginia Tech to new heights. The Hokies dominated the ACC throughout much of the 2000’s, taking conference crowns in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. But as Florida State and Clemson have risen, Virginia Tech has fallen.

After posting 13 top-25 finishes in 14 seasons, the Hokies are set to conclude their fourth straight campaign outside the national rankings, going just 16-16 in ACC play over that span.

The offensive numbers state exactly why Fuente was hired, and what he must do in Blacksburg; Memphis ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense and eighth in passing efficiency, while Virginia Tech sits at 64th and 59th, respectively.

The cupboard is not bare, though. Virginia Tech is in the midst of a 23-year bowl streak, and Fuente has already secured one key commitment — longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has agreed to stay on staff.

“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”

Clearly, Babcock and the VT brass believe, a Fuente offense and a Foster defense are what the Hokies need to catch Clemson and Florida State.

Now it’s Fuente’s job to make that happen.