(This story was edited to clarify some of the confusion over the ticket policy for this weekend.)
After coming out and suggesting those not interesting in staying for a full 60 minutes would be best suited to not come at all, it appears Alabama head coach Nick Saban‘s words have led to some changes starting this weekend for Alabama’s home game against Tennessee. Or it could just be coincidental timing.
“In some kind of way, everybody that chooses to go to the game should stay there and support the team for the game,” Saban said this week. “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.”
Message received, Saban. Alabama suspended the reserved block tickets for 20 student groups for this weekend’s game, according to a report by AL.com. Apparently it actually goes against the student seating handbook — Yes, there is a student seating handbook for football attendance at Alabama — to arrive excessively late or leave prematurely from football games. Saban took note of the lack of students in their seats during last weekend’s blowout win over Arkansas. To clarify, student tickets are not being taken away. Students will still have tickets, but seating will be on a free-for-all instead of reserved blocks for various student organizations.
Saban has a point. Alabama can make some premium bucks on those tickets from people who may be willing to stick around for more of a game, regardless of the score. Students have other activities going on to attend to on Saturday nights that often will be more enjoyable than a 52-point blowout in the fourth quarter. Saban knows that of course, but Saban needs to continue to sell his program to recruits. Perhaps Saban should realize that recruits will be more impressed by a 52-0 victory than what the students are doing.
Washington State has hired Jeff Phelps to coach its defensive line, the program announced late Friday night.
Phelps arrives from Minnesota, where he spent the past six seasons in the same capacity. Ironically, Phelps’s final game as a Gopher came against… Washington State. His defensive line finished the 2016 season ranking 12th nationally in tackles for loss, 14th in rushing defense and 22nd in sacks.
“Jeff is a passionate football coach and a true technician of the game,” Wazzu head coach Mike Leach said in a statement. “He coaches with great energy, is a strong recruiter and brings with him a track record of being a part of great defenses.”
Phelps takes over for Joe Salave’a, who reportedly signed a new deal with the Cougars in December before leaving for Oregon earlier this month.
Washington State finished last season ranked 29th nationally in rushing defense (up from 95th in 2015), but 103rd in sacks and tied for 67th in tackles for loss.
Well, so much for all that.
Amid reports of a tug-of-war between Gus Malzahn and the Auburn administration, it appears the coach has got his man.
Auburn will hire Arizona State offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey to the same post, the Tigers announced Saturday.
“I’m excited to welcome Chip Lindsey to the Auburn family,” Malzahn said in a statement. “I have the utmost confidence in his ability to lead our offense and his strength in developing quarterbacks makes him the perfect fit. Chip is a man of integrity and character who will fit well within our staff. He has great knowledge and enthusiasm for the game and is a rising star in this profession.”
Like Malzahn, Lindsey is a longtime high school coach. His break came when Malzahn hired him to his original staff as an analyst; the Tigers’ improbable worst-to-first run to the SEC championship and BCS national title game spring-boarded Lindsey to the offensive coordinator post at Southern Miss, where he helped the Eagles jump from 102nd nationally in yards per play in Lindsey’s first season to sixth in his second and final season in Hattiesburg.
Lindsey spent but one season at Arizona State, where the Sun Devils finished 103rd in yards per play.
He’ll take over a jekyll-and-hyde offense that ranked 87th in yards per play in September and 83rd in November, but placed sixth in October. The Tigers have added a high-wattage transfer in former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
“My family and I are very excited to return to Auburn and our home state,” Lindsey said. “Both are very special places to us. I looking forward to reuniting with Coach Malzahn and his staff. They are great coaches and great people. I look forward to being part of something special and helping Auburn win championships.”
Nebraska and Arkansas have met just once on the field, in the 1965 Cotton Bowl. But the Huskers and Hogs have now met twice in the only college athletics competition more cutthroat than the actual games — hiring coaches.
Arkansas famously held off Nebraska for Houston Nutt‘s services in 2004 (before you scoff, Nutt led the Hogs to the 2006 SEC West title, and Nebraska wound up hiring Bill Callahan) and now the Cornhuskers have returned the favor.
Nebraska hired Bob Diaco as its defensive coordinator this week, nabbing the former Connecticut head coach and Notre Dame defensive coordinator after he’d finished an interview with Arkansas. Sean Callahan of Husker Online explains from here:
Head coach Mike Riley said they stopped Diaco’s plane in the air on his way back from Arkansas and got him to fly to Lincoln last Thursday from Chicago. Riley said from there, they weren’t letting Diaco leave Lincoln until he accepted the job.
The money didn’t hurt. Nebraska handed Diaco a 2-year contract worth $1.7 million in total, making him the highest-paid assistant in program history.
Auburn does not have an offensive coordinator yet, which is odd. The Tigers have an explosive offense with a lot of returning parts. They have Jarrett Stidham coming in to play quarterback. They have a boatload of money. And they have a boatload of money.
According to a report from James Crepea of AL.com, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and “people with influence over the program” can’t agree on who should replace Rhett Lashlee.
Malzahn is said to prefer Florida Atlantic offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, Arizona State offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey and NC State offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz. Lindsey and Drinkwitz worked for Malzahn previously, and Malzahn has built a working relationship with the Briles family — Stidham and running back Kam Martin transferred from Waco to Auburn, and Art Briles visited a Tigers practice this season.
But Auburn donors, Crepea writes, have nixed those choices, saying Briles is too inexperienced and Lindsey and Drinkwitz are too close to Malzahn.
Instead, donors preferred Texas A&M offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone (who has already been crossed off the list) or Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich (ditto). Mark Helfrich does not seem like a viable option at this time.
With less than two weeks until National Signing Day, the urgency to bring someone to the South Plains only grows stronger.