Clemson, Auburn benefit from Top-Five losses in coaches’ poll

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Baylor and Oregon’s on-field losses turned into Clemson and Auburn’s poll gain.

Clemson and Auburn each moved up two spots and into the Top Five of the USA Today coaches’ poll, the former to No. 4 and the latter to No. 5.  The ACC Tigers are back in the Top Five for the first time since their Week 8 loss to Florida State, while the SEC Tigers are back in that group for the first time since winning the BCS title following the 2010 season.

Those two teams were on a bye (Auburn) and beat an FCS team (Citadel) and moved up a pair of spots apiece.  Oklahoma State beat the No. 3 team in the country by 32 points and moved up the same two spots, from No. 9 to No. 7.  For a reason why such a win didn’t carry more weight than a weekend off and a glorified scrimmage, you’d have to ask the football support staff sports information department coaches.

The slotting of the Cowboys is particularly curious when you consider the team they blew out, Baylor, dropped just five and into the No. 8 spot right behind OSU.  Oregon, though, took a serious hit for the egg they laid against Arizona, exiting Week 13 at No. 12 after entering it No. 5.

The first three teams remain unchanged from a week ago: No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Florida State and No. 3 Ohio State.  The first-place votes remained the same from last week as well, with the Tide claiming 56 and the Seminoles the other six.  The Buckeyes actually gained ground on the ‘Noles, closing the gap between second and third from 83 points after Week 12 to 60 after Week 13.  Barring an FSU loss, however, it’s inconceivable OSU would leapfrog them into the No. 2 hole prior to the release of the final BCS standings early next month.

The remainder of the Top 10 consists of No. 6 Missouri, No. 9 South Carolina and No. 10 Stanford, all up two positions from their standing a week ago.

Fresno State received a boost to its BCS-busting hopes, climbing deeper into the Top 16 to No. 13 (from No. 16) and on the verge of a Top-12 spot that, if it’s mirrored by the final BCS rankings, would guarantee the Bulldogs a BCS bowl.  Fellow BCS buster hopeful Northern Illinois inched up a spot to No. 20.  Along with the top three teams in the coaches’ poll, those two teams are the only remaining unbeatens at the FBS level.

UCF is No. 19, the lowest-ranked of the projected winners of the six automatic-qualifying conferences.  If UCF remains outside the Top 16, the highest-ranked non-AQ school inside that number would receive a BCS berth without having to worry about a Top-12 placement.

LSU and Arizona State are the biggest upward movers of the week, with each climbing four positions.  The Tigers are now at No. 15 and the Sun Devils at No. 18.

LSU is also the highest-ranked three-loss team, while South Carolina is the highest-ranked two-loss squad.

An SEC team, though, also took the biggest hit of the week.  Texas A&M, No. 10 a week ago, took a precipitous drop to No. 21.  UCLA was another big rankings loser, going from No. 14 to No. 22.

Cincinnati is the only new addition to the coaches’ Top 25, coming in at No. 25.  Minnesota, which debuted last week at No. 23, dropped out.

Coaches' Poll Week 13

Shea Patterson blasts Ole Miss as battle over eligibility continues

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If the tension between Ole Miss and Michigan-bound quarterbacks transfer Shea Patterson wasn’t already made clear, a letter from Patterson did not hold back his seething comments about his former university in an explanation to the NCAA hoping to help his cause. Former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze was just one of Patterson’s targets.

Patterson suggested Freeze was not the man he claimed to be and believes Ole Miss has taken measures designed specifically to prevent certain players from leaving the program via transfer. Patterson is just one player attempting to move on from the program for a new college football home that is battling to gain eligibility for the upcoming fall rather than sit out a full season as per typical NCAA transfer rules.

“It doesn’t seem fair to me that the only thing standing in the way of Coach Freeze making $5 million a year at another school was the discovery that he wasn’t the trustworthy, straight-laced role model that he claimed to be,” Patterson states, as reported by Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports.

Patterson is transferring to Michigan, but his eligibility status being left up in the air to be determined has left uncertainty about what will happen in Ann Arbor. If Patterson is granted immediate eligibility, he would likely step right into the starting job for the Wolverines. But with Ole Miss holding up the transfer process with regard to his eligibility status, things have gotten dicey for all parties involved.

Patterson’s lawyer also put Ole Miss on full blast in this ongoing battle and war of words. We have not seen the end of this one yet.

Fortune Magazine names Nick Saban one of World’s 50 Greatest Leaders

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Add another line to the future College Football Hall of Famer’s burgeoning résumé.

Fortune Magazine Thursday released its annual list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.  Checking in at No. 12, ahead of the likes of Apple CEO (and Auburn alum) Tim Cook (No. 14), Oprah Winfrey (No. 27) and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (No. 29)?  Alabama Crimson Tide head football coach Nick Saban.  He’s the only individual on the list with direct ties to college football.

Below is a portion of the magazine’s write-up on the coach:

Add an earlier one he won at LSU in 2003, and his six rings match Alabama legend Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most football championships by a college coach in the so-called poll era, dating back to 1936. Now that he’s succeeded to a historic degree, Saban is grappling with the sports version of what business guru Clayton Christensen famously dubbed the “Innovator’s Dilemma”—the fact that success today makes it hard to keep the edge you need to win in the future. But if the last few years are any indication, the grappling is going pretty well.

The only other individuals from the sports world who made the list tennis player Serena Williams (No. 15) and “The Gymnasts and Their Allies” (No. 22), with the latter connected to the scandal surrounding disgraced former professor at Michigan State’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and sports physician for both the Spartans and USA Gymnastics Larry Nassar.

For the complete list, including the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and other schools at No. 1, click HERE.

Alabama announces future home-and-home with Notre Dame

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The reports have officially come to fruition.

Late last month, it was reported that Alabama was working on scheduling a home-and-home series with Notre Dame.  Nearly a month later, the Crimson Tide confirmed that it has indeed reached a scheduling agreement with their counterparts with the Fighting Irish.

The Crimson Tide will travel to South Bend Sept. 2, 2028, with the Fighting Irish heading to Tuscaloosa on Sept. 1 of the following season.

“It doesn’t get more tradition-rich than Alabama and Notre Dame when it comes to college football,” a statement from UA athletic director Greg Byrne began. “What a great opportunity this is for our program and for our fans to kick off the 2028 and 2029 seasons.”

The two storied football programs have met seven times previously, with the last coming in the 2012 championship game.  The Tide won that last matchup, but trail in the series 5-2.  Including the BCS title game, three of the meetings have come in the postseason, with the other two being the 1973 Sugar Bowl and the Orange Bowl following the 1974 season.

The 2029 game will mark the Fighting Irish’s first-ever appearance at Bryant-Denny Stadium as their two previous regular-season games against the Crimson Tide were played at Legion Field in Birmingham (1980, 1986).  Alabama has played Notre Dame in South Bend twice (1976, 1987).

“We are excited to be able to add a home-and-home series with a team like Notre Dame,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “Alabama and Notre Dame represent two of the most storied programs in college football history. What a great opportunity for our team and our fans to be able to witness these teams play in two of the sport’s most iconic venues in Tuscaloosa and South Bend.”

Tennessee announces four-year deal for AD Phillip Fulmer

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Earlier this month, it was reported that Tennessee and Phillip Fulmer were closing in on a long-term deal.  Two weeks later, those reports have come to fruition.

Thursday morning, UT announced that it has reached an agreement on a four-year contract with Fulmer to continue in his role as athletic director.  Fulmer was named as acting athletic director on Dec. 1, not long after John Currie was fired from the post.  His first big move came less than a week after being tabbed for the role when Jeremy Pruitt was hired as the Volunteers’ new head football coach.

Fulmer’s contract will reportedly average $1 million annually, with the opportunity to earn up to $300,000 in bonuses as well.

“Phillip has been a great partner over the last four months and I commend him for the work he has done with our student-athletes, coaches and staff,” chancellor Beverly Davenport said in a statement. “Phillip has been connected to the University of Tennessee and its athletics program for more than 40 years and he understands the expectations we have for our athletics department.

“He is surrounded by a very knowledgeable staff that is deeply committed to the success of our student-athletes. I look forward to our continued partnership.”

A native of Winchester, Tenn., Fulmer played his college football for the Volunteers in the late sixties.  He began his coaching career at UT as a grad assistant from 1972-73, then returned as offensive line coach in 1980.  After spending 13 seasons as an assistant, he took over as the Volunteers head coach in 1992 — Johnny Majors has always alleged Fulmer was behind his ouster — and spent 17 seasons leading his alma mater.

In that span, Fulmer went 152-52, winning a pair of SEC titles and the 1998 national championship.

“I am very grateful to Chancellor Davenport for the opportunity to continue to serve our outstanding university and its proud legacy,” Fulmer said. “The positive momentum established by our talented student-athletes, dedicated coaches, excellent staff, our great alumni and fans has united us all. I am excited to work alongside them as we push forward in pursuit of excellence in all sports.”