Nick Saban

Saban addresses D.J. Pettway’s ‘horrible decision,’ return

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It’s not often we devote a single post to a junior college signee, let alone multiple ones. D.J. Pettway, though, is no normal JUCO addition.

The defensive lineman, a four-star Alabama recruit in 2011, was dismissed by the Tide in February of this year after being charged with two felony counts related to the beating and robbery of a UA student.  Two days after Pettway proclaimed he was back with the Tide following a season at the JUCO level, UA confirmed the player’s return. Because of the resulting controversy, the school’s athletic director even felt compelled to release a statement addressing said return.

Absent, though, was a public comment from The Process One. Until now.

Sunday night, Nick Saban addressed the decision to both allow Pettway back into the football program specifically and to the university in general.  And, for posterity, here are the Alabama head coach’s Pettway quotes, by way of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer:

“The university made some things that this particular guy (D.J. Pettway) could do and if he did all those things, they would look at letting him back in school. Based on what he did, based on his punishment and penalty, and based on what was required for him to go through a series of things, the university would make a decision to let him back in school, which he wanted to come back. He did all of those things. The university made a decision that he could come back. We made a decision that we wanted him back. We know D.J. Pettway very well. He certainly made a mistake in terms of what he did. We felt that this one person, because he did the things he was required to do, deserved a second chance.”

“D.J. was never a bad guy when he was here. We never had a lot of problems with him before. He did make a horrible decision to be involved with this incident but his involvement and the severity of his punishment was based on his involvement. Those are the guidelines that were set for him to get an opportunity to come back.”

The incident to which Saban attaches the “horrible decision” label involved three UA football players, including Pettway, accused of “[punching] a student’s head and face and [kicking] him in the ribs and back area.”   The three — Pettway, linebacker Tyler Hayes and defensive back Eddie Williams — were charged with two counts each of felony second-degree robbery, with the charges related to the theft of an Apple laptop as well as a debit card. Running back Brent Calloway was charged with fraudulent use of a credit/debit card that was stolen in the attack.  All four were ultimately dismissed.

According to Saban, Pettway was the only one of the four who “[had the] opportunity” to return.

As for how Pettway wound his way back to Tuscaloosa, Saban acknowledged a potential return was discussed in the immediacy of the lineman’s dismissal.

“I told D.J. when the die was cast and this happened that if he did the things he was supposed to do we would certainly take it into consideration based on how he manages himself and things from now to coming back,” Saban said. “Until the university made the decision to allow him back in school, or cleared us to be able to recruit him, so we thought he could get back in school, we didn’t have any communication with him.”

As Yoda would say, stinks to high Heaven, this one does.

Or, as Mr. Vader once noted, the farce is strong with this one…

Reports: Florida hires Mississippi State’s Scott Stricklin as new athletic director

FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2016, file photo, Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin congratulates Dominique Dillingham following the team's NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee in Starkville, Miss. A person familiar with the search says Florida has hired Stricklin as its new athletic director. Stricklin replaces Jeremy Foley, one of the most tenured sports executives in the country. Foley is retiring Saturday after 40 years with the Gators, including the last 25 in charge of Florida's athletic program. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because Florida has an announcement and introductory news conference planned for Tuesday, Sept. 27. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle, File)
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One athletic director is making a rare intra-conference move to take the same position at a rival school.

As first reported by USA Today, Mississippi State’s Scott Stricklin is set to be announced as the new athletic director at Florida on Tuesday.

The move ends a lengthy search by the Gators to replace longtime AD Jeremy Foley, who officially retires at the end of the week but is remaining at the school to help fundraise.

The Florida athletic director’s job is considered to be one of the most plum in all of college sports. That may be the biggest reason why Stricklin, who graduated from Mississippi State in 1992, would make the rare move to leave his alma mater for another position in the SEC. He has been in charge of the Bulldogs since 2010 and also made stops at Tulane, Baylor and Kentucky before coming back to Starkville.

Stricklin is well-regarded in most circles for his moves to upgrade MSU facilities during his time as athletic director. The Gators recently announced plans for over $100 million in capital improvements so you can bet that the school’s new athletic director will hit the ground running starting on Saturday.

FSU’s Jimbo Fisher, Houston’s Tom Herman both deny being contacted by LSU

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Head coach Jimbo Fisher of the Florida State Seminoles looks on against the South Florida Bulls in the first half at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Les Miles has barely been out of a job for 24 hours and already the rumors have begun connecting other head coaches to his old job at LSU.

Not surprisingly, one of the most prominent names being mentioned is former Tigers assistant and current Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher.

“I’m not talking about LSU. No I haven’t [had contact] and I’m not talking about it,” Fisher told reporters on Monday. “We’re talking about North Carolina.”

The 12th-ranked Seminoles play the Tar Heels on Saturday.

Fisher spent seven years at LSU and was the offensive coordinator for Nick Saban during the 2003 national championship season in Baton Rouge. He recently won a national championship at Florida State in 2013 and has 71-15 career record.  Many have labeled Fisher one of the Tigers’ top targets in their coaching search but he is far from the only prominent name that has been mentioned recently for the job.

Houston coach Tom Herman, who has seemingly heard his name come up for every major coaching opening the past 18 months, also denied being contacted by the school. A report had surfaced shortly after Miles was fired saying that said school representatives had already made contact with the Cougars coach.

“I can say unequivocally nobody has contacted me,” Herman said after practice, according to the Houston Chronicle. “I can spend my time getting upset and going on radio shows and tweeting things out and all that stuff, but at the end of the day it’s not going to stop. I just let them do and say whatever they want to say.”

Stanford head coach David Shaw also issued a strong denial about him potentially leaving the Farm for LSU as well.

With such a big time job opening up this early in the year, you can expect plenty of these types of reports linking somebody with LSU and then a prompt denial from said coach. It seems like it’s going to be a long season for the Tigers on the field and an even longer for those following the team’s coaching search.

It’s probably safe to say the only person who won’t deny any interest in the job or being contacted about the opening is LSU’s current interim coach Ed Orgeron, who was introduced at a press conference Monday afternoon.

AFCA and NFL agree on expanded access for scouting college underclassmen

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Scouts look on as a player runs the 40-yard dash during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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The NFL and most NCAA schools have been trying for years to whittle away at the high number of players who declare early for the NFL Draft and then go undrafted.

To that end, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and the NFL announced Monday that the two entities have reached an agreement on new guidelines involving scouting underclassmen. This will eventually allow for more information to be shared with both prospects and their potential employers at the pro level.

Beginning this upcoming February, each FBS school can designate up to five underclassmen who will be eligible for additional scouting (some schools may be allowed to designate more). Those players will then be allowed to be tested and interviewed by scouts at a school’s pro day prior to the 2017 NFL Draft.

While it is not quite an “underclassmen combine” that some have advanced, it essentially means talented soon-to-be redshirt sophomores and juniors who are not eligible to declare for the draft will be able to perform at their school’s pro days for scouts.

“The more information our college advisory committee has, the better evaluations they can make for student-athletes who are at a critical juncture of their lives,” NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said in the statement. “While there is no question that obtaining a college degree is a transformative experience for so many people in society and a goal to which we encourage everyone to aspire to, for those talented few individuals that have the ability to succeed in the NFL prior to exhausting their college football eligibility, this new agreement will ensure they have better information with which to make their decision. We appreciate the efforts of our partners at the AFCA in making this new agreement a reality.”

The change is one many top coaches have been clamoring for over the years, from Ohio State’s Urban Meyer to Alabama’s Nick Saban. It should lead to more information for those players who may be thinking about leaving school before their senior season and allow the underclass advisory committee to get a better idea of where they might get drafted.

It may not be a perfect solution for some but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Pro Football Talk also has a little more on this subject right here.

Rutgers loses play-making Janarion Grant to season-ending ankle injury

PISCATAWAY, NJ - SEPTEMBER 17:  Janarion Grant #1 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights carries the ball in the first half against the New Mexico Lobos at High Point Solutions Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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If there was one player Rutgers may not have been able to afford to lose this season, it was Janarion Grant. Unfortunately for Rutgers, Grant has indeed ben lost for the season due to an ankle injury suffered Saturday in a home loss against Iowa.

Grant injured his right ankle on Saturday and returned to the Rutgers sideline on crutches later in the game. That was an ominous sign itself, but Rutgers head coach Chris Ash confirmed the unfortunate news on Monday when addressing the media. Ash did not reveal the specific details of Grant’s injury, but confirming he will miss the rest of the season is a pretty tough pill to swallow for the entire Rutgers program.

Rutgers will look to petition for an extra year of eligibility for Grant.

But wait, there’s more injury news for Rutgers. Ash also announced defensive end Quanzell Lambert will be out for the remainder of the 2016 season due to a knee injury.