Alabama head coach Saban questions a call from the referee in the second half of play against Virginia Tech at the Chick-fil-A  Kick-Off college NCAA football game in Atlanta

Witnesses: police, not Tide player, aggressors in weekend incident

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Relatively speaking, the weekend arrest of Alabama true freshman Tony Brown was one of those run-of-the-mill incidents involving college students and campus law enforcement that follows the standard formula: party + 18-22 year olds + alcohol + police = brouhaha and/or imbroglio.  This incident in Tuscaloosa, however, is in the early stages of taking on a life of its own.

Multiple eyewitnesses, al.com‘s Michael Casagrande is reporting, have painted the responding Tuscaloosa Police Department officers as the aggressors during a Sunday morning incident that ended with Brown’s arrest.  Those same witnesses claimed that the news release sent out by the TPD was rife with what the website described as “inaccuracies or fabrications.”

In that release, the TPD stated that “police responded to reports of a loud party involving underage drinking at an area apartment complex just after midnight Sunday morning.”  As one partygoer who was placed under arrest was being put into a police cruiser, the crowd in general and “Brown specifically continued to be a problem.”  The 18-year-old Brown was ultimately hit with pepper spray, arrested and charged with failure to obey and resisting arrest.

That was the TPD’s version of events.  Suffice to say, the eyewitness accounts vary greatly.  From Casagrande’s post, with an eyewitness accusing one of the police officers of pulling a gun as Brown was in the fetal position, exacerbating the situation:

Jaison Davis, 23 from Atlantasaid Brown was never threatening to the two police officers, who responded to a noise complaint at Campus Way, an off-campus student apartment complex. The party was attended by mostly Alabama track and field team members, Davis and other witnesses said. …

They say Brown and a few other guests turned to leave immediately after officers pulled out the pepper spray. Brown walked approximately 30-40 yards to his car with an officer following behind, they said. The officer walked beside Brown and pepper sprayed Brown in the face as the athlete was complying with the command to leave, said Davis who only briefly met Brown before Saturday night. …

Brown immediately fell to the ground in a fetal position, Davis said, as the officer pulled his gun. The crowd, which had been relatively calm to that point, was more tense after the pepper spray was used and when the gun came out, Davis said.

Sharper said everyone moved away fast when they saw the gun.

Davis went on to claim that there are at least five cell-phone videos of the incident.  Another eyewitness, 20-year-old Chris Thomas, told al.com that “the police officer appeared to become more aggressive when witnesses pulled out camera phones to capture video of the encounter.”

Along with other media outlets, al.com has requested a copy of the police report filed by the officers.  Thus far, the TPD has declined the requests.

Head coach Nick Saban addressed the incident for the first time publicly Tuesday.

“Look, some people are in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Saban said. “Some people don’t make good decisions about what they do, what they say. Tony Brown’s a fine young man, we’re glad to have him in the program. We’ll certainly try to use this as a learning experience for him. “

Ole Miss announces co-OC Dan Werner won’t return in 2017

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Hugh Freeze‘s 2017 coaching staff at Ole Miss will have a decidedly different look than his 2016 version.

In late November, the football program announced that defensive coordinator Dave Wommack has decided to retire from coaching at the end of year after nearly four decades in the profession.  Nearly two weeks later, the rebels announced that co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner will not return as well.

Werner also served as quarterbacks coach.

“I am grateful to Dan for his contributions to our program,” Freeze said in a statement. “His leadership and experience were invaluable in the development of our quarterbacks. These are always very difficult decisions, but at this time, I believe it is best for our program to have a fresh approach. We wish Dan and his family the very best.”

In 2016, the Rebels were 13th nationally in passing offense and tied for 45th in scoring.  They were in the Top 10 in 2015 in both of those categories.

Matt Luke remains on staff as the other co-offensive coordinator while also holding the title of assistant head coach.  He’s also the Rebels’ line coach.

Werner has been in Oxford for all five year’s of Freeze’s tenure.  He was also the Rebels’ coordinator in 2006 and 2007 under Ed Orgeron, who is now the head coach at LSU.

In addition to the move on Werner, it was also announced that Barney Farrar, the assistant athletic director for high school and junior college relations, would not have his contract renewed.  Farrar had been on administrative leave prior to his dismissal.

Farrar was connected to the draft-day imbroglio involving former Ole Miss All-American offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil.  It was reported in October that an NCAA investigation into the football program is ongoing.

Houston AD goes papal amidst reports of Lane Kiffin hiring

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 19: University of Houston Frontiersman hold the UH flag and the American flag during the University of Houston school song before the Houston Cougars played the Southern Methodist University Mustangs on November 19, 2011 at Robertson Stadium in Houston, Texas. Houston defeated SMU 37-7.  (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
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Even in the midst of a coaching search that will determine your football program’s fortunes for the foreseeable future, you gotta have a little fun.

Late Wednesday, it appeared that Houston was zeroing in on a replacement for Tom Herman, who left to become the head coach at Texas late last month.  Thursday morning, it was reported that Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin had been hired by UH.

In response to the reports of a final decision being made, Cougars athletic director Hunter Yurachek offered a little papal levity, replete with non-white smoke indicating no football pope has been hired.

The Houston Chronicle, citing a source with knowledge of the situation, subsequently reported that “the University of Houston has not made a decision on its next football coach.”

That said, it’s expected that Kiffin is Yurachek’s man, with an announcement coming as early as tonight. University officials will meet later on today to finalize the search and come to a consensus.

In addition to Kiffin, ex-LSU head coach Les Miles and interim Houston coach Todd Orlando and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite have been under consideration.  ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy writes that “[w]hoever the next coach is, Houston is trying to require an excessive buyout so he can’t leave after a couple of seasons without paying a substantial penalty.”

As a reference point in that aspect of the situation, Herman’s buyout was $2.5 million.  Herman spent two seasons with the Cougars before leaving for the Longhorns.

Jay Norvell reportedly set to be named head coach at Nevada

Jay Norvell, Jerrod Heard
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Yet another FBS opening is reportedly on the verge of being closed.

According to a report from FootballScoop.com, Jay Norvell “will be the next head coach at Nevada.” The Reno Gazette-Journal writes that “Norvell, the third and final candidate to interview for the Wolf Pack football head-coaching vacancy, was so impressive he didn’t even leave Reno before being offered the job, which he quickly accepted.” Norvell was offered the job late Wednesday night.

The other two interviewed were Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin and Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. The former interviewed Monday, the latter Tuesday.

If/when hired, Norvell would replace Brian Polian, who “mutually parted ways” with the football program last month after four seasons. This would be Norvell’s first head-coaching job at any level.

Norvell just completed his first regular season as an assistant on Todd Graham‘s Arizona State coaching staff.  With the Sun Devils, Norvell served as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator.

Norvell has spent most of his nearly three decades in coaching at Power Five programs, with stops that included Texas (2015), Oklahoma (2008-14), UCLA (2007), Nebraska (2004-06), Iowa State (1995-97), Wisconsin (1989-94) and Iowa (1986-87).  He also spent six seasons as an assistant in the NFL — 1998-2001 as the wide receivers coach of the Indianapolis Colts, 2002-03 as tight ends coach of the Oakland Raiders.

Jim Harbaugh is looking forward to seeing Chief Osceola and Renegade at the Orange Bowl

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 15:  Chief Osceola, mascot of the Florida State Seminoles plants a spear at midfield prior to a game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher got together for a joint press conference in Miami today as the two coaches prepare to face one another in the Orange Bowl on December 30. Harbaugh said he is looking forward to the matchup but seemed to be much more interested in getting a chance to witness one of the pregame traditions of Florida State; Chief Osceola riding on Renegade and planting a spear in the turf.

“I’ve never been to a game at Florida State,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve always wanted to go there and see what that atmosphere was like in person. This will be as close as I’ve ever been to that. I’m excited for that. I know I’m going to get some chills when that Appaloosa comes riding out there.”

Of course, this isn’t exactly a home game for the Seminoles, so sometimes pregame traditions are put on ice for the bowl season. Knowing this, Harbaugh made his case and made sure everyone listening knows just how cool he thinks it is.

“I want to see that. That’s one of the cool things,” Harbaugh said. “We have cool things and other teams have cool things, but that is right up there as one of the coolest things.”

Fortunately for Harbaugh, he will indeed get a chance to witness this pregame routine in person. Florida State Associate Athletics Director Jason Dennard said on Twitter Chief Osceola and Renegade will make the trip to Miami from Tallahassee.