Score one for Mark Stoops: Blue-chip defensive tackle Matt Elam committed to Kentucky over Alabama Thursday, only adding to a pretty nice 2014 recruiting class for the Wildcats.
247 Sports pegs Elam as a five-star recruit, while Rivals gives him three stars. But the 6-foot-7, 372-pound native of Elizabethtown, Ky., was coveted by plenty of powerful programs, fielding offers from Notre Dame, Ohio State and Tennessee as well as Alabama.
While there’s disagreement on just how good a prospect Elam is, for Stoops and his staff to fend off Nick Saban and college football’s most powerful program is a massive victory.
Rivals rates Kentucky’s 2014 class as the 13th-best nationally, while 247 has them No. 19. That represents a huge gain for a historically downtrodden program, even if eight SEC teams currently have better recruiting classes per 247 Sports.
The SEC East may have been “down” last year, even with two very strong teams in Mizzou and South Carolina topping the division. But with Kentucky and Tennessee bringing in strong recruiting classes, Florida and Georgia having plenty of talent and Mizzou and South Carolina both coming off double digit-win seasons, top-to-bottom the SEC East could soon rival the SEC West as college football’s most difficult division.
Tennessee might not be a favorite to make the College Football Playoff in 2017 but the school is doing their best to bring a little bit of the sport’s postseason to Knoxville.
Athletic director John Currie announced on Tuesday that the Vols would be hiring the College Football Playoff’s Chief Financial Officer Reid Sigmon as Tennessee’s new Executive Associate Athletics Director and Chief Operating Officer. The hire isn’t too surprising considering the two worked together for several years at Kansas State in very similar roles.
“It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Reid Sigmon to the Tennessee Athletics family,” Currie said in a statement. “He has earned national credibility as part of a visionary leadership group creating the College Football Playoff organization for the last four years, and his tremendous integrity and understanding of college athletics make him a perfect addition to our Tennessee leadership team.”
Sigmon served in a variety of roles in college athletics as well as the NFL before eventually landing with the College Football Playoff. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that he starts at Tennessee on May 15 with a salary of $285,000 per year.
That certainly didn’t take long.
A little over a week ago, P.J. Mbanasor was one of two cornerbacks who had decided to transfer from Oklahoma. Tuesday morning on his personal Twitter account, the defensive back announced that he “will be attending the University of Louisville in the fall.”
For what it’s worth, the Cardinals have yet to announce Mbanasor’s addition to the roster.
Mbanasor will likely have to sit out the 2017 season. He would then have two seasons of eligibility at his disposal beginning in 2018.
A four-star member of the Sooners’ 2015 recruiting class, Mbanasor was rated as the No. 19 corner in the country; the No. 17 player at any position in the state of Texas; and the No. 132 player on 247Sports.com’s composite board. After playing in 10 games with two starts as a true freshman, Mbanasor took a redshirt for the 2016 season.
It appears Pat Fitzgerald will still be stalking the sidelines in Evanston deep into the next decade.
Tuesday afternoon, Northwestern announced that it has reached an agreement with Fitzgerald, the program’s Dan and Susan Jones Family Head Coach, on a multi-year contract extension. The 42-year-old Fitzgerald’s extension would keep him as the coach of the Wildcats through the 2026 season.
Fitzgerald will be entering his 17th season as a coach at the school, 11 of those as head coach. From 1993-96, Fitzgerald was an All-American linebacker for the Wildcats and ultimately inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player.
“This is home for me and my family, and I love this University,” a statement from Fitzgerald began. “I’m extremely privileged to coach the exceptional young men we invite here to earn the best education in college football and compete at the highest level in the Big Ten Conference. The best is yet to come, and we’re excited for the future.”
In his 11 seasons, Fitzgerald has guided NU to a 77-62 record overall and a 41-48 mark in Big Ten play. Fitzgerald has accounted for two of NU’s four 10-win seasons the program has produced, with both of those coming in the the last five seasons.
He is the winningest football coach in the school’s history.
Well, it was fun while it lasted.
In late February, reports surfaced that Tommy Tuberville was giving serious consideration to running for governor in the state of Alabama. Earlier this month, the former Auburn head coach had loaned his newly-formed campaign $100,000 as he filed the paperwork to form a principal campaign committee ahead of a potential gubernatorial run.
According to a report from 247Sports.com, the run has stopped before it ever really got started. Citing a person familiar with the situation, AuburnUndercover.com writes that “Tuberville will not run for governor in Alabama after two months of exploring the possibility in 2018.”
Other media outlets have subsequently confirmed the initial report.
Tuberville himself has yet to make an official announcement, although that could come as early as today. A Tuberville aide did confirm the news, however, telling the ABC affiliate in Montgomery, Ala., that “Mr. Tuberville decided this morning the timing for him to enter governor’s race is not right,” with Tripp Skipper adding, “He feels led to pursue other opportunities.”
Whether those other opportunities include a continuation of his long-time coaching career remains to be seen.
The 62-year-old Tuberville spent 10 seasons as the head coach at Auburn, famously guiding the Tigers to a six-game winning streak over the rival Alabama Crimson Tide during his tenure. “If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have Nick Saban,” Tuberville said in a late-March radio interview when asked why Alabama football fans should vote for him.
A head coach most of the past two decades, Tuberville has a 159-99 record in stops that included Ole Miss (1995-98), Texas Tech (2010-12) and Cincinnati (2013-16) in addition to his time on The Plains.