Nick Saban

Winners and Losers from Signing Day

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National Signing Day is just about over, so it’s time to take stock at who the winners and losers were on Wednesday.

Winners

Alabama — The rich get richer. Alabama nabbed yet another No. 1 recruiting class, thanks in part to the signing of the nation’s top recruit, defensive end Da’Shawn Hand. Ho-hum.

Kentucky — No, this is not a basketball recruiting ranking. Head coach Mark Stoops signed the best Wildcats recruiting class in recent memory, landing at No. 16 on the Rivals.com team list. It’s led by safety Mike Edwards and quarterback Drew Barker.

Virginia — The state of Virginia had three five stars this recruiting cycle and coach Mike London nabbed two of them, including the nation’s No. 5 player, safety Quin Blanding, and the No. 32 player, defensive tackle Andrew Brown. The other? The nation’s top prospect, the aforementioned Hand. Can’t get ’em all.

Stanford — Given the difficulties of recruiting to an elite academic institution, perhaps Stanford should be graded on a curve. The Cardinal checked in at No. 14 in the team rankings, with quarterback Keller Chryst and defensive end Soloman Thomas being the elite prospects.

LSU — The Tigers signed a monster class and finished second in the team rankings behind Alabama. The nation’s top running back, Leonard Fournette, should make an instant impact as a freshman, as should No. 2-ranked wide out Malachi Dupre.

Michigan State — The Spartans used their Rose Bowl victory and No. 3 national finish to sign the No. 21 class, one of the best recruiting finishes by MSU in a long time. The jewel of the class is 5-star defensive end Malik McDowell, who should end up with the Spartans once issues with his dad get worked out.

Losers

UCLA — The Bruins thought they had a chance at Adoree Jackson. He went to USC. They thought they might get Malachi Dupre. He went to LSU. They hoped to get Budda Baker. He went to Washington. It was still a good class for Jim Mora (ranked 18th), but he swung for the fences a few times and whiffed.

Michigan — The Wolverines felt the effects of a disappointing 7-6 season and their class slumped to 31st in the national rankings. Michigan needs some instant help this fall and, outside of top corner Jabril Peppers, it fell short.

Virginia Tech — The Hokies received a major blow when top DT Derrick Nnadi signed with FSU. They missed out on Isaiah McKenzie, who signed with Georgia. A top receiver commit, Javon Harrison, also jumped ship to sign with the Seminoles. Overall, the Hokies finished 25th nationally but could’ve finished much higher with a stronger signing day.

San Diego State will play at Qualcomm Stadium through 2020

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 01: A general view of the San Diego Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs en route to Chiefs 37-27 win over the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on January 1, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
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The Chargers have left San Diego for Los Angeles and San Diego State is working on figuring out the best possible plan for a long-term football home. For the time being, the Aztecs will continue to call Qualcomm Stadium home. The current lease with the football stadium in San Diego was to expire after the 2018 season, but the university has agreed to tack on two additional years to the lease.

Qualcomm Stadium still continues to be a short-term solution for the Aztecs. The university is hoping to find a suitable plan that will see a brand new football stadium constructed that is more suitable for the program’s fans and perhaps more accommodating. San Diego state is also reportedly open to the idea of sharing a new stadium with a potential Major League Soccer franchise, which typically plays in smaller venues than NFL stadiums.

“There’s a lot of really good football fans in this town that maybe don’t want to drive four or five hours to see a football game when they can see a pretty good product right here at home, and maybe they’ll become fans of our team,” San Diego State head coach Rocky Long said during a news conference on Thursday to announce a new contract extension. “I think that college football has a lot of things to offer that pro football does not.”

Long’s recently extended contract with San Diego state runs through the 2021 season. The hope is Long will be able to coach the Aztecs into a new home stadium in the final year currently under contract.

Alabama RB Derrick Gore transfers to ULM

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03:  Derrick Gore #27 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates his fourth quarter touchdown against the Florida Gators during the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on December 3, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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It seems to happen every now and then, but Alabama is losing a running back to a transfer this spring. Derrick Gore, a redshirt junior, is transferring to Louisiana-Monroe to continue his college football career, as reported by The News-Star.

Gore will be given a better chance to compete for a significant role in ULM’s offense as he gets out from the deep running back stable at Alabama that makes it difficult to get everyone involved. Gore had played a reserve role on offense behind the likes of Derrick Henry, Bo Scarbrough and Kenyan Drake at a position that is generally stacked for the Crimson Tide. Gore did find a role for himself on special teams. Gore blocked a punt against Florida in the SEC Championship Game last December and returned it for a touchdown. He was a walk-on at Alabama.

Gore will be eligible immediately to play for ULM starting this fall and will have two years of eligibility to use with the Warhawks.

Mike Locksley’s new role on Alabama staff will be co-offensive coordinator

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 28:  Head coach Mike Locksley of the Maryland Terrapins looks on during a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at High Point Solutions Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
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Alabama took advantage of a staff opening on its coaching staff this week to promote Mike Locksley to a full-time offensive assistant’s role. Now, his role appears to be a bit more defined. According to a report from Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports, Locksley will be taking on the role of co-offensive coordinator.

Locksley has previous offensive coordinator experience, of course. Locksley coached the offense at Maryland and Illinois prior to arriving at Alabama. Feldman reports Locksley turned down “several coaching offers” so he could remain a part of the Alabama coaching staff for the 2017 season.

Locksley was previously added to the Alabama football staff as an analyst. Now he will share the offensive coordinator duties with another recently promoted analyst, Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian was promoted to offensive coordinator in the week leading up to the College Football Playoff national championship game after Nick Saban made the decision to force Lane Kiffin out of the position and send his offensive coordinator to take on the full-time work of being the new head coach of FAU.

NCAA proposal to shut down spring break off-campus practices passes

FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2015, file photo, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh calls for a flag in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Maryland in College Park, Md. Michigan and Florida both entered the season hoping to revive storied programs that had begun to look more pedestrian than they were accustomed to. Enter Wolverines coach Harbaugh and Gators coach Jim McElwain, who both brought their own style and approach to the sidelines in their first seasons on the job. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
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Michigan’s spring break trip to conduct spring practices at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida will be its last. An NCAA proposal to ban such trips outside of the college football season passed by a count of 58-22 on Friday.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh caught a lot of criticism for his decision to take Michigan’s spring practices down to Florida over Michigan’s spring break. The move was a bold strategy for Harbaugh and the Michigan program, but it ruffled the feathers of coaches from the ACC and SEC, leading to a move to ban such practice plans in the future. The debate over such a move was debated with similar intensity that satellite camps received, and now we await to see just how Harbuagh will respond, because he is known to chime in when something like this happens.

So no more trips to Florida for Michigan football players over spring break. That means Harbaugh will just have to go to the drawing board to find a new idea to find an edge.