Nick Saban

Saban looking for ‘most consistent guy’ as his new QB

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And, in other news, you have to pay your taxes and you will die.

During his very successful time at Alabama, Nick Saban has relied on “game managers” at quarterback, whether it be John Parker Wilson or Greg McElroy or AJ McCarron.  While the latter would buck against and bristle at such a label, it is what it is: the Tide head coach views turnovers and mental mistakes and bad decisions at the most critical position on the field in roughly the same way he views the proliferation of up-tempo offenses.

With Alabama kicking off spring practice Saturday, and with McCarron not under center for the first time in three years. the Tide has officially commenced the process of replacing the player who was partly responsible for BCS titles in 2011 and 2012.  When asked what particular traits he was looking for in the player who will be expected to fill the void created by McCarron’s departure, Saban’s response was, well, predictable of someone who leans heavily on the managing of a game.

“We’re looking for the guy — success is defined by consistency in performance, alright,” Saban said according to al.com. “So who can be the most consistent guy doing his job well at that position? Alright, now that’s a critical position because that guy distributes the ball to someone on every down, whether he hands it to them, throws it to them. The choices and decisions that they have to make goes a long way in how effective and efficient your offense runs.”

As it stands now, Blake Sims is the only quarterback on the roster who has thrown a pass at the collegiate level.  Also a part of the competition, at least in the early portion of the 15 spring sessions, are sophomore Alec Morris, redshirt freshmen Cooper Bateman and Parker McLeod and true freshman David Cornwell.  Sims served as McCarron’s primary backup in 2013, while Bateman and Cornwell are four-star members of UA’s 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes, respectively.

“I think all of you know that the quarterback competition this spring is going to be something that a lot of people are going to get a lot of opportunity at,” Saban said yesterday. “Jacob is not going to be here in the spring, but he’s certainly going to get an opportunity when he gets here as well.

“That’s going to be the goal, to develop each of our quarterbacks and see which one we feel give would have the best opportunity to be successful next year.

One (significant) part of the equation who’s missing, one who some (most?) expect to be under center when the Tide takes the field for the season opener against West Virginia, is the Jacob to which Saban referred.  After graduating from Florida State in May, Jacob Coker will officially transfer to Alabama and enter the quarterback fray this summer.  Coker was reportedly neck-and-neck with 2013 Heisman winner Jameis Winston in the run-up to the Seminoles’ BCS title run; that “close” competition in tandem with Coker’s physical gifts equates to the quarterback competition in Tuscaloosa this spring serving as nothing more than a structured dress rehearsal for the real battle that begins in earnest in early August.

Or, as al.com put it: “Coach Nick Saban is quick to point out Florida State transfer Jacob Coker won’t be here until summer, so the spring is still an incomplete race.”

In other words, take any reports coming out of Tuscaloosa over the next month or so on the state of the quarterback race with a rather sizable grain of salt.

“You guys are going to ask me at least 1,000 times between now and the first game who’s the first-team quarterback,” Saban told the media earlier this month, “and I’m telling you right now you’re probably going to get a 1,000 ‘We’re going to wait and see.'”

Again.  Grain of salt.

Local Auburn man arrested after setting Toomer’s Corner oak tree on fire

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 10: Fans of the Auburn Tigers roll trees at Toomer's Corner after defeating the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Jordan Hare Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Auburn, Alabama. The Auburn Tigers defeated the Arkansas State Red Wolves 51-14.(Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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Police have identified and arrested a 29-year-old Auburn, Ala. man after he allegedly set fire to one of the oak trees at the famous Toomer’s Corner.

Fans traditionally celebrate a Tigers victory by “rolling” the trees with toilet paper and did so once again on Saturday night following an 18-13 victory over LSU. However, video surveillance showed a suspect lighting some of the paper on fire, setting the tree ablaze as he walked away.

The Auburn city police department, in a release obtained by USA Today, stated that “witnesses at Toomer’s Corner identified a suspect, who was immediately detained and taken into custody by police on an unrelated charge of public intoxication.” Several reports identified the suspect as Jochen Wiest.

Firefighters quickly responded to the fire and extinguished the burning tree but university officials are still evaluating the damage to the oaks.

“From the ground we can easily see damage to the leaves and base of the tree. It is significant,” Professor of Horticulture Gary Keever said in a statement released by the school. “I expect the foliage will continue to drop. The full extent of damage may not be known for several weeks. The best case scenario would be to see a flush of new growth next spring, but right now it’s too early to tell how the tree will respond.”

The incident is all the more emotional for Auburn fans given that the tradition had just been revived this season following a three-year absence as a result of an Alabama fan poisoning the oaks. Hopefully the area around Toomer’s Corner can recover in time for the Tigers’ next win, which might be as soon as Saturday when they host Louisiana-Monroe.

Notre Dame officially parts ways with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder

FILE - In an Aug. 29, 2014 file photo, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, right, talks with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder during practice during media day for a NCAA football team in South Bend, Ind. It was announced Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, that Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has fired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder following a 1-3 start. The school tweeted a new release saying VanGorder is being replaced by defensive analyst Greg Hudson.(AP Photo/Joe Raymond, File)
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Notre Dame has officially parted ways with embattled defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.

“This is a difficult decision,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “I have the utmost respect for Brian as both a person and football coach, but our defense simply isn’t where it should be and I believe this change is necessary for the best interest of our program and our student-athletes.”

Notre Dame has allowed 134 points through their first four games and are just 1-3 after extremely high preseason expectations. This was VanGorder’s third season in South Bend but the Irish have regressed significantly and ranked 101st in FBS scoring defense after Saturday’s home loss to Duke.

Defensive analyst Greg Hudson, a former Notre Dame linebacker who has served as defensive coordinator at Purdue, East Carolina and Minnesota, was elevated to fill VanGorder’s role.

“It’s never easy to make a change on your staff, but I’m confident in Greg’s ability to lead our defense,” Kelly added. “As a former player at Notre Dame and an experienced defensive coordinator, he not only understands the expectations necessary to compete at the highest level, but he’ll bring a fresh perspective to our sideline, practice field and meeting rooms.”

The move to make staff changes on the defensive side of the ball isn’t exactly surprising to Irish fans who have seen the team play this year but the timing is notable. Kelly remarked that the coaching was not the problem on defense after the loss to the Blue Devils but still opted to make a change on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if a very young defense will respond, and perhaps even rally, now that a big message has been sent.

Notre Dame plays Syracuse on Saturday at noon ET.

Florida International fires head coach Ron Turner after 10-30 run

HADLEY, MA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Head coach Ron Turner of the FIU Golden Panthers looks on during the game against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Hadley, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
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The firing season in college football is getting started earlier and earlier. Just ask Ron Turner.

The Florida International head coach was fired early Sunday in a move that was hardly surprising aside from its timing.

“I want to thank Coach Turner for his contributions to the FIU football program, most importantly his commitment to academics and community service,” athletic director Pete Garcia said in a short statement. “At this time Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Ron Cooper has been named interim head coach.”

Turner went 10-30 over four years at the school but was 0-4 to begin the season after a 53-14 loss to Central Florida last week. While he is far from the first coach fired in 2016, Turner did become the first head coach to be fired after the season got underway.

Cooper had a 45–55 record in nine seasons as a head coach at Eastern Michigan, Louisville and Alabama A&M. He was elevated to FIU’s defensive coordinator prior to the season and notably served as LSU’s defensive backs coach when Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu starred in Baton Rouge.

The Panthers are set to play local rival Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

LSU head coach Les Miles, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron fired

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 24:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers looks on during the game against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The Mad Hatter is looking for a new gig.

LSU has fired head coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, the school announced on Sunday. The news was first reported by the Baton Rouge Advocate.

“Decisions like this are never easy ones to make,” athletic director Joe Alleva said in a statement. “Coach Miles has done a tremendous job here and he’s been a great ambassador for our University, which makes this even more difficult.

“However, it’s apparent in evaluating the program through the first month of the season that a change has to be made. Our commitment to excellence and competing at the highest level is unwavering, and our goals for the remainder of this season haven’t changed. We have an obligation to our student-athletes to put them in the best position to have success on the football field each week and we have great confidence that coach Orgeron will do just that.”

The move comes just hours after the Tigers lost to Auburn in the final seconds to drop to 2-2 after beginning the year as a trendy national championship pick and top five team in the polls.

Miles has been in Baton Rouge since 2005 and posted a 114–34 record at the school, including a national title in 2007 and a pair of SEC championships. He was nearly let go after the 2015 season but was retained following a huge wave of public support and potential implications with a large buyout.

Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron was named the interim head coach for the rest of the season. Former LSU quarterback and current tight ends coach Steve Ensminger is slated to become the new offensive coordinator, according to Fox Sports.