Nick Saban

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


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 “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 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.

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.

Penn State fires offensive coordinator John Donovan

Penn State football practice, Sept 9, 2015

Penn State has fired offensive coordinator John Donovan, the program announced Sunday.

“I have tremendous respect for John and the work he has put in the last five years,” head coach James Franklin said in a statement. “I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”

Donovan originally hooked up with Franklin when the two were at Maryland, then coordinated his offenses at Vanderbilt and later Penn State.

Despite playing with what many project to be a future first-round pick in quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Penn State ranked 101st nationally in scoring, 108th in total offense and 80th in yards per play.

Penn State dropped its final three games of the regular season and averaged only 14.6 points in its five losses.

Purdue retains head coach Darrell Hazell, fires both coordinators

Markell Jones
AP Photo

It’s never a good thing when a head coach has to fire both of his coordinators on the same day. Of course, it’s never a good thing to be 6-30, either.

Both are realities at Purdue, as the Boilers announced Sunday head coach Darrell Hazell will return for a fourth season in 2016, but offensive coordinator John Shoop, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson and defensive line coach Rubin Carter will not.

“I appreciate the efforts of each of those guys over the last three years,” Hazell said in a statement. “They are quality men who are well respected by their players and their peers, and I am disappointed that things didn’t work out better. But I believe that in order to turn around this program, we need to make some significant changes and move in a different direction at those positions.”

Purdue, 2-10 in 2015, ranked 115th nationally in yards per play and 112th in yards per play allowed.

Virginia Tech announces Justin Fuente as head coach; Bud Foster to stay on as DC

Associated Press

Justin Fuente is officially Virginia Tech’s new head coach. A day after reports linked the two parties, the Hokies made the match official by announcing the 39-year-old as their new head coach on Sunday afternoon.

“Justin is a very impressive individual who also happens to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football,” Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said in a statement. “He elevated Memphis to unprecedented heights. His recruiting philosophy is progressive and comprehensive. Coach Fuente has displayed tremendous talent in evaluating players and developing young men as they strive to reach their full potential. Simply put, Coach Fuente exudes all the qualities that Hokies hold near and dear. We are excited to officially welcome Justin Fuente as the leader of the Virginia Tech football program.”

Fuente went 26-23 in four years as Memphis’s head coach, but his success runs far beyond a simple won-loss record. After going 7-17 in his first two seasons, Fuente guided the Tigers to a 19-6 mark in 2014-15, which included a 15-game winning streak, a No. 13 national ranking and a win over rival Ole Miss within that run.

Simply put, it was the absolute peak of modern Memphis football.

And now Fuente is tasked with taking Virginia Tech to new heights. The Hokies dominated the ACC throughout much of the 2000’s, taking conference crowns in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. But as Florida State and Clemson have risen, Virginia Tech has fallen.

After posting 13 top-25 finishes in 14 seasons, the Hokies are set to conclude their fourth straight campaign outside the national rankings, going just 16-16 in ACC play over that span.

The offensive numbers state exactly why Fuente was hired, and what he must do in Blacksburg; Memphis ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense and eighth in passing efficiency, while Virginia Tech sits at 64th and 59th, respectively.

The cupboard is not bare, though. Virginia Tech is in the midst of a 23-year bowl streak, and Fuente has already secured one key commitment — longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has agreed to stay on staff.

“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”

Clearly, Babcock and the VT brass believe, a Fuente offense and a Foster defense are what the Hokies need to catch Clemson and Florida State.

Now it’s Fuente’s job to make that happen.