Preview magazines seem set on FSU, Alabama & Oklahoma for CFB Playoff

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On Saturday the long wait was finally over for this college football writer. A copy of Phil Steele’s College Football Preview had made its way to the mailbox, ending weeks of anticipation. While many will take a good book to the beach for a day of sun in the sand, a copy of Phil Steele’s preview magazine is likely to accompany the hardcore college fans. As you might expect this season, Florida State and quarterback Jameis Winston are getting some good exposure and hype from all angles.

The game has changed over the years with the coveted covers of preview magazines. Instead of featuring one top player or school on the cover for all, regional covers give something for all fans to look forward to. Landing on the cover still carries some meaning for some, but the national bragging rights and the reward for appearing on a cover are slightly diminished. Even Sports Illustrated has realized this over the years with their various regional covers for preview editions for all sports. Winston appears on two separate regional covers of the national previews published by Athlon Sports. The national edition published by Lindy’s has Winston on just one regional cover. Sporting News also only has one regional cover featuring Winston. Steele’s preview cover also features Winston, along with Alabama’s Amari Cooper, Oklahoma’s Trevor Knight and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller.

It really should come as no surprise the defending national champions, led by a sophomore quarterback who just so happens to be the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, get such exposure on the covers of these preview magazines. The question is, will Florida State be able to make a run at a repeat in the first year under the College Football Playoff model?

Athlon Sports, Lindy’s, Sporting News and Phil Steele each have made Florida State, Alabama and Oklahoma consensus CFB Playoff favorites. Athlon Sports and Steele have predicted Ohio State to be the fourth team in the playoff mix, while Sporting News and Lindy’s believe Oregon will emerge for the other playoff spot. Whatever the case, the playoff picture seems to have a pretty established set of favorites for this upcoming season’s playoff push, and none predict multiple SEC teams to appear in the playoffs.

Which four teams do you think will be playing for it all at the end of the 2014 season?

Report: Ex-South Alabama coach Joey Jones heading to Mississippi State

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After stepping down from his position as head coach at South Alabama, Joey Jones will remain in the coaching game this fall. According to a report from Steve Robertson of 247 Sports, Jones will join the Mississippi State coaching staff and serve as the special teams coordinator for head coach Joe Moorhead.

Jones was the head coach of the upstart South Alabama program from 2008 through 2017. As head coach of the Jaguars, Jones was 52-50 and the program played in two bowl games. Among the highlights for Jones during his time at South Alabama, ironically, was a 21-20 upset victory over Mississippi State to open the 2016 season. South Alabama was a four-touchdown underdog against the Bulldogs and survived for an upset win after Mississippi State kicker missed an extra point attempt. Mississippi State held leads of 17-0 and 20-7 in the game before letting it slip away.

The hiring of Jones continues a trend for Moorhead in building his first coaching staff with the Bulldogs. Although Moorhead has his own experience as a head coach prior to his arrival at Mississippi State, Moorhead has been building his coaching staff with assistants with previous head coaching experience as well. Tight ends coach Mark Hudspeth and quarterback coach Andrew Breiner each bring head coaching experience to the program that, in theory, will make for a more competent coaching staff on the sidelines this fall and moving forward.

Jones will replace Scott Fountain, who left Mississippi State for Georgia amid the coaching carousel this offseason.

Chris Ash plucks new Rutgers assistant from Indiana

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In filling a hole on his Rutgers coaching staff, Chris Ash turned to a fellow Big Ten school to do it.

RU confirmed Thursday morning that Ash has added Noah Joseph as one of his 10 Scarlet Knight assistants.  Joseph has been named as the football program’s co-defensive coordinator and will also serve as safeties coach.

Joseph had spent the past four seasons coaching safeties at Indiana.  He was also that program’s defensive recruiting coordinator.

“I’d like to welcome Noah and his family to our football program,” said Ash in a statement. “His extensive experience coaching defensive backs in the Big Ten will be a tremendous asset for our players. He is a great teacher and outstanding recruiter.”

Prior to his time in Bloomington, his first on-field job at the FBS level was at North Texas as safeties coach from 2012-13.

Marshall’s Larry Aaron, paralyzed in New Year’s Eve shooting, dies

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Sadly, what was already a tragic situation at Marshall has taken an even more heartbreaking turn.

The Thundering Herd confirmed Thursday afternoon that rising redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Larry Aaron died earlier in the day at a Maryland hospital.  Aaron was paralyzed from the waist down after being struck by a stray bullet during a New Year’s Eve party, and passed away as a result of complications connected to those injuries he sustained in the shooting.

According to reports at the time, Aaron had stepped in front of his girlfriend to shield her from the bullets.

“Marshall University lost a very special young man today and it has shocked and saddened us all,” a statement from Marshall head coach Doc Holliday began. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of Larry Aaron’s family and friends, many of whom were his fellow Thundering Herd teammates. His loss will be felt in every corner of our program and his spirit will never be forgotten.”

After redshirting as a true freshman, Aaron played in eight games this past season.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to those impacted by Aaron’s senseless death.

Alabama confirms handful of staff changes, including addition of Miami’s DL coach

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An offseason of upheaval on Nick Saban‘s Alabama coaching staff has apparently come to an official end.

Early Thursday afternoon, the Crimson Tide announced the additions of two new assistant coaches as well as the promotions/new responsibilities for others on the staff last season.  As previously reported HERE and HERE, the new hires are Dan Enos as quarterbacks coach and Craig Kuligowski as defensive line coach.  Both coaches, who come to Tuscaloosa from Michigan and Miami, respectively, will also carry the titles of associate head coach.

“We are pleased and happy to have Dan Enos joining our coaching staff at The University of Alabama,” Saban said in a statement. “He brings a wealth of knowledge with five years of head coaching experience and numerous stops as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Dan is a bright football mind and an outstanding recruiter who will strengthen our coaching staff and give our players the best chance to be successful.”

In addition to those hirings, Saban also confirmed that Mike Locksley (HERE) has been promoted to offensive coordinator and Tosh Lupoi (HERE) has been promoted to defensive coordinator.  Locksley replaces Brian Daboll, who left after one season in Tuscaloosa for the same job with the Buffalo Bills last month, while Lupoi takes over for Jeremy Pruitt, who left after Alabama’s win in the national championship game to take over as the head coach at Tennessee.

As had previously been announced, Jeff Banks will serve as special teams coordinator while also being in charge of the Tide’s tight ends.  Josh Gattis, who was confirmed as the new wide receivers coach late last month, will also carry the title of co-offensive coordinator, while Pete Golding, in addition to his duties as inside linebackers coach, has been given the title of co-defensive coordinator.

And, finally, Burton Burns will step away from his longtime role as running backs coach and take on an unspecified off-field position.  Replacing Burns in his on-field role is Joe Pannunzio, who had been in charge of tight ends.