Alabama head coach Nick Saban isn’t happy with the persistent questions from the media regarding the team’s quarterback competition. Saban isn’t prepared to name a starting quarterback, and he may not do so before the Crimson Tide takes the field Aug. 30 against the West Virginia Mountaineers in Atlanta.
Senior Blake Sims (pictured above) and junior Jacob Coker have been battling throughout fall camp to lead the Crimson Tide onto the field, and neither of the signal callers have truly separated themselves from the other. Saban doesn’t plan to name a quarterback until one does.
“Until someone clearly wins the job, we’re not going to make a decision,” Saban said when he addressed the media Saturday.
Coker, a Florida State transfer, has generally been considered the favorite to win the competition. Coker may have lost to Jameis Winston in a quarterback competition last year, but there clearly is no shame in that after Winston went on to win the Heisman Trophy and a national championship. Coker is believed to have one of the strongest arms in college football and all the tools necessary to be a dynamic passer behind Alabama’s stout offensive line.
However, Sims isn’t willing to hand the job to Coker. The senior waited his turn behind A.J. McCarron, and he’s prepared to take over the offense as a senior. At the moment, Sims’ familiarity with the team’s system gives him a slight edge over Coker.
With neither quarterback clearly establishing himself at the top of the depth chart, another option will likely be considered. Saban may utilize a two-quarterback system to start the season and let live game action determining which of the two is truly prepared to lead the team into SEC play.
Alabama will have three weeks from the start of the season to figure out the solution before it plays the Florida Gators Sept. 20.
Just hours before kicking off against in-state rival Florida State, Florida announced wide receiver Demarcus Robinson had been suspended for the game for a violation of a unspecified team rule. Now, as the Gators prepare to take on Alabama in this week’s SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, the status of Robinson has yet to be determined. Florida head coach Jim McElwain says he will leave Robinson’s fate in the hands of his teammates, or at least the seniors.
“I’m going to visit with the seniors. They’ll determine which direction we’ll go,” McElwain said Monday, according to The Gainesville Sun.
“Look, he made a choice, OK. He made a choice,” McElwain said. “You know what, our family needs to make this decision and those guys are the leaders of our family.”
McElwain’s leaving a player’s fate up to the team is certainly not unprecedented. Les Miles of LSU was criticized at length for allowing the fate of players be handled by a team vote. There are pros and cons to allowing such decisions be handled in such a manner, and there may be no right way to go about it. On one hand, a coach allowing players to make these types of decisions may show trust in a team’s leaders, which can be good for morale and establishing trust. On the other hand, it may lead to players having their way and being disgruntled with a coach’s decision if they do not get a say. Of course, McElwian already stepped his foot down for the Florida State game.
Robinson is Florida’s second-leading receiver with 505 yards and two touchdowns this season.
Tuesday morning will start with one fewer coaching vacancy to fill. Multiple reports Tuesday morning say UCF will hire Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost to fill its role as head coach of the Knights.
Frost was a part of two national championship teams as a player for Nebraska under Tom Osborne. His coaching career began in 2002 with the Huskers as a graduate assistant and continued as a graduate assistant four years later at Kansas State. After two seasons as an assistant coach with Northern Iowa, Frost joined Chip Kelly’s coaching staff at Oregon as a wide receivers coach. He has worked and played for a number of football-rich minds like Bill Walsh, Osborne, Bill Parcells, Bill Bellichick, Jon Gruden and Chip Kelly. After Kelly left Oregon for the NFL in 2013, Frost was given a promotion to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach after Mark Helfrich received a promotion to head coach in Eugene. This will be Frost’s first job as a head coach, but he has been a rising name among coordinators and it was only a matter of time before he landed a head coaching job.
Frost will be taking over a UCF program coming off a season with a record of 0-12, but the potential for a quick rebuild is in place with the kind of talent pool UCF can tap into in the state of Florida. Remember, UCF won a Fiesta Bowl just two seasons ago, which is evidence you can win meaningful games with the program. With Frost bringing Oregon’s offensive flair into the state of Florida, UCF could become dangerous quite quickly, and that could easily lead to UCF being a top contender in the Group of Five, if not just the American Athletic Conference.
That Orlando bar may not have to be giving away too many more free beers in 2016, although here’s hoping they come up with a nice little advertising campaign for some Frosty beverages.
UPDATE (9:34 a.m.): UCF has made the official announcement to introduce Frost as its new head coach.
For years there was a thought that Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster would one day be the successor to longtime head coach Frank Beamer. With Beamer announcing his decision to retire at the end of the season, there was never any word about Foster being handed the keys to the program. Instead, Virginia Tech has found a coach with an offensive identity in the hiring of Justin Fuente from Memphis. Given the way coaching changes can tend to go, nobody would have blamed Foster for being a tad miffed at not getting the job in Blacksburg, but he will remain the defensive coordinator of the Hokies as a key member of Fuente’s new staff. He says he has put in too much work to leave now.
“I’m rooted in here. We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears in this place,” Foster said Monday. “It wasn’t hard. I wouldn’t have stayed here for as long as I’ve had if I didn’t feel like we had the opportunity to win at the highest level. I feel that more than ever right now.”
Fuente being able to keep Foster on the staff is a huge advantage. Foster not only ensures Fuente will have a dependable coach managing the defense, which should remain one of the top defensive units in the ACC as long as he stays put. Keeping Foster on the staff also allows for some tremendous stability during the transition, which can always be key when a coach with no previous ties to the university takes over a program. Foster can help Fuente get acclimated to his new surroundings and also keep valuable recruiting ties alive and well during the change.
Foster acknowledged he would love to one day be a head coach, and that dream will continue, but for now he is more interested in contributing at Virginia Tech.
“I always wanted to be a head coach. This would be a dream job. I’m happy with where I am. I’ll never be bitter. I won’t cry myself to sleep wishing “what-ifs” and they type of thing. My goal is to be the best football coach I can possibly be. I want to help this program be the best football program it can possibly be.”
On Monday morning Georgia head coach Mark Richt said he was absolutely going to continue coaching even though his days at Georgia are coming to an end. If that is the case, Maryland would like to make that a reality for Richt.
According to a report from Inside MD Sports, Maryland has made first contact with Richt and a meeting could come as soon as tomorrow. Maryland is looking to fill a head coaching vacancy after firing Randy Edsall during the season. Richt will not be the only potential candidate to interview for the Maryland job. The Washington Post reported Monday interim head coach Mike Locksley was also given a chance to interview for the job on a permanent basis. That interview was reportedly set to happen Monday.
It would make sense for Maryland to make a call to Richt. With Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank looking to help build the Maryland program, there are sufficient funds to make a splashy hire for the program, which is showing signs of a well-structured future with plans to improve the football program. The Maryland job has some good potential in the long-term and competes in the same division as some tough opponents. That would include at least two coaches Richt is very familiar with; Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Penn State’s James Franklin. Richt faced Meyer when the Buckeyes head coach was at Florida, and Franklin of course coached at Vanderbilt. All three were in the same SEC East Division down south. Could they be reunited in the Big Ten East in 2016?
Whatever the case may be, if Maryland can land Richt as its next head coach, it would be a tremendous hire for the Terrapins. Heck, he already has the attire for it.