Nick Saban’s reaction to OC’s departure? ‘He was really good… understanding’

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One of the biggest stories of this young offseason exploded earlier this week, with Steve Sarkisian leaving as Alabama’s offensive coordinator after just one game for the NFL.  Almost immediately reports surfaced of tension between Sarkisian and Nick Saban, with some saying the relationship with the new coordinator was too much like his predecessor, Lane Kiffin, for this most recent offensive marriage to work.

At least publicly, both parties are putting a positive spin on what they’re couching as an amicable divorce.

In a statement shortly after news broke Tuesday, Saban said that he and his football program “appreciate[d]” the coach’s brief time in Tuscaloosa, describing Sarkisian as “an outstanding coach.”  Thursday, Sarkisian returned the compliments.

“I couldn’t be more grateful to Coach Saban and everybody at the University of Alabama,” Sarkisian said during a teleconference by way of al.com. “It’s a tremendous organization. He’s not only a great coach but a great man. I’m fortunate that I was able to work for him in the past six months. I’m fortunate to call him a friend and I really appreciate all he did for me. I’m excited and looking forward to this upcoming season. They have a heck of a football team with some really talented young players.”

According to Sarkisian, he spoke to good friend and Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn the day after the latter’s loss in the Super Bowl.  One day later, Quinn offered the job and Sarkisian accepted.

Asked his old boss’ reaction to the departure, Sarkisian essentially said Saban just rolled with it, so to speak.

“He was really good. He was understanding,” Sarkisian said. “Obviously, he would have loved for me to stay but he was understanding. I know Coach Saban and the University of Alabama, they’re in a good place. They’ll hire a really good coordinator and they’re still going to win a lot of games.”

As part of finding his next coordinator, Saban has already reportedly interviewed former NFL coordinator George Godsey.  Crimson Tide co-offensive coordinator Mike Locksley and former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich are reportedly candidates as well.

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.