Roll Tide! Alabama tops preseason AP Top 25; OSU, FSU, USC receive first-place votes

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For the fourth time under head coach Nick Saban, the Alabama Crimson Tide will begin a college football season as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press Top 25.

The defending SEC champions received 52 first-place votes from the AP voters, easily pulling away from No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Florida State. Both the Buckeyes and Seminoles received first-place votes, as did No. 4 USC. But none of those schools received more than four first-place votes from the voters. Alabama and Florida State meet in Week 1 next week in Atlanta.

Defending national champion Clemson was left without a first-place vote, but still starts the year highly-ranked at No. 5. They are followed by Penn State, fresh off a Big Ten championship from last season. Defending Pac-12 champion and College Football Playoff participant Washington starts the year at No. 8, one spot behind the defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners with a first-year head coach in Lincoln Riley. Oklahoma travels to Columbus, Ohio to play Ohio State in Week 2. Wisconsin and Oklahoma State round out the top 10 in the preseason AP poll.

The lone Group of Five team in the preseason top 25 is USF, with new head coach Charlie Strong taking over the Bulls. Strong’s new team is ranked No. 19, a few spot s ahead of his old program, the No. 23 Texas Longhorns (now coached by Tom Herman).

The SEC leads the country with six teams appearing in the preseason AP Top 25, followed by the ACC and Big 12 with five ranked teams each. The Big Ten and Pac-12 each have four schools represented. No independent teams appear in the preseason top 25.

And here is the full AP Top 25 preseason poll, with first-place votes noted);

  1. Alabama (52 first-place votes)
  2. Ohio State (3)
  3. Florida State (4)
  4. USC (2)
  5. Clemson
  6. Penn State
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Washington
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Oklahoma State
  11. Michigan
  12. Auburn
  13. LSU
  14. Stanford
  15. Georgia
  16. Louisville
  17. Florida
  18. Miami FL
  19. USF
  20. Kansas State
  21. Virginia Tech
  22. West Virginia
  23. Texas
  24. Washington State
  25. Tennessee

Missouri hires former Florida coach Brad Davis as Tigers new offensive line coach

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Missouri has their new offensive line coach and they didn’t even have to look outside their own division to find one.

The Tigers announced on Friday that they had hired Brad Davis to be the team’s new offensive line coach after he spent the past season at SEC East rival Florida coaching the same position group

“I’m very pleased to have Brad and his family join our program,” head coach Barry Odom said in a statement.  “He’s a tremendous teacher and mentor, and he’s been lights out on the recruiting trail with his approach to building true relationships with kids.  Brad has experience in the SEC and he has worked hard to earn a great amount of respect among his peers.  I’m excited to have him with us, and I know he is going to do a great job helping us move forward offensively and continue building,”

Davis was not retained by new Gators coach Dan Mullen but the former Oklahoma offensive lineman has experience from prior stops at East Carolina and North Carolina over the years. He replaces Glen Elarbee, who left as Missouri’s offensive line coach to follow Josh Heupel to UCF.

Texas booster Red McCombs tells paper he’s trying to convince Incarnate Word to hire disgraced Baylor coach Art Briles

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Texas megabooster Red McCombs getting involved in a coaching search is nothing new. McCombs pushing Art Briles as a candidate at a small Texas college however, well that’s a bit eye-opening.

The San Antonio Express-News caught up with the billionaire on Friday and he confirmed that he had spoken to the University of the Incarnate Word’s board of trustees and was lobbying them to hire the disgraced and scandal-plagued former Baylor coach to run the program.

“You not only will be getting the best football coach available but also the best man,” McCombs told the paper of what he said to the UIW trustees. “In two years’ time, he would leave them with an unbelievable program in place and then could go to the big time, because that’s where he should be in the first place.”

A source close to the search told the Express-News that Briles is not being considered for the job, which opened last month after a 1-10 season for the FCS program.

Briles was of course fired by Baylor in 2016 after numerous sexual assault allegations were brought against the school. Subsequent lawsuits over the past few years have rendered the former Bears coach as nearly un-hireable at the college level and the scandal has even cost him a job in the CFL after just a few hours of outrage.

That’s why it’s downright shocking, especially given the dozens upon dozens of reports and negative headlines about what went on in Waco under his tenure, that McCombs would call the evidence against Briles a “bunch of baloney…a bunch of garbage,” according to the paper.

Luckily it sounds like Incarnate Word isn’t even entertaining the idea of hiring him and this is just some rich guy trying to help a friend… but the whole scenario and comments outlined by the Express-News are not exactly what you want to have associated with a coaching search. Yikes.

Oregon OL Tyrell Crosby to wear No. 58 for Las Vegas Bowl to honor victims of mass shooting

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Oregon’s big No. 73 is changing jersey numbers for the Las Vegas Bowl and he’s doing so for a great cause.

Vegas native and Ducks offensive lineman Tyrell Crosby announced on Friday that he would not be playing his final game with the team in his normal jersey and would instead be donning No. 58 for Saturday’s bowl against Boise State. The reason is not to simply change numbers on the way out the door however, as the senior is pointedly making the move to honor the 58 victims of the horrific mass shooting that happened in the city in early October.

“This is so much more than a game to me,” Crosby told the school’s website. “I take a lot of pride in being from Vegas — especially being a football player from Vegas.”

Several college football teams, especially UNLV and Nevada, have done tributes to honor the victims of the attack and the first responders who heroically rushed to their aid in the wake of the deadly mass shooting just off the Strip. There figures to be several more tributes during Saturday’s game at Sam Boyd Stadium between the Ducks and Broncos but kudos to Crosby, one of the team’s best players, for going the extra mile and doing something special for the game in his hometown.

Pitt starting left tackle Brian O’Neill declares for NFL draft

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One of the individuals who put the fat guy in Fat Guy Touchdown has decided to move on to the next level.

Brian O’Neill announced in a statement sent out via the Pitt sports information department that he has decided to make himself available for the 2018 NFL draft. After discussing his option with his family and coaches, O’Neill stated “I believe this is the best course of action to achieve my ultimate goal.”

The offensive lineman took a redshirt as a true freshman in 2014, which left him one more season of eligibility he could’ve used.

The last three seasons, O’Neill started 37 games in a row for the Panthers.  After starting 24 games in a row at right tackle — his first start was on the opposite side — he started all 12 games at left tackle this past season.

O’Neill’s claim to national fame, though, was his 24-yard touchdown run on a backward pass (pictured) that helped earn him the second-annual Piesman Trophy Award in 2016.  That same season, he scored a five-yard touchdown on an end-around.

Below is O’Neill’s statement, in its entirety:

After careful consideration over the last few weeks, I have decided to enter the 2018 NFL draft. I do not take this decision lightly; therefore, I took an extensive amount of time discussing the situation with my family and coaches. Ultimately, I believe this is the best course of action to achieve my ultimate goal.

“Looking back on the past four years, I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the world. As an incoming freshman, I was welcomed with open arms into this team, school and community. I am extremely proud to have earned my degree and will always call the University of Pittsburgh home.

“I am forever grateful to a number of individuals instrumental in my development as a player and person. Coach Narduzzi and Coach Peterson’s support and guidance has been incredible. I am truly appreciative for them and all my teammates and coaches. Additionally, I maintain a special appreciation for Coach Dave Andrews, Coach Dave Bucar and Mark Diethorn. I will never be able to thank all the people who have helped me throughout the past several years, but their support does not go unnoticed.

“Moving forward, there is nothing more important to me than representing my family, teammates, coaches, and this great University in a first-class manner. The entire Pittsburgh community has been great to me – thank you!

“As always, Hail to Pitt!!!