It’s a running joke in college football circles that every coach that is fired will soon join the Alabama coaching staff as an offensive or defensive “analyst” on Nick Saban‘s staff. For one former Crimson Tide assistant though, that could be a bit more on the nose than normal.
AL.com notes that Saban told the media on Wednesday after practice that he had left a message for Jim McElwain directly this week and also went so far as to send a note of support through their shared agent, the powerful Jimmy Sexton, following McElwain’s parting of ways with Florida as head coach.
“I think Jim did a really good job there to get to the SEC championship game the last two years, the first two years he was there,” Saban said told the site. “We’ve had to play them and they’re always difficult preparation. I’m just sorry it didn’t work out for him better. We’ll do everything we can to help him in the future.”
It seems pretty clear that Saban isn’t thrilled at how things played out in Gainesville with one of his colleagues, even if the Gators and their recent coach weren’t a great fit on or off the field. The two are obviously close in the profession, given the fact that McElwain was Alabama’s offensive coordinator during some title-winning years from 2008-2011 and having played each other each of the last two seasons in the SEC title game.
McElwain has kept a pretty low profile since “parting ways” with Florida and nobody knows exactly what he’ll do next. It could be that he heads back West to an area he’s more comfortable in to become a head coach again, but if that falls through it certainly seems like he’ll be able to slide into an offensive analyst role in Tuscaloosa with open arms from his old boss.
This is certainly a surprising, if not extremely significant development.
Given his talent level and the position he plays, it’s been long thought that Bryce Love would be leaving Stanford early and declaring for the April draft. Instead, Love’s father confirmed to the San Francisco Chronicle in a text early Tuesday morning that his son will be returning to the Cardinal for his senior season.
The Chronicle wrote that “[t]he junior tailback didn’t make his decision until the last possible minute Monday night, the deadline for entering the NFL draft.”
Despite battling through an ankle injury that lingered throughout the latter portion of the 2017 season, Love was second in the country in rushing with 2,118 yards and tied for fifth in rushing touchdowns with 19. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma.
With this decision, Love will very likely enter the 2018 season as the favorite to claim this year’s Heisman.
It wouldn’t take long to call the roll of head coaches who could get away with hiring Hugh Freeze at the moment, and Nick Saban is certainly at or near the top of that list. Based on word coming out of Tuscaloosa, a Saban-Freeze marriage could very well be on the horizon to test that theory.
According to the Tuscaloosa News, the disgraced former Ole Miss head coach was a visitor at Alabama’s football building on Monday. While the News didn’t detail the nature of the visit, FootballScoop.com writes that “Freeze was in the building today at Alabama to discuss the open offensive coordinator job.” Another national writer, however, downplayed the possibility of Freeze joining Saban’s staff.
Per the News, Saban has always held a healthy respect for Freeze given how much success, relatively speaking, the Rebels’ offense had going up against the Crimson Tide’s defense.
Saban is searching for a fourth offensive coordinator in less than 14 months after Brian Daboll left the team Sunday after one season to take the same job with the Buffalo Bills. Given Freeze’s credentials, he’d certainly warrant serious consideration to fill the opening; based on his exit from Oxford, he could be a tough sell in a lot of places.
Freeze “resigned” from Ole Miss after it was discovered he was using a school-issued cell phone to hook up with escort services on multiple occasions. Additionally, there were the Rebels’ NCAA issues while Freeze was in charge that left the coach with a team-game suspension to serve; that suspension would not have to be served if Freeze is a coordinator or position coach.
It was reported earlier this month that Les Miles was involved in Arizona’s search for a head coach and had an interest in bringing Freeze along as his coordinator if he landed the job. Not long after, after criticism came pouring in over the potential move, the earlier reports were walked back because of the stigma that still follows Freeze.
It appears Keyshawn Johnson Jr. will continue his collegiate playing career a little bit further west than where it began.
On the same day that Kevin Sumlin was hired as the head coach at Arizona, Nate Clouse of Rivals.com reported that Johnson will be enrolling at UA this week and play for the Wildcats. The son of former USC great Keyshawn Johnson will be eligible to play immediately for Sumlin in 2018.
In late June of last year, Johnson was cited for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. Not long after, the wide receiver decided to take a leave of absence, with his famous father stating that his son needed some time to “mature” and would not play for the Cornhuskers in 2017.
At the time, the plan was for the junior Johnson to return to Lincoln and play his college football for Mike Riley. With his father’s college offensive coordinator dismissed at the end of the regular season, Johnson took to Twitter in mid-December to announce that he wouldn’t be returning to the Cornhuskers.
Johnson was a four-star member of the Cornhuskers’ 2017 recruiting class who was an early enrollee and participated in spring practice, but never played a down for NU. Before signing with Nebraska, he held offers from, among others, Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State and USC.
Roster attrition across college football continues unabated, with Minnesota the latest to lose one its football players.
Zo Craighton revealed on his Twitter account Monday that, “[a]fter prayers and considerations,” he has decided to transfer out of P.J. Fleck‘s football program. “There will always be a place in my heart for Minnesota,” the redshirt sophomore cornerback wrote in his social media missive. “I made friends for life and I appreciate the fan base for all the support.”
Craighton played in 11 games the past two seasons, missing the final nine of the 2017 season because of injury. Coming out of high school in Louisiana, the defensive back was a three-star member of the Gophers’ 2015 recruiting class.