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Scott Frost questions Nick Saban’s handling of Tua Tagovailoa

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This might cause a bit of a stir. Or kerfluffle, if you will.

Prior to Monday night’s College Football Playoff championship game, Tua Tagovailoa had seen as much meaningful action this season as I had — none. Then, with Alabama trailing Georgia 13-0 at halftime, Nick Saban yanked starter Jalen Hurts in favor of Tagovailoa and the rest is history, with the true freshman quarterback leading a second-half comeback that culminated in an overtime win punctuated by Tagovailoa’s walk-off, title-winning touchdown pass.

Tagovailoa’s beyond-his-years play was a stunning revelation for most of the country, already leading to speculation that the job is the freshman’s moving forward and Hurts, 26-2 as the starter, could be headed out of Tuscaloosa as a transfer. One who was not stunned by Tagovailoa’s primetime revelation was Scott Frost; so much so, in fact, that the Nebraska head coach — and former head coach of the “other” 2017 national champions — took a swipe Saban and his coaching staff for failing to realize earlier in the season that Tagovailoa was the better option at quarterback.

“It was a decision I don’t know I would have been courageous enough to make. That’s the answer you want to hear,” Frost told ESPN.com prior to winning the Bear Bryant Award Wednesday night.
“The other answer is that [Tagovailoa] was pretty obviously better and they had 12 games to figure that out and didn’t. Coach Saban is above criticism with everything he’s accomplished, so I don’t mean it that way, but I recruited Tua out of high school and knew what he could do and it doesn’t surprise me that he did what he did. Jalen’s a great player, too. That was a very bold and courageous move and I’m surprised it didn’t happen earlier [in the season].”

Damn with faint praise much?

Frost, as he noted, has a connection to Tagovailoa, one that could cause some to question the coach’s own judgment and evaluation skills when it comes to the phenom.

Tagovailoa grew up idolizing fellow Hawaiian Marcus Mariota and desperately wanted to follow in the Heisman Trophy winner’s footsteps at Oregon. During Tagovailoa’s recruitment as a high school a freshman and then sophomore in 2013/2014, Frost, as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, was part of Mark Helfrich‘s staff at Oregon that failed to offer the prospect a scholarship despite said prospect practically begging for one.

“It wasn’t until approximately 18 months later — after Oregon secured and then lost the commitment of four-star quarterback Ryan Kelley and Tagovailoa committed to Alabama — that Frost and Oregon coach Mark Helfrich deemed Tagovailoa worthy of a scholarship,” the Oregonian wrote, adding, “12-game season vs. 18 months? Saban has Frost beat by a full calendar year in the ‘recognizing Tagovailoa’s talent’ game.”

[Insert Kelso burn GIF here]

It should be noted that Frost left UO on Dec. 1 of 2015 to take the head-coaching job at UCF; the Ducks finally offered Tagovailoa on June 11, 2016, one month after he had committed to the Crimson Tide.  Alabama had offered Tagovailoa a scholarship in March of 2016.

And Helfrich?  He was fired a little over five months after offering Tagovailoa and less than a year after Saban won his fifth national championship.  Saban, of course, won his record-tying sixth title earlier this week, thanks in large part to Tagovailoa ‘s heroics.

Texas QB Shane Buechele undergoes hip surgery, expected back for spring practice

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A postseason injury has forced Shane Buechele to undergo an offseason medical procedure.

Buechele suffered a torn abductor muscle in his hip/abdomen in the first half of Texas’ Texas Bowl win over Missouri and didn’t return in the second half.  Nearly a month later, the football program has announced that the quarterback will undergo surgery on Thursday to repair the damage.

If rehab goes as planned, Buechele is expected to be on the field when the Longhorns kick off spring practice March 5.

As a true freshman in 2016, Buechele started all 12 games for the Longhorns.  This past season was one marred by various injuries.

Buechele started the season opener for Texas, but ceded the job to Sam Ehlinger the next two games because of a bruised throwing shoulder.  Returning to the starting lineup in Week 5, Buechele suffered an ankle injury in the win over Iowa State that allowed Ehlinger to start the next three games.  In the last of those three games, Ehlinger suffered a head injury that left him in concussion protocol and opened the door for Buechele to start five of the last six games of the season.

Buechele and Ehlinger will be the two veterans battling for the starting job once spring practice kicks off in March.

NCAA tables discussions on limiting staff size

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It is going to take some more time to dive deep into the pros and cons of limiting the size of a football staff before the NCAA Division 1 Council decides what to do. In a statement released on Wednesday, the Division 1 Council has decided to table a legislative proposal focusing on setting parameters on the size of a football staff, meaning this topic should pop up again a year from now.

The proposal aims to cap the size of any football staff at 30 people and determine who may be eligible to participate in on-campus recruiting efforts. Those assigned recruiting duties, including head and assistant coaches, would then be required to pass an annual test on recruiting practices. At this time, however, there appears to be too much confusion and uncertainty about how the proposal would impact programs now. With so many questions about the proposal, it was best to put this one on the table and spend the next year examining how it could impact college football programs.

“I went to the American Football Coaches Association meeting, and there were a lot of questions about how this was going to work,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the chair of the oversight committee, said in a release shared by the NCAA. “The coaches wanted to know who was going to be included, how they would be certified and who was exempted.”

This topic has already been floating out there since last spring, and with recent adjustments from the NCAA to allow for a 10th full-time assistant coach, it appears this will be the next step in the evolution of ruling how large a football staff can be.

Miami’s home winning streak is officially over after Orange Bowl loss

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The Miami Hurricanes opened the new year with a loss in the Orange Bowl in their home stadium, but the Hurricanes marked the bowl game down in their records as a neutral site game. Not so fast, says the NCAA. That loss to the Badgers will go down as a home loss for the Hurricanes.

Because the NCAA officially records the Orange Bowl as a home game for Miami any time the Hurricanes happen to play in the bowl game hosted in their home stadium, the wins and losses are reflected on Miami’s home record. This is true for any team playing a bowl game in their home stadium, including any time UCLA appears in the Rose Bowl or San Diego State in the Holiday Bowl or Poinsettia Bowl.

Prior to losing to Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl this past season, Miami was riding nine-game winning streak in Hard Rock Stadium dating back to November 5, 2016. Miami will get a chance to hit the reset button on their home winning streak on September 8 with a home game against Savannah State.

Report: LSU to add former RB Kevin Faulk to staff if SEC gives the green light

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Former LSU running back Kevin Faulk could be set to return to the Tigers program in a new role if the SEC will allow it. According to a report from The Advocate, Faulk is being lined up to join the LSU football support staff, but his addition must be thoroughly vetted first.

Because Faulk is a high school coach, LSU and the SEC must be certain he has no direct ties to any LSU football players on the roster. This is to ensure the staff change complies with a new NCAA rule prohibiting schools from hiring high school coaches for a two-year period when any player from that associated high school enrolls at the university. As long as there are no players on LSU’s roster with any ties to Faulk’s high school coaching within the past two years, the staff change should become official.

Having Faulk associated with the program would be good to see considering how much Faulk meant to LSU during his college career. Faulk rushed for a school-record 4,557 yards and 46 rushing touchdowns. Both are records that stand today despite some extremely talented running backs over the years. Since Faulk’s final season at LSU in 1998, Leonard Fournette has come the closest to Faulk’s career rushing total with 3,830 yards in three years. Fournette is also the closest to Faulk since Faulk played to the school record for career rushing touchdowns, with 40.

Supposing the staff addition does go through, Faulk will not be involved with any off-campus recruiting efforts or on-field coaching assignments, but he will assist with player development.