Alabama head coach Nick Saban may be the most powerful person within the Alabama sports department, but even he has a boss. Now, he will have a new boss.
Alabama Director of Athletics Bill Battle is stepping down into retirement from his current position, although he will remain active in the university as a special assistant to university president Stuart Bell. Battle has been fighting through health issues and completed treatment for cancer last summer. His vacant spot in the athletics department will be filled by Arizona Athletics Director Greg Byrne. A formal announcement has not been made as of yet, but multiple reports have confirmed the pending Byrne hiring. (UPDATE: Alabama has since formally announced the hiring of Byrne)
”Bill has done a tremendous job as director of athletics, and has accomplished so much during his career,” Bell said, according to the Associated Press. ”His business expertise, coupled with his coaching experience and his strong understanding of the role an athletic department has in the daily fabric of a university, has allowed us to achieve the great successes we have enjoyed during his tenure. We are blessed to have the continued benefit of his counsel.”
The hiring of Byrne takes Alabama outside its own foundation to bring in an outsider to lead the sports department. Byrne is an Idaho native who has worked in an administrative role in two SEC schools, so he will be familiar with the landscape the conference has to offer. Byrne was the athletics director of Mississippi State from 2008 through 2010 before moving to Arizona for the past six years. At Mississippi State, Byrne hired football coach Dan Mullen. Byrne also held an associate AD role at Kentucky, where he directed development and fundraising efforts for the Wildcats.
Alabama may have seen their dynasty temporarily derailed Monday night in Florida, but at least one wagering establishment expects Nick Saban to get it back on track post-haste.
Bovada.lv released its opening set of 2017 national championship odds very early Tuesday afternoon, with the bookmaker installing Bama as a 4/1 favorite coming off the loss to Clemson. Last year at this time, coming off their fourth title in seven years, the same book had the Crimson Tide as a 7/1 favorite.
The team ‘Bama beat, Clemson, is at 16/1, tied with ACC Atlantic rival Louisville and behind six other teams besides the one they beat on the field last night — Florida State (7/1), Ohio State (15/2), Michigan (9/1), Oklahoma (9/1), USC (9/1) and LSU (12/1). The other 2016 playoff team, Washington, is at 40/1, the same as 4-8 Notre Dame and behind the likes of Texas (28/1) and Miami (33/1).
Boise State, at 75/1, was the highest favorite amongst Group of Five programs.
Below are the complete list of 2018 title odds for the championship following the 2017 season, again courtesy on Bovada.lv:
Instead of the desert, Cody Ippolito will spend his sixth season of college football in the Beehive State.
On his personal Twitter account Monday, Ippolito revealed that he would be transferring to Utah and using his final season of eligibility for the Utes. The linebacker began his collegiate playing career at Arizona.
He had considered Arizona State and UCLA as well prior to opting for Utah.
Ippolito will play that last season as long as he can remain healthy.
Ippolito missed the entire 2013 and 2015 seasons because of knee injuries, the latter of which involved a torn ACL. Those two lost seasons earned him a sixth year of eligibility. He also missed the last half of the 2016 season because of, you guessed it, a knee injury.
In between his first two knee injuries, Ippolito started six of the 14 games in which he played in 2014. In six starts this past season, Ippolito’s 28 tackles were fourth on the team at the time of his injury. His 1.5 sacks were tied for second on the Wildcats, while the four tackles for loss were third before he went down.
Oh, if you thought Matt Rhule was doing a good enough job of keeping his inherited roster together since making the move from Temple to Baylor, it gets better. He may be getting set to welcome a pretty significant graduate transfer quarterback; Anu Solomon from Arizona.
According to a report from 247 Sports, Solomon is expected to transfer to Baylor for the 2017 season. As a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play immediately this fall, and would likely be given a good chance to compete for the starting job in Waco.
It was previously suspected UNLV could be a potential landing spot for Solomon, who has seen his college career riddled with injury concerns during his otherwise entertaining run at Arizona, but that appears to have passed. What impact the hiring of Rhule had at Baylor is unknown and based entirely on speculation at this stage, but if Solomon can stay healthy then he should fit in well with Baylor’s offensive identity even under Rhule.
Solomon played in just five games in 2016 for Arizona due to an injury suffered in practice early in the season. As a redshirt freshman in 2014, Solomon passed for 3,793 yards and 28 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He followed that up with 2,655-yards and 20 touchdowns to just five interceptions in three fewer games the following season.
Solomon announced his intention to transfer to another program in 2017 last month.
After a handful of days of reports and speculation, Mike Riley has officially made an addition to his Nebraska coaching staff at the expense of Arizona.
In a release, NU confirmed that Donté Williams has been hired to fill the opening on his staff. Williams will fill the void created by the departure of Bruce Read, who was fired as special teams coordinator shortly after the Cornhuskers’ regular-season finale.
“We are confident that Donté Williams will bring great energy and expertise to our defensive coaching staff,” Riley said in a statement. “He has the personality and demeanor that allows him to connect and relate to his players. He will also be a dynamic addition to our staff in terms of recruiting prospective student-athletes to the University of Nebraska.”
Williams’ addition will lead to shifts on the defensive side of Riley’s staff.
It’s expected that Williams will take over as NU’s cornerbacks coach. Corners coach Brian Stewart will shift his focus to safeties, while last year’s safeties coach, defensive coordinator Mark Banker, will focus solely on a defense that was 31st in scoring defense and 21st in total defense in the country this past season.
Adding Williams, though, centers largely on the 34-year-old’s recruiting prowess. In fact, he’s widely considered in the industry to be one of the top five recruiters on the West Coast.
“I am truly blessed that Coach Riley thought highly enough of me to join his staff here at the University of Nebraska,” Williams said. “Everything I have seen in Lincoln has completely raised my expectations of what I know we can accomplish here! I look forward to continuing the success of the Blackshirt defense under Coach Riley and the whole Big Red Family!”
Williams spent the 2016 season as the cornerbacks coach at Arizona. Prior to that, he was a secondary coach at San Jose State from 2013-15, the latter two years spent with the additional title of recruiting coordinator.
His first Power Five job came as a grad assistant at Washington in 2011-12.