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Accused of cheating, Jim Harbaugh fires back at ‘Pete Finebaum’

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With Jim Harbaugh involved, there’s nary a dull moment in the wild world of college football.

The Michigan head coach raised some eyebrows earlier this month when he added Michael Johnson Sr. to his football staff.  Why?  Johnson Sr.’s son is Michael Johnson Jr., the top-rated dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2019.

There’s nothing illegal about that at the moment — proposed legislation could prevent such hirings in the future — which brings us to Paul Finebaum, a notorious Harbaugh antagonist.  On Wednesday’s “Outside the Lines” program, ESPN resident collegiate rabble-rouser left no question as to where his beliefs lie when it comes to Harbaugh and this particular subject.

From mlive.com‘s transcript of the show:

He’s an evil genius. I think he’s one of the smartest people I’ve run into in a long time. Most of what he’s done is just that: Genius … but this is wrong. It may not be illegal by NCAA standards and bylaws as of this moment, but to me, it’s cheating. It’s blatantly disregarding the spirit of the NCAA rule. We all know why he’s doing it. This is the same person who, last year, accused Nick Saban of cheating and Hugh Freeze of cheating.

“I know he won’t be penalized for it, but he’s cheating. Why don’t we just face up to it? There’s no other reason why he would hire this man. It’s been done in the past. But it’s still wrong. I don’t know why the media celebrates Jim Harbaugh and doing things that are, in my mind, unethical.

Of course, Harbaugh, albeit a day later, couldn’t sit idly by without firing a shot across the television personality’s bow.

“Pete Finebaum.” “#AlternativeFacts.” Classic.

Your serve, Pete.

Blake Barnett seems to think Nick Saban ruined his reputation

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 3: Blake Barnett #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide throws against the USC Trojans in the first quarter during the AdvoCare Classic at AT&T Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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With quarterback Blake Barnett looking to rebound after seeing his short career at Alabama not pan out the way it was initially expected, Barnett had a chance to reflect on his time at Alabama with the media as he opens spring with Arizona State.

“Things ended up the way they did,” said Barnett, who has been granted an exemption to be able to play for the Sun Devils this upcoming season. “To be honest, I’m not quite sure why. But I’m here now.”

Let’s cut straight to the chase. It’s because Jalen Hurts stepped in and dazzled when given an opportunity to lead Alabama’s offense. As Alabama was rolling their way to an undefeated regular season, SEC championship and third straight berth in the College Football Playoff, some took to arguing Hurts was worthy of Heisman Trophy consideration if Louisville’s Lamar Jackson (the eventual Heisman Trophy winner) dropped off down the stretch (which he did).

The story will go that Barnett did not play well in Alabama’s 2016 season opener against USC. Barnett completed five of six passes for 100 yards and a touchdown, but Jalen Hurts took the game by storm with four total touchdowns. Criticisms of Barnett appearing to be nervous in AT&T Stadium ran wild, and Nick Saban did nothing to quiet that idea down. In fact, he may have poured the proverbial gasoline on the fire for talk about Barnett being nervous. Saban commented on the possible nervousness during his brief halftime interview during the game and later addressed the importance of “not quitting” following the announcement Barnett was transferring in late September. Barnett was not oblivious to the comments coming from Saban.

“A lot of backlash that I received from [the USC game] was that I came out nervous,” Barnett said, according to ESPN.com. “I think you could ask just about every teammate and they’d agree that I wasn’t. But a certain coach went out to the media and said that I was and so I got that negative reputation from it.”

We get it. Top players want to have a shot at playing a key role, and sometimes that means players not getting the time they believe they have earned can lead to some sour situations. Did Barnett quit on Alabama, or is he fair to evaluate all of his options to find the best possible fit for him that may lead to a better opportunity?

Ex-Tennessee RB Jalen Hurd reportedly set to visit Louisville

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 12:  Jalen Hurd #1 of the Tennessee Volunteers runs with the ball against the Oklahoma Sooners during the game at Neyland Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Add an ACC football program as a potential landing spot for a former SEC running back.

Citing three separate sources, Scout.com is reporting that Jalen Hurd will visit the Louisville campus this weekend.  That website added “that Hurd has expressed an interest in playing tight end at the school he picks.”

It’s previously been reported that the 6-4, 240-pound Hurd has already paid a visit to Ohio State.  A pair of Pac-12 schools, Cal and Oregon, are also reportedly interested in the player.

According to the same Scout story, Hurd will not be leaving Tennessee as a graduate transfer, meaning he would have to sit out the 2017 season.  He’d then have one season of eligibility remaining that he could use in 2018.

In late October, Hurd stunned most observers when he decided to transfer from the Volunteers in the midst of the 2016 regular season.  Hurd’s mother indicated in a Facebook post at the time that she didn’t necessarily agree with her son’s decision, while his father fought back against speculation that the running back’s decision was triggered by a benching.

When Hurd left Rocky Top, he was leading the Vols in rushing with 451 yards.  At the time of his departure, Hurd was also 445 yards away from breaking Travis Henry‘s school record for career rushing yards.  Instead, his 2,634 yards leaves him in sixth place all-time.

Hurd was a four-star member of UT’s 2014 recruiting class who held an offer from, among others, OSU before signing with the Vols.  He’s yet to use his redshirt season.

Red Sox, Yankees vying to host future Army-Navy game

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 10: Cadets celebrate after the Army Black Knights defeated the Navy Midshipmen 21-17 at M&T Bank Stadium on December 10, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
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One of the greatest rivalries in college football may in the future be coming to a couple of the most iconic stadiums… in baseball.

The Boston Globe is reporting that Fenway Sports Management, the group that runs Fenway Park, has submitted a formal bid to host the 2018 Army-Navy game. That game would be the 119th in a rivalry that was first played way back in 1890.

Additionally, the Baltimore Sun reports that Boston’s American League East rival, the New York Yankees, has submitted a formal bid for Yankee Stadium to be a venue as well. Neither New Yankee Stadium nor Fenway have served as the site for the game; Old Yankee Stadium was, though, the host for two of the games (1930, 1931).

The Sun goes on to write that “[t]he New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority has submitted a bid to host the game at The Meadowlands, while Baltimore (Baltimore Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium), Foxborough (New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium) and the District of Columbia (Washington Redskins) are also in the mix.” No specific years for any of those bids were detailed.

Last year’s matchup was played in Baltimore and saw Army snap its 14-game losing streak in the series. The vast majority of the games, 86 to be specific, have been played in Philadelphia. The next edition of the rivalry will once again take place at Lincoln Field in Philly.

Boston would become the 11th different city to play host to the game if the bid is a winning one, joining Philly, New York City (11), Baltimore (6), East Rutherford (4), West Point (3), Annapolis (3), Princeton (1), Chicago (1), Pasadena (1) and Landover (1).

Massachusetts, meanwhile, would join Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois and California as states that have played host.

The home of the Boston Red Sox has become a destination of sorts for Northeast football. Last month it was announced that the 2017 UConn-Boston college game will be moved to the old ballpark. That will serve as one three college football games played at Fenway the upcoming season, the other two being UMass-Maine and Brown-Dartmouth.

Notre Dame played “host” to Boston College in 2015 at Fenway as part of their Shamrock Series.

Report: Brian Daboll expected to be next up as Alabama’s OC

FOXBOROUGH, MA - 2005:  Brian Daboll of the New England Patriots poses for his 2005 NFL headshot at photo day in Foxborough, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Getty Images)
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It appears Nick Saban has his main offensive man.  Again.

A tweet from Aaron Suttles of TuscaloosaNews.com indicates that Brian Daboll will be Alabama’s next offensive coordinator.  Daboll interviewed for the job earlier this week.

The 41-year-old Daboll has spent the past three seasons as the tight ends coach for Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots. He’s in the midst of his second stint with the NFL club.  In 1998 and 1999, Daboll was a graduate assistant for Saban, a former Belichick lieutenant, at Michigan State.

That was Daboll’s last job at the collegiate level as he’s spent each of the past 17 seasons in the NFL. Four of those years — Cleveland Browns (2009-10), Miami Dolphins (2011), Kansas City Chiefs (2012) — Daboll was the offensive coordinator on those NFL staffs.

Daboll would replace Steve Sarkisian, who left earlier this month to take the same job with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.  Sarkisian had replaced Lane Kiffin after he left to become the head coach at Florida Atlantic.