Nick Saban: ‘I don’t have any unfinished business in the NFL’

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First, let’s get this out of the way right up front:

“I’m not going to be the Alabama head coach.” — Nick Saban, two weeks before he became the Alabama head coach.

So, with that matter taken care of, down to the business at hand.

For well over a month, Nick Saban has, once again, been connected to various openings around the NFL.  Specifically and most vociferously, the Tide head coach’s name has been bandied about as a possibility for the opening with the Cleveland Browns.  Hell, as late as this week, and even as Cleveland had seemingly set their sights on another head coach from the collegiate level, a Northeast Ohio scribe was penning a piece headlined “Browns’ Haslam seems poised to make run at Alabama’s Saban.”

All the while, Saban has steadfastly denied an interest in returning to the scene of his only coaching crime, although the denials rang hollow in many an ear thanks to the bungled public handling of the Miami Dolphins situation just over six years ago.  Even attempts by Saban’s wife Terry to quash the speculation — “as far as I’m concerned, this is it” — failed to reach its intended target as the rumors connecting her husband to the professional ranks continued.

Just two days before the Tide takes the field against Notre Dame for a shot at a third BCS title in four seasons, Saban was once again asked about a possible future in the NFL.  And, once again, the future Hall of Fame coach attempted to tamp out whatever embers of a move to the NFL may still be smoldering.

“I don’t have any unfinished business in the NFL,” Saban told reporters during the BCS title game media day in Miami Saturday morning. “It’s not something I’m concerned about. It’s not even anything I want to do.”

Saban’s choice of words to kick off his latest denial is interesting to say the least.  Purveyors of the annual Saban-to-the-NFL rumors like to point to his 15-17 mark in the brief two-year stay with the Dolphins as the main reason he would return to the professional ranks, that easily the worst stop in his otherwise highly successful coaching career has left an itch that he will eventually scratch.  That his drive to excel at everything and anything he puts his hands on would eventually lead him back to the NFL to redeem the lone blemish on his coaching résumé, his steadfast public commitment to the Tide be damned.

Saban’s a smart individual, though, and must realize that his very public butchering of his Dolphins departure makes it impossible for most to accept at face value his myriad declarations of love for his current job.  The only thing he can do to put the rumor wolves at bay?  Nothing really, other than continue on with the job at hand at Alabama.  And continue building a powerhouse FBS program that’s the envy of all but a handful of schools across the country, one that has a chance at BCS history in South Beach Monday night.

Randy Edsall abruptly pulls plug on news conference after being asked leading DC question

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Randy Edsall wanted no part in heading down the road one media member at least attempted to get him to travel.

Following a subpar start to the 2018 season on that side of the ball, Wake Forest earlier this week announced that they had decided to part ways with defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel. On a related note — you’ll see in a minute — UConn is currently dead last among the 130 FBS programs in total defense (a staggering 664 yards per game; next closest is Ohio at 540.3) and scoring defense (54.4 points per game; next closest is Bowling Green at 44).

At his weekly press conference Tuesday, Edsall was asked about the Wake situation and his philosophy on such an in-season move. Suffice to say, the head coach wasn’t particularly fond of the media member’s line of questioning.

From the Hartford Courant:

Reporter: “Wake Forest just fired their defensive coordinator. I’m just curious about your philosophy on that.”

Edsall: “What does that have to do with us? I’m done. I can see where this is going. I’m not — I’m done.

Edsall’s defensive coordinator is Billy Crocker, who is in his second year with the football program. In Crocker’s first season, the Huskies were 122nd in scoring defense (37.9 ppg), 127th in total defense (519 ypg) and 130th (dead last) in pass defense (339 ypg).

Prior to his time at UConn, Crocker was on the coaching staff at Villanova for 12 seasons, the last five of which he spent coordinating the FCS team’s defense. In his last season with the Wildcats, they had the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense at that level.

Ankle injury leaves RB LJ Scott ‘day-to-day’ for Michigan State against Central Michigan

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Michigan State could again be without one of the top returning running backs in the Big Ten.

In the third quarter of the Week 2 loss to Arizona State, LJ Scott went down with an ankle injury and did not return to the game. The injury also sidelined him for the conference opener, a 14-point win over Illinois, in Week 4.

With its non-conference finale against Central Michigan set for this Saturday, it appears the senior back will be essentially a game-time decision. At least, I think that’s what his head coach was getting at.

“Probably a little of both,” Mark Dantonio said when asked if Scott was day-to-day or will play against CMU. “I expect him to play. Maybe day-to-day.

“He may be out there today or he may not be. Probably the best answer I can give you.”

Despite missing nearly a game and a half, Scott’s 103 rushing yards are still tops on the Spartans. Scott has led Michigan State in rushing each of the past three seasons — 898 yards in 2017, 994 in 2016 and 699 in 2015.

Following MSU’s Holiday Bowl win last December, Scott confirmed that he would be eschewing early entry into the 2018 NFL draft and would be returning to East Lansing for a fourth season.

Nevada’s EJ Muhammad announces season-ending surgery on Instagram

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Once again, a player has utilized social media to make a rather significant announcement.

On his Instagram account earlier this week, Nevada defensive back EJ Muhammad announced that he will miss the remainder of the 2018 season after undergoing surgery. Just what the medical procedure he underwent is unclear at the moment.

The football program, for what it’s worth, has not addressed Muhammad’s status moving forward.

Muhammad appeared in nine games as a redshirt sophomore last season, starting three of those contests. He had started the first two games of the 2018 season as well before missing the last two because of the injury that ultimately will sideline him for the remainder of the year.

Demoted Clemson QB Kelly Bryant misses second straight practice

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Things are certainly getting interesting, quarterback-wise, for the second-ranked team in the country.

Monday, Dabo Swinney confirmed that senior Kelly Bryant had been benched in favor of true freshman Trevor Lawrence.  A day later, Swinney revealed that he and Bryant had a lengthy conversation in which the two discussed, among other things, the possibility of a transfer.

According to Swinney, he gave Bryant the day off from practice Monday to allow him to wrap his head around the demotion.  Both TigerNet.com and The State are now reporting, though, that Bryant missed a second consecutive day of practice on Tuesday.

The obvious intimation from a second straight day of missing practice is that Bryant is seriously contemplating a move from the Tigers — or has already decided a move on is in his best interests.  Because of the NCAA’s new redshirt rule, Bryant, who started the first four games of the 2018 season, could leave the Tigers now and retain a year of eligibility that he can use in 2019 at another school.

If he were to play another down this season, however, Bryant’s collegiate career would be over at the end of the 2018 season.

“Certainly if he walked in here today and said, ‘Hey coach, I don’t want to play the rest of the year unless you’ve got to have me,’ well ‘Ok, if that’s what you want to do I’m all for it.’ I love Kelly,” Swinney said earlier today, prior to the reports od a second missed practice surfaced. “I would be disappointed in that because we need him. But I wouldn’t judge him for that.”

Bryant has started the last 18 games under center for the Tigers, winning 16 of those contests.  Lawrence was a highly-touted five-star 2018 signee who had outplayed the incumbent the first third of the regular season.