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.

Alabama’s check for season-opening game significantly bigger than Louisville’s

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Louisville hasn’t even started the season and they’re already behind Alabama. Well, at least when it comes to their bank accounts.

The Louisville Courier Journal obtained the contracts for the Tide and Cardinals game in Orlando that will kick off the 2018 season for both in September and found that Alabama’s payout is $4.5 million — nearly double Louisville’s $2.75 million that they are taking home.

The disparity can probably be chalked up to one team being the national champions and a bigger draw for the game itself but it turns out there’s another reason Nick Saban’s side has a few more dollars on their side of the ledger: tickets.

Alabama’s contract obliges the school to buy 18,000 tickets for distribution to its fans, while Louisville agreed to purchase only 10,000. Both schools will be granted two 20-person suites, 25 parking passes and 200 complimentary tickets, as well as 1,000 tickets at $25 each for students.

While selling 8,000 more tickets could add up to that difference (at roughly $218 a piece) in guarantees, it’s nevertheless a little unusual to hear of such a large disparity between teams. As the Courier Journal notes, Alabama received the same amount as their opponent for neutral site games in 2017, 2015, 2014 and 2012.

Louisville’s game against Auburn also had a bigger pay day than what they’re getting from the folks in Orlando but they were on the hook for three times the number of tickets back in 2015. Perhaps the smaller ticket package this year is a bit of a sign that even the school itself knows this is rebuilding season for Bobby Petrino and opening against the defending champs is going to be a steep challenge between the lines.

NCAA President Mark Emmert received nearly $500,000 raise in 2016

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Being everybody’s favorite punching bag in college athletics at least pays well.

USA Today is reporting that NCAA President Mark Emmert received a nearly half million dollar raise in 2016 and take home pay in line with LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda.

NCAA President Mark Emmert’s total compensation grew by nearly $500,000 during the 2016 calendar year to more than $2.4 million, according to the association’s new federal tax return.

Emmert’s base salary of $2,078,075 represented a 42% increase over his base salary for 2015, or just over $615,000.

Emmert’s contract runs through 2020 and also contains a one-year option. He made around $1.9 million in 2015 with a base salary of just over $1.4 million.

“The Board of Governors’ Executive Committee determines NCAA executive salaries,” association spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said in a statement to the paper. “Members of the committee are university and college presidents from all three divisions. To assist its efforts, the Executive Committee uses an independent third party. This third party undertakes market surveys to ensure salaries of NCAA executives are similar to other comparable executive positions.”

Indeed, Emmert’s salary is somewhat in line with what the Power Five commissioners make but trails all the SEC’s Greg Sankey when it comes to the total. We’re guessing a similar story will play out next year around this time given how revenues for the association continue to shoot up.

USA Today also says that the NCAA’s tax return list a whopping nine executives who had total compensation of more than $450,000 in 2016.

Washington State coach Mike Leach not going quietly after Twitter spat, continues to blast reporter

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Washington State head coach Mike Leach has apparently never heard the old saying that you never argue with somebody who buys ink by the barrel. Of course, going the conventional route has never really been the coach’s M.O. so it probably isn’t too surprising to see him keep up with war of words with USA Today columnist Dan Wolken on Friday either.

First, some background. Leach originally shared a video of a President Obama speech on Sunday that was misleadingly edited under the ruse of creating discussion about the government and proceeded to argue with people about it for several hours on Twitter. While he eventually removed the tweet in question, the fact that a head coach at a public university would share such a doctored video caused many to wonder what he was thinking in the first place. One of those people was Wolken, who penned a column the next day that was critical of Leach and noted that incidents just like this one is a good reason why despite plenty of wins, bigger schools won’t come close to hiring him.

That, apparently, touched a bit of a nerve.

Speaking to the Seattle Times on Friday, Leach didn’t exactly back down or try to calm the waters. Here’s just a taste from a lengthy Q&A he did with Times columnist Matt Calkins:

Yeah, they expect less bias because I think he’s 100 percent biased. Anyway, I think he does a horrible job and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It doesn’t matter what anybody says, he’s just gonna distort the thing. He’ll probably be selling Big Gulps here in a couple years. I don’t know. As I think about it, I ought to let all that take its course.

Calkins: Who did you talk to about Dan (a sixth-year USA Today veteran whose response can be found here)? You said people don’t respect him; is that something someone just told you?

Leach: I just randomly … we’ve already talked about that guy more than he deserves. But I don’t know, maybe you know him, maybe you like him a lot. You might have gone to high school together. Maybe you had slumber parties as children and watched superhero films. I don’t know, but that’s my general impression. And his work certainly measures up to some of those unlofty expectations.

Let’s just say there’s a lot more in that Times piece that you can unpack as well.

While saying Wolken would be working at a 7-11 in the future is a funny line, this entire spat seems to further prove the original column’s point. While Leach’s quirky personality has plenty of endearing qualities, somebody at Washington State should probably tell the coach that this thing has gone on long enough and this is not how the Cougs want to be making headlines in what has otherwise been a quiet offseason.

Still, let’s all hope Wolken makes his way out to Los Angeles next month for Pac-12 Media Days because fireworks might be just one of the few things we can all expect.

Previously ruled out, Trey Woods could play for Wyoming in 2018

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Hold the phone on at least one purported personnel loss for Wyoming.

In late May, it was reported that Cowboys running back Trey Woods would miss the entire 2018 season because of an unspecified shoulder injury. A little over three weeks later, the prognosis from Craig Bohl has gotten significantly more optimistic.

“There’s an opportunity he may be back,” the head coach told the Casper Star-Tribune. “Initially, we thought that he for sure would be out for the year, and he may be back. …

“He has had surgery, and so we’re just waiting on his recovery. He’s a little bit ahead of where we thought he’d be. He certainly won’t be ready the first game, but as the season goes along, we feel like he’ll be ready to go.”

Wyoming kicks off the 2018 season at New Mexico State Aug. 25, then follows that opener up by hosting Washington State (Sept. 1) and Wofford (Sept. 15) in between a trip to Missouri (Sept. 8). Coming off a bye, Wyoming will then open up Mountain West Conference play Sept. 29 with a home game against defending conference champion Boise State.

As a true freshman last season, Woods, a two-star 2017 signee, led the Cowboys in rushing with 474 yards. he ran for a career-high 135 yards in a late-September win over Hawaii.