Witnesses: police, not Tide player, aggressors in weekend incident

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Relatively speaking, the weekend arrest of Alabama true freshman Tony Brown was one of those run-of-the-mill incidents involving college students and campus law enforcement that follows the standard formula: party + 18-22 year olds + alcohol + police = brouhaha and/or imbroglio.  This incident in Tuscaloosa, however, is in the early stages of taking on a life of its own.

Multiple eyewitnesses, al.com‘s Michael Casagrande is reporting, have painted the responding Tuscaloosa Police Department officers as the aggressors during a Sunday morning incident that ended with Brown’s arrest.  Those same witnesses claimed that the news release sent out by the TPD was rife with what the website described as “inaccuracies or fabrications.”

In that release, the TPD stated that “police responded to reports of a loud party involving underage drinking at an area apartment complex just after midnight Sunday morning.”  As one partygoer who was placed under arrest was being put into a police cruiser, the crowd in general and “Brown specifically continued to be a problem.”  The 18-year-old Brown was ultimately hit with pepper spray, arrested and charged with failure to obey and resisting arrest.

That was the TPD’s version of events.  Suffice to say, the eyewitness accounts vary greatly.  From Casagrande’s post, with an eyewitness accusing one of the police officers of pulling a gun as Brown was in the fetal position, exacerbating the situation:

Jaison Davis, 23 from Atlantasaid Brown was never threatening to the two police officers, who responded to a noise complaint at Campus Way, an off-campus student apartment complex. The party was attended by mostly Alabama track and field team members, Davis and other witnesses said. …

They say Brown and a few other guests turned to leave immediately after officers pulled out the pepper spray. Brown walked approximately 30-40 yards to his car with an officer following behind, they said. The officer walked beside Brown and pepper sprayed Brown in the face as the athlete was complying with the command to leave, said Davis who only briefly met Brown before Saturday night. …

Brown immediately fell to the ground in a fetal position, Davis said, as the officer pulled his gun. The crowd, which had been relatively calm to that point, was more tense after the pepper spray was used and when the gun came out, Davis said.

Sharper said everyone moved away fast when they saw the gun.

Davis went on to claim that there are at least five cell-phone videos of the incident.  Another eyewitness, 20-year-old Chris Thomas, told al.com that “the police officer appeared to become more aggressive when witnesses pulled out camera phones to capture video of the encounter.”

Along with other media outlets, al.com has requested a copy of the police report filed by the officers.  Thus far, the TPD has declined the requests.

Head coach Nick Saban addressed the incident for the first time publicly Tuesday.

“Look, some people are in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Saban said. “Some people don’t make good decisions about what they do, what they say. Tony Brown’s a fine young man, we’re glad to have him in the program. We’ll certainly try to use this as a learning experience for him. “

NC State hires former Duke, Florida OC as QBs coach

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NC State has hired Kurt Roper as its quarterbacks coach, the program announced Monday. He will replace Eli Drinkwitz, who left to become the head coach at Appalachian State.

The program announced Friday that running backs coach Des Kitchings and wide receivers coach George McDonald will replace Drinkwitz as co-offensive coordinators.

“I’m excited that Des and George will have the opportunity to oversee and develop our offense,” NC State head coach Dave Doeren said Friday. “They have a great working relationship and respect for each other and their familiarity with our offense will provide us with great continuity for our players and recruits.”

Roper arrives in Raleigh after spending the 2018 season as the quarterbacks coach at Colorado, where he was not retained after Mike MacIntyre‘s firing.

David Cutcliffe disciple, this will mark Roper’s fifth job after leaving Cutcliffe’s Duke staff after the 2013 season — where he had held the same job as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the previous six seasons. Roper left Durham to become Florida’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2014, where Will Muschamp was ultimately fired that fall. He found refuge as an offensive analyst for the Cleveland Browns in 2015, then re-united with Muschamp as South Carolina’s co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2016. That lasted only two years, when Roper was told to leave and found employment at Colorado, where he again got in for the final year of an outgoing coaching staff.

“My family and I are thrilled about coming to NC State as a part of Coach Doeren’s staff,” said Roper. “Working for a great coach at a great university with an unbelievable fan base is a great opportunity and I can’t wait to get started.”

Here’s hoping Roper’s arrival does not portend a similar fate for Doeren and company.

Brian Kelly named AP Coach of the Year

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Two years after going 4-8, Brian Kelly is the best coach in college football.

The Notre Dame head coach was named the AP Coach of the Year on Monday, the second time he has won such an award. Kelly was named the AP Coach of the Year in 2012 after leading the Fighting Irish to a 12-0 regular season and an appearance in the BCS National Championship, and now has won the honor again after posting another undefeated regular season, putting the Irish into the College Football Playoff against Clemson in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29.

In between those undefeated regular seasons, Kelly went 9-4 in 2013, 8-5 in ’14, 10-3 in ’15, 4-8 in ’16 and 10-3 last season. Now in his ninth season at Notre Dame, Kelly has collected an 81-34 record with four AP top-25 finishes and a fifth on the way.

“I think I’m a better leader of our program,” Kelly told AP of his growth since the 2016 season. “The organization has gotten so much bigger. The ability to create the right energy and day-to-day culture is difficult. I think I’ve gotten a lot better a leading that large group on a day-to-day basis.”

The award is Kelly’s 10th different national coach of the year honor. He was named the Division II Coach of the Year in 2002 and ’03 at Grand Valley State, won the Home Depot Coach of the Year award at Cincinnati in 2009 and has now collected seven different national honors in his nine seasons in South Bend.

Like with the Heisman Trophy, AP Coach of the Year voters select three choices, ranked in descending order. Twelve different coaches garnered at least one first-place vote and 19 different coaches earned at least one total vote. Kelly received 81 total points and 16 first-place votes, tied with Alabama’s Nick Saban, who came in second with 66 total points. UCF’s Josh Heupel placed third with 33 total points and five first-place votes.

Emails show Florida AD Scott Stricklin, UCF AD Danny White hashing out a possible football series

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At some point in the Great UCF Debate of 2017-18, the burden switched from the exclusioners to the excluded. Actually, saying “at some point” doesn’t accurately tell the story, because we all know what the point was that made the worm turn.

When UCF (smartly) declared itself the 2017 national champion, feathers were ruffled across the country, but mostly in the SEC — home of the actual 2017 national champions. Most seemed to recognize it as something of a publicity stunt, but those in the South reacted to the move somewhere on the scale from annoyed to offended.

(There’s a sociology study to be had here about how fans across every sport root for Cinderella except college football fans, who seem to resent their sport’s underdogs, but that’s a blog post for another day.)

Florida head coach Dan Mullen told reporters earlier this month that Florida would be open to a 2-for-1 with UCF, prompting UCF AD Andy Seeley to tweet that no concrete offer was ever made.

However, on Monday the Orlando Sentinel published emails between UCF AD Danny White and Florida AD Scott Stricklin, where the two hash out the prospect of future games between the Knights and Gators.

In the emails, White requests a home-and-home or a neutral site game with Florida, but Stricklin says any games would have to be a 2-for-1 series.

“UF isn’t in the market for home-and-home or a neutral site games against non-Autonomy 5 opponents,” Stricklin wrote. “However, we would be open to a series similar to what we’ve agreed to with USF … two games in Gainesville and one in Orlando. We are in need of a home opener for the 2022 season, so the 9/3/2022 date you mention would be a perfect date to begin the series, and we can fill in the remaining games from there.”

White, who seemed to be writing for an audience other than Stricklin, replied in part:

… Requiring non-autonomy 5 schools to have to settle for inequitable scheduling seems like an unfair business practice and something we should all address at a high level,” White wrote. “If this type of scheduling is what is required for teams like UCF to make the final 4 of the CFP (College Football Playoff), we must consider expansion of the playoff to include non-autonomy 5 schools so we avoid the system operating like a monopoly. I am open to playing anyone in the country, but shouldn’t have to put my team at a severe disadvantage by being forced to play two for ones or guarantee games.

“The system should be such that we can schedule home and homes. As someone who sits on the CFP Committee, I am asking for your help in fixing a broken model by expanding the playoff and putting an end to unfair scheduling practices.”

Much like Batman, White has instituted a blanket “No 2-for-1s” policy in the face of common sense. Perhaps it wouldn’t make sense for UCF to play a 2-for-1 with, say, Iowa, but a 2-for-1 with their state’s flagship school would be beneficial for the Knights. Their fans would see their team play in an SEC stadium twice and then drive home afterward, while also getting Florida in Orlando.

It may not be strictly fair, but as a wise man once said: “It’s called, ‘The way it is.'”

UCF has played Florida twice all-time, not since 2006 and never in Orlando.

If the ultimate goal is to make the Playoff, getting Florida on their schedule three times would unquestionably help toward that end.

And yeah, it’s not a written offer and it’s not a level playing field, but it’s still a good offer for UCF. White and company should hop on it or hear any future complaints fall on deaf ears.

Mike Weber to leave Ohio State early for NFL, but will play in Rose Bowl

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Mike Weber has officially decided to ply his football wares at the next level, but not until his last season at this level has played out.

After going back and forth on the subject for the past couple of months, Weber announced on Twitter Sunday that he has decided to leave Ohio State early “and will live the dream I’ve had since 5 years old. I will be declaring for the 2019 NFL Draft.” Additionally, the running back confirmed that he will play in the Rose Bowl against Washington New Year’s Day.

A highly-touted 2015 signee whose OSU career got off to a bit of a bumpy start off the field, Weber has rushed for 2,580 yards (15th all-time at the school) and 24 touchdowns the past three seasons.  The Detroit, Michigan, native’s 1,096 yards as a redshirt freshman led the Buckeyes, while his nine rushing touchdowns tied for the team lead that same season.

Weber’s 858 yards and five touchdowns in 2018 are currently second on the team.