Nick Saban officially becomes the $7 million* man

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(*almost)

Nearly six months after originally agreeing to a new deal — and thanks in large part to Texas’ purported interestNick Saban has officially become an even richer head football coach.

As expected, Alabama’s Board of Trustees Tuesday approved a new contract for Saban that includes both an extension and a significant raise.  The head coach is now signed through the 2022 season; his old contract was set to run through the 2020 season.

If he fulfills all the years remaining on his contract, Saban would be 70 years old at the end of the deal.

Salary-wise, and while not the $7 million to $7.5 million average as previously reported, al.com reports that Saban will be paid an average of $6.5 million annually in base compensation.  Additionally, the Associated Press reports, Saban will receive an additional $400,000 per year for what’s described as a “completion fee.”

Last season, Saban earned in the neighborhood of $5.6 million.

“We are pleased to announce that Coach Saban’s contract extension has been approved and that he’ll be our head football coach for many years to come,” said UA athletic director Bill Battle. “He is the best coach in the country and he’s brought Alabama back to the pinnacle of college football. His success on the field is obviously second to none, but Coach Saban’s influence on academics and all the other areas of our athletic programs are equally impressive to me.”

Not only is Saban easily the highest-paid coach in the game — Mack Brown made a little over $5.4 million at Texas before stepping down — but he’s one of the highest-paid of any coach in any sport in the United States.

Sean Peyton of the New Orleans Saints tops all coaches with his $8 million salary. Other NFL head coaches like Bill Belichick (New England Patriots, and Saban’s former boss) and Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs) earn roughly $7.5 million, while still other NFL coaches — Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks), Jeff Fisher (St. Louis Rams) — as well as an NBA coach – Doc Rivers (formerly of the Los Angeles Clippers) — pull in $7 million a year.

The only college coach who will make more than Saban moving forward? Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski.

The lofty compensation package, however, is most certainly worth it to the university in general and athletic department specifically.

In his seven years in Tuscaloosa, the Tide has gone 74-15, They’ve won at least 10 games six years, and of course have added three BCS titles to the trophy case.  Add in the utter dominance on the recruiting trail, and UA has locked down the man who most feel is the best coach at the collegiate level.

“We are honored by the commitment the University of Alabama has made to us with this new contract.” said Saban. “It is certainly a mutual agreement in terms of our commitment to the University of Alabama. We will continue to work hard to keep our football program among the nation’s elite. My passion has always been to develop young men to their full potential as student-athletes. We’ve had great success in that area at Alabama and I’m appreciative of all the support and the resources we receive from the administration in order to make that happen. Our graduation rates are among the best in the country and that means as much or more than the victories on the field. We want our players to be more successful in life because they were involved with our program and I think we’ve been able do that.

“Terry and I are also proud to continue to contribute to the growth at the University of Alabama, this community, and the state of Alabama. We’ve been able to do some outstanding things through Nick’s Kids, the First Generation Scholarship Fund and we’re proud to help build the new St. Francis University Student Center. The past eight years have been productive in so many ways and we are grateful to call Alabama our home.”

In addition to Saban’s contract, new contracts for all of the coach’s assistants were announced as well.  New offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin signed a three-year deal that will pay him $680,000 in 2014 and 2015, then jump to $714,000 in 2016.  Based on the rapidly escalating coordinator salaries, the Tide got Kiffin for a relative pittance, although that arose from the coach receiving his buyout after being fired by USC.

All of the returning assistants on Saban’s coaching staff received raises ranging from $20,000 to $75,000, with the exception being Kirby Smart.  The defensive coordinator will make the same $1.35 million the next two years as previously called for, although he did have a year tacked on to his contract.

Kyler Murray is third straight ex-Texas high schooler to go No. 1 overall in NFL draft

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The Lonestar State in general and the flagship school of the state directly to its north made some player selection history Thursday night in Nashville.

Following months worth of speculation and smokescreens, the Arizona Cardinals officially selected Kyler Murray as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.  The Oklahoma quarterback is the second straight signal-caller from the Sooners to be the top overall pick (Baker Mayfield to the Cleveland Browns in 2018), marking the first time since 1968-69 (USC’s Ron Yary, O.J. Simpson) that one school has locked down back-to-back No. 1 overall selections.

It also marks the first time two Heisman Trophy winners from the same school have been selected with the top pick in the draft in consecutive years.  On top of that, this is the first time that quarterbacks from the same school have been selected in the top spot of the draft in back-to-back years.

Both Murray, who is the first athlete ever drafted in the first rounds of both the NFL and MLB drafts, and Mayfield played their high school football in the state of Texas.  When you add Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett (Arlington Martin High School to No. 1 overall for the Browns in 2017) to the equation, the Lonestar State can now lay claim to being the only state to ever produce three straight No. 1 overalls.

(Sidebar: Mayfield and Garrett are NFL teammates with the Browns, and will face Murray’s Cardinals this season.  And Arizona’s head coach? Kliff Kingsbury, whose fractured relationship with Mayfield that included a scholarship brouhaha led to the future Heisman Trophy winner’s transfer from Texas Tech to Big 12 rival Oklahoma.  Now, back to our regularly-scheduled programming, already in progress…)

In the history of an NFL draft that dates back to 1939, high schools in the state of Texas have produced 14 No. 1 overalls, the most of any state.  With 11, California is the only other state in double-digits.

Perhaps the most astonishing finding in all of this research?  High schools in the state of Florida, easily one of the most fertile football recruiting grounds in the country, have produced exactly one No. 1 overall: Auburn running back Tucker Fredrickson in 1965.

That’s a bar bet waiting to happen.  And you’re welcome.

Oklahoma-Houston season opener moves to Sunday primetime slot on Labor Day weekend

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Oklahoma’s season opener is going under the lights on Labor Day weekend.

The Sooners announced on Thursday that their 2019 debut against Houston is shifting from its scheduled Saturday date during Week 1 to a primetime slot on ABC at 7:30 pm ET on Sept. 1st.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us,” AD Joe Castiglione said in a statement. “It gives us great visibility at the very outset of the 2019 season. It is equally appealing to me that we get to play the game in the best conditions for student-athletes and fans. By making this move, we ensured that this game would be played in the evening, thus avoiding the heat we’ve dealt with in each of the last two seasons.”

OU makes note that this is the first time the school will play a regular season game on Sunday and just the fourth time ever they’ll play on a day normally reserved for NFL games (all three of the previous times were in bowl games).

The 2019 game is the latest in a long line of high profile matchups to get moved to the Sunday before Labor Day in recent years, including last year’s LSU-Miami tilt at AT&T Stadium.

While nobody is saying that Sooners-Cougars would have gotten overlooked on the first college football Saturday of Week 1, the move a day later will provide the spotlight all on its own to catch one of the more interesting non-conference games around with Dana Holgorsen’s debut leading Houston and the likely first start of former Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts at OU.

Notre Dame grad transfer Micah Dew-Treadway granted another year of eligibility at Minnesota

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Minnesota received an unexpected bit of good news on Thursday.

The school confirmed several reports that surfaced regarding recent Notre Dame graduate transfer Micah Dew-Treadway, who joined the Gophers this offseason and will now have two seasons to play in the Twin Cities after being granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.

Dew-Treadway spent four years in South Bend but mostly in a reserve role, recording two tackles while playing in 21 total games with the Irish. At the heart of the hardship waiver he and Minnesota applied for was the 2016 campaign that saw him miss the entire season with a broken foot.

The additional year is big for Minnesota as the transfer appeared to leave a good impression and is in line to start this fall. The program is having to replace mainstay defensive lineman Gary Moore in 2019 and will certainly be counting on Dew-Treadway and JUCO addition Keonte Schad to provide push up the middle.

The Gophers open their season against South Dakota State on Aug. 29.

Clemson football brought up at college basketball federal corruption trial

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The national champs are back in the spotlight during the offseason for a reason Dabo Swinney wants nothing to do with.

In federal court on Thursday in New York City, prosecutors in the college basketball corruption scandal played an FBI video wiretap involving Clemson hoops assistant Steve Smith. While much of the conversation is centered on top prospects in basketball like Zion Williamson and what the Tigers could do to lure them to campus, somewhat surprisingly the topic of football came up.

Via CBSSports.com’s Matt Norlander: 

The Blazer in question above is Marty Blazer, a financial advisor from Pittsburgh who was on the stand. He’s the same witness who claimed a few days ago that he paid football players from Alabama, Notre Dame, Penn State and several other schools.

“We are aware of the developments in federal court today involving one of our men’s basketball assistant coaches,” Clemson said in a statement issued later on Thursday. “We take this matter seriously and will immediately conduct a review.”

While only a handful of folks can claim to be surprised that the federal hoops trial spilled over into football, it certainly raises further questions about the Tigers that they will have to deal with over the coming weeks. These are just the words of one witness and one assistant on a wiretap but something says the folks in Indianapolis are already wondering whether or not they need to expand a potential infractions probe that much wider in the wake of the testimony.