Pac-12 lands 18 players on Nagurski Trophy watch list

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No conference has more players on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list than the Pac-12. Of the 81 top defensive players listed on the watch list for the nation’s top defensive player, the Pac-12 is home to 18 players. The SEC followed with 16 players. The Big 12 has 13 players, the ACC has 12 players and the Big Ten has 10 players on the watch list.

The Nagurski Trophy has been awarded each year since 1993 by the Charlotte Touchdown Club and the Football Writers Association of America. Miami, Oklahoma, Texas and Northwestern are tied for the most Nagurski Trophy winners with two each. Northwestern linebacker, and now head coach, Pat Fitzgerald won two and is the only two-time winner of the award. Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald was the winner of the 2013 Bronko Nagurski Trophy.

Finalists for the Nagurski Trophy will be announced on November 20 and the winner will be named December 8.

Here is this year’s Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list:

DE Henry Anderson, Stanford
LB Stephone Anthony, Clemson
DE Vic Beasley, Clemson
DT Michael Bennett, Ohio State
DB Craig Bills, BYU
DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State
DT Malcom Brown, Texas
LB Kelby Brown, Duke
DE Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
DB Alex Carter, Stanford
DB Sam Carter, TCU
DB Jeremy Cash, Duke
DE Frank Clark, Michigan
DB Landon Collins, Alabama
DB Blake Countess, Michigan
DT Christian Covington, Rice
DB Su’a Cravens, USC
DT Carl Davis, Iowa
DE Tyeler Davison, Fresno State
LB Trey DePriest, Alabama
DB Quandre Diggs, Texas
DB Lorenzo Doss, Tulane
DB Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State
DE Alvin Dupree, Kentucky
DE Mario Edwards Jr., Florida State
DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
LB Kyler Fackrell, Utah State
DE Devonte Fields, TCU
DE Trey Flowers, Arkansas
LB Leonard Floyd, Georgia
DE Dante Fowler Jr., Florida
LB Alani Fua, BYU
DB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech
DE Markus Golden, Missouri
DE Randy Gregory, Nebraska
LB Bryce Hager, Baylor
DB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
DB Anthony Harris, Virginia
LB Ben Heeney, Kansas
DT Chucky Hunter, TCU
DE Martin Ifedi, Memphis
LB Myles Jack, UCLA
DT Grady Jarrett, Clemson
LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
LB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA
DE Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington
DT Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech
LB Derrick Malone, Oregon
LB Tyler Matakevich, Temple
LB Derrick Mathews, Houston
DE Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville
LB Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
DE Ryan Mueller, Kansas State
DB Steven Nelson, Oregon State
DT Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
DE Shawn Oakman, Baylor
LB Denzel Perryman, Miami
DB Marcus Peters, Washington
DB Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss
LB Hayes Pullard, USC
DE Cedric Reed, Texas
DB Jordan Richards, Stanford
DE A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
DB KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame
LB Jake Ryan, Michigan
DB Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma
DT Danny Shelton, Washington
LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame
DB Derron Smith, Fresno State
LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma
DE Charles Tapper, Oklahoma
LB A.J. Tarpley, Stanford
DB Jared Tevis, Arizona
LB Shaq Thompson, Washington
DE Tony Washington, Oregon
DB Trae Waynes, Michigan State
DE Leonard Williams, USC
DB P.J. Williams, Florida State
LB Ramik Wilson, Georgia
DT Gabe Wright, Auburn

Catch up on your watch lists released this week:

Maxwell Award (best player)

Bednarik Award (best defensive player)

Hornung Award (most versatile player)

Mackey Award (best tight end)

Rimington Trophy (best center)

Lou Groza Award (best kicker)

Ray Guy Award (best punter)

Both Alabama coordinators receive new three-year deals, including lucrative package for OC Steve Sarkisian

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After being let go by the Atlanta Falcons this offseason, many expected veteran offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian to remain in the NFL after finding a solid amount of success at the next level. There were even a few rumors that he would be linking up with Kliff Kingsbury to serve as OC of the Arizona Cardinals.

Instead he turned a number of those opportunities down to return to Tuscaloosa for a more permanent role as Crimson Tide offensive coordinator, a position he briefly served in the national title game a few years ago following the departure of Lane Kiffin. Now we know one factor in the former Washington and USC head coach’s thinking: a lucrative three-year deal at the school that puts him in rare air among college assistants.

Per USA Today’s Steve Berkowitz: 

Sarkisian’s $1.55 million salary for 2019 would have made him the seventh-highest paid assistant in college football last year per the paper’s annual database and the highest paid offensive coordinator in the country. Ponying up such a contract is somewhat common place at SEC programs like Alabama but few other schools also have Nick Saban leading the staff as the highest paid head coach in the sport on a regular basis.

While every houndstooth-clad fan in the world will tell you Saban is worth every penny, there’s at least some apprehension over the figures tossed around for the other given the residual effects from Sark’s one-game stint calling plays in a tough loss on the big stage. New defensive coordinator Pete Golding, meanwhile, will essentially take the salary placeholder that former linebackers coach/co-DC Tosh Lupoi made last season. The latter assistant “left” for a job in the NFL after this year’s national title game loss to Clemson.

The two coordinators were not the only ones to receive either new deals or pay raises from the school either, as Berkowitz notes the most expensive staff in the country is getting even pricer in 2019.

Interim USC president sidesteps questions about AD Lynn Swann’s job security in wake of scandal

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News that USC was involved in yet another improbable athletics scandal was not a surprise to a lot of folks who had been following the Trojans in recent years but it seems that the school’s efforts to clean things up in the athletic department might mean nobody is safe. Even those at the very top of the org chart.

In a rare interview this week since several school officials were indicted several days ago, USC’s interim president Wanda Austin sidestepped questions about athletic director Lynn Swann’s job security in the wake of several calls for his resignation.

“My comments would be that we certainly are doing a complete investigation around athletics because of the admission scandal and concern,” Austin told Annenberg Media. “After we complete that review and find out the facts of who knew what and/or who should have known what. That obviously will be something that will be reviewed with the board.”

That’s… not exactly a vote of confidence in the AD. In fact, it’s a sidestepping of a question that would impress even the most seasoned of politicians.

While it should be noted that the university is expected to name a new, full-time president at some point in the near future that will ultimately have say in personnel matters like this, Austin definitely didn’t douse any hot seat talk surrounding the Hall of Famer turned administrator. Swann said last week that he would like to remain in his position for a total of 10 years but it seems that having three people in one’s department caught up in FBI investigations the past two years might mean nobody is actually safe in Los Angeles after all.

New Miami QB Tate Martell’s eligibility wavier reportedly received Ohio State support

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This normally dreary stretch of the offseason in college football was perked up quite a bit on Tuesday when Miami announced that Ohio State transfer Tate Martell’s waiver with the NCAA to play immediately was granted and that he would suit up for the Hurricanes in 2019. While many though this was a great example of free agency coming to the sport, that’s not truly the case given the byzantine process the NCAA typically goes through in cases like this.

However, there were some unique factors that went into the decision according to the Miami Herald and that included some serious weight given to the fact that the Buckeyes were not standing in the way of Martell leaving nor becoming eligible in South Florida right away.

“I think what you had here is a situation where the request was made in a way that Ohio State did not oppose what we put in our request and they were cooperative with Miami,” attorney Travis Leach told the paper. “That ultimately was helpful to us.”

While Miami sources did describe things as a bit of a divorce between signal-caller and OSU after ex-Georgia QB Justin Fields transferred in, it’s interesting that the story noted that the change from Urban Meyer to Ryan Day at head coach didn’t really play a factor. That was something that a lot of folks seemed to hang their hats on in this case but it seems that the NCAA listened closer to the circumstances surrounding Martell leaving Columbus and what the football program was doing in terms of roster management and not who was doing the managing.

Either way, it seems like everybody — sans perhaps some Michigan and Florida State fans — came out a winner from this whole player shuffle. It’s probably a lot more encouraging for the next high-profile quarterback thinking about transferring out for greener pastures too.

WWE “scout” showed up at Penn State Pro Day for second straight year

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‘We are’ is really channelling their ‘Woooo’ now a days.

If you’re too young to get that reference or never did follow wrestling back in the day, don’t worry. Just know that some sort of pipeline is being apparently developed at Penn State by the WWE.

At least it seems that way judging by the organization’s Pro Day attendance.

You will notice that the school separates out the WWE from the WWE-backed XFL spring football league that is being launched next year. That’s a notable distinction given that the wrestling company has shown up to Happy Valley two years in a row now for Pro Day. While one wouldn’t have had a big issue with them turning up to see the Saquon Barkley freak show last year, it seems that this is now becoming a bit of a trend with James Franklin’s program.

While you can bet that this will be a nice recruiting tool for the Nittany Lions to connect with a few recruits down the road, things might get a little strange if the WWE decides to recreate a ‘White Out’ for the next Wrestlemania or plucks a few lineman from the school to form the next tag team at the event.