Nick Saban talks QBs, Confederate flags, second chances, draft grades

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Day 3 of SEC Media days has officially kicked off — as Ohio State/Auburn fans already know — and leading off the festivities was, along with the Ol’ Ball Coach, the headliner of the four-day event, Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

Not surprisingly, the man entering his ninth year in Tuscaloosa was asked a variety of questions on myriad topics, with those questions encompassing both on- and off-field issues his Tide and the game of college football are currently facing.  One in particular, involving what some are already perceiving as an excuse for the semifinal loss to Ohio State in the College Football Playoff, will likely grab most of the headlines.

And in that vein, with a note-by-note look at Saban’s half-hour at the podium, we’ll lead off with The Nicktator’s complaint regarding NFL draft grades.

PUSH BACK NFL DRAFT GRADES
Saban expressed his displeasure at the fact that the NFL delivered its grades to the Tide’s draft-eligible players Dec. 15, while his squad was in the midst of preparing for its CFP matchup with the Buckeyes.  According to Saban, his team’s chemistry between the SEC Championship game and the Sugar Bowl (semifinal) was affected by those draft grades, and that some players played not to get hurt in the game.

The solution to that “problem,” per Saban, is for the NFL to not release the draft grades until the player has played his last game.  That would mean the NFL would need to push back the deadline for declaring for the draft from Jan. 15 to a week to 10 days later.

One thought on this: didn’t Ohio State’s players also receive their NFL draft grades around that same time?  Just thinking out loud.  Spitballin’, if you will.

SECOND-CHANCE NICK
If the NFL draft grades brouhaha doesn’t grab the headlines, this one likely will.

The UA football program sustained a bit of a black eye earlier this year when Jonathan Taylor was dismissed from the Tide after he was arrested on a domestic violence charge.  If it were Taylor’s first offense, it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal.  However, the defensive lineman was dismissed by Georgia last July after he was arrested on similar charges, then given a controversial second chance by Saban.

So, does the coach regret giving Taylor a second chance?  From al.com:

Says it’s an emotional and complicated issue. Saban said he does not regret giving a player an opportunity and [Taylor] didn’t get due process in the case.

Saban did say “we don’t condone domestic violence in our program,” although that stance doesn’t mesh with his initial decision to give a second chance to a player already charged with domestic violence.

CONFEDERATE FLAG FLAP
With the likes of its Head Ball Coach and his boss joining the overwhelming chorus of voices calling for its removal, it was announced earlier this month that the Confederate flag would no longer fly over the South Carolina Capitol grounds.  In a move that should surprise no one, Saban was asked about the flag flap during his time at the podium and (surprise!) the coach is against anything as divisive as the symbol that’s been co-opted by hate groups.

“My opinion is anytime we have a symbol that represents something that’s mean-spirited or doesn’t represent equal rights for all people, that I’m not for having that symbol represent anything we’re involved in,” Saban said. “It’s not my decision what the governor does or what our university does. It’s just my opinion and how I feel about symbols that are not positive towards human rights and everybody having equal opportunity.”

AND THE STARTER UNDER CENTER IS…
In a move that will surprise absolutely no one, Saban didn’t tip his hand when it comes to a starter at the quarterback position.  And a big reason why he didn’t tip anything?  The Tide’s waiting for someone to take “the bull by the horns” and grab the starting job.  That didn’t happen in the spring, and the competition will resume in summer camp early next month.

Jake Coker is still the presumptive front-runner for the job, although those around the program are disappointed he has yet to grab the job by the throat and run with it.  In that vein, Saban stated that there are still “several guys” still fighting for the job, and that group would include Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell and freshman Blake Barnett.

Michigan Class of 2018 four-star TE Mustapha Muhammad enters NCAA transfer portal

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The NCAA transfer portal has been busy this Monday. Add Michigan tight end Mustapha Muhammad as one of the latest entrants into the transfer portal. Muhammad made the transfer portal news himself with an announcement on his Twitter account Monday afternoon.

Muhammad is a redshirt freshman. He will have to sit out the 2020 season if he lands at another FBS program, and he will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning 2021. By entering the transfer portal, Muhammad is free to have contact with any other football program looking to recruit him out of Ann Arbor. The Texas native signed with Michigan over offers from Ohio State, Alabama, and Clemson, among others. Unfortunately, the highly rated recruit hasn’t been able to establish a key role in the Michigan offense early on, even with the Wolverines offense looking for playmakers.

Michigan’s tight end position appears to be settled with Nick Eubanks and Sean McKeon reaching the midway point of the season as Michigan’s leading tight ends when it comes to receiving yards. Eubanks is fifth on the team overall with 128 receiving yards and a touchdown. McKeon has added 96 yards and two touchdowns. Both players are seniors, however, but Michigan also has redshirt freshman Luke Schoonmaker as an option at the tight end position moving forward.

Oregon DB Kahlef Halassie steps into transfer portal

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Oregon defensive back Kahlef Hailassie is now officially on the market. Hailassie announced on his Twitter account on Monday afternoon he has officially entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal.

A sophomore and a member of Oregon’s Class of 2018, Hailassie is now eligible to have contact with any other college football program that may be interested in recruiting him to their program. when he committed to the Ducks out of high school, Hailassie chose Oregon over offers from Colorado and Washington State, among others. Hailassie had previously committed to Colorado during his recruiting process, only to de-commit shortly after an official visit to Boulder.

Hailassie played in just three games this season before being sidelined with an injury. Because he has played in fewer than four games, Hailassie can use the 2019 season as a redshirt year. Hailassie played in all 13 games for Oregon as a true freshman in 2018, recording one tackle as a reserve player and a special teams player. Hailassie will have to sit out the 2020 season if he ends up at another FBS program, which would make him eligible to return to the field with two full years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2021.

Oregon’s leading receiver, TE Jake Breeland, suffers season-ending leg injury

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It turns out the leg injury suffered by Oregon tight end Jake Breeland was pretty serious. Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal confirmed the news on Monday that Breeland will miss the remainder of the 2019 season with a left leg injury.

“It hurts you personally and it hurts everyone when a guy that’s worked so hard, has overcome as much as he has and the type of season he was having, to have to endure something like this,” Cristobal said in a press conference on Monday, according to The Oregonian. “He’s ready to attack the whole process of getting healthy again so he can play again.”

Breeland will have his 2019 season brought to a premature close after leading the team with 405 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Oregon’s receivers have been banged up at times already this season, and losing the top tight end in the offense won’t make things any easier. Oregon visits Washington this week for a pivotal Pac-12 North matchup with the defending conference champions.

So, who replaces Breeland at the position? Oregon’s latest depth chart currently has Ryan Bay and Hunter Kampmoyer filling the top spots at the tight end positions for the Ducks. Bay, a senior, has appeared in all six games and has caught three passes for 35 yards and a touchdown. Kampmoyer, a junior, has caught one pass for 21 yards and a touchdown in six games this season.

Knee injury knocks Boston College QB Anthony Brown out for a second season

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Anthony Brown had his redshirt freshman season cut short due to a knee injury, battled back to start all 12 games in 2018 and BC’s first six contests this fall, until yet another knee injury knocked him out for another season.

Boston College head coach Steve Addazio revealed Monday that Brown will miss the remainder of the season with what the school is calling a “lower leg injury.” Brown made a cut avoiding a tackle during BC’s Oct. 5 game against Louisville and immediately clutched his left knee. Boston College lost the game, 41-39, though Brown began the contest 6-of-7 for 193 yards and a touchdown.

“We’re very, very sad for Anthony. He worked hard to get himself where he was. He’s seventh all-time in passing in BC history and heading towards greater things this year. He’s had a great career and he’s prepared and practiced and put so much into it. We’re so proud of him,” Addazio said.

The fourth-year junior from Cliffwood, N.J., finishes his season 81-of-137 for 1,250 yards with nine touchdowns against two interceptions while rushing for 128 yards and two scores.

“It’s a tough deal, but he’s a tough guy and he’ll bounce back,” Addazio said. “We’re gonna love him and support him and get him back to where he was, but his season has come to an end.”

Brown can return as a fifth-year senior in 2020, with two year-ending knee injuries under his belt, literally and figuratively.