New book details Nick Saban’s (agent’s) flirtation with Texas

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I promise, this will be the last time I make reference to the old Nick Saban-to-Texas speculation.  Probably.

During the 2013 season, it was an open secret that Texas, even as Mack Brown was technically in place as head coach, was in lust with Nick Saban, with the Alabama coach’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, playing point man in at least a couple of meetings with those connected to the Longhorns football programs.  Even as Saban, and perhaps more importantly his wife, publicly stated on a couple of occasions that he was staying put, there was significant angst in Tuscaloosa as UA officials were “getting nervous about the lack of a response” from Saban on a new contract proposal.

In an unauthorized biography set to be released early next month titled “Saban, the Making of a Coach, Forbes writer Monte Burke devotes an entire 17-page chapter of his book to the Saban-Texas saga — deftly titled “Texas Hold ‘Em.”  While there’s not a whole lot of new information in the clips that have come out thus far, there are a couple of little nuggets that are worth noting.

From excerpts obtained by al.com:

  • Sexton reportedly told UT boosters that his client fancied himself as more of “a turnaround artist than a long-term CEO,” meaning Saban didn’t like to stay in one place for too long, even as Saban stated publicly amidst the rumors that he’s “just too damn old to start over.” That ultimately, at least thus far, proved to agent-speak on Sexton’s part as Saban is now entering his ninth season at ‘Bama, four years longer than his five-year stints at both LSU and Michigan State.
  • Sexton also reportedly told the same boosters that Texas was the only school that for which Saban would consider leaving Alabama.  That matches up with an outstanding Associated Press report from November of 2013, which quoted a UT regent from documents obtained by the AP.
  • “But a number of factors kept Texas in play during a rough 2013 for Saban,” al.com wrote. “The exploding expectations of Alabama fans and boosters after three titles in four years were agitating Saban. There was also the spring death of AD Mal Moore who brought Saban to Alabama. Then in the fall, Saban’s coaching mentor Don James passed away. There was also the lawsuit involving Saban’s daughter Kristen and a former sorority sister she allegedly assaulted.”
  • Then-new UT athletic director Steve Patterson warned Sexton in November of 2013 that he’d better not be using his school to get a better deal from Saban’s current one, with the agent taking offense to the suggestion.  One month later, a new contract between Saban and UA was announced that would ultimately pay the coach nearly $7 million annually on average.
  • Perhaps most importantly, at least to Tide Nation, Patterson confirmed to Burke that he never spoke to Saban during the months of speculation and that no contract was ever offered.  It had been reported in another book, this one from Paul Finebaum in July of last year, that “the Longhorns were prepared to give Saban somewhere between a $12 and $15 million signing bonus and a salary package worth $100 million (plus performances).”  Additionally, Saban, per the book, never had any direct conversations with anyone connected to the university about taking over for Brown.

All’s well that ends well, despite the constant speculation leading up to the new contract extension.

I never considered going to Texas. That wasn’t even a conversation,” Saban said after the new deal was announced. “I knew that if Mack stepped down, there would probably be an opportunity, but it wasn’t something I was interested in doing, not at this stage in my career.”

Alabama transfer Scott Lashley headed to Mississippi State

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If you had the Alabama Crimson Tide football team in the “Next FBS School Featured in a Portal Post” lottery, collect your winnings. And if you had him staying in the SEC West as well?  Play the lottery.

An Alabama Crimson Tide football official confirmed this weekend that Scott Lashley was officially listed in the NCAA transfer database. Subsequent to that, it was reported that Lashley had already decided to transfer to Mississippi State.

According to 247Sports.com, Lashley is expected to begin classes at MSU this coming week.

Lashley graduated from Alabama last month. That will give the 6-7, 307-pound offensive tackle immediate eligibility at Mississippi State.  The upcoming season will be his final year of eligibility.

A four-star 2016 signee, Lashley was rated as the No. 20 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 8 player regardless of position in the state of Mississippi. The past three seasons, Lashley appeared in a total of 19 games.

Eight of those appearances for Lashley came at right tackle in 2019. Earlier this month, the Tide’s starting right tackle, Jedrick Wills Jr., announced he was leaving early for the NFL.  It had been expected that Lashley would compete for the starting job vacated by Wills.

Lashley is the second Tide player this month to enter the portal and then quickly move on to another school. Two weeks ago, Jerome Ford signaled his intention to leave Tuscaloosa by entering the database. Last week, the running back moved on to the Cincinnati Bearcats.

Virginia Tech joins Ball State in losing WR Damon Hazelton to transfer

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When it comes to Damon Hazelton, the Virginia Tech football team has some transfer company.

Back in May of 2017, the Virginia Tech football team announced that Ball State transfer wide receiver Damon Hazelton had been officially added to the roster. Three years and two on-field seasons later, however, Hazelton took to Twitter to announce that he will be transferring from the Hokies as well.

“Want to say thank you to Virginia Tech, coaches and community for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this University athletically and earn my degree,” the receiver wrote. “It has been an unbelievable time here. To all my brothers and teammates, I love each and every one of you and know this year will be nothing short of amazing.”

As he indicated in his post, Hazelton will be leaving as a graduate transfer.

After sitting out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Hazelton led the Hokies in catches (51), yards (802) and touchdowns (eight) in 2018. This past season, he again led the Hokies in receiving touchdowns (eight), while he was second in yards (527) and tied for second in receptions (31).

Including his time at Ball State, Hazelton has totaled 1,834 yards and 20 touchdowns on 133 catches. The 2020 season will be his final year of eligibility.

After Tulane flirtation, Texas Tech QB Jett Duffey moving on to Central Michigan

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For Jett Duffey, the past few weeks have been interesting. To say the least.

In mid-December, the Texas Tech quarterback entered the NCAA transfer database. Nearly four weeks later, Duffey announced on a Twitter account that has since been deleted that he would continue his collegiate playing career at Tulane.

Three days later, however, Jett Duffey announced on that same since-deleted account that he was withdrawing his commitment to the Green Wave and reopening his recruitment. In a text message to ESPN.com‘s Adam Rittenberg, though, the graduate transfer revealed that he will now transfer to Central Michigan.

From ESPN’s report:

According to a report from Nola.com, Duffey was originally planning to transfer to Tulane but was denied academic admission. A source told ESPN that Duffey would meet the requirements for admission at Central Michigan.

At this point, Jim McElwain‘s CMU football program hasn’t confirmed the transfer’s addition to the roster.

Jett Duffey, a three-star 2016 signee, started 11 games during his time with the Red Raiders. Eight of those starts came over the last eight games of the 2019 regular season.

In 10 games total this past season, Duffey passed for 2,840 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions in completing just over 65 percent of his 367 pass attempts. He threw for 300-plus yards in five straight games and seven times overall in 2019, including a season-high 424 in the early October win over Oklahoma State; his career-high is 444 against Texas in November of 2018.

In 2018, Duffey became the first Red Raider quarterback to lead the team in rushing (339 yards) since Joe Barnes in 1973. This past season, he ran for 212 yards.

Washington State raids Wyoming coaching staff for defensive assistants

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New Washington State head coach Nick Rolovich is putting together his new coaching staff in Pullman, and he is picking from an old Mountain West Conference foe to fill some spots. Jake Dickert, who had been Wyoming’s defensive coordinator for the past season, will join Rolovich and the Cougars to fill the same role. And that’s not all. Dickert will reportedly be bringing two more Wyoming defensive coaches with him; defensive ends coach AJ Cooper and cornerbacks coach John Richardson.

While that is a bit of a shakeup for Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl to deal with at Wyoming, it will help Rolovich put together his first coaching staff at a power conference program. Bringing in some coaches he has a familiarity with makes sense, especially considering how Wyoming has typically played on a defensive level in the last few seasons. If Washington State is going to contend for a Pac-12 title under Rolovich, improving the defensive side of the football will be essential in a division that also features defending Pac-12 champion Oregon and Washington.

Dickert also coached linebackers at Wyoming in addition to serving as defensive coordinator.