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.”

Braden White named prestigious 12th Man at Texas A&M

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The 12th Man is a big, big deal at Texas A&M. In fact, it’s pretty much the brand of not just the football program, but the entire athletics department. Case in point, A&M’s athletics department website is 12thman.com.

For the uninitiated, in 1922 the Aggies found themselves short of players in a football game against Center College, the No. 1 team in the country at the time, after multiple players sustained injuries over the course of the game. Down to just 11 players, A&M student E. King Gill volunteered to suit up and stand on the sidelines in case the team needed him. Gill now has a statue outside of Kyle Field, and A&M’s student section is collectively referred to as the 12th Man.

As such, it’s a tremendous honor for an active Aggie player to be awarded the No. 12 and, after fullback Cullen Gillaspia donned the jersey for a record-tying 39 games, it’s time to hand it off to a new player.

On Tuesday, Jimbo Fisher awarded the No. 12 jersey to Braden White, a walk-on linebacker from Florence, Ala.

“I’m honored just to be able to represent this great university and everything about it,” White said. “It’s a true blessing.”

White is a redshirt junior who has checked all the boxes of a player who checks all the 12th Man boxes. He was named Defensive Scout Team MVP during his redshirt year of 2016 and was honored as the Top Conditioned Athlete at the Aggies’ 2018 team banquet. He has appeared in 18 career games, recording 16 career tackles playing primarily as a special teams contributor.

White will wear No. 12 for the first time next when Texas A&M — ranked, ironically, No. 12 in the preseason AP poll — hosts Texas State next Thursday night (8:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network).

UConn begins building out independent schedules with BC home-and-home

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Until they tell us otherwise, Connecticut is going to try to make it as an FBS independent. This upcoming season will be the Huskies’ final one as a member of the American Athletic Conference, as the Huskies’ Olympic sports will return to the Big East and the football team will go it alone.

This will require lots (and lots and lots) of scheduling work, and quickly. As of now, the Huskies have four games on the schedule for a season that begins 12 months from now.

While it does nothing to help the 2020 slate, UConn began chipping away at the mountain in front of it on Wednesday by announcing a home-and-home with Boston College. The first game will be Oct. 29, 2022 in Storrs, with the return game going down Oct. 28, 2023 in Chestnut Hill.

The two programs have met 14 times previously; BC leads the series 12-0-2. The Eagles took the most recent meeting 39-16 in 2017.

Additionally, BC announced a 2023-28 home-and-home with Army and a Sept. 9, 2023 home game with Holy Cross.

Safety graduate transfers from Penn State to Pitt

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Penn State safety Johnny Petrishen has left State College for Pittsburgh, where he is now a Panther.

Petrishen announced the transfer on Tuesday evening, and Pitt confirmed his addition on Wednesday morning.

Petrishen has two years of eligibility remaining thanks — if you want to use that term — to two medical redshirts.

A Lower Burrell, Pa., native, Petrishen appeared in 17 career games as a Nittany Lion, including all 13 last season. Primarily a special teams player, he posted eight career tackles and one TFL in State College.

NC State transfer Tim Kidd-Glass tweets move to Liberty

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Hugh Freeze may be dealing with what was a significant health issue, but he’s still working his first-year roster at Liberty.

On his personal Twitter account Tuesday evening, Tim Kidd-Glass announced that he “would like to thank God for allowing me to have another opportunity to further my football career… at Liberty University.” The announcement comes a couple of weeks after the safety triggered a move from North Carolina State by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database.

As a graduate transfer, Kidd-Glass will be eligible to play for the Flames in 2019.

The past three seasons, the Virginia native played in 33 games for the Wolfpack.  He started nine of those contests, all of which came during the 2017 season.