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.”

Akron transfer offensive lineman Brandon Council commits to Auburn over Baylor, Missouri

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The future home for a former Akron football player has officially come into focus.

In mid-February, Brandon Council took the first step in leaving the Akron football team by placing his name into the NCAA transfer database. A month later, prior to the NCAA banning in-person recruiting because of the coronavirus pandemic, the offensive lineman took an official visit to Baylor. He had been scheduled to do the same with Auburn. Those plans, though, were placed on indefinite hold.

Over the weekend, Council announced that he had whittled his transfer to-do list down to three. Not surprisingly, Baylor and Auburn made the cut. Additionally, Missouri is part of the transfer trio.

LSU and USC were also reportedly in play at one point as well.

Thursday night, Council officially whittled his transfer to-do list down to one.  Auburn.

Council will be eligible to play immediately in 2020 as a graduate transfer. It’s believed that this coming season would be Council’s final season of eligibility, although the player could get a sixth season from the NCAA.

Coming out of high school in North Carolina, Council was a two-star member of Akron’s 2016 recruiting class.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Council started nine games at left guard in 2017. The 6-4, 325-pound lineman then started the first three games of the 2018 season at right tackle before going down with an injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the year. That injury plus the redshirt for his first season could potentially trigger a sixth season.

Coming off that injury, Council started all 12 games in 2019. Council played every position along the offensive line this past season.

Jim Harbaugh extends scholarship offer to second-grade cancer survivor

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Courtesy of the current Michigan football head coach, how about a little pick-me-up story amidst all of the coronavirus pandemic news?

Thomas Fidone is a four-star 2021 prospect out of Iowa. On the 247Sports.com composite, he’s rated as the No. 2 tight end in the country for next year’s class. Suffice to say, the 6-5, 220-pound prospect is a hot commodity on the recruiting trail.

Fidone holds offers from, among others, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame and Nebraska. And, yes, Michigan. Which is where the pick-me-up comes into play.

Because of the NCAA’s ban on in-person recruiting, Fidone this week was on a video chat with Jim Harbaugh and U-M tight ends coach Sherrone Moore. During the chat, Fidone’s second-grade cousin, Sebastiano Fidone, joined in.

According to a Facebook posting from Sebastiano’s mother, her son was asked by the coaches to flex. Sebastiano complied. And, at that point, Harbaugh offered the young man, who battled leukemia for four years until finishing up chemotherapy in February of last year, a Michigan football scholarship.

Sebastiano received his first college offer today. 😆

We were able to join cousin Thomas Fidone on a video chat with Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and tight end coach Sherrone Moore. During the video chat, they asked Yanno to flex. He did, and Coach Harbaugh immediately offered him a scholarship. Now that he offered, he can’t send him a Michigan football t-shirt because of NCAA gifting rules 😆. He told Yanno a scholarship is better than a t-shirt in the long run anyway. He said his previous record for youngest scholarship offer was a 7th grader, so Yanno being in 2nd grade smashes that.

Yanno and Thomas got to do a little virtual workout together and it was an awesome perk of Thomas being heavily recruited, we are so thankful for Thomas and the coaches for setting it up today.

For those curious, the younger Fideone would be a member of the Class of 2030.

And, great work, Coach Harbaugh. And good luck, young man, as you continue what is hopefully a long, prosperous and fruitful life.

Second ex-Miami player in a month transfers to Colorado State

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Quietly, Colorado State football is becoming a quasi, Rocky Mountain version of The U.

Last month, defensive lineman Scott Patchan announced that he would be transferring to Colorado State after leaving the Miami football program. Exactly one month later, one of Patchan’s former teammates, Brian Polendey, announced that he too is headed to CSU.

“Excited for this next chapter,” the tight end wrote.

As Polenday would be coming into the Colorado State football program as a graduate transfer, he would be eligible to play for the Rams in 2020. Not only that, but he has another season of eligibility he can use in 2021 as well.

Coming out of high school in Texas, Polenday was a three-star 2017 signee. He was rated as the No. 21 tight end in the country.

The past three seasons, Polenday played in a combined 14 games. He saw action in six as a true freshman, then had his sophomore season end after two games because of injury. His six appearances in 2019 were highlighted in his first career start, the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl loss to Louisiana Tech.  A shutout loss, if you needed a reminder.

The 6-6, 240-pound Polenday was mainly used as a blocking specialist during his time in Miami. He finished his time with the Hurricanes with one catch for 14 yards. That lone reception came during his truncated 2018 campaign.

Colorado State will be under new leadership this fall as Steve Addazio was hired as the program’s new head football coach. Addazio replaces Mike Bobo, who was fired earlier that month.

Report: ‘Strong conviction’ among people in the sport there will be college football this season

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It appears a pair of highly-criticized college football coaches have some company. Anonymous company, but company nonetheless.

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy was roundly criticized when he argued that college coaches should get back to the business of football May 1, with players following shortly thereafter. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney took numerous shots when he very boldly claimed there’s no doubt the college football season would start on time.

OSU was forced to publicly address the kerfuffle kicked up by Gundy. An unapologetic Swinney, meanwhile, defended his faith-based opinion.

Thursday, however, an ESPN NFL insider offered additional optimism. In a tweet, Adam Schefter wrote that “there is a ‘strong conviction’ there will be college football this season.”

Below is the full text of Schefter’s tweet:

Speaking to people in and around college football this week, there is “strong conviction” there will be college football this season. Uncertainty about when – multiple scenarios being debated – but they sound certain there still will be college football this season.

As is the case will of these types of opinions, though, there’s no timeline attached to it.  Nor should there be, at least at this point.

At this point, it’s decidedly uncertain when the 2020 college football season will start. Or if it will even start, despite Schefter’s positive missive. There’s chatter that it could start in October, although one Bay Area health official doesn’t expect sports to return until at least Thanksgiving. January has been floated as a possibility as well. So has the spring of next year.

Playing games with no fans has also been tossed around. More than one prominent athletic director, though, has tossed cold water on such a plan. Fan-less games would very likely be an absolute, utter Hail Mary of a last resort to salvage some semblance of a season.

We’ve said myriad times before and we’ll continue to say it: The only certainty in all of this is that everyone involved in the sport will go to extreme lengths to ensure that a season is played in some form or fashion. Head coaches, though, will be far down on the list of people who will determine when a season starts. Or even if it does.