There are just a couple of more days left for underclassmen to make their decisions on whether or not they will enter the NFL Draft with a year of college eligibility left on the table. On Saturday, three Alabama players had reportedly made up their minds to stay with the Crimson Tide for another year.
Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, linebacker Reuben Foster and College Football Playoff championship game breakout star tight end O.J. Howard are all set to return to Alabama in 2016 to provide quality depth at three different positions.
Foster was Alabama’s second-leading tackler in 2015 with 73 tackles in all 15 games Alabama played en route to a national championship. Foster had 48 solo tackles and a sack along with eight tackles for loss. Allen led the Crimson Tide in tackles for loss with 14.5 and 12.0 sacks and two forced fumbles. The returns of Foster and Allen will help make one of 2015’s top front sevens in the nation one of the best once again in 2016.
Howard was Alabama’s third-leading receiver in 2015 with 602 yards and two touchdowns, but he seemed to fly well under the radar in Lane Kiffin‘s game plan for much of the season. After recording no more than 70 yards in any one game during the regular season and having 10 games with 40 or fewer receiving yards, Howard had a huge impact on Alabama’s national championship victory by breaking out for 208 receiving yards and both of his touchdown catches of the year against Clemson. Given his impact on the championship game and with the early departure of Heisman Trophy-winning running back Derrick Henry, perhaps Howard is going to see a bigger role designed for him in 2016.
Underclassmen have until Monday at 5 p.m. eastern to declare themselves eligible for the 2016 NFL Draft.
The legend of Joe Burrow is well-told by now. A guy who barely got a scholarship at Ohio State, waited his turn, realized his turn wasn’t coming, re-invented himself at LSU, and is now bound for a Heisman Trophy. The adopted son of Louisiana has put together one of the best passing seasons in college football history — 77.9 percent completion (on pace to shatter Colt McCoy‘s single-season FBS record), 10.7 yards per attempt, 48 touchdowns against just six interceptions with a 201.47 efficiency rating (on pace to break Tua Tagovailoa‘s record) — while guiding the Bayou Bengals to the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff.
It’s a season they’ll remember forever in Louisiana, and one they’d like to forget in Nebraska.
During an interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi in Saturday’s edition of College GameDay, Burrow shared that he really wanted to be a Cornhusker all along.
“I had one offer after my junior year of high school, and it was my dad’s team. I wanted to go to Nebraska,” he said, via 247Sports. “They told me I wasn’t good enough.”
Burrow played high school football in Athens, Ohio, but he spent much of his youth in Lincoln, where his father, Joey Burrow, was an assistant coach. Joey played at Nebraska, and he coached Joe’s older brothers, Jamie and Dan Burrow, who were also Cornhuskers. Joey Burrow was on staff at Ohio U. during Joe’s high school years, and for a time his only FBS offer was from the hometown Bobcats, which he dubbed a “pity offer.”
He wanted more. He wanted Nebraska.
The good news for those in Huskerland is that Burrow was recruited during the Mike Riley era. This is all Riley’s fault, right? There’s no egg on Scott Frost‘s face, is there?
UConn is 6-30 in the 2.0 tenure of Randy Edsall, having gone 3-9 in 2017, 1-11 last year and 2-10 this. The program reportedly also has more than a dozen players in the transfer portal.
Needless to say, it’s not a good time in the annals of Husky football, but it’s also not a good time to make a coaching change. The program is short on cash and in the midst of transitioning from the American to life as an FBS independent, and AD David Benedict has no plans to add another major change on top of that. As he told the AP on Sunday:
“I’m not saying that everyone has to share the same opinion or have the same level of confidence in Coach Edsall that I do, but he has to be given the time to build the program and you can’t do it in three years,” he said. “Ultimately over the next three years, we’ll hopefully see our program become more and more competitive.”
As far as votes of confidence go, this is about the least confident you’ll ever see an AD be when he backs his coach.
But at the same time, it’s also one of the most concrete. Whereas most ADs will commit to backing their coach through the end of that season and the one following at the absolute most, Benedict seems to indicate Edsall will not only be back in 2020, but 2021 and ’22 as well.
While definitely subject to change, the initial wagering odds for the degenerates in the reading audience are out.
Earlier Sunday, and in a surprise to absolutely no one, the four semifinalists for the 2019 College Football Playoff were released. LSU was given the No. 1 seed by the selection committee and will face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl. No. 2 Ohio State, which came into Championship Saturday ranked first in the country, will square off with No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.
According to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, LSU is a 7/5 favorite to win the 2019 national championship. Clemson is next at 2/1, while Ohio State sits at 3/1. Oklahoma, which won its way into the playoffs at the expense of Georgia, is a decided underdog at 16/1.
Speaking of underdogs, the SEC Tigers are currently listed as a 12½-point favorite in their matchup with the Sooners. Despite being the higher seed, the Buckeyes have opened as a two-point underdog to the ACC Tigers.
The over/under for Ohio State-Clemson opened at 63; for LSU-Oklahoma, it’s at 75.
LSU and Oklahoma have squared off just twice previously, with the most recent matchup coming in 2004. Clemson and Ohio State have met three times in their collective histories, the most recent meeting coming in the 2016 College Football Playoff — a 31-0 win for the Tigers.
When it came to replacing the fired Chad Morris, Arkansas, as it turned out, didn’t have to look outside of the SEC.
Sunday, with one of its top targets, Lane Kiffin, already having been locked up by SEC West rival Ole Miss, Arkansas reportedly pivoted its attention to Georgia’s Sam Pittman. A few hours later, the Razorbacks confirmed that Pittman has been hired as the school’s next head football coach.
“Sam Pittman has been an integral part of successful teams that have competed at the highest levels, including for SEC and NCAA Championships,” UA athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “As one of the nation’s premier offensive line coaches, he has built a remarkable body of work thanks to his tremendous passion for his student-athletes, including teaching the fundamentals and developing his players on and off the field. Sam instills in his players the motivation, grit and determination required to compete and win. Throughout this process, I heard from many of his former players about the tremendous influence he had on them as a player and as a man.
“Sam knows the Southeastern Conference inside and out and is one of the nation’s best recruiters. His connections throughout football will enable him to build a quality coaching staff. In his previous tenure, Sam and his wife Jamie fell in love with the state of Arkansas and with Razorback fans. They know what a special place this is and are excited for the opportunity to come back to the Home of the Razorbacks.”
The hiring marks a return to Fayetteville for Pittman as he was a member of Bret Bielema‘s first coaching staff in 2013. In 2016, he left for Georgia, where he spent the past four seasons as the Bulldogs’ offensive line coach. He also served as Kirby Smart‘s associate head coach.
The 58-year-old Pittman will be officially introduced as the Razorbacks’ 34th head coach Monday afternoon.