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Lane Kiffin out as Alabama’s OC a week before College Football Playoff title game

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Lane Kiffin has taken his final you-know-what-chewing on the sideline from Nick Saban.

In an unprecedented stunner, Alabama announced Monday — a week before it defends its College Football Playoff title against Clemson — that Kiffin will leave the program to focus on his new head coaching duties at Florida Atlantic. Steve Sarkisian, the former Washington and USC coach who was set to replace Kiffin as offensive coordinator next season, will take over those duties for the championship game.

“We appreciate all that Lane has done for our football program over the last three years,” Saban said. “We sat down following the Washington game and talked about the time demands of managing both jobs, and we recognized that it is best for our players, and for Lane, that we allow him to turn his full attention to his new head coaching role at FAU.

“This wasn’t an easy decision and we appreciate the way Lane handled this in terms of doing what is best for our team. At the end of the day, both of us wanted to put our players in the best position to be successful. Obviously, we are in a unique situation here where we have our next offensive coordinator already on staff. We have full confidence that Sark will step in right away and make this a smooth transition.”

Alabama’s offense struggled at times in its 24-7 win over Washington in Saturday’s Peach Bowl semifinal, and freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts completed just seven of 14 passes for 57 yards. Bo Scarbrough‘s 68-yard touchdown run and a suffocating defense bailed out Kiffin’s offense in Atlanta.

But changing offensive coordinators a week before a title game? That seems downright crazy if it were a decision made by any other coach than Saban. This may be a shocking part of the “process,” but who are we to not trust Saban?

“After going through these last couple of weeks, trying to serve the best interests of two universities as an offensive coordinator and a head coach, it became apparent that both programs would be better served by me giving all my time and efforts to being the head coach at FAU,” Kiffin said. “After meeting with coach Saban during preparations last night and this morning, we mutually decided that it was in everyone’s best interests for the players and the program for coach Sarkisian to take over all responsibilities as offensive coordinator for the championship game.

“This was a very difficult decision, but it’s a decision made in the best interests of the program. I look forward to helping Alabama win another championship, and would like to thank coach Saban, the staff, and all the players and fans for the past three years at UA for an unforgettable time and championship run. Roll Tide!”

Ex-Oklahoma four-star DE Ron Tatum Jr. commits UTSA

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UTSA is now the home for a one-time, big-time football recruit.  Unofficially, the Roadrunners are his new home we should say.

On his personal Twitter account this week, Ron Tatum Jr., announced that he has committed to the UTSA football team.  The defensive lineman spent the 2019 season at Northeast Oklahoma A&M.

Tatum would be eligible to play for the Conference USA school in 2020, although 247Sports.com lists his class as 2021.

“I want to start out by saying God is great and he steady showing me he has a plan,” the lineman wrote. “I want to Thank my entire family, my siblings and especially my dad and mom for staying with me and believing in me through this challenging journey.  I also want to Thank NEO Football and the University, especially Coach Allen and Coach Crissup for always pushing me and believing me when things got tough.

“With that being said I’ll be committing to the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)! Thanks you Coach Traylor and Coach Wright for giving me another opportunity.”

Tatum was a four-star member of Oklahoma’s Class of 2018.  The Oklahoma City native was rated as the No. 3 player regardless of position in the Sooner State.  He was also the No. 5 strongside defensive end in the country.

Tatum took a redshirt as a true freshman for the Sooners.  In February of 2019, the 6-5, 270-pound end entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.

UTSA is coming off a 4-8 2019 football campaign.  The Roadrunners are now 19-29 under head coach Frank Wilson.  The C-USA school is scheduled to open the 2020 season against defending national champ LSU.  In Baton Rouge.

Kent State QB Marquez Glover makes move to the transfer portal

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It’s been a rough last few weeks for the Kent State football program

It’s starting punter the past three years, Derek Adams, transferred to Northwestern.  Duke linebacker Jacob Morgenstern, who had committed to Kent State football in March, opted late last month to transfer to Texas Tech instead.

Now, 247Sports.com has reported, quarterback Marquez Glover has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.  As he’ll be just a redshirt sophomore entering 2020, Glover will very likely have to sit out the 202 season.  That would leave him with two years of eligibility moving forward in 2021.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Grover was a member of the Kent State football Class of 2018.  The Florida prospect didn’t see the field in the regular season during his time with the MAC school.  He did, though, show flashes of talent during the 2019 spring game.

Kent State is coming off just its fifth bowl-eligible football season in the past four decades. The Golden Flashes also captured their first-ever bowl win following the 2019 regular season.

Nebraska will allow football players to return to campus for voluntary workouts June 1

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Count Nebraska as the latest football domino to fall.

Last week, the NCAA announced that it would allow schools to bring its student-athletes back to campus for voluntary workouts starting June 1.  The SEC subsequently confirmed its players would be returning June 8.  Both Ohio State and Illinois from the Big Ten will be doing the same on the same date.  And, as far as that goes, so are Clemson and Louisville.

Friday, Nebraska announced that it will be getting a one-week jump on its Bi1G counterpart by allowing student-athletes, including football players, to return to campus starting June 1.  Not surprisingly, the university has constructed a detailed plan with protocols that will allow Nebraska football players and others to return safely as they prepare for the upcoming seasons.

From the school’s release outlining testing measures and safety procedures:

  • The first step in the plan for student-athletes who are outside of Lincoln is the gathering of pre-travel information and education, followed by guidelines for traveling back to Lincoln.
  • All student-athletes returning to Lincoln from an outside location will quarantine for a minimum of 48 hours when arriving in Lincoln. Student-athletes living by themselves off campus may quarantine at their home, while those living on campus will quarantine in a designated on-campus dormitory.
  • Following the completion of the quarantine period, the student-athlete will be required to be tested for COVID-19 and return a confirmed negative result before being allowed to access athletic department facilities.
  • Any student-athlete returning a positive test will be required to remain at their residence and self-isolate and follow positive test guidelines. A student-athlete who tests positive will be required to secure two negative tests before completing the self-isolation period.
  • Once a student-athlete is cleared to access athletic facilities for a voluntary workout, they will follow a series of guidelines to help ensure the safest and cleanest workout environment possible:
  1. Workouts will be conducted in small groups and must be in accordance with all local and state guidelines.
  2. Student-athletes will have daily symptom checks and receive instant-read temperature checks prior to entering the facility.
  3. Once cleared to enter the facility, student-athletes will be required to wear a daily wrist band to exhibit medical clearance.
  4. Student-athlete access in the athletic facilities will be limited only to areas that are related to participating in voluntary workouts. Locker room access will not be allowed at this time.
  • Protocols are also in place for handwashing, distancing during workouts, disinfecting equipment between lifts and workouts, and laundry services.

“The plan we have developed is done with the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and community as our top priority,” Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos said in a statement. “We have strict protocol that will involve quarantines, testing and detailed cleaning and safety measures. The guidelines we have in place will be strictly followed as our student-athletes return to prepare for their upcoming seasons.”

Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood seeking immediate eligibility at Kentucky

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Kentucky may not immediately have a Power Five football transfer at its disposal.  Or, it may.  Depends.

Joey Gatewood decided in late October of last year to transfer from Auburn.  On the Tigers quarterback’s transfer to-do list were Florida, Kentucky, LSU and Mississippi State, among others.  In early December, Gatewood opted to transfer to Kentucky.

Normally, Gatewood would have to sit out the 2020 season for the Wildcats.  However, the player and the Kentucky football program will seek a waiver that would allow Gatewood to play this upcoming campaign.  That process began in the spring.

The basis for which a waiver is being sought is unclear.

A four-star 2018 signee, Gatewood was rated as the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Florida and the No. 49 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  The Jacksonville product was the highest-rated signee in the Tigers’ class that year.

After redshirting as a true freshman — and after losing out on the starting job to Bo Nix — Gatewood threw for 54 yards and two touchdowns prior to his decision to transfer.  He also added another 148 yards and three scores on the ground.

Terry Wilson Will Likely head into summer camp as QB1 for UK.  Wilson began 2019 as the starter before a knee injury sidelined him for the rest of the season.  His replacement, Sawyer Smith, also suffered a season-ending injury.  And will also return for 2020.