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Nick Saban takes jab at UCF’s “self-proclaimed” national title, but Gus Malzahn stays out of it

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Alabama head coach Nick Saban added another national title to his ever-growing list of achievements last January when the Crimson Tide rallied from behind to stun Georgia in overtime of the College Football Playoff national championship game. At the same time, UCF was busy celebrating their claim to a national title even if critics shrugged it aside. Although Saban offered some praise for what UCF accomplished last season, including beating an Auburn team that Saba’s Tide could not, Saban suggested that UCF’s claim to a national title carries little weight.

“I guess anybody has the prerogative to claim anything,” Saban said to USA Today, commenting on UCF’s claim to a national championship for the 2017 season. “But self-proclaimed is not the same as actually earning it. And there’s probably a significant number of people who don’t respect people who make self-proclaimed sort of accolades for themselves.”

Saban has a legitimate point, of course. Alabama may not have won their own division but they were selected by the College Football Playoff selection committee to participate in the four-team playoff to determine a true national champion. And to Alabama’s credit, they took advantage of that opportunity by dominating ACC champion Clemson in the national semifinal and then coming from behind to upset SEC champion Georgia. UCF may have gone undefeated last season, with wins against USF, Memphis and Auburn to close out their undefeated campaign, but years from now it will be widely accepted that Alabama was the national champion while UCF is still free to claim their national title as well. College football is loaded with claimed national titles, including some by Alabama of course, so what UCF is doing is nothing out of the ordinary for the history of the sport.

Of course, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn isn’t about to get caught up in the drama despite playing a key role into the Alabama-UCF national title debate.

“They played extremely well that day (in the Peach Bowl),” Malzahn said at a golf tournament, according to Al.com. “We didn’t play our best, but give those guys credit. They played extremely well and got after us.”

Realizing Malzahn didn’t exactly answer the question regarding the national championship claim by UCF, Malzahn stood his ground when asked again.

“They played real well that day,” Malzahn said, “and we didn’t play that well.”

It must be a tough spot for Malzahn seeing as Alabama is his top rival and the other team claiming a national title is using his Auburn team to help support the argument.

Former UCF head coach and current Nebraska head coach Scott Frost has no regrets over his comments about likely not standing behind UCF’s national title claim the way the school has gone about it.

Findings from Maryland football culture investigation to be revealed within next two weeks

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The University of Maryland’s Board of Regents will review the information gathered from an investigation into the football culture of the Maryland football program on Friday behind a closed session. The information from that report will then be made public within the next two weeks, according to a statement from the University System of Maryland on Wednesday.

The Board of Regents is scheduled for a regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, October 19. Part of the agenda for that meeting will be the closed session to review the independent investigation’s report on the state of the football culture allegations made against the Maryland football program under head coach D.J. Durkin. Durkin remains on an administrative leave with the program despite the football season continuing on under interim head coach Matt Canada. The board will meet again on Tuesday, October 23 in a special session to discuss the investigation and its findings. At that time, the board will begin making decisions on how to address the report, which may include determining the fate of Durkin as head coach of the Terrapins. However, no media availability or statements will be made following the special session on Tuesday.

However, according to the released statement with the updated timeline from the board of regents, the findings of the investigation are expected to be released to the public within one week of the special session scheduled for Oct. 23.

“We have said from the beginning that, if true, the allegations related to the culture of the football program at the University of Maryland, College Park are unacceptable,” said USM Board of Regents Chair James T. Brady.  “We have also said we are determined to get all the facts possible before acting.”

This investigation is separate from the previously revealed investigation that took a closer examination into the death of football player Jordan McNair, although it would not be shocking to learn the McNair situation was a key focus of this investigation. Allegations of coaches verbally abusing players and forcing players to work through grueling conditions have painted a negative image for the Maryland football program, and Durkin in particular. For now, Durkin remains Maryland’s head coach, but we should know whether or not that will remain to be true as early as next week.

Utah going with terrific throwback uniform this week

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When college football teams decide to suit up in a throwback look, it is more than often an awesome sight to see. That will be the case this week when Utah squares off against USC in what has become a key game in the Pac-12 South standings.

This is the same throwback design Utah has adopted in recent years, but it is always a nice sight to see when they pop up. The design is inspired by the look of the Utah programs of the past with the 1960s era represented by a white helmet with interlocking “UU” for the University of Utah on the helmet. The stripes on the jerseys and pants are inspired by the look from the uniforms used between the 1970s and 1990s. The font of the uniform numbers is also taken from the 1970s era of the Utes.

Utah is 2-2 in the Pac-12 but a win against USC (3-1 in Pac-12 play) would give the Utes a chance to take control of the Pac-12 South thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Trojans if they can come out on top this week. Colorado is 2-1 in the Pac-12 after losing to USC last weekend, but Utah and Colorado will face each other in a divisional showdown in the next-to-last week of the regular season. Colorado is also playing at Washington this weekend, which should be a tough matchup. Utah has their own challenges ahead. A home game against Oregon in early November could be a key game as the Pac-12 South continues to play out if Utah can grab a win against USC.

With Auburn’s bowl outlook becoming tense, Gus Malzahn sticks with Jarrett Stidham for better or worse

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If any Auburn fan was even thinking that the time has come for Auburn to make a change at quarterback after the Tigers suffered their second loss at home and their third loss overall this season, Gus Malzahn isn’t having it. Malzahn confirmed this week Jarrett Stidham will remain the starting quarterback for the Tigers as they look to turn things around in the second half of the regular season and try to avoid finishing the year in the bottom half of the SEC West.

Jarrett Stidham will be our starting quarterback,” Malzahn said this week, according to Al.com. “He needs to protect the football better; he understands that, but I do have confidence in him and I think he’ll lead us in the right way moving forward.”

After seven games, Stidham is the SEC’s 10th-rated quarterback in passer rating with 1,499 passing yards and seven touchdowns with four interceptions. Last season, Stidham had 3,158 passing yards with 18 touchdowns to six interceptions. Stidham passed for 322 yards and two touchdowns but had two interceptions and a fumble in Auburn’s home loss to Tennessee last weekend.

After the loss to Tennessee, Malzahn said he would begin assessing all areas of the team and make adjustments where he feels they are needed (similar to Miami head coach Mark Richt and his approach after Miami’s second loss of the year; Miami has since made a QB change).

Stidham is overwhelmingly Auburn’s most experienced quarterback, so making any changes would have been a bit surprising. Freshman Cord Sandberg has appeared in just one game this year, attempting and completing one pass for 22 yards. Sophomore Malik Willis has appeared in three games, completing one of two attempts for three yards.

Auburn, already at 1-3 in the SEC standings, will play at Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon. The Rebels are 5-2 and could deal a tough blow for Auburn’s chances of becoming bowl-eligible. Auburn still has home games against Texas A&M and Liberty and road games against Georgia and Alabama this season. Auburn must win two of their remaining games in order to go to a bowl game, and a loss to Ole Miss could make those home games against the Aggies and Liberty must-win games.

It’s going to be Stidham’s job to get Auburn to a bowl game.

Mark Richt going back to Malik Rosier at QB

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Earlier this week, Miami head coach Mark Richt suggested he was going to take time in the off week to assess the state of the program in all areas. The quarterback position was on that to-do list, and it appears Richt is starting his changes in the off week by getting Malik Rosier ready to hop back in the saddle of the Miami offense.

Speaking on the ACC coaches conference call on Wednesday, Richt said Rosier will return to the role as starter for Miami when the Hurricanes come off their bye week on the road next week at Boston College. Rosier will take over as the starter after a rough performance by N’Kosi Perry in a road loss at Virginia. Richt did say both of his top quarterbacks should be expected to play against Boston College, suggesting there is now a bit of an open competition for the starting job right in the middle of the season.

Perry replaced Rosier as Miami’s starter at the end of September, a month that saw Rosier start the year leading Miami’s offense and getting thumped by an LSU program that has clearly made a name for itself after their week one victory over the Hurricanes. Miami’s offense put up points in games after that, but Perry appeared to give the offense a brief spark that was missing with Rosier on the field. But, that ride has ended for Perry for now.

Coming out of a bye week for the second half of the season with an open-ended question at quarterback is far from ideal, but making a decision on who will start the next game and making the change now, during a bye week before a road game in ACC play (and a possible must-win situation for Miami), makes sense for Richt if the goal is to have his starting quarterback as prepared as possible.