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Legendary coaches Nick Saban, Bill Belichick have yet to overlap championship success

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Over the course of the past decade, there is little argument that Alabama head coach Nick Saban and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick have been the best in the business. Between them, the two coaches have a total of 11 outright championship rings to go along with a handful of more conference championships to their names. If a Mount Rushmore of football coaches were to be sculpted today, these two would certainly be the first two faces to go up on the side of the mountain. Yet, for all the championship success these two legendary football coaches have achieved, they have also somehow failed to experience the thrill of a championship victory in the same season even once.

Belichick’s latest Super Bowl victory on Sunday with the New England Patriots topping the Los Angeles Rams continued one of the more fascinating streaks in the football world. Since 2009, no football season has ended with both Belichick and Saban winning a championship in the same year.

Technically speaking, the streak goes back prior to 2009, but most recognize the start of the streak with Saban’s first BCS national championship in his second season with Alabama. Belichick won an AFC East division title with the Patriots that season but took an early exit in the wild card round against the Baltimore Ravens. The following year, Saban and Alabama failed to win the SEC thanks to a magical run by Cam Newton and Auburn that left the Crimson Tide resorting to play in the Capital One Bowl. Meanwhile, AFC East champion New England were upset in the AFC Divisional Round by the New York Jets. Saban struck back with back-to-back BCS national championships in 2011 and 2012. We came close to a Saban-Belichick combo in the 2011 season, but the New York Giants upset the Patriots in the Super Bowl and the Patriots were taken out by the Ravens once again the following season in the AFC Championship Game.

Auburn once again got in the way of a potential national championship run by Alabama in 2013, leading the Crimson Tide to lose in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma at the end of the year. The Patriots once again took a loss in the AFC Championship Game, this time on the road against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. The following season, Belichick picked up his first Super Bowl championship since 2004 with a win against the Seattle Seahawks, but Saban and Alabama were taken out of the inaugural College Football Playoff by Ohio State in the first round.

Alabama picked up Saban’s first College Football Playoff national championship in 2015, but the Patriots were once again thwarted by Manning and the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game. Saban and Alabama lost a rematch with Clemson the following season, but Belichick saw his Patriots come back form a 28-3 deficit against the Atlanta Falcons to win the Super Bowl in the 2016 season. Last year, it was Saban getting the upper hand in the College Football Playoff championship with an overtime victory over Georgia in the national championship game in Atlanta. A few weeks later, Belichick and the Patriots fell victim to the Philly Special against the Philadelphia Eagles.

which brings us to this most recent season. The 2018 football season ended with Belichick winning yet another Super Bowl mere weeks after Saban suffered one of the worst postseason losses of his career against Clemson in the national championship game. And the streak continues.

For those keeping score in South Carolina, and I know some of you are, Belichick and Dabo Swinney have won a championship in the same season in two of the last three seasons. Could this turn into its own trend?

Former Bengals offensive coordinator reportedly joining Florida support staff

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Former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese is joining Florida’s staff as an analyst, according to Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Benoit.

Zampese spent the 2016-17 seasons as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator after serving 13 seasons as Marvin Lewis‘s quarterbacks coach. Cincinnati went 13-18-1 in Zampese’s two seasons running the offense, which is why he spent 2018 as the Cleveland Browns’ quarterbacks coach and the first part of 2019 as the offensive coordinator for the AAF’s Atlanta Legends.

He is the son of former Chargers, Rams, Cowboys and Patriots offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese.

It is not immediately known what the younger Zampese’s role will be with the Gators, but his experience indicates he’ll work with Dan Mullen and coordinators John Hevesy and Billy Gonzales to develop Florida’s offensive plan and help Brian Johnson tutor the quarterbacks, or perhaps use his coordinator experience to self-scout Florida’s offense and scout Florida’s future opponents.

Arizona launched hostile workplace probe following sexual harassment claims against Wildcat football players

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Arizona launched a hostile workplace investigation into its football program following multiple claims of sexual assault and sexual harassment made by multiple female equipment managers against multiple former Wildcat football players, the program confirmed to the Tucson Daily Star.

Lawyers representing the university did not say when the probe took place, but did say it was sparked by two complaints made by female equipment mangers. From the paper:

In 2014, two UA students who worked as equipment managers separately reported incidents involving nonconsensual sex with football players. In August of that year, police were told that a 21-year-old woman working for the athletic department had sex at least twice with three UA football players while the she was heavily intoxicated. One of the players recorded at least one of the encounters and showed it to other students, the report said.

The woman told police that she lost her job after the recording was released, according to the report.

….

While investigating the woman’s claim, UA’s Title IX office approached former manager Jacquelyn Hinek, who had quit her job months before, citing pervasive sexual harassment. After speaking to UA investigators, Hinek told Tucson police that she had been sexually assaulted in April 2013 by several men associated with the football team while at an off-campus party. She said the incident was recorded on a cell phone and later shown to other students. 

“The Office of Institutional Equity conducted a thorough review of the football equipment manager program and there were no findings of sex discrimination as a result of that investigation,” UA spokesman Chris Sigurdson told the paper via email.

The probe was one of three major investigations into the football program.

Arizona is currently being sued for Title IX violations by an alleged victim of former Wildcats running back Orlando Bradford, whom the victim says hit, choked and imprisoned her over a 2-day period in September 2016. Bradford is currently serving a 5-year prison sentence, but the Title IX suit seeks to depose a number of key figures within the football program, including former head coach Rich Rodriguez, who himself was the subject of a hostile workplace investigation in 2017. Allegations of sexual harassment made by his former assistant led to his dismissal last January. Rodriguez has denied any sexual harassment claims, arguing instead they were an extortion attempt against him.

In total, Arizona said it investigated 27 athletes or athletic department employees for sexual harassment, sexual assault or domestic violence from 2012 through ’17 (the period coinciding with Rodriguez’s hiring and firing), eight of them involving the football program.

UConn reportedly looking to keep football program in FBS, not FCS

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All the reporting that came out since the bombshell reports saying Connecticut is looking to leave the American Athletic Conference to rejoin the non-football Big East have confirmed that, yes, this is really happening, likely in time for the 2020-21 athletic year. The reporting has also said that UConn’s soon-to-be-homeless football program will not drop down to FCS, but instead join a different conference or try to make it as an FBS independent.

On Saturday, Stadium’s Brett McMurphy tweeted that UConn has determined it will not return to FCS, where the program competed for most of its history before joining the then-power conference Big East in 2004.

On Sunday morning, NCAA.com’s Andy Katz followed with a note saying it looked like the Huskies will try to make a go of it as an independent, writing that UConn will attempt to schedule neighbors like UMass (a fellow independent), Boston College, Syracuse and Rutgers while honoring existing contracts for home-and-homes with Duke, Illinois, NC State and others.

For a check in with someone who might actually know something, let’s see what Huskies head coach Randy Edsall has to say.

Oh, well.

Either way, it sounds like the train is moving and we could hear something official sooner rather than later.

Steve Spurrier getting into the restaurant business

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Steve Spurrier hasn’t coached a college football team since 2015, but that doesn’t mean the Head Ball Coach has retired.

The former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and national championship head coach returned to his alma mater to serve as a brand ambassador in 2016, he’s appeared in commercials, and he won a self-proclaimed championship as head coach of the Orlando Apollos of the short-lived Alliance of American Football.

Now, he’s getting into the restaurant business.

On Friday, it was reported the 74-year-old Spurrier will announce that he’s seeking a partner to “operate his new American casual dining concept.”

Details are scarce at this point–that’s probably the point of the press conference–but I’m imagining Margaritaville with footballs. We’ll find out on Monday.