Drew Brees

Colts and Giants may make sense for Nick Saban, but not as much as Alabama

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Alabama head coach Nick Saban has won national titles at two different college football programs. He has coached a Heisman Trophy winner. He has enough SEC championship and bowl championship rings to open a jewelry exchange. He is handsomely paid to be the head coach at one of the biggest programs in the sport. Why would he leave? If there is anything that could pry Saban away from Alabama, a chance to redeem himself in the NFL would seem to be among the most logical possibilities.

Saban recently caused a mild stir when he suggested he would likely still be coaching the NFL’s Miami Dolphins if the franchise just listened to him and allow him to sign free agent quarterback Drew Brees, the man who actually got Purdue to a Rose Bowl. The Dolphins ended up acquiring Daunte Culpepper via trade with the Minnesota Vikings that spring and former Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington via trade with the Detroit Lions. Good thinking there Miami. Saban eventually left the Dolphins to become the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, where he had the luxury of choosing his own quarterback on a yearly basis without interference from a front office. Needless to say, things have gone well for Saban in Tuscaloosa. Saban’s comments about his past at Miami though got Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk to think maybe this is an indication, or a secret code Saban is sending to those receiving the message in the NFL. Is Saban saying he is ready for a return to the NFL?

Florio says Saban may be saying he would be interested in returning to the NFL if the right team with the right franchise quarterback in place happened to come calling. The two franchises that make the most sense? The Indianapolis Colts (Andrew Luck) and the New York Giants (Eli Manning).

Personally, I can’t see Saban coaching anywhere else but Alabama. In my mind, Saban is far more likely to retire for good before jumping back into the world of the NFL. There was a time I thought Saban could potentially flirt with trying to redeem himself at the NFL level after things went south with the Dolphins, but Saban has just too good of a thing going at Alabama. From the rich contract and the ability to be in full control of whatever he wants, there are very few jobs out there that would make sense to Alabama to take up. As much as coaching in the NFL is considered the top level of the coaching profession, Saban has been there and seen the drawbacks firsthand. why get caught up in that again when you can keep plugging away and building national title contenders until retirement?

Drew Brees donates $1 million back to Purdue football

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dIt has been a while since Purdue had a player of the caliber of Drew Brees, a Super Bowl MVP on top of a long list of NFL accolades to his name. Brees has had quite the NFL career, but it started for him at Purdue, where he helped take Purdue to a Rose Bowl appearance (seriously, Purdue played in the Rose Bowl), and he continues to give back to support the program that helped prepare him for the NFL.

Purdue released a statement today to announce the acceptance of a $1 million from Brees and his wife, Brittany. The donation helps to fund the school’s Purdue Football Master Plan. The master plan is the product of current athletics director Morgan Burke and head coach Darrell Hazell to improve the state of the football program through raising funds to improve facilities and resources for the program. Purdue has won four games over the past two seasons and Hazell is entering his third year on the job. With the support of Boilermaker alums and stars like Brees, Purdue can continue to focus on taking the next step in what could be a lengthy rebuilding project.

“We care so much about Purdue University,” Brees said in a released statement. “Purdue has meant so much to me, and it has provided so many things. From the education I received and playing for coach Joe Tiller, to winning a Big Ten championship and going to the Rose Bowl, to the relationships I was able to form with many of my teammates and meeting my beautiful wife … we are so blessed and so thankful.”

Brees and his wife made a $2 million donation to Purdue back in 2007, which was intended to help improve academic resources in the athletics program.

SEC leads all conferences with Madden NFL video game covers

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There may no longer be an NCAA Football video game produced by EA Sports, but that does not mean the SEC cannot find one more thing to brag about. With wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants, and previously of LSU, being named the cover athlete for Madden NFL 16, the annual NFL video game published by EA Sports, the SEC now has four all-time cover athletes on the most popular sports video game in the country. No other active conference has more than two Madden cover athletes.

LSU’s Beckham Jr. is the first Tigers player to appear on the cover of Madden. He joins Georgia’s Garrison Hearst (Madden NFL 99, the first cover athlete in the franchise’s history), Alabama’s Shaun Alexander (Madden NFL 07) and Peyton Hillis of Arkansas (Madden NFL 12). The SEC actually ties the old Big East for most all-time cover athletes. The Big East is the only conference to have a former Big East player appear on the cover in three successive seasons with Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick (Madden NFL 2004), Miami’s Ray Lewis (Madden NFL 2005) and Syracuse’s Donovan McNabb (Madden NFL 06). The Big East’s last representative on the cover was former Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (Madden NFL 10).

The ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 all have had two cover athletes each. Joining the Big East in the defunct conference category of Madden cover athletes are the Big 8 and WAC, each with one cover athlete. Barry Sanders (Madden NFL 25; he technically appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 2000 too, but that was as a background image behind John Madden) of Oklahoma State played in the Big 8 and Marshall Faulk (Madden NFL 2003) played at San Diego State when the Aztecs were in the WAC.

One more note for those with an interest. Two players from independent programs have been featured on the cover of the Madden NFL series, and neither hailed from Notre Dame. UCF’s Daunte Culpepper (Madden NFL 2002) and Southern Mississippi’s Brett Favre (Madden NFL 09) have each graced the cover. At the time these quarterbacks were throwing passes on Saturday afternoons though, both programs were independent programs.

What about Heisman Trophy winners on the cover? There have been three of them on the cover of Madden. In addition to Sanders, Ohio State’s Eddie George (Madden NFL 2001) and Vince Young of Texas (Madden NFL 08) have appeared on the cover of the game.

Madden NFL 99 – Garrison Hearst, Georgia

Madden NFL 2000 – John Madden (Barry Sanders was in the background image, but not specifically featured)

Madden NFL 2001 – Eddie George, Ohio State

Madden NFL 2002 – Daunte Culpepper, UCF

Madden NFL 2003 – Marshall Faulk, San Diego State, WAC

Madden NFL 2004 – Michael Vick, Virginia Tech

Madden NFL 2005 – Ray Lewis, Miami

Madden NFL 06 – Donovan McNabb, Syracuse

Madden NFL 07 – Shaun Alexander, Alabama

Madden NFL 08 – Vince Young, Texas

Madden NFL 09 – Brett Favre, Southern Miss

Madden NFL 10 – Troy Polamalu, USC; Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh

Madden NFL 11 – Drew Brees, Purdue

Madden NFL 12 – Peyton Hillis, Arkansas

Madden NFL 13 – Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech

Madden NFL 25 – Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State; Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma

Madden NFL 15 – Richard Sherman, Stanford

Madden NFL 16 – Odell Beckham Jr., LSU