Arizona has officially added a well-traveled assistant coach with a bit of experience within the Pac-12. Greg Burns was named the defensive backs coach, officially, by Arizona and head coach Kevin Sumlin on Monday, although Burns has already been working with the staff in Tucson.
“We are obviously in a very unique time, and the importance of surrounding ourselves with men such as Greg is crucial in the development of our student-athletes on and off the field,” Sumlin said in a released statement. “We are fortunate to have Greg with our secondary during this time,” Sumlin said. “He brings more than 20 years of experience coaching in the secondary with a successful track record in recruiting and development. His Pac-12 experience, professionalism and passion for the game will be a great addition to our staff. He is more than qualified to help lead our student-athletes during this unique time.”
According to a release from Arizona, Burns began working at Arizona on March 9.
This is the fourth stop at a Pac-12 program for Burns since 2014. Burns was a defensive backs coach for California from 2014 through 2016. Burns later became a part of the Oregon State coaching staff in 2018, followed by one season with the USC Trojans before being a casualty of offseason coaching changes.
Burns has been an assistant coach working with defensive backs and cornerbacks since 1997, beginning with Idaho State. Other stops in Burns’ coaching journey have included Louisville, Kansas State, Arizona State, Purdue, and UMass. Burns had a p[revious stop at USC from 2002 through 2005. He also coached one season in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2006.
It’s that time of the year again when we are regularly reminded that Alabama head coach Nick Saban has never lost to an assistant coach during his coaching career. That perfect streak will once again be put on the line this weekend when the top-ranked Crimson Tide make their way to College Station, Texas to face the No. 24 Texas A&M Aggies. Texas A&M, of course, is coached by Jimbo Fisher. You guessed it. Fisher is a former assistant to Saban.
Fisher has gone 0-2 against his former boss, including last season’s loss in SEC play. Last season marked the first time Fisher faced Saban as a coach of an SEC West Division foe. His previous loss to Saban came while coaching at Florida State when the No. 3 Seminoles opened the 2017 season with a 24-7 loss to No. 1 Alabama in the season opener in Atlanta, Georgia. The most-hyped Week 1 game in quite some time ended up being far from able to match the preseason hype. Florida State hasn’t exactly been the same since and may still be trying to recover from that game.
The odds always seem to be in Saban’s favor, as he generally has the best team in every matchup against his former assistants, and that should once again be the case this weekend. Is Saban due for a loss against an assistant? Perhaps. It’s hard to win so many games before taking a mild hit somewhere along the way, even if by a fluke. Fisher may have Texas A&M working to be a viable threat to Alabama, and maybe playing at home helps, but the Aggies have already lost one game at home to Auburn so it doesn’t seem like this may be a difficult destination for Alabama.
Brett McMurphy of Stadium notes Saban has lost to just nine active coaches. Active coaches with victories against Saban are Les Miles (Kansas; 3), Hugh Freeze (Liberty; 2), Gus Malzahn (Auburn; 2), Dabo Swinney (Clemson; 2), Mack Brown (UNC; 2), David Cutcliffe (Duke; 1), Kirk Ferentz (Iowa; 1), Kevin Sumlin (Arizona; 1) and Kyle Whittingham (1; Utah). Only four of those coaches (Malzahn, Swinney, Ferentz, Whittingham) are at the same program today as they were when they topped Saban. Swinney and Brown, of course, have victories against Saban in the national championship game (Brown in the BCS and Swinney twice in the College Football Playoff).
Is Fisher going to be the first former Saban assistant to beat his old boss? We’ll find out this week. If not, we may be waiting for Kirby Smart to get another crack in the SEC Championship Game.
Following a tumultuous week that included accusations of recruiting violations by Texas A&M and the release of a controversial video that included a racial slur directed at black players at Texas A&M, Arizona and former Texas A&M linebacker Santino Marchiol may have burned yet another bridge. On Monday, Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin announced Marchiol is no longer a part of the program at Arizona.
Marchiol claims Texas A&M linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto presented him with cash in exchange for hosting recruits on two separate occasions. Marchiol also accused defensive coordinator Mike Elko of having players practice after hours restricted by the NCAA. The claims have sparked some concern for Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M, although Fisher has denied having any knowledge of such violations at his new program. Former Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight contested Marchiol’s claims as well.
In recent days, a video surfaced that appeared to include Marchiol saying a racial slur about his black teammates at Texas A&M. Sumlin, the former head coach at Texas A&M, offered Marchiol a place to transfer from Texas A&M but has no time to waste on this kind of drama as he gets started at Arizona. By removing Marchiol from the Arizona program, te validity of Marchiol’s connection to the controversial video appears to have been confirmed by enough people in power at Arizona.
Well, this might sting a little for Texas A&M. Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham shared his experience in the recruiting process at SEC Media Days in Atlanta, claiming to be the one trying to sell himself more to Texas A&M than Texas A&M tried recruiting him when Stidham opted to leave Baylor.
“Honestly, [former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin], he didn’t recruit me too hard,” Stidham said. “I probably tried to recruit myself to A&M a little harder. Just because it was in-state, it was right down the road from where I was there in Waco.”
Originally a four-star recruit of Baylor in the Class of 2015, Stidham transferred from Baylor in the wake of the sexual assault scandal with the program in the summer of 2016. Five months later, Stidham announced his decision to transfer to Auburn for the 2017 season. This will be Stidham’s second season starting for the Tigers after passing for 3,158 yards and 18 touchdowns last season.
Why would Texas A&M not go after such a talented quarterback that was showing great interest in playing for them? It may because the urgency in adding a quarterback may not have felt like a pressing need for Texas A&M heading into the 2017 season. The Aggies had freshman Kellen Mond coming in as a five-star recruit in the Class of 2017. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but Mond appeared in 10 games for Texas A&M and completed 51.5 percent of his passes for 1,375 yards and eight touchdowns with six interceptions. He also rushed for 340 yards and three touchdowns for the Aggies.
Texas A&M went 7-6 last season, while Auburn knocked off both Alabama and Georgia in the regular season to advance to the SEC Championship Game. How many fans in College Station are wondering if the fate of the 2017 season would have been changed drastically if Sumlin decided Stidham would be his guy instead of Mond? Would it have made much of a difference for the Aggies (and for that matter, Auburn)?
As Stidham said to the media, it all worked out for him. Sumlin ended up losing his job and is now the head coach at Arizona, while former Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher is getting prepared for his season as the new (handsomely paid) head coach of Texas A&M.
If you were wondering, Stidham also completed 20-of-27 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in a 42-27 victory over Texas A&M in Kyle Field last November.
With Arizona taking members of the athletics department across the state to meet alums and fans, one particular stop ruffled more than enough feathers in Tempe to cause some problems. Tempe, of course, is the home to Arizona State, and Sun Devil fans were none too pleased to hear the rival Wildcats were planning a road tour stop at a local brewery.
A free event for Arizona fans featuring new head coach Kevin Sumlin was to take place at Pedal Haus Brewery in Tempe on Monday, May 21. However, after the venue received numerous complaints from Arizona State fans, the event was moved to a different location located in Scottsdale.
Making this a bit more humorous is the owner of the Pedal Haus Brewery is an Arizona State alum. So how does the owner of the pub allow for an Arizona event to be approved? According to a report from ABC 15, the owner of the brewery was approached about the event by a third party and was unaware the event was to serve as a Wildcat off-season rally.
“Our commitment is to ASU. Always has been and always will be,” Pedal Haus Brewery owner Julian Wright said. “We’re big fans and big supporters of the university and the sports program.”
The brewery is located about one mile off Arizona State’s campus. Nice try by Arizona, you have to admit.