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.
Just a few days ago, Kansas was bracing for the probability of not having leading rusher Khalil Herbert for an undetermined amount of time. Today, Kansas head coach Les Miles confirmed Herbert will not be back in a Kansas uniform at all.
“We would like to wish Khalil Herbert and his family well moving forward,” Miles said in a released statement. “With that said, Khalil is no longer a member of our football program and will not participate in any football activities.”
It was previously reported Herbert left the football program initially for personal reasons, the details of which were not revealed. Whatever the personal issues were off the field, it was clearly serious enough to no longer have Herbert be a member of the team, regardless of who made the decision.
Herbert left the team as the leading rusher for the Jayhawks with 384 yards. He rushed for 187 yards in a big road win at Boston College to help snap a long road losing streak against power-conference opponents for the Jayhawks.
The infamous transfer portal has a new name entered into the database as another week begins. This time it is Texas A&M fullback Ben Miles, who just so happens to be the son of Kansas head coach Les Miles. News of the latest addition to the transfer portal came via Cole Cubelic on Twitter.
The younger Miles is no stranger to the transfer process. It was just a little over a year ago Miles transferred to Texas A&M after starting his college football career in the Big Ten with Nebraska. Miles sat out the 2017 season as a redshirt player with the Huskers. Miles was not able to appear in any games for the Aggies last season due to NCAA transfer rules. The good news is Miles won’t have to sit out another full season before being eligible to play this fall if he lands at another FBS program because he has already sat out a season following his previous transfer.
So, if we connect the dots, it would seem like an obvious move to see Miles join his father in Lawrence, Kansas as the Jayhawks begin the Les Miles era. There is nothing out there suggesting that will be the move for Ben Miles yet, however.
Entering the transfer portal doesn’t mean Ben Miles won’t stay at Texas A&M. A player is free to withdraw his name from the portal at his leisure.
Kansas running back Pooka Williams will play for the Jayhawks this season. In a statement released today, Kansas confirmed Williams has been reinstated by new head coach Les Miles. Williams will serve a one-game suspension, which will be served during the season opener against Indiana State. Williams agreed to a diversion agreement in March over an alleged domestic violence incident.
Williams was suspended by Kansas in December 2018 following an arrest related to suspicion of domestic battery. An arrest affidavit reported the alleged victim accused Williams of grabbing her by the throat and punching her in the stomach.
“My behavior was unacceptable, and I’m very sorry to those who were impacted by my poor choices,” Williams stated in a released statement distributed by Kansas on Monday. “I am disappointed in myself, not just as a man, but as a student-athlete looked up to by younger kids. My suspension from football has been hard, but I have learned from it. I’m thankful I can continue with my education at KU. Looking ahead, the most important thing to me is to regain the trust and respect of my classmates, teammates, and fans. I am humbled to return to football and to prepare for the season.”
As part of his diversion agreement in March, Williams agreed to 40 hours of community service, going through an anger management course, and avoid alcohol and recreational drugs for 12 months. While he continues to fulfill those obligations, Williams will also be subject to guidelines mandated by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards on campus. According to a Lawrence Journal-World report, those requirements include being placed on probation for the remainder of his time at Kansas, regular meetings with a university conduct officer, an additional 40 hours of community service, and completion of a sexual violence accountability course through the university.
Williams rushed for 1,125 yards as a freshman for Kansas in 2018. He was named the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year.
Kansas head coach Les Miles has put a couple more pieces of his staff together with the addition to two new analysts and a director of video operations. Joining the Jayhawk football staff are Jay Niemann as a defensive analyst, Christopher Woods as an analyst, and Alex Knisely as Director of Video Operations.
Niemann spent the past three seasons as a defensive coordinator for Rutgers, and he brings plenty of coaching experience with him to Kansas. Prior to his stint at Rutgers in the Big Ten, Niemann coached the defense at Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa Hardin-Simmons University in Texas, and Drake. He certainly has some familiarity with the landscape of the Big 12, as he played football for Iowa State from 1979-1982.
Woods previously was the defensive coordinator at Columbia, a position he held since 2011. He has also made coaching stops at Bryant University, Harvard, Stonehill College and Mansfield, where he won PSAC Coach of the Year and was named the AFCA Region II coach of the year in 2003, before the university shut the football program down in 2006.
Analysts do not hold any coaching roles on the staff that have any direct coaching of players. Instead, they break down film and help prepare game plans and offer their insight in any way they can.
Kniseley comes to Kansas from Northwestern, where he spent the previous two seasons as an assistant director of video operations.