Nick Saban

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Nick Saban’s NFL draft yahtzee is complete with Tua Tagovailoa

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It is expected to be a big night for Alabama as the first round of the NFL draft rolls on, but Nick Saban already has one of his most elusive conquests squared away. Tua Tagovailoa became the first quarterback coached by Saban to be drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.

Tagovailoa was drafted by the Miami Dolphins with the fifth overall draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on Thursday night.

For all the success Saban has had at Alabama, including in the NFL draft, a first-round quarterback was more a dream than a reality until now. Prior to Tagovailoa, Alabama had just two quarterbacks drafted by an NFL franchise since Saban took over as head coach of the Crimson Tide. AJ McCarron went in the fifth round in 2014 to the Cincinnati Bengals. Greg McElroy, who now is a college football analyst for ESPN, was a seventh-round selection of the New York Jets.

Saban has now successfully coached a first-round draft pick at every position, with the notable exception of a specialist position (Alabama kickers, am I right?). This makes Saban the first coach to have coached a first-round draft pick at every non-specialist position, according to ESPN Stats and Info.

The last time Alabama had a first-round draft pick at the quarterback position was in 1976 when Richard Todd was taken sixth overall by the New York Jets. Two others have played quarterback for Alabama and gone in the first round. The first was Harry Gilmer in 1948. Gilmer was chosen first overall. Joe Namath was taken 12th overall in 1965. For those curious, Bart Starr, who went on to have a hall of fame career in the NFL, was a 17th round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 1956 (take THAT, Tom Brady).

Alabama could potentially tie a draft record with the most first-round draft picks. The record of six first-round draft picks is currently held by the Miami Hurricanes in the 2004 NFL draft.

Nick Saban wonders what college football will look like when it returns

Nick Saban
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Nobody knows for sure when college football will begin or how it may move forward. Not even Nick Saban, head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Making an appearance on The Paul Finebaum Show on SEC Network on Wednesday, Saban expressed his optimistic hope that his players will be able to start making their way back to Alabama’s campus later this summer and the season can go on as scheduled. But Saban is also doing what many of us are doing and sitting and waiting for the green light to get back in a more familiar routine.

“I think everybody knows that quite a bit of the revenue that supports all the sports at any university comes from football,” Saban said during his interview with Finebaum, as transcribed by BamaOnLine. “But you also have to make sure it’s going to be safe to be able to do it. I really can’t make any predictions. I’m hopeful that sometime in the summer the players can come back here and we can get around the players and they can get back to school.”

But the question of what the college football scene will look like when the sport does inevitably return is one Saban is just as stumped on as everybody else right now.

“Are we going to have seats between fans,” Saban asked out loud. “Are we going to come up with a solution that allows people to go to games? Are we going to have to test people to get in stadiums? Are we going to have to play games with nobody?”

Saban is naturally hopeful the COVID-19 outbreak can be combated as quickly as possible, and not just so he can get back to coaching. Saban also expressed a hope that some form of treatment even without an actual vaccine being available could accelerate a return to normalcy.

“Hopefully, if people knew they could be treated for this and they wouldn’t be at risk of fatality, they may be more at ease with what’s happening,” Saban said. “Hopefully, maybe something like that happens and maybe that accelerates the process of us getting back to sports and being able to have all sports.”

Saban went on to suggest he would ideally like to have four weeks available for conditioning before opening any fall camp, a sentiment that has been shared by other coaches around college football, give or take a week depending on the situation.

Helmet sticker to BamaOnLine for the Saban quotes.

Mike Stoops chooses to stay at Alabama instead of moving to Kentucky

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Despite previous reports suggesting Mike Stoops was about to join his brother at Kentucky, it appears Stoops will instead be staying put at Alabama. Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops confirmed his older brother would not be heading to Lexington and has decided to remain on the staff at Alabama.

Stoops has been a defensive analyst for Nick Saban, and he will continue to hold that role with the Crimson Tide.

“I tried to hire my brother Mike and get him on staff and that’s not going to work out, by his choice,” Mark Stoops said, according to Kentucky Sports Radio.

As stated by the head coach of Kentucky, Mike Stoops apparently enjoys his current position at Alabama and may see better opportunities to come if he stays put.

“Mike chose to stay, he likes what he’s doing, the learning he’s doing and the work he’s doing with [Nick Saban] at Alabama,” Mike Stoops added. “Mike’s a big picture guy, so the timing of this position and the capacity that it is, he decided to stay there and continue to recalibrate himself to come back as a coordinator, so he decided to stay.”

Mark Stoops is continuing to look to fill his tenth assistant coaching spot on the staff in Lexington.

Alabama strength coach Scott Cochran leaving Tide for new on-field coaching role at Georgia

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One of Alabama’s most recognized sideline personalities appears to be heading to another SEC program. Alabama strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran, a man whose identity has become as well known as any strength coach can possibly be over the last few years, is reportedly heading to Georgia to take on a brand new role.

There have been many reasons for Alabama’s overall success with Nick Saban as the head coach. Having Cochran on his staff has certainly been one of the key reasons because he has been recognized as one of the nation’s top strength and conditioning coach (he’s won the award for top strength coach twice). And it may not be much of a coincidence that Cochran has been one of the only assistants on the staff for each of Saban’s national championship seasons between Alabama and LSU. His voice and energy seen on the field in warmups and on the sidelines has become a draw for television cameras in more recent years and he has been one of the leaders in the movement to recognize more strength and conditioning coaches during gamedays.

It should come as little surprise Cochran would be an attractive option for Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, a former Alabama defensive coordinator who worked alongside Cochran in Tuscaloosa. What role Cochran will be taking on remains to be confirmed, however, as reports say he will not be Georgia’s strength and conditioning coach. That role is currently held by Scott Sinclair in Athens.

No matter what role Cochran takes at Georgia, and how that ultimately pans out for the Bulldogs, this is a notable loss for Saban and Alabama. Granted, Alabama should be able to find a more-than-qualified strength and conditioning coach to take over the very lucrative (and high-paying) job, so it’s not like this will turn Alabama football into a doormat (much to the dismay of Alabama haters around the SEC and beyond).

UPDATE (6:38 p.m. ET): Alabama head coach Nick Saban has issued a statement regarding the departure of his longtime strength coach:

All in (Stoops) family: Mike Stoops reportedly heading to Kentucky

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It looks as though another member of Nick Saban‘s ensemble of analysts is about to get back onto a sideline. Mike Stoops is reportedly close to heading to Kentucky, where he would take on an assistant coaching position for his brother, Mark Stoops.

A report by Football Scoop on Wednesday says Mike Stoops is expected to take on a portion of the defensive secondary coaching responsibilities for the Wildcats. He would be sharing those duties with Steve Clinkscale, who will also be adding the title of pass game coordinator for Kentucky, according to Football Scoop.

Stoops coached defensive backs throughout his coaching career, beginning in 1991 with Iowa and continuing in 1997 at Kansas State. After two seasons coaching the defensive backs for Kansas State and taking on the role of co-defensive coordinator, Stoops headed to Oklahoma, where he was a member of his older brother Bob Stoops‘ staff. Mike stoops was named the head coach of Arizona after the 2003 season and coached the Pac-10 (at the time) program for eight seasons. He returned to Oklahoma in 2012 and stayed with the Sooners for seven seasons before Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley moved in a new direction with his defensive staff.

Stoops then surfaced at Alabama taking on a role as a defensive analyst for Saban. As tends to be the case, analysts working for the Crimson Tide find ways back to coaching after a brief step away from coaching.

The addition of Stoops to the Kentucky staff is expected to be awaiting official approval from the school’s board of trustees, which is why Kentucky officials have not commented on the potential staff addition in Lexington.