Nick Saban

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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.

Georgia wins recruiting national title with No. 1 recruiting class

Kirby Smart has his second No. 1 recruiting class at Georgia.
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For the second time in three years, the Georgia Bulldogs have signed the nation’s top-rated recruiting class. With the second National Signing Day drawing to a close, the recruiting rankings have been compiled and the composite rankings from 247 Sports have determined Georgia will close out the Class of 2020 with the nation’s No. 1 class.

To claim the top spot, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart once again had to edge his former boss, Alabama head coach Nick Saban. After returning to the top spot in the recruiting wars last season, Saban and Alabama pulled in the nation’s No. 2 class, just edging out Dabo Swinney and Clemson.

Consider Georgia now charged with the responsibility of delivering on some lofty expectations. Such high expectations are nothing new for Georgia, of course. Smart has already delivered an SEC title and a run to the national championship game in his time as Georgia’s head coach, but the bar continues to be in need of being cleared. With four straight recruiting classes ranked in the top four of the nation and two top-rated classes in the last three seasons, Georgia looks to have the roster it needs to win a seemingly elusive national title. Even from a conference with Alabama and the new defending national champions (LSU, who signed the No. 4 overall class), the time is now for Georgia to put up or shut-up.

This is Smart’s program from top to bottom now. Now let’s see if it is good enough to win it all.

Another Strong Year for the SEC

The SEC has made it routine to see the majority of its conference landing in the top 25 of the annual recruiting rankings. This year was no different. In addition to Georgia, Alabama and LSU landing in the top four, the SEC had four more teams rank in the top 10. Texas A&M (No. 6), Auburn (No. 7), Florida (No. 8), and Tennessee (No. 10) each brought in a ton of talent and potential in their latest recruiting classes. Only Clemson, Ohio State (No. 5), and Texas (No. 9) managed to crack the top 10 from outside of the SEC.

South Carolina (No. 18) and Kentucky (No. 24) also waved the SEC flag inside the top 25. That gives the SEC 9 teams in the top 25 of the national recruiting rankings. Mississippi State (No. 27), Arkansas (No. 30), Ole Miss (No. 39), and Missouri (No. 50) also cracked the top 50. Vanderbilt is the only SEC member without a top 50 recruiting class, but the Commodores come in at No. 57 as of the time of this post being written.

  • Top 50 By Conference
    • SEC: 13
    • Big Ten: 11
    • ACC: 9
    • Pac-12: 8
    • Big 12: 7
    • AAC: 1

As for teams in the top 25, the Big Ten is well-represented. And it’s the usual names you will find form the conference in the top 25. Aside from the Buckeyes, Michigan and Penn State are back-to-back at No. 14 and No. 15, respectively. Nebraska, who always seems to fare well in recruiting rankings no matter the year, comes in at No. 20. Wisconsin (No. 25) rounds out the top 25 recruiting rankings.

Best Recruiting Classes in Each Conference

When it comes to what schools are leading the way in recruiting within their own conferences, there are some familiar leaders of the pack here. Ohio State continues to be the champions of the Big Ten in recruiting, and the results on the field have backed that up. Clemson has been the dominant force in the ACC for a number of years now, with nobody really closing in just yet. Texas is taking the crown in the Big 12 this year, and defending Pac-12 champion Oregon is sitting on top of the Pac-12 recruiting rankings just as they did last year (it’s another rough year for USC on the recruiting trail, with the No. 10 class…… in the Pac-12).

  • AAC – Cincinnati (No. 40)
  • ACC – Clemson (No. 3)
  • Big 12 – Texas (No. 9)
  • Big Ten – Ohio State (No. 5)
  • Conference USA – FIU (No. 71)
  • MAC – Toledo (No. 68)
  • Mountain West – Boise State (No. 65)
  • Pac-12 – Oregon (No. 12)
  • SEC – Georgia (No. 1)
  • Sun Belt – Louisiana (No. 79)

A few notable differences from last year’s Class of 2019 rankings include Cincinnati taking the top spot in the AAC this year. The Bearcats dethrone UCF for the top recruiting class in the conference and are easily ahead of the rest of the Group of 5 programs. The next Group of 5 team in the recruiting rankings is Boise State (No. 65), but the Broncos are ranked 16 spots lower than where they sat a year ago. In Conference USA, the departure of Lane Kiffin (from FAU to Ole Miss) may have been what was needed for FIU to slip ahead of FAU.

It is worth noting that recruiting rankings are subject to change. All rankings are according to the latest 247 Sports composite rankings at the time of this posting.

Alabama scores 21 unanswered for runaway Citrus Bowl victory over Michigan

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The first matchup between Jim Harbaugh and Nick Saban went the way of the Crimson Tide. After trailing by two at halftime, No. 13 Alabama (11-2) shut down No. 14 Michigan (9-4) in the second half of a 35-16 victory in the Citrus Bowl.

Mac Jones passed for 327 yards and three touchdowns in place of the injured Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovialoa was on the field with Alabama’s captains for the coin flip but will now address his immediate future with a decision on coming back to taking a shot at the NFL looms while injured.  Alabama’s running game was led by a brilliant effort by Najee Harris, who picked up two touchdowns and 136 yards against the Wolverines. Star wide receiver Jerry Jeudy also presented some highlights among his six catches for 204 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown on Alabama’s first offensive play from scrimmage in the first quarter.

Michigan’s Shea Patterson certainly had his struggles, completing 17 of 37 passes for 233 yards and a pair of interceptions (the second coming on the final play of the game, however). Patterson’s first interception came on the first play after Michigan took over around midfield midway through the fourth quarter, with Alabama leading 28-16. Alabama finished off the drive with a soul-crushing touchdown in the final minute of the game.

This is the 9th consecutive season Alabama has recorded 11 wins in a season. This was obviously not where Alabama wanted to end the season, but the Crimson Tide remain as strong a threat for the playoff as ever going into the new season. Saban improved his postseason bowl season record to 15-10, including a 12-5 mark with Alabama. Harbaugh has fallen to just 1-4 in bowl games since his arrival in Ann Arbor, which will surely not help to turn back any narratives heading into next season.

Michigan and Alabama will each begin the 2020 season against an opponent from the Pac-12. Michigan will play a true road game when they head to Seattle to face the Washington Huskies on Sept. 5. On the same day, Alabama will take on USC in Arlington, TX.