AP Photo/Butch Dill, File

Nick Saban takes jab at UCF’s “self-proclaimed” national title, but Gus Malzahn stays out of it

4 Comments

Alabama head coach Nick Saban added another national title to his ever-growing list of achievements last January when the Crimson Tide rallied from behind to stun Georgia in overtime of the College Football Playoff national championship game. At the same time, UCF was busy celebrating their claim to a national title even if critics shrugged it aside. Although Saban offered some praise for what UCF accomplished last season, including beating an Auburn team that Saba’s Tide could not, Saban suggested that UCF’s claim to a national title carries little weight.

“I guess anybody has the prerogative to claim anything,” Saban said to USA Today, commenting on UCF’s claim to a national championship for the 2017 season. “But self-proclaimed is not the same as actually earning it. And there’s probably a significant number of people who don’t respect people who make self-proclaimed sort of accolades for themselves.”

Saban has a legitimate point, of course. Alabama may not have won their own division but they were selected by the College Football Playoff selection committee to participate in the four-team playoff to determine a true national champion. And to Alabama’s credit, they took advantage of that opportunity by dominating ACC champion Clemson in the national semifinal and then coming from behind to upset SEC champion Georgia. UCF may have gone undefeated last season, with wins against USF, Memphis and Auburn to close out their undefeated campaign, but years from now it will be widely accepted that Alabama was the national champion while UCF is still free to claim their national title as well. College football is loaded with claimed national titles, including some by Alabama of course, so what UCF is doing is nothing out of the ordinary for the history of the sport.

Of course, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn isn’t about to get caught up in the drama despite playing a key role into the Alabama-UCF national title debate.

“They played extremely well that day (in the Peach Bowl),” Malzahn said at a golf tournament, according to Al.com. “We didn’t play our best, but give those guys credit. They played extremely well and got after us.”

Realizing Malzahn didn’t exactly answer the question regarding the national championship claim by UCF, Malzahn stood his ground when asked again.

“They played real well that day,” Malzahn said, “and we didn’t play that well.”

It must be a tough spot for Malzahn seeing as Alabama is his top rival and the other team claiming a national title is using his Auburn team to help support the argument.

Former UCF head coach and current Nebraska head coach Scott Frost has no regrets over his comments about likely not standing behind UCF’s national title claim the way the school has gone about it.

Jalen Hurts speculation about to run wild after shaky spring game at Alabama

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
10 Comments

If Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts was looking to build a case for taking the starting job for the Crimson Tide in 2018, he may have to rely on more than his performance in the spring game. Hurts turned in a sub-par performance in Alabama’s spring game on Saturday afternoon, leaving the door wide open for some speculation about his future as Alabama’s spring comes to a close.

Hurts completed 19 of his 37 pass attempts for 195 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He also was sacked seven times. With Tua Tagovailoa out of action due to injury, Hurts was outperformed by redshirt freshman Mac Jones, who completed 23 of 35 passes for 289 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Jones was also intercepted once and was sacked six times. Of the two quarterbacks, Jones had the more inspiring performance.

Rumors speculating Hurts may end up looking to transfer will only continue to ignore following this spring, especially with Tagovailoa going into the offseason as the new hero in town after guiding Alabama back in the national championship game. It should be worth noting, however, a transfer for Hurts is not guaranteed to happen. That won’t stop fans and media from figuring out what will be next for Hurts.

Hurts’ dad recently suggested his son would be college football’s biggest free agent on the transfer market if he ended up losing the quarterback battle in Tuscaloosa. That may be a slight exaggeration, but there is no question Hurts would have plenty of potential and skill to offer any program he would potentially move to if he decides to leave Alabama. Alabama head coach Nick Saban tried to cool the tension by suggesting there is no reason to be concerned about the whole situation.

But this is Alabama we’re talking about. The Hurts watch is now in full force in Tuscaloosa, whether Saban likes it or not.

Report details how SEC allegedly blocked Hugh Freeze from being hired to coach again

Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
4 Comments

Former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has shown a desire to continue coaching some capacity. Unfortunately for him, that opportunity won’t be coming in the SEC. As some have speculated in recent months, the SEC allegedly blocked the hiring of the disgraced Rebels head coach for fear of how bad it would look for the entire SEC. According to a report from Al.com, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey told Freeze and Alabama the conference would prefer Freeze go “off the radar for at least a little while” before any returning to work at any SEC institution.

In January, it was a poorly-kept secret that Alabama head coach Nick Saban was interested in hiring Freeze to fill a role as offensive coordinator. At the time, it was reported that hiring would not be allowed by the SEC despite Saban pushing to allow for it. What was not as well known at the time was Alabama was not the only school showing interest in Freeze in a coaching role. According to the Al.com report, LSU and Missouri each took a flyer on Freeze only to be locked out of the possibility by the SEC.

The basis for the apparent blackballing of Freeze around the SEC stems from a rule, bylaw 19.8.1.2, that states any school wishing to hire a coach associated with unethical conduct that has resulted in NCAA violations must consult with the league commissioner. Sankey, in this role, provides the oversight for hires around the conference in an effort to uphold the integrity of the SEC brand. With Ole Miss slapped with a two-year postseason ban, that means Freeze is a coach that must be approved by the commissioner of the SEC.

As of now, there has been no action by Freeze to fight this supposed hiring ban in the SEC. He remains unemployed while Ole Miss continues to work its way through sanctions he was ultimately responsible for. As the bylaw is written, Freeze is not actually ineligible to be hired within the SEC. Instead, any school wanting to hire him must convince Sankey why the hire would be beneficial and how it wouldn’t harm the SEC as a whole. But if not even Saban can make that case, Freeze may have to wait a little longer for the water in the SEC to cool before dipping his toes back into coaching in the southeast.

Nick Saban is “encouraged” by kicking game this spring

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Let’s face it. Alabama’s biggest kryptonite over the past decade has seemingly been its special teams game, but Alabama has fared quite well in spite of the special teams deficiencies more often than not. Regardless, Alabama’s constant struggles kicking the football remain one of the few areas of concern for Nick Saban on an annual basis.

But not this spring, perhaps?

Alabama kicker Joseph Bulocas connected on four of five field goal attempts, each said to be longer than 20 yards out, during a scrimmage on Saturday. Saban’s response?

“That was encouraging,” Saban said according to Al.com. “I think probably more than anyone out there on the field today, and I thought Joe handled this pretty well, is when you have bad conditions, how is it going to effect you as a specialist? I thought Joe handled it really well.”

That’s really about as close to a glowing review you might get out of Saban at any time of the year, including in spring.

Alabama’s kicking duties are up for grabs between Bulovas and graduate transfer Austin Jones. Jones, who is set to graduate from Temple this spring, will join the Crimson Tide later this summer and join the competition for the starting job.

Alabama ranked 90th in the nation in field goal accuracy last season, converting 19 of 28 attempts. Jones was Temple’s second kicker in 2017, and he converted four of five attempts for the Owls.

Bear Bryant’s great-grandson commits to play for Alabama

AP Photo/Joe Holloway Jr., file
1 Comment

Bear Bryant is widely regarded as one of college football’s all-time greatest head coaches. Now his great-grandson will be playing football for another all-time great.

Paul Tyson, a four-star pro-style Class of 2019 quarterback according to Rivals, announced his commitment to play for Alabama and head coach Nick Saban. What makes this commitment a tad different from your typical recruiting announcement is Tyson is the great-grandson of Bryant. Playing for Alabama may have felt like destiny given the family history.

“I felt the same calling that my Great Grandfather had when he was asked to come home,” Tyson said in a statement on Twitter, referencing Bryant’s decision to come coach at Alabama after previously coaching at Texas A&M. Bryant coached at Texas A&M from 1954 through 1957 and then moved to Alabama to coach the Tide from 1958 through 1982, where he coached Alabama to six national championships and 14 SEC titles. Saban has won five national titles at (six total) and five SEC titles (seven total) at Alabama.

Other schools Tyson was reportedly considering included LSU, Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, and Duke, but Alabama had long been considered a pretty easy favorite.