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What do Urban Meyer and Jimbo Fisher have that Nick Saban doesn’t? A No. 1 overall NFL draft pick

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The NFL draft is coming up later this week, and a handful of college football coaches could potentially have their first player chosen first overall. Among those looking to join a short list of active head coaches with a top overall draft pick on their watch includes Penn State’s James Franklin, USC’s Clay Helton and Wyoming’s Craig Bohl.

There are just six active head coaches in FBS that have sent a player to the top of the NFL draft order, and only one of those coaches are currently at the same school they had a player go No. 1 overall. Stanford’s David Shaw was the head coach of the Cardinal when Andrew Luck went with the first overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft to the Indianapolis Colts. The other five coaches on the current list have since moved on to another job since they had a player go with the first pick in the draft. Three of those active coaches will have new jobs starting this fall.

Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M was the head coach of Florida State when quarterback Jameis Winston went first overall in 2015. More recently, Sonny Dykes was the head coach at Cal when Jared Goff went to the Los Angeles Rams in 2016. Dykes is now the head coach at SMU. And just last year, Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin saw defensive end Myles Garrett go to the Cleveland Browns from Texas A&M with the first pick.

The two other coaches on the list of active coaches with a top draft pick are Urban Meyer of Ohio State and Mark Richt of Miami. Meyer was getting settled in at Florida after leaving Utah, but he was watching admirably as Utah quarterback Alex Smith went to the San Francisco 49ers with the first pick in 2005. Richt’s top draft pick from his time at Georgia was quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was taken first overall by the Detroit Lions in 2009.

You may have noticed (as if the headline didn’t give it away) there are some notable head coaches in college football without a top overall draft pick. Despite all the success of Nick Saban at Alabama, including a factory of NFL talent sent through the draft in recent years, a top overall pick continues to elude Saban. Not that he is worried about such a thing of course. Alabama’s NFL draft output is far more impressive when you realize quantity and quality are not short on supply in Tuscaloosa. During Saban’s time at Alabama, the highest draft pick from the school has been running back Trent Richardson with the third overall pick of the 2012 NFL draft (Cleveland Browns). Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus also went third overall to the Buffalo Bills in 2011.

But again, Alabama may not have a first overall pick, but the Crimson Tide lead the pack when it comes to first-round draft picks.

Here is a list of all the active head coaches with one No. 1 overall NFL draft pick:

  • Kevin Sumlin, Arizona: Myles Garrett, DE (2017)
  • Sonny Dykes, SMU: Jared Goff, QB (2016)
  • Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M: Jameis Winston, QB (2015)
  • David Shaw, Stanford: Andrew Luck, QB (2012)
  • Mark Richt, Miami: Matthew Stafford, QB (2009)
  • Urban Meyer, Ohio State: Alex Smith, QB (2005)

Wyoming’s Josh Allen is considered one of the favorites to be chosen with the first pick Thursday night in the NFL draft, which would add Craig Bohl to the list (and he gets some of the credit for No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Carson Wentz, too). Penn State running back Saquon Barkley would add James Franklin to the list. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is another trendy pick for the top pick, but his head coach, Jim Mora, is no longer an active coach at this time. Sam Darnold of USC would add Clay Helton to the list, and Lincoln Riley would make the jump into the conversation if Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield happens to go first overall.

We’ll find out Thursday night if a new coach joins the list or not.

Urban Meyer reportedly loses DB coach Kerry Coombs to Mike Vrabel’s Titans

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A former assistant coach working under Urban Meyer is plucking from the Meyer coaching tree in the NFL. Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has called on Ohio State defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs to join him with the Titans. Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated broke the news via Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.

Coombs joined the Ohio State coaching staff in 2012 and has held the role of assistant coordinator of the defense while also taking on the roles as a cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator. During his brief time in Columbus, Coombs certainly helped to shape the foundation for the Buckeyes secondary with Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley going on to become first-round draft picks in the 2017 NFL draft.

Coombs was actively out recruiting for the Buckeyes as recently as Monday, when he was planting flags in Texas a week after making stops to Florida and Georgia. But such is life in the coaching ranks. When a job in the NFL comes along, many college coaches will take the offer even if they have been at a great program like Ohio State. This will be the first NFL job held by Coombs and will be the first time he has taken on a coaching role outside the state of Ohio. Coombs had coached high school in Ohio from 1983 through 2006 when he made the jump to Cincinnati under Butch Jones and later joined Ohio State in 2012.

This news comes a day after Ohio State promoted Ryan Day to the role of offensive coordinator after it was reported the Titans made a push to lure Day to their coaching staff. Will any other Ohio State assistants be eyed up for a possible spot on the newly assembled Tennessee coaching staff?

Urban Meyer may have successfully talked his way out of a night trap at Iowa

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Sitting from his office in Columbus, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has been able to see just how dangerous a night game at Iowa can be. Last season, Iowa upset Michigan with the first loss suffered by the Wolverines setting off a wild finale to the Big Ten season. Earlier this season, a night game at Iowa nearly caught Penn State before the Nittany Lions managed to get out of Kinnick Stadium with a last-second victory. Knowing the history of Kinnick Stadium at night, Meyer may have managed to successfully lobby himself from having to play a night game at Iowa.

Big Ten kickoff times for Week 10 have started to come together on Monday, with Minnesota announcing it will host Michigan in primetime on FOX. The decision to have the Gophers and Wolverines in primetime was a tad puzzling considering two of the other game son the Big Ten schedule that day. Penn State is playing at Michigan State and Ohio State is playing — you guessed it — at Iowa.

The Buckeyes will be playing at either noon or 3:30 p.m. eastern on November 4, with the Nittany Lions and Spartans likely to be slotted in the other timeslot. The speculation is the 3:30 p.m. ET slot will be reserved for the winner of this week’s Ohio State-Penn State matchup, as the game will likely begin to take more weight in the College Football Playoff picture on top of the Big Ten championship hunt.

Meyer addressed concerns about playing so many road games at night this season, and perhaps the conference is responding to his concerns. Ohio State has already played four primetime games, including three on the road (Indiana, Rutgers, Nebraska). If not for the World Series coverage this weekend, odds are good the home game against Penn State would have been a lock for primetime as well. Ohio State also played a primetime game earlier this year against Oklahoma. But Meyer’s chief concern was playing so many night games on the road, as it becomes quite tiresome for players.

Was Meyer looking forward all along to prevent Ohio State from having to play a night game at Iowa? Regardless of the motive, the Buckeyes will not have to test the fates under the lights at Kinnick Stadium in two weeks.

Urban Meyer expresses concern about number of night games on the road

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Washington head coach Chris Petersen raised an issue about the way Pac-12 games are scheduled on a regular basis last week. This week, it’s Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer sharing his concerns about his team’s schedule.

“I understand TV contracts are kind of ruling, but when you start talking about student-athletes, they shouldn’t have to play four night games on the road,” Meyer said, according to The Blade. “I talked to [Ohio State director of athletics] Gene Smith about it and I’m going to bring it up to [Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany]. We’ll find out if we really do care about getting home at four o’clock in the morning four times. You don’t do that.”

Ohio State has already played three primetime games, including two on the road. Ohio State opened the season on a Thursday night against Indiana and followed that up with a home game in primetime against Oklahoma. The Buckeyes recently played a road game at Rutgers in another primetime game. The Buckeyes are scheduled to play under the lights this Saturday at Nebraska for the fourth primetime game of the year, and third on the road. Start times for three of Ohio State’s final four game shave yet to be determined, although games against Penn State (3:30 p.m. ET) and Michigan (12:00 p.m. ET) have been locked in.

Meyer has a legitimate concern because night games can take a toll on any program. And when the team has a significant distance to travel for those night games,  that can be a lingering concern that takes a day or so to recover.

“In my opinion, very strong opinion, when I start thinking about players and what’s expected of them during the week, if you can’t recover, you don’t get those hours back,” Meyer said. “I’m talking about academically, I’m talking about just your body, and the student-athlete welfare. They should not play four night games on the road.”

Meyer would like to see a cap on how many times a team is scheduled to play in primetime on the road moving forward. Getting the Big Ten’s television partners to cooperate on that would be necessary as the TV networks tend to influence when games are played for ratings purposes. The Big Ten has deals in place with both ESPN and FOX Sports and those networks want to use Big Ten programming in primetime regularly. There is also the Big Ten Network, which promised in recent years every Big Ten school will get to play in primetime.

But for now, Petersen and Meyer are in the same boat for similar reasons when it comes to primetime games. Will Meyer be targeted by ESPN the way Petersen was?

Saban, Meyer, Harbaugh, Swinney and more among 19 Dodd Trophy watch list candidates

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When you really think about it, a watch list for a college football award is nothing more than a way to keep public relations staffers in college football programs busy this summer. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it is nice to have a number of key players for the upcoming season highlighted whenever possible (unless you are a Big Ten team going to Big Ten media days). But a watch list is generally pretty pointles sin the long run for most awards. This is especially true for a watch list of college football coaches.

The Dodd Trophy watch list was released today with a list of 19 coaches from many of the top programs around the country. Yep, a watch list for head coaches. Silly, right? It really is the easiest watch list to put together.

The award watch list, compiled by the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, includes four coaches from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, two coaches from the Big 12 and one from the American Athletic Conference. You know all of the names, like national championship coaches Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Dabo Swinney; household names like Jim Harbaugh, Mark Richt, Bill Snyder, and Chris Petersen; and conference championship coaches like David Shaw, James Franklin.

Some notable names not on the list? How about Jimbo Fisher of Florida State? Fisher has a playoff contender in Tallahassee and is the ACC favorite. He also has a national championship ring. Not having Fisher on a preseason watch list for top coaches seems like a bad oversight. Not having new Big 12 coaches Tom Herman (Texas) and Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma) also feels like a swing and a miss if pulling together a list of potential coach of the year candidates. If we are not going to just list all 130 head coaches in FBS, it seems silly to have such a weird collection of watch list candidates when Butch Jones is on the list.

Five coaches on the watch list are former winners of the Dodd Trophy; Snyder, Petersen, Swinney, Saban, and Paul Johnson. Paul Chryst, Ken Niumatalolo, and Petersen were finalists for the award last season as well.

2017 Dodd Trophy Watch List

  • Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
  • James Franklin, Penn State
  • Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech
  • Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
  • Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
  • Clay Helton, USC
  • Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
  • Butch Jones, Tennessee
  • Gus Malzahn, Auburn
  • Jim McElwain, Florida
  • Urban Meyer, Ohio State
  • Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
  • Chris Petersen, Washington
  • Mark Richt, Miami
  • Nick Saban, Alabama
  • David Shaw, Stanford
  • Bill Snyder, Kansas State
  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson
  • Kyle Whittingham, Utah