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College football title odds have Clemson as way-too-early 2020 favorite

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You say the corpse of the 2019 college football season isn’t even cold yet, and we’re already looking ahead to 2020 when it comes to title odds?  We say of course we are.  Because that’s how we roll.  Or something.

Monday night, in New Orleans appropriately enough, LSU landed its magic carpet ride of a 2019 season in seemingly the only way possible, overwhelming Clemson with waves of offensive talent to claim the College Football Playoff championship.  The video game that was Joe Burrow, wobbly early on, righted itself in the romp, with the Heisman Trophy winner setting the single-season record for touchdown passes en route to the ever-elusive ring.

The reality that will set in a day or two from now?  Burrow has played his last down in a Tigers uniform, with the senior expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.  Burrow’s counterpart on the night, Trevor Lawrence, will return to Clemson for one more season before he’s expected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

As such, the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has installed Clemson as a way-too-early 9/4 favorite to win the 2020 national championship.  LSU, meanwhile, sits at 8/1.

A year ago at this time?  Clemson, the reigning national champions, was at 7/2, behind Alabama at 3/2.  And LSU?  They were at 50/1 on Jan. 8, 2019.

This year, between Clemson and LSU, Ohio State comes in at an initial 3/1 and Alabama, which will be replacing Tua Tagovailoa, at 6/1.  Georgia’s odds are at 8/1 as well.

Of those five teams, just two — Clemson (Lawrence) and Ohio State (Justin Fields) — will return their starting quarterback.

At 14/1, Florida is the only other team in that neighborhood.  Six others start off at 30/1 — Auburn, Oklahoma, Oregon, Notre Dame, Penn State and Texas A&M.

And as for the Group of Five? At 1,000/1, Houston has the highest odds.

Auburn hires Jack Bicknell Jr. as OL coach

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A week after a hole opened up on his Auburn Tigers football coaching staff, Gus Malzahn has filled it.

Jan. 7, AU confirmed that J.B. Grimes was stepping down as offensive line coach to “pursue other opportunities.” During the national championship game Monday night, the Auburn Tigers football program announced that Jack Bicknell Jr. has been hired to replace Grimes.

AU made the announcement via its Twitter account.

Bicknell spent the past three seasons as the line coach at Ole Miss. Prior to that, he spent nine seasons in the same position in the NFL. The 56-year-old assistant served stints with the Miami Dolphins (2014-15), Pittsburgh Steelers (2013), Kansas City Chiefs (2012) and New York Giants (2009-11).

From 2009-11, Bicknell was the line coach at Boston College. His father, Jack Bicknell Sr., was the head coach at BC from 1981-90.

This past season, the Tigers were third in the SEC and 33rd nationally in averaging 199.1 yards per game.  Their 1.38 sacks per game allowed were fourth in the conference and tied for the 18th-fewest in the country.

Jim Brown named by ESPN as the greatest player in college football history

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Jim Brown, greatest college football player ever?

College football is rapidly nearing the end of celebrating the 150th anniversary of the sport, with the 2020 College Football Playoff championship game serving as the capper of its sesquicentennial season.  So, why not kick off the next 150 years of the sport by doing what we as fans do best — argue about lists.

During halftime of the Clemson-LSU title game — the SEC Tigers came storming back in the second quarter, by the way — ESPN unveiled their Top 150 college football players of all-time in celebration.  The entire list can be viewed HERE.

Also during halftime, the Top 11 players on the Worldwide Leader’s list were feted on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium field.  Coming in at No. 1?  Jim Brown, according to ESPN, is the greatest college football player in the first 150 years of the sport.

The Top 11 are as follows:

  1. Jim Brown (RB, Syracuse, 1954-56)
  2. Herschel Walker (RB, Georgia, 1980-82)
  3. Bo Jackson (RB, Auburn, 1982-85)
  4. Archie Griffin (RB, Ohio State, 1972-75)
  5. Jim Thorpe (RB, Carlisle, 1907-12)
  6. Red Grange (RB, Illinois, 1923-25)
  7. Earl Campbell (RB, Texas, 1974-77)
  8. Dick Butkus (LB, Illinois, 1962-64)
  9. Barry Sanders (RB, Oklahoma State, 1986-88)
  10. Gale Sayers (RB, Kansas, 1962-64)
  11. Roger Staubach (QB, Navy, 1962-64)

I have but two comments on that top-tier group.  One, Barry Sanders is laughably, criminally low.  Two, Herschel Walker was the only college football player in my lifetime who was better than Sanders.

Seriously, Sanders being ninth offends me.

Other than that, fire away…

Auburn in search of new OL coach as J.B. Grimes steps down to ‘pursue other opportunities’

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As we trudge toward the offseason, Gus Malzahn has an opening on his Auburn Tigers football coaching staff to fill.  Fortunately, he has several months to fill it.

Tuesday evening, rumors surfaced that Malzahn and offensive line coach J.B. Grimes would be parting ways.  Not long after, Malzahn confirmed the move.

“J.B. has decided to move on and pursue other opportunities,” a statement from the head coach began. “I appreciate everything he’s done for Auburn. J.B. and his wife Jennifer will always be a part of the Auburn family.”

At this point, what those other opportunities may or may not be aren’t clear.

Grimes has now completed three separate stints on Malzahn-led coaching staffs.

In 2012, Grimes was Malzahn’s line coach at Arkansas.  When Malzahn left to take over the Auburn Tigers football program in December of 2012, Grimes followed in the same role.  After three seasons, Grimes left to take a job at Cincinnati, where his son, Nick Grimes, was a graduate assistant.  He then moved on after one year to become the line coach at UConn.

Grimes rejoined Malzahn at Auburn early on in 2018.  He spent the past two seasons as the line coach in his second stint.

This past season, the Tigers were third in the SEC and 33rd nationally in averaging 199.1 yards per game.  Their 1.38 sacks per game allowed were fourth in the conference and tied for the 18th-fewest in the country.

Second punter leaving early for 2020 NFL Draft, this one from Auburn

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It’s rare when one punter leaves school early during a cycle. For it to happen twice, and in the same day no less? That might be some apocalypse-level stuff.

Tuesday morning, punter Michael Turk announced he is leaving Arizona State early for the 2020 NFL Draft. A few hours later, another fellow punter, Auburn’s Arryn Siposs, did the same.

“Auburn has provided me with opportunities and experiences I could not have dreamed of,” the Australian wrote on Twitter. “I have been so proud to put on my Auburn jersey and walk onto the field with an amazing group of men.

“I’ve made lifelong friends and memories.”

Arryn Siposs has been AU’s primary punter the past two seasons. In that span, Sipos averaged 44 yards on his 117 punts. This season, his 43.8-yard average was sixth in the SEC and 28th nationally.

Since 2012, just three punters have left school early: Texas’ Michael Dickson (2017), Clemson’s Bradley Pinion (2014) and LSU’s Brad Wing (2012). Dickson and Pinion were drafted, Wing wasn’t.

Siposs is the third Auburn player to leave the Tigers early for the 2020 draft. The other two are defensive end Nick Coe (HERE) and cornerback Noah Igbinoghene (HERE).