Under Armour All-American Tommy Brown has committed to the Crimson Tide, becoming Alabama's first verbal along the offensive line in the 2018 class. Read below to see why Brown could quickly contribute in Tuscaloosa:
|Date||Opponent / Event||Location||Time / Result||TV||Countdown|
|09/02/17||vs. Appalachian State||Athens, Ga.||TBA|
|09/09/17||at Notre Dame||South Bend, Ind.||7:30 p.m. ET||NBC|
|09/16/17||vs. Samford||Athens, Ga.||TBA|
|09/23/17||vs. Mississippi State *||Athens, Ga.||TBA|
|09/30/17||at Tennessee *||Knoxville, Tenn.||TBA|
|10/07/17||at Vanderbilt *||Nashville, Tenn.||TBA|
|10/14/17||vs. Missouri *||Athens, Ga.||TBA|
|10/28/17||vs. Florida *||Jacksonville, Fla.||TBA|
|11/04/17||vs. South Carolina *||Athens, Ga.||TBA|
|11/11/17||at Auburn *||Auburn, Ala.||TBA|
|11/18/17||vs. Kentucky *||Athens, Ga.||TBA|
|11/25/17||at Georgia Tech||Atlanta, Ga.||TBA|
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop doesn't expect a lawsuit filed against him by his former employer to be a distraction as the Volunteers' defense attempts to bounce back from a disappointing season.
Penn State sued Shoop for breach of contract over the circumstances of his January 2016 departure. Shoop has filed a counterclaim indicating he was forced out rather than leaving Penn State on his own.
"It's not a distraction at all," Shoop said. "The only time it's any distraction is when you guys bring it up."
The lawsuit filed by Penn State earlier this year says Shoop was required to pay the university half his base salary for the remaining term of his contract if he decided to leave early. Shoop was Penn State defensive coordinator from 2014-15 before leaving for Tennessee .
According to the complaint, Shoop wouldn't have to pay the buyout only if he received a head coaching job within one year of his exit date. Penn State is seeking nearly $900,000 from him.
In a counterclaim filed last month, Shoop's lawyers said he was forced out of Penn State after encountering "intolerable" working conditions. The counterclaim said Shoop "was constructively discharged/terminated from, or forced or compelled to leave" Penn State.
Shoop declined to go into detail on the lawsuit Friday during a press conference to preview preseason practice, which begins July 29.
"I appreciate the fact that a lot of you are interested in the situation with regard to me and Penn State," Shoop said. "I can't comment on it at this time. I promise you it's just a matter of a contract. We have a number that we feel we owe them and they have a number that they feel we owe them, and people who know a lot more about this stuff than I do are handling it. ... It's really nothing that I even think about it on a daily basis unless I read about it in the paper or you guys tell me about it or call me about it."
The lawsuit represents another obstacle for Shoop, who already has his hands full trying to rebuild the Vols' defense. Tennessee went 9-4 last season but allowed 37.1 points per game in its final seven matchups against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.
Shoop has the Vols' support -- on and off the field.
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said at Southeastern Conference Media Days earlier this month that he has "no concerns whatsoever" about Shoop in the wake of this lawsuit.
"I think he's confident," Kelly said. "I think he's the man for the plan, no question."
Shoop's defenses had ranked among the nation's top 25 programs in yards allowed each of the five years before his arrival at Tennessee, but the Volunteers didn't come close to reaching that benchmark last year. Tennessee ranked 95th in total defense and tied for 68th in scoring defense.
"I've been coaching a long time," Shoop said. "I don't think I've seen a group of guys with a bigger chip on their shoulder and more determined."
Tennessee now must replace Philadelphia Eagles first-round draft pick Derek Barnett -- the school's all-time sack leader -- as well as Pittsburgh Steelers third-round pick Cam Sutton and Detroit Lions fourth-round selection Jalen Reeves-Maybin.
Injuries limited Sutton to seven games and Reeves-Maybin to four games last season. The extended absences of Sutton and Reeves-Maybin exemplified the way injuries hampered Shoop's defense throughout the 2016 campaign.
Shoop sees plenty of cause for optimism.
He says defensive end Jonathan Kongbo is "on a mission" one year after the heralded junior-college transfer failed to deliver any sacks. He praises the senior leadership of defensive tackle Kendal Vickers. He emphasizes the importance of linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr.
Shoop's mission is to build a stronger and deeper defense that can withstand any injuries that might arise this fall.
"The lessons I learned personally is you can never have enough guys," Shoop said. "We've got to continue to develop depth.... because you never know. This league is such a physical league, and there's so much attrition."
Hotty toddy, gosh almighty, who the hell are we? Ole Miss is asking itself the question after coach Hugh Freeze's stunning resignation Thursday after school officials found a "pattern" of personal conduct issues that included phone calls to a number associated with a female escort service.
Freeze went 39-25 at Ole Miss and guided the Rebels to a Sugar Bowl championship, two victories over Alabama when the Tide were ranked in the top three and several decorated recruiting classes. He also leaves the program in a perilous spot, as Ole Miss self-imposed a postseason ban this season, already is operating with self-imposed scholarship reductions and still faces the outcome of an NCAA investigation that traces back to 2012.
Ole Miss will get through the season with Matt Luke, the team's co-offensive coordinator and line coach promoted Thursday to interim head coach, before pursuing Freeze's permanent successor. It will be no ordinary search, given the timing and the uncertainty around the program.
Thankfully, ESPN.com's search firm is always working, and it convened for a surprise midsummer brainstorming session. Andrea Adelson and Edward Aschoff (an Oxford, Mississippi, native) joined me to break down the Ole Miss job, the strategy for the search and the candidates the school should pursue.
Doctors found a precancerous nodule on his trachea that they wanted to remove. The 68-year-old Moglia is recovering from the operation. Athletic spokesman Mike Cawood said Friday in an email to The Associated Press that Moglia is fine and just wanted to have the surgery done before the season began.
Moglia isn't expected to miss any time once the team begins camp next month. He's beginning his sixth season with the Chants, who are playing their first season in the Sun Belt.
Coastal Carolina associate head coach Jamey Chadwell will fill in for Moglia at the Sun Belt gathering that starts Sunday.
Wolfe, a cornerback from Houston, confirmed his decommitment to ESPN on Thursday night.
The fallout from an NCAA investigation had already crippled Ole Miss' recruiting efforts in the 2018 class, currently with a class of 10 commitments outside of the top 25 class rankings. Of the 10 commitments, only one, receiver Demarcus Gregory, is ranked as a four-star recruit.
That is in stark contrast to the 2016 class for Freeze and his staff. It boasted 13 ESPN 300 commitments, including the second-ranked prospect overall, Greg Little, and the No. 7 prospect, Benito Jones.
The 2018 class has yet to see a decommitment, but the prospects are well aware of the impact the resignation and NCAA investigation will have on their potential future. Ohio offensive lineman Blaine Scott has been committed to Ole Miss since May, but he will take some time to think about his recruitment in the days to come.
"Right now I'm just laying low," Scott said. "I will make a decision in a few days."
Gregory said he isn't conducting any recruiting interviews as of now. The rest of the commitments are still intact. The news is still fresh, though, and the investigation continues, so more decommitments could be on the horizon for the Rebels.
Freeze resigned, effective immediately, on Thursday night. The Rebels' athletic director told ESPN that school officials found a pattern that included calls from Freeze's university-issued cellphone to a number associated with a female escort service.
Regarding the ongoing NCAA investigation, the NCAA has accused the Rebels of 21 rules violations by current or former members of their football coaching staff. A new notice of allegations included eight new alleged rules violations and a charge of lack of institutional control.
The following is a list of commitments made to Power-5 programs from July 14-20:
Penn State: Four-star Under Armour All-American WR Shaquon Anderson-Butts (No. 300 in ESPN 300; 6-1, 202); Three-star TE-Y Judge Culpepper (6-4, 256); Four-star WR Daniel George (No. 290 in ESPN 300; 6-2, 201); Three-star QB-PP Will Levis (6-4, 224); K Jake Pinegar (6-1, 195), grade pending; Four-star S Isheem Young (No. 170 in ESPN 300; 5-10, 200)
Independents / Group of 5
There's new leadership at Ole Miss after Thursday's surprising resignation from former coach Hugh Freeze.
Matt Luke, Freeze's longtime assistant, is now the interim head coach.
Here are five things to know about Luke, the man in charge of taking over a program on less-than-solid footing:
He knows Ole Miss as well as anyone: Following the usual path of succession and promoting a coordinator would have been a tricky move for athletic director Ross Bjork because offensive coordinator Phil Longo and defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff were hired less than seven months ago. So to make the transition as seamless as possible, they went with the coach who arguably knows Ole Miss better than anyone: Luke. Before Luke played as a center in the mid-1990s, his brother was a quarterback on the team. And well before that, his father was a defensive back. Entering this season, Luke, a Mississippi native who was a student assistant coach at Ole Miss in 1999 and is married to a woman from Oxford, was one of only two coaches remaining from Freeze’s initial staff in 2012. "He’s a leader," Bjork said. "He's a rock. He’s an Ole Miss Rebel."
But his qualifications extend beyond Oxford: He spent 10 years as a coach at Ole Miss, but Luke left to prove himself elsewhere a few times. His first paid position was as offensive line coach at Murray State from 2000-01, and after one season at Ole Miss under then-head coach David Cutcliffe, he went to Tennessee, where he was tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator for two seasons under legendary former coach Phil Fulmer. Before joining Freeze at Ole Miss in 2012, Luke linked back up with Cutcliffe at Duke, where he was offensive coordinator for four seasons.
How long he holds the job is anyone's guess: Bjork and chancellor Jeff Vitter had to move quickly when it became apparent that keeping Freeze was no longer an option. So if they're still in the process of formulating a game plan about how long to keep Luke as interim head coach, you'll have to be patient with them. "The team is the focus right now," Bjork said Thursday night. "I told the football staff that the No. 1 thing, from beginning to end, is the team and that's all that matters. I haven't even thought about a search. We had to get a plan in place right now. We start practice in less than two weeks. There will be a lot of time to conduct a search for a permanent head coach." In the meantime, Luke needs to find a replacement for himself, bringing Ole Miss up to the maximum of nine assistant coaches. Bjork said that could be an outside hire or a promotion from within.
His No. 1 priority might not be wins and losses: Ole Miss is on shaky ground right now. Freeze is gone, leaving a vacuum of leadership, and an NCAA investigation is looming. Recruiting has been hurt, scholarship limitations are already in effect and the school has self-imposed a one-year bowl ban. After the program's first losing season since 2011 last year, Luke has his work cut out for him. If he handles it well and keeps the locker room intact, Ole Miss has a chance to weather the storm. If not and the product on the field suffers, and in turn recruiting continues to wither, we could be looking at an extended rebuild for a team that had built a roster capable of competing with (and beating) the best of the SEC.
He has good pieces to work with: Speaking of the roster, there's a lot to like about Ole Miss on paper this season, especially on offense. Shea Patterson, who took over for an injured Chad Kelly late last season, has the look of a young Johnny Manziel at quarterback. The true sophomore has the mobility, the arm and the improvisational skills to wreak havoc on defenses. What's more, he has plenty of weapons at receiver. There might not be a better trio of young receivers in the SEC than Ole Miss' A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and Van Jefferson. If Eric Swinney can provide some balance at running back, this offense will be capable of averaging 30 or more points per game. Although that might not be enough to contend for a division title with so many questions on defense and so many off-the-field distractions, it should make for a fun team to watch between the lines on Saturdays.
While we're still a ways from college football season, it's never too early to start looking at where the betting value lies for the upcoming season.
Phil Steele covers all angles in this four-part betting guide, giving you the best summer bets to make.
Alabama is the betting favorite, but there are plenty of good options for teams further down the board.
With lines out for many of the fall's most anticipated college football matchups, here's a look at the best bets to make now that could provide value on game day.
While the Mississippi native was a resounding success on the field during his tenure, winning nearly 60 percent of his games and reaching a Sugar Bowl, off the field the program had become the subject of an NCAA investigation and Freeze's own personal conduct ultimately ended up costing him his job.
Here's a look at the highs and lows of his tenure in Oxford, Mississippi:
Dec. 5, 2011: After a 10-2 season at Arkansas State -- his first as a head coach in college football -- Freeze is hired by Ole Miss to replace Houston Nutt. The Independence, Mississippi, native made his way through the ranks as a high school coach in Tennessee and was hired by Ole Miss first as a support staff member in 2005 and then as recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach from 2006 to '07. He was not retained when Nutt took the job in 2008.
Sept. 1, 2012: Freeze wins his first game as Ole Miss' head coach, beating Central Arkansas 49-27. With Bo Wallace at quarterback, the offense takes off, ranking in the top five of the SEC in scoring, total offense and passing. The Rebels go on to lose three games by a combined 10 points, but still manage to get bowl eligible by beating in-state rival Mississippi State in the final game of the regular season.
Oct. 4, 2014: In what will go down as the signature win of the Hugh Freeze era at Ole Miss, the Rebs take down then-undefeated and No. 1-ranked Alabama 23-17. It's the first time the school has ever beaten the No. 1-ranked team, and it's pandemonium in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium as fans storm the field and the goalposts are carried out of the stadium. "It's a huge win for our program and our fans," Freeze says afterward. "It's been a tremendous day."
June 24, 2015: Star left tackle Laremy Tunsil is arrested on charges of domestic violence against his stepfather, Lindsey Miller. Miller later alleges that Tunsil was "riding around with football agents" at the time of the altercation that led to Tunsil's arrest. Ole Miss eventually suspends Tunsil for the first seven games of the 2015 season while the NCAA investigates alleged improprieties.
Jan. 1, 2016: Freeze helps guide the Rebels to a 48-20 rout of No. 16 Oklahoma State in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. It is Ole Miss' first time playing in the Sugar Bowl since 1970. The win also marks the first time the Rebels won 10 games since 2003. With one of the SEC's best offenses during the 2016 season, the Rebels pound out 554 yards of offense and even watch left tackle Laremy Tunsil rumble in for a 2-yard touchdown on a lateral.
January 2016: Ole Miss receives its notice of allegations stemming from a multiyear NCAA investigation. The football program is cited by the NCAA in 13 of the 28 rules violations levied against the school, with nine of the violations occurring during Freeze's tenure. There are four Level I violations, two Level II violations and three Level III violations.
April 29, 2016: On a day when the three crown jewels of the 2013 recruiting class are set to be drafted, Tunsil's social media is hacked. A video posted to his Twitter account shows the former No. 1-rated offensive tackle smoking a bong. Then, on Instagram, a screen shot of a text message exchange is posted showing Tunsil arranging for money from an Ole Miss staff member to pay his mother's rent and electricity bill.
May 27, 2016: Ole Miss self-imposes a double-digit reduction in scholarships (11) for the football program over a four-year span, as well as an already-served postseason ban for women's basketball, as part of its response to an NCAA notice of allegations. Ole Miss officials also ask the NCAA to delay the school's hearing with the Committee on Infractions so it can have more time to investigate whether former left tackle Laremy Tunsil received additional improper benefits while playing for the Rebels.
Feb. 23, 2017: Ole Miss self-imposes a one-year bowl ban for the 2017 season, after the university receives a new NCAA notice of allegations that accuses the school of lack of institutional control and Freeze of failure to monitor his coaching staff. The second NOA includes eight new alleged rules violations and the lack of institutional control charge. The NCAA now accuses the Rebels of 21 rules violations by current or former members of their football coaching staff.
July 12, 2017: Less than 24 hours before Freeze is set to arrive in Hoover, Alabama, for SEC media days, Nutt files a lawsuit against Ole Miss and the Ole Miss Athletic Foundation in which Freeze is named as a central figure. In the lawsuit, Nutt alleges that Freeze orchestrated a "smear campaign" against him. At media days, Freeze refrains from speaking about Nutt or the lawsuit other than to say that the timing was unfortunate. He chooses not to comment about the ongoing NCAA investigation either. "We look forward to our meeting with the Committee on Infractions and putting this behind us," Freeze said. It would be the last time Freeze spoke publicly as Ole Miss' head football coach.
Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigned effectively immediately on Thursday night, a week after he addressed speculation about his job future at SEC Media Days and about six weeks before the Rebels kick off the season against South Alabama.
Ole Miss officials didn't immediately provide a specific reason for Freeze's resignation. A news conference is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET in Oxford, Mississippi.
In six seasons, Freeze guided the Rebels to unprecedented heights, but his success was also sullied by an ongoing NCAA investigation. In February, the school self-imposed a one-year bowl ban for the 2017 season, after it received a new NCAA notice of allegations that accused the school of lack of institutional control and Freeze of failure to monitor his coaching staff.
The notice of allegations included eight new alleged rules violations and the lack of institutional control charge. The NCAA has now accused the Rebels of 21 rules violations by current or former members of their football coaching staff. Ole Miss agreed to forfeit its share of SEC postseason revenues for this coming season, which could be as much as $7.8 million, after it had already self-imposed a double-digit reduction in scholarships for football in May 2016 as part of its response to an NCAA notice of allegations it received in January 2016.
Freeze, 47, had a 39-25 record in six seasons with the Rebels, including a 19-21 mark against SEC foes. After going 10-3 in 2016, Ole Miss slipped to 5-7 this past season.
Among other charges, the NCAA accused the Rebels of providing improper benefits, including cash payments and merchandise, to prospects, as well as lodging and meals to recruits and their families. Freeze probably faced a multi-game suspension this coming season if he were found guilty of failing to monitor his staff.
The Rebels are expected to appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions in Indianapolis later this summer, possibly in September.
Last week, former Rebels coach Houston Nutt sued Freeze and Ole Miss in federal court, accusing him and the university of orchestrating a smear campaign against him.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Oxford, alleges that Freeze and other school officials created a "false narrative" in an effort to place primary blame on Nutt for the NCAA's ongoing investigation.
According to the complaint, Nutt seeks damages to cover "lost wages, emotional distress, embarrassment, attorney's fees and punitive damages."
The suit leveled its harshest allegations at Freeze, alleging that he conducted off-the-record conversations with sports journalists as part of a "smear campaign."
The lawsuit says that it "is common knowledge among sports journalists that Coach Freeze does not take kindly to criticism." It also characterizes Freeze as "consistently exhibiting behaviors that are massively defensive," "going to extraordinary lengths through social media and otherwise to promote his self-image as a deeply spiritual Godly man who's done nothing wrong and is being persecuted," and "attempting to cultivate personal relationships with sports journalists for the purpose of promoting his self-image through positive news stories.
At SEC Media Days, Freeze chose not to comment on Nutt, who accused him and the university of orchestrating a smear campaign against him, but said that he was "disappointed by the timing of it" coming one day before he and his players arrived in Hoover, Alabama, for SEC media days.
"This is the fifth year in a row I've been here and I can't talk about our players," Freeze said, wanting to turn the focus away from off-field issues. Freeze said he took responsibility for the ongoing NCAA investigation into the program, pointing out how the school self-imposed scholarship limitations and a bowl ban.
"It's a lot we inherited and caused in some cases," Freeze said, alluding to the previous coaching staff.
After inheriting a team that won only two games in 2011 and had lost 14 consecutive SEC contests, Freeze guided the Rebels to four straight bowl games in his first four years -- the first Ole Miss coach to do it. Ole Miss was one of only five FBS programs in the country to make consecutive New Year's Six bowl appearances in the first two years of the College Football Playoff.
Hutchinson coach Rion Rhoades said Thursday that Emmons has already arrived at the Kansas junior college.
Emmons was one of the nation's top running back recruits in 2016 and rushed for 173 yards as a freshman. He sustained a foot injury against Texas A&M.
He was the fifth-ranked running back and the 62nd player overall in the ESPN 300 Class of 2016 rankings at the time of his commitment to Alabama. Emmons was stuck in a crowded backfield where Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough and freshman Najee Harris are all former five-star recruits.
Sophomore Josh Jacobs was a less heralded recruit, but he also topped 500 yards rushing last season.
Emmons would be able to transfer to another FBS program after one season.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report
The 2016 Wisconsin Badgers won the Big Ten West Division, thus making them one of 16 teams in this program's history to win some type of championship.
Where does that place this club among the best Wisconsin teams of all time?
From the moment Nick Saban arrived at SEC media days last Wednesday, he was waiting for the question to come.
“Who’s saying that?” Saban snapped back at the television reporter in question. “You’re the only one saying that. You’re trying to create it right now. I never said that. All right? So I don’t know who’s saying that.
“That’s like me saying, ‘Someone said it’s going to have a hurricane outside today.’ Is that right or wrong? I just said it. So that means I created something that makes everybody panic and creates news and gets everybody excited and interested and afraid.
“Look, we have competition at a lot of positions. ... But we’re not going to tolerate people making stuff up to create interest.”
As far as Saban tirades go, it was a double or possibly a triple. He definitely got the fat part of the bat on it.
But if it was meant to dispel the interest in Hurts’ development and whether he could be unseated as Alabama’s starting quarterback by true freshman Tua Tagovailoa, it might not have done the trick. Nothing might until the season opener against Florida State on Sept. 2.
Hurts may have gone 14-1, scored 36 touchdowns and become the first true freshman to win SEC Offensive Player of the Year since Herschel Walker, but all many people want to talk about is the way his season ended. He threw only two touchdowns and completed less than 50 percent of his passes during the SEC Championship Game and both rounds of the College Football Playoff, ultimately losing the national title in the final seconds to Clemson.
Ever since, there have been questions about whether he can improve his downfield passing and be better from the pocket.
It doesn’t matter that Saban called Hurts the starter the day spring practice began. It doesn’t make a difference that many players have given rave reviews about his progress as a passer, with senior center Bradley Bozeman recently reporting that the offense has “come out clicking” since the end of last season. Nothing is moving the focus off the young quarterback.
Even other players around the league have taken notice of the Hurts dilemma.
“All that crap about, ‘He can’t throw the ball,’” Bentley said. “It’s not true. He can spin it.”
On Wednesday, Hurts was one of 30 players named to the Davey O’Brien Award Watch List -- an award that goes to the nation’s best college quarterback. That honor, coupled with being named the first-team quarterback on the Preseason All-SEC team, should be enough to quiet some of his critics, but probably not.
If anything, more time should be spent discussing Alabama’s other questions entering this season. For instance: How will Brian Daboll -- a relative unknown in college football -- work out as offensive coordinator? How will the defense fare now that more than half of its starters are in the NFL? And with Jarrett Stidham creating Heisman buzz at Auburn and Matt Canada poised to overhaul LSU’s offense, what about the competition in the SEC?
“I think this is going to be one of the youngest teams that we've had probably since maybe 2012, especially on defense, where we lost a ton of really, really good players -- I think seven guys drafted off the defense, all in the first four rounds,” Saban said. “So it's going to be a challenge to replace those guys.”
It’s not hard to understand why the defense isn’t getting more attention. For one, Alabama has a well-earned reputation of being a top defense year in and year out, regardless of returning starters. Secondly, and probably most important, is that nothing comes close to matching the buzz of a quarterback controversy in football.
As it turns out, the debate doesn’t even have to be real to have legs.
Hurts has work to do as a quarterback. That never has been in doubt. But a full-blown QB battle? That’s not on the agenda at Alabama.
If the Tide lose to Florida State, the offense struggles, and Hurts doesn’t make the progress usually associated with a quarterback entering his second season as a starter, then it might be time for that discussion.
For now, be careful not to make any assumptions. Saban might see it and take another swing.