How many footballs does Nick Saban’s contract buy? Answer—194,341 official game balls from Dick’s.
In yesterday’s Rumor Mill, we reported that Alabama defensive backs coach Greg Brown was likely to step down, and that there could be additional movement on Nick Saban’s staff.
It looks like those moves are all but official now.
ESPN reports that Brown has indeed stepped down and that defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will move from linebackers coach over to the secondary.
Kevin Steele, who spent last season as director of player personnel, will take over linebacker coaching duties from Smart, rounding out the Tide’s on-field staff.
Though he was hired prior to the 2013 season to spearhead Alabama’s off-field recruiting efforts, it was only a matter of time before he returned to an on-field role.
Prior to hiring Georgia’s Todd Grantham, Bobby Petrino offered Steele the defensive coordinator job at Louisville. But with the opportunity to move back on the field, Steele decided to remain in Tuscaloosa.
Steele was previously defensive coordinator at Clemson and Alabama, and was head coach at Baylor from 1999-2002.
The 2013 season was Brown’s only one at Alabama. He was defensive coordinator at Colorado the two prior seasons and has 15 years experience coaching in the NFL.
Returning to the secondary should be easy transition Smart, who coached there previously and played safety in college.
Smart made it clear that he wasn’t happy with Alabama’s inconsistency at cornerback in 2013.
“We are not used to that,” he told the media prior to the Sugar Bowl. “We’ve kind of always had one key guy with all the first -round, second-round corners we’ve had, we’ve always had a staple guy there, then kind of an understudy that was the other one who was an up-and-coming corner.
“Hasn’t been that way this year. It’s been frustrating.”
It looks like Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason has emerged as the favorite to replace James Franklin at Vanderbilt.
Multiple sources tell us that Mason is the leading candidate for the job, and CBSSports.com’s Jeremy Fowler reports an interview is scheduled.
Alabama has hired Texas assistant (and former Crimson Tide assistant) Bo Davis to coach defensive line.
Sources tell us to expect even more movement on Nick Saban’s staff. Multiple sources indicate secondary coach Greg Brown is likely to move on. We’re also told there could be one to two other changes.
SI.com’s Pete Thamel reports longtime Penn State assistant Larry Johnson could join Urban Meyer’s staff at Ohio State.
The 61-year-old Johnson, a PSU assistant since 1996, told PennLive on Monday night he met with Franklin twice and was offered the opportunity to continue as defensive line coach at Penn State.
But, after considering the offer, LJ decided to move on. He said he has not retired and plans to continue coaching.
OSU defensive line coach Mike Vrabel joined Bill O’Brien’s Texans staff.
Speaking of the Buckeyes, Adam Caplan reports should Jim Caldwell wind up getting the Lions head coaching job, he could add former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel to his offensive staff.
The Seattle Times reports Washington’s eight new assistant coaches are guaranteed a combined salary north of $3 million in their first year on Chris Petersen’s staff, making them among the highest-paid staffs in the Pac-12 Conference.
Hot names for the UAB head coaching job include Jacksonville State head coach Bill Clark, Cincinnati offensive coordinator Eddie Gran, Hoover High School head coach Josh Niblett and former Arkansas and Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt.
Texas‘ new football coach, Charlie Strong, will be paid $5 million for the 2014 season and the school will pay Strong’s $4.375 million buyout to Louisville, according to financial terms approved Monday by the university system’s board of regents.
Sources indicate offensive line coach Joe Wickline and quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson are likely to run the Longhorns’ offense together.
Horns247 reports Les Koenning Jr., Joker Phillips and Mike Groh are the three leading contenders for the wide receivers position. The receivers job is the last vacant spot on the Longhorns’ staff.
Dawgs247 reports Florida State’s Jeremy Pruitt has emerged as the leader to replace Todd Grantham as Georgia’s defensive coordinator.
DuckTerritory reports that Oregon will hire longtime assistant Don Pellum as its new defensive coordinator and that the Ducks will look to hire Philadelphia Eagles assistant Erik Chinander to fill out the staff.
Alabama junior safety Vinnie Sunseri has decided to skip his final collegiate season and enter May’s NFL Draft.
As we mentioned first on Tuesday, Alabama’s Nick Saban had a backup plan when Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier bolted for Michigan, and now he’s made it official.
Saban has hired former USC head coach Lane Kiffin to replace Nussmeier, according to an ESPN report.
Last month, Saban made headlines when he brought Kiffin in to share ideas with the Tide offensive staff.
“Lane is a really good offensive coach, and I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for him,” Saban said at the time. “Just to come in and brainstorm a little bit to get some professional ideas with our guys is a really positive thing.”
ESPN reports that Kiffin agreed to a 3-year deal, and the contract is being completed.
Kiffin, who was fired as coach at USC in September after a 62-41 loss at Arizona State, was 28-15 record in three-plus seasons with the Trojans. He went 7-6 in his only season at Tennessee and 5-15 in two seasons with the Oakland Raiders.
Prior to becoming the Raiders’ coach, Kifffin spent six seasons as an assistant at USC, the last two as the Trojans’ offensive coordinator.
Photo: Danny Moloshok, AP
Alabama has suspended linebacker Xzavier Dickson and running back Alvin Kamara for the Sugar Bowl game against Oklahoma.
No reason was given for the suspensions.
Dickson, the Tide’s alternate “jack” linebacker, has appeared in 10 games this season with 2.0 tackles for a loss.
Kamara, a true freshman, has not seen this year and was expected to redshirt. He was sidelined for multiple weeks near the end of preseason camp after undergoing a knee scope.
Kamara was not with the team during practice leading up to the Tide’s game against LSU game on Nov. 9 for “behavioral reasons,” but Nick Saban said at that time he was optimistic that Kamara would return and could see action this season.
Things don’t look as good now, and the Tuscaloosa News’ Cecil Hurt said Thursday that Kamara may not be back with the Tide.
The Norcross, Ga. native was a four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 2 running back recruit according to Rivals. He chose the Tide over Georgia following a heated recruiting battle.
Friday evening Nick Saban agreed to a long-term extension and raise at Alabama.
The timing of the two events led to speculation that Saban’s decision had something to do with the decision to keep Brown in place, but Saban says that becoming coach of the Longhorns is something he “never considered.”
“The way this sort of got spun, it was a little bit more like, ‘OK, he got a new contract at Alabama, so he’s going to stay at Alabama instead of going to Texas,’” Saban told ESPN.com’s Chris Low on Saturday. “I never considered going to Texas. That wasn’t even a conversation.
“I knew that if Mack stepped down, there would probably be an opportunity, but it wasn’t something I was interested in doing, not at this stage in my career.”
Details of the new deal have not yet been released, but the contract is expected to pay Saban upwards of $7 million per season.
According to Saban, his agent Jimmy Sexton has been working on the extension with Alabama “all the way back into the season,” and the timing of the deal being completed just after the end of the regular season made for a sticky situation.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mack Brown,” he said. “Mack Brown is the coach at Texas. He deserves the right, based on his body of work, to be able to leave the program the way he wants to leave the program. It wasn’t fair to him or to me to be speculating about this job, which I haven’t talked to anybody there about.
“Really, the whole thing from my perspective stunk, but there wasn’t a hell of a lot I could do about it.”
Saban hopes this will be the last time he has to deal with speculation of him considering other jobs.
“Maybe this will be what the Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay thing was to the NFL the last couple of years. That kind of ended the pro speculation,” Saban said.
“Maybe this will end the college speculation. This is where I’m going to finish my coaching career.”
Photo: Vasha Hunt, AL.com