Alabama Crimson Tide

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Status quo: Mack Brown still Texas coach; Saban agrees to deal at Bama

It looks like the rumors of the end of Mack Brown’s era as Texas coach were greatly exaggerated.

Mack Brown (Photo: AP)Brown’s Friday evening meeting with school president Bill Powers and athletic director Steve Patterson came and went and, according to all reports, Brown will coach the Longhorns in 2014.

The news came roughly an hour after Alabama officials announced that Nick Saban has agreed to terms for a long-term extension.

Coincidence? Probably.

Regardless, even if Brown’s status changes in coming days or weeks, it looks like Texas’ top choice as his replacement is off the board.

This probably isn’t the end to the Texas soap opera, but it looks like the status quo will hold … at least for now.

Photo: AP

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Mike Groh leaving Bama for the NFL; FSU's Napier to the Tide

Mike Groh is leaving Nick Saban's staff for the Chicago Bears. (Photo: Matthew Emmons/USA Today)

Mike Groh (right) is headed to the Chicago Bears. (Photo: Matthew Emmons/USA Today)

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]labama wide receivers coach Mike Groh is leaving for a job on the Chicago Bears’ staff and will be replaced by FSU tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Billy Napier.

The turn of events is ironic for Florida State, as Groh is being hired for the same position that FSU assistant Lawrence Dawsey turned down earlier this week.

Billy Napier (Photo: Bart Boatwright/Greenville News)

Billy Napier (Photo: Bart Boatwright/Greenville News)

Groh had one of the biggest recruiting hauls of the 2013 class and was named Recruiter of the Year by Rivals.com and 247Sports.com.

Napier just joined Jimbo Fisher’s staff in January. He was assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach under former Bama offensive coordinator at Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain last season. He was an offensive quality control assistant under McElwain at Alabama in 2011.

Before that, Napier spent five seasons at Clemson. Originally hired as tight ends coach in 2006, he added the recruiting coordinator title in 2007 and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2009. He held that role for two seasons.

Napier, who is considered an excellent recruiter in his own right, was set to make $275,000 at Florida State.

Groh was part of Nick Saban’s staff the past two seasons, and it was his second stint in Tuscaloosa. He was an offensive graduate assistant at Alabama in 2009.

He coached quarterbacks at Louisville in 2010, and spent eight years at Virginia (2001-08), his alma mater.

 

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Alabama hires Cristobal as OL coach

Mario Cristobal will be Alabama's new offensive line coach. (Photo: US Presswire)

Mario Cristobal will be Alabama’s new offensive line coach. (Photo: US Presswire)

[dropcap]N[/dropcap]ick Saban and Alabama will hire Miami assistant Mario Cristobal as its new offensive line coach.

Cristobal is in Tuscaloosa finalizing the deal, according to Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com.

Cristobal spent six seasons as Florida International’s head coach, inheriting an incredibly difficult situation and a frustrating administration. After leading the Panthers to two bowl games, he turned down an opportunity to replace Greg Schiano at Rutgers last January, only to be fired following a 3-9 season in 2012.

On Jan. 10, Cristobal was named associate head coach and tight ends coach on Al Golden’s staff at Miami. However, a source tells us that Cristobal was not excited about returning to his alma mater and was likely to accept a position on Saban’s staff if offered.

Cristobal was a four-year letterman at Miami Hurricanes from 1989-92. He was a member of the Hurricanes 1989 and 1991 national championship teams and was an all-conference offensive tackle in 1992. Cristobal spent a year with the Denver Broncos and two years in NFL Europe before moving into coaching.

Cristobal returned to Miami as a graduate assistant from 1998-2000 before being hired by Sciano as Rutgers’ tight ends and offensive line coach. He coached at Rutgers from 2001-2003, and then went back to Miami in the same capacity from 2004-06.

Alabama is looking to replace Jeff Stoutland, who left the program to become the offensive line coach with the Philadelphia Eagles. Stoutland spent two seasons with the Crimson Tide and collected a $395,000 salary.

On Friday, South Carolina’s Shawn Elliott pulled his name out of the running. UCF’s Brent Key also interviewed for the position.

 

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Add one name, remove another from Bama's offensive line target list

Former FIU head coach Mario Cristobal will interview for the offensive line job at Alabama today. (Photo: Ongo.com)

Former FIU head coach Mario Cristobal will interview for the offensive line job at Alabama today. (Photo: Ongo.com)

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]cratch one name from the list of potential offensive line candidates at Alabama and add another.

Nick Saban had a strong interest in South Carolina running game coordinator and offensive line coach Shawn Elliott, but Elliott has informed Steve Spurrier that he will remain with the Gamecocks.

“It was a great honor to be considered for a coaching position at the University of Alabama, but I feel it’s in the best interest of me and my family to remain at South Carolina,” Elliott told Andrew Gribble of al.com. “We’ve had a lot of success here over the past three years and I’m committed to being part of that continued success for many years. I’m proud to be a Gamecock.”

You can add the name of former Florida International head coach and current Miami tight ends coach Mario Cristobal to the list of candidates. Cristobal arrived in Tuscaloosa on Thursday and will interview with Saban today.

Cristobal, who inherited an incredibly difficult situation and a frustrating administration at FIU, was fired on Dec. 5 after six seasons as head coach.

On Jan. 10, Cristobal was named associate head coach and tight ends coach on Al Golden’s staff at Miami. However, a source tells us that Cristobal was not excited about returning to his alma mater and would accept a position on Saban’s staff if offered.

Central Florida offensive line coach and Alabama native Brent Key interviewed for the position earlier this week and may be the leading candidate.

Former Alabama offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, who left last month to join Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles’ staff, made $395,000 last year.

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Alabama or USC: Could Pat Hill be returning to the college game?

Pat Hill could be in line to return college coaching as offensive line coach at Alabama or USC. (Photo: Bryan Cole/The Collegian-Fresno State)

Pat Hill could be in line to return college coaching as offensive line coach at Alabama or USC. (Photo: Bryan Cole/The Collegian-Fresno State)

[dropcap]C[/dropcap]ould Pat Hill be returning to the college game?

It looks like a strong possibility.

Hill, the former Fresno State head coach, was fired in December 2011 after 15 seasons with the Bulldogs. He spent last season as the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive line coach.

The Falcons offensive line performed well and Hill admits he had fun coaching in the professional ranks, but sources indicate that he is itching to be a college head coach again and his best route may be a return through college.

Enter Nick Saban and Alabama, who just so happens to have a coaching history with Hill and is in need an offensive line coach following Jeff Stoutland’s departure to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Hill has tremendous respect for Saban, dating back to the early 90s when they both coached under Bill Belicheck on the Cleveland Browns’ staff. Saban and Hill were in Cleveland together from 1992-94 with Saban as defensive coordinator and Hill the offensive line and tight ends coach.

Just after Stoutland left for Philadelphia, Saban reached out to Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman but was rebuffed. Sources indicate that he’s also spoken to Hill and that a deal could be currently in the works.

If nothing happens with Alabama, USC may also be a possibility. Speculation is rampant that USC is in the market for an offensive line coach, with current Trojan offensive line coach James Cregg being reassigned to tight ends coach or let go entirely.

Lane Kiffin recently tried to hire Oregon State offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh but was turned down.

Like Saban, Kiffin also has a history with Hill. Kiffin served as a GA on Hill’s staff at Fresno State in 1997-98, and hosted Hill during his first spring practice as the Trojans’ coach in 2010.

Hill recently told the Fresno Bee that he enjoyed his season in Atlanta and away from the limelight.

“I had a lot of fun, and I didn’t have to talk to the media once,” he said with a laugh.

“I’ll be here for another season, for sure.”

That was before the Alabama or USC job openings were known. Could a job the caliber of Alabama or USC be enough to change his mind?

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Alabama's jaw-dropping new weight room

Alabama's new weight room.

Alabama’s new weight room. Photo courtesy @mtinney43

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s if Nick Saban needed any more recruiting advantages, Alabama has just completed construction on a new weight room and it is, to say the least, impressive.

The photo above, which was tweeted by Crimson Tide walk-on linebacker Matt Tinney, has caused quite a stir around the internet.

Funding for the project was just approved in August and construction was fast-tracked to be completed in January – just in time for Signing Day.

The new two-story facility is 34,495-square foot and cost $9.1 million.

“When people come to Alabama, they expect to see the best,” Saban said in June. “We should always strive to have the best. As long as we have the resources and we can provide the best for our student-athletes, that’s what we should do in all sports.”

The new facility replaces Alabama’s current, 22,000 square-foot weight room, which is less than 10 years old. For comparison sake, a photo of the old weight room is below.

(Photo: Alabama Athletics)

(Photo: Alabama Athletics)

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Report: James Willis will be defensive coordinator at Louisiana-Lafayette

James Willis will be named defensive coordinator at Louisiana-Lafayette. (Photo: Zach Long/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)

James Willis will be named DC at Louisiana-Lafayette. (Photo: Zach Long/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ormer Texas Tech defensive coordinator James Willis will be hired at the same position for Louisiana-Lafayette, according to media reports.

Willis, who replaces Greg Stewart at ULL, was defensive coordinator on Tommy Tuberville’s Texas Tech staff during the 2011 season. However, he resigned before the Red Raider’s bowl game following a domestic violence incident.

Willis has served as defensive coordinator for the UFL’s Virginia Destroyers since his resignation at Texas Tech.

Ragin’ Cajun head coach Mark Hudspeth announced last week that Stewart would not return for the 2013 season. In a release, Hudspeth gave no reason for Stewart’s departure, but thanked him for his contributions that led to the team’s 18 wins and two New Orleans Bowl titles over the past two years.

Stewart, who had been at ULL since Hudspeth was hired in 2011, said in a prepared statement, “I have decided to go a different direction (professionally), and I am looking forward to the future opportunities for both me and my family.”

A standout linebacker at Auburn, Willis was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round of the 1993 NFL Draft. During an eight-year professional career, Willis also played Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, and the Birmingham Thunderbolts of the now defunct XFL.

When his professional playing career ended, Willis returned to Auburn to complete his degree and served as a student assistant in 2001-02. He became a defensive graduate assistant in 2003 under then-defensive coordinator Gene Chizik.

Willis was hired as linebackers coach at Rhode Island in 2004 and moved to Temple in the same capacity in 2005.

Willis returned to his alma mater when Tommy Tuberville hired him as linebackers coach in 2006. He remained at Auburn until Tuberville resigned in 2008, and Chizik, who was named the Tigers’ head coach, released all of Tuberville’s former staff.

Chizik changed his mind two weeks later, however, and re-hired Willis on December 26, 2008. Hard feelings from his initial release remained, though, and Willis caused a stir among Auburn fans when he left to join Nick Saban’s staff at arch-rival Alabama just a month later.

During his time at Auburn, Willis became known for his recruiting prowess, and was particularly successful recruiting the talent-rich Mobile, Ala. area. It was bad enough that a former Tiger legend was moving to their cross-state rival, but the fact that it happened just two weeks for 2009′s National Signing Day made it an even harder for Auburn fans to swallow.

Willis coached at Alabama for two seasons, including the 2010 BCS National Championship team, before being named Tuberville’s defensive coordinator at Texas Tech.

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