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  • By Steven Lassan, 2 months 3 weeks ago

    With Jameis Winston entrenched as Florida State’s quarterback next season, playing time was going to be limited for Jacob Coker, and the sophomore has decided to transfer from Tallahassee to Alabama. With Coker set to graduate in May, he can transfer to another team and start in 2014. 

    Coker was Florida State’s backup quarterback for the first half of the season, throwing for 250 yards on 18 completions. However, he suffered a knee injury and was forced to miss the final six games.

    As a redshirt freshman in 2012, Coker completed 3 of 5 passes for 45 yards.

    Coker was only a three-star prospect coming out of high school. However, the Alabama native has all of the physical tools necessary to become a starting quarterback for a BCS team.

    At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds and a strong arm, Coker is expected to be highly sought after this spring.

    The Crimson Tide need a replacement for AJ McCarron, and Coker would be a good fit for their offense.

    With Coker transferring to Alabama, he joins a crowded depth chart at quarterback. Blake Sims has the most experience of any passer on the team, but Alec Morris, Parker McLeod, Cooper Bateman and incoming freshman David Cornwell will compete for the job this preseason.

  • By Steven Lassan, 2 months 3 weeks ago

    With the college football season completed, the next few weeks are all about recruiting. And there’s not a better coach in the nation at it than Alabama’s Nick Saban.

    Last weekend, Saban hosted incoming recruits and their parents at his home. And thankfully, someone captured video of the coach dancing to the Electric Slide.

    The clip isn’t very long, but it’s worth your time to watch Saban making a few moves on the dance floor.

  • By Steven Lassan, 3 months 1 day ago

    Losses to Auburn and Oklahoma aren’t sitting well with Alabama coach Nick Saban. And believe it or not, despite the fact the 2013 season just ended on Jan. 6, Saban has already started to work on motivating his team for next year.

    The Crimson Tide ended the 2013 on a two-game losing streak, dropping contests to Auburn and Oklahoma.

    And as the poster hanging in every Alabama locker indicates, Saban doesn’t want to repeat that two-game losing streak next season.

    The Crimson Tide should be one of the favorites to win the title next year, and this poster should provide plenty of motivation for the players over the next few months.

     

  • By Steven Lassan, 3 months 5 days ago

    Lane Kiffin is coming back to the SEC. On Friday, Alabama officially announced the former USC coach will join Nick Saban’s staff as the offensive coordinator for the next three years.

    Kiffin was looking for a job after he was fired at USC earlier this season. The Trojans went 28-15 under his watch, which followed a one-year stint at Tennessee in 2009.

    While the Kiffin-Saban work relationship will be an odd one, this hire should work out well for Alabama. Yes, you read that correctly.

    For all of his faults as a head coach, Kiffin is a solid offensive coordinator. And at Alabama, Kiffin won’t have any other obligations other than to call plays and recruit – two areas where he excels.

    Saban is the best coach in college football. And despite Kiffin’s relative lack of success as a head coach, Saban sees potential. So while Kiffin is a bit of a punching bag in the SEC, Alabama (and Saban) will benefit from his tweaks and play-calls on offense.

    Interestingly enough, Kiffin’s hire could signal Alabama wants to run more up-tempo offense in 2014.

    The top priority for Kiffin this spring will be to develop a new quarterback, as AJ McCarron expired his eligibility after the Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma.

     

  • By Steven Lassan, 4 months 2 days ago

    Amid rumors of a potential change at Texas, Nick Saban has signed an extension to remain at Alabama. According to various reports, Saban will receive an extension to around $7 million a season.

    If Texas made a change from Mack Brown, Saban was expected to be the No. 1 target for new athletic director Steve Patterson. However, if there was any doubt Saban would remain at Alabama, that was removed on Friday night.

    Brown’s status with Texas remains unchanged, and this extension should end the speculation that Saban would be a target for the Longhorns.


  • By David Fox, 4 months 2 weeks ago

    Nick Marshall’s deflected touchdown pass to Ricardo Louis to beat Georgia stood as perhaps the best play in Auburn history. One of the biggest plays in SEC lore.

    Not anymore.

    When fans tell the story of the 2013 Auburn season, Marshall to Louis (via the hands of a Georgia player) will be No. 2.

    Chris Davis set off mayhem at Jordan-Hare Stadium by returning Alabama’s failed last-second 57-yard field goal attempt from the back of Auburn end zone to Alabama’s end zone for a 34-28 win to topple the No. 1 Crimson Tide.

    Auburn clinches a spot in the SEC Championship Game, but that’s secondary. Auburn has clinched a spot among one of the most miraculous teams in college football history.

    Between Marshall’s miracle pass to beat Georgia and Davis’ runback to beat Alabama, Auburn has produced the equivalent of Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary and the Bluegrass Miracle in a span of three weeks.

    The win may cost Alabama a bid at a third consecutive national championship while giving Auburn an outside shot at claiming its own bid to extend the SEC title streak to eight.

    But all of that is conjecture at this point. Auburn’s 2013 season place as the most charmed years in college football history isn’t in doubt.



    Three Things We Learned From Auburn 34, Alabama 28

    Auburn will make a compelling case for the BCS Championship Game. Ohio State and Florida State remain undefeated, but look for the conversation to begin about Auburn leap-frogging one of them in the event of an SEC championship (Auburn AD Jay Jacobs is already lobbying). Precedent says that talk is hokum. No one-loss team has ever jumped an undefeated major conference team for a title spot in BCS history. Then again, two teams from the same conference facing each other in a rematch for the title would have been ludicrious before 2011. Auburn has the lone loss of the three teams (35-21 at LSU). But Auburn also entered the week with the toughest schedule of any of those three teams. The Tigers began the week with the 38th-ranked schedule and a 4-1 record against the top 30, according to the Sagarin ratings. Ohio State’s schedule was ranked 67th; Florida State’s was ranked 76th. The rankings following Auburn's win over No. 1 Alabama combined with Florida State's and Ohio State's best wins (Wisconsin and Clemson) slipping in stature will be worth watching. But Auburn still trailed the top three in the BCS by nearly a tenth of a point, a significant amount with two weeks left in the season.

     AuburnFlorida StateOhio State
    Wins over teams with winning recordsAlabama, Arkansas State, Georgia, Ole Miss, Texas A&MBoston College, Clemson, Maryland, MiamiBuffalo, Iowa, Michigan, Penn State, San Diego State, Wisconsin
    Wins over current BCS top 25Alabama, Texas A&MClemsonWisconsin
    Final gameMissouriDukeMichigan State

    Alabama, for the first time in a long time, was mistake-prone. From beginning to end, special teams were an issue for the Crimson Tide, down to the game-winning runback. Alabama punter Cody Mandell dropped a punt in the first quarter, and Cade Foster stutter-stepped on his first of three missed field goals. Nick Saban’s lack of confidence in special teams spilled into the fourth quarter when he elected to run his offense on fourth-and-1 from the Auburn 13 (T.J. Yeldon was stuffed for no gain). Alabama forced a three and out and got the ball at the Auburn 27 but again came up short when Foster’s field goal was blocked. On the final play of the game, rather than taking a for overtime, Alabama sent out a freshman kicker with one career kick for a 57-yard attempt.

    Auburn is a miracle team. Auburn isn’t in the SEC Championship Game simply because it’s lucky. The Tigers are a definite top five or better team, but they’ve had their good fortune beyond the miracle plays to beat Georgia and Alabama. Auburn has taken advantage of just about every play on the razor’s edge in the final month of the season. Against Alabama, Nick Marshall completed his final touchdown pass just a toe short of the line of scrimmage. Marshall ran to his left on an option play, switched the football from one hand to another and was just short of the line when he found Sammy Coates open for the game-tying 39-yard touchdown. And on the final drive, officials put one second back on the clock when T.J. Yeldon ran out of bounds. Of course, Auburn fans would be cursing officials if Adam Griffith converts the 57-yard field goal, but the endgame was Davis’ miracle touchdown.

  • By Steven Lassan, 4 months 2 weeks ago

    Sometimes, a top-five matchup doesn’t live up to the hype. But in Auburn-Alabama’s case on Saturday, the Iron Bowl lived up to its top-five billing, with the Tigers stunning the Crimson Tide on a last-second missed field goal return for a touchdown.

    After Alabama was awarded one second on the clock on review, Adam Griffith attempted a 56-yard field goal (his first of the night). However, Griffith’s kick was off line, which allowed Auburn’s Chris Davis to catch the attempt and return 109 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

    The field goal return for a touchdown sends Auburn to the SEC Championship and ends – at least for now – Alabama’s national title hopes.

    Is this play one of the best in college football history? Considering everything that was on the line and in a huge rivalry, it certainly ranks among the top plays in recent memory:
     

  • By David Fox, 4 months 4 weeks ago

    So begins the Ohio State vs. Baylor debate.

    What started last week as a three-team discussion between Ohio State, Baylor and Stanford is down to two, and the margin is getting slimmer. A little more than a thousandth of a point in the BCS separates undefeated Ohio State and Baylor in a debate between the Big Ten and the Big 12, the traditional power and the upstart.

    But the debate seems moot at this point for a couple of reasons:

    • If Alabama and Florida State remain undefeated, Baylor and Ohio State are out of the championship game picture. The gulf between the top two and the rest is all but impenetrable. The Crimson Tide and Alabama claim the top two spots in both polls and every computer.

    • If Baylor beats Oklahoma State next week, the Bears will move ahead of Ohio State in the BCS. Baylor has a road team against the No. 10 Cowboys compared to Ohio State’s matchup with a team that just lost 51-3.

    Post-Week 12 BCS Rankings and Projections
    Moving Up

    No. 4 Baylor. The Bears only moved up one spot in the BCS standings thanks to Stanford’s loss to USC. Baylor remains behind No. 3 Ohio State, but the gap keeps closing. The Bears are fourth in the coaches’ and Harris polls, both a spot behind Ohio State. The 63-34 win over Texas Tech, though, moved Baylor from No. 5 in the computer average to No. 3, making the computers the only place where Baylor has an edge over Ohio State ... for now.

    Moving Down

    No. 3 Ohio State. The Buckeyes are hanging on to No. 3 by a fingernail, thanks to the edge in the human polls. Ohio State dropped from fourth to fifth in the computer average after the 60-35 win over Illinois. This week, just 0.0013 of a point separates Ohio State from Baylor in the BCS average. A Baylor win over Texas Tech narrowed the gap, so a Baylor win over Oklahoma State road would seem to put the Bears ahead of Ohio State for good, if both remain undefeated. If there’s any hope for Ohio State, potential Big Ten championship game opponent Michigan State rocketed up from No. 16 to No. 13 after a win over Nebraska.

    Quick BCS Projections

    BCS Championship Game: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Florida State
    Rose: Oregon vs. Ohio State
    Orange: Clemson* vs. Wisconsin*
    Sugar: Auburn* vs. UCF
    Fiesta: Baylor vs. Fresno State
    *at-large selection

    Key Games this Week

    No. 16 Northern Illinois at Toledo (Wednesday). The Huskies actually dropped a spot despite their biggest win of the season over Ball State. Thank Michigan State for that. The Spartans moved from No. 16 to No. 13 after defeating Nebraska. Another win over a quality MAC opponent on national television is mandatory for Northern Illinois to remain a BCS contender. A loss by No. 15 Fresno State, though, is looking like the only way NIU gets a BCS bid.

    No. 4 Baylor at No. 10 Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State’s win over Texas last week makes this the Big 12 championship game of the week. The Cowboys will be highest-ranked team Baylor will face for the remainder of the season and the only road game against a bowl team.

    No. 19 Wisconsin at No. 25 Minnesota. With Notre Dame and a second team from the Pac-12 unlikely for the BCS, Wisconsin is a strong candidate for an at-large bid to a BCS game as long as the Badgers move up five spots into at-large consideration. The Badgers face a Minnesota team that has won four in a row and still controls its own destiny for the Big Ten title game.

    Other Observations

    • Does Auburn have reason to worry? The Tigers would appear to be a no-brainer for the Sugar Bowl if Alabama wins the Iron Bowl and goes to the national championship game. One lingering concern would be Missouri at No. 8. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Missouri beats Ole Miss and Texas A&M, loses to Alabama in the SEC title game and remains at No. 4 thanks to upsets in the ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten in the final weeks. Such a finish would garner an automatic BCS bid.

    • Wisconsin seems to be a favorite for an at-large BCS spot, but a loss to Minnesota would end that bid. Teams like Baylor, Oklahoma State, Arizona State and UCLA are hoping for a Badgers slip up.

    • The computers love Auburn and Arizona State. The computers don’t love Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.

    Notes on BCS selection:


    • Automatic BCS bids go to the top two for the title game, the champions of the ACC (Orange Bowl), Big 12 (Fiesta), Big Ten (Rose), Pac-12 (Rose) and SEC (Sugar). The American’s automatic bid is not tied to a particular bowl.

    

• Notre Dame receives an automatic bid if it finishes in the top eight.

    

• A champion from a non-automatic qualifying league (Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt and non-Notre Dame independents) receive an automatic bid if it finishes in the top 12 of the standings or if it finishes in the top 16 and ahead of a champion from a non-AQ conference.

    

• To be eligible for an at-large BCS bid, a team must have nine or more wins and finish in the top 14 of the BCS standings.



    • Once automatic tie-ins are placed, the selection order for BCS bids goes as follows: 1. The bowl losing the BCS No. 1 team to the championship game, 2. The bowl losing the BCS No. 2 team, 3. The Orange Bowl, 4. The Sugar, 5. The Fiesta.

  • By David Fox, 5 months 4 days ago

    Last week gave us plenty of news to break down on this week’s podcast. Alabama tightened its grip on No. 1, Baylor took another step to national title legitimacy and Stanford rearranged the championship and Heisman races. Co-hosts Braden Gall and David Fox dive into the debates while looking ahead to Saturday.

    On this week’s podcast:

    • Gall and Fox dive right into the Thursday night results and what they mean for the national championship race. Fox doesn’t mind people ranking Stanford ahead of Baylor and Ohio State for now, but that should change if Baylor beats Oklahoma State and Texas. Gall believes Stanford should remain on the same footing as undefeated Baylor and Ohio State.

    • Marcus Mariota’s injury and performance against Stanford toppled a quarterback who was securely in the lead for the Heisman, what does that mean for the field after Jameis Winston?

    • Gall and Fox have come to the same conclusion about where Johnny Manziel belongs in the race, but took two different routes to get there based on what he’s done right and what he’s done wrong.

    • Fox then goes on a quick rant about how AJ McCarron is the new “system quarterback” and that hurts him in the Heisman race.

    • And then in a look at this week’s game, our pickers are riding the hot hands for Auburn, Oklahoma State, UCLA and more.

    • Lastly, a quick look at Hot Seat or Not Hot Seat. Who is on the hot seat in 2013 and who gets a chance to go into 2014 scorching?

    The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, iTunes and our podcast RSS feed.

    Please send any comments, questions and podcast topics to @AthlonSports, @BradenGall and @DavidFox615 on Twitter.
     

  • By David Fox, 5 months 6 days ago

    While Stanford and Baylor picked up signature wins, Alabama ended up as one of the big winners in Sunday’s release of the BCS rankings.

    At No. 1, the Crimson Tide have nowhere to go, but the win over LSU strengthened Alabama’s slot at No. 1. The Tide were a unanimous No. 1 in the Harris poll and got all but four first-place votes in the coaches’ poll. The win over LSU also returned Alabama to the No. 1 spot in the computer average after spending

    Of course, all that really matters in the BCS is being in the top two spots. As expected, Florida State remained at No. 2 and tightened its grip on the championship game as Oregon slipped to No. 6 after the loss to Stanford.
     

    Moving Up

    Florida State. The conventional wisdom was that an undefeated Oregon would jump Florida State in the BCS standings. The Seminoles no longer have that concern. The Ducks’ 26-20 loss to Stanford on Thursday all but ensures FSU will be in the national championship game as long as it remains undefeated. The Crimson Tide and Seminoles are the only teams with a BCS average better than 0.900. For each of the three previous BCS rankings, three teams were better than 0.900.

    Stanford. The win over Oregon not only kept Stanford in the national championship race, it helped the Cardinal stay ahead of undefeated Baylor despite the Bears' win over Oklahoma. One-loss Stanford is ranked one spot behind Baylor in both the coaches’ and Harris polls, but the computers have Stanford third. Baylor is fifth in the computer average.

    Moving Down

    Baylor. The Bears picked up their signature win of the season so far with a 41-12 victory over Oklahoma, but Baylor remaind behind Stanford. Baylor moved up from No. 6 to No. 5, but Stanford remained one spot ahead thanks to a stronger win over then-No. 2 Oregon. Stanford will not face a top-25 team until the Pac-12 championship game while Baylor still faces No. 12 Oklahoma State and No. 24 Texas. With a minuscule gap between the two, Baylor has little reason to worry about Stanford as long as the Bears remain undefeated.

    Key Games this Week

    No. 4 Stanford at USC. After Notre Dame’s loss to Pittsburgh, Stanford’s road trip against a hot USC team could be the toughest remaining matchup for the Cardinal. After facing the Trojans in Los Angeles, Stanford faces Cal and Notre Dame in Palo Alto.

    No. 25 Georgia at No. 7 Auburn. The Tigers need this game to set up an Iron Bowl matchup for the SEC West. BCS-wise, Auburn could set itself up as an attractive at-large team if the Tigers beat Georgia and still miss out on the SEC championship game. If the Sugar Bowl loses Alabama to the title game, a two-loss Auburn would be a nice consolation prize.

    Ball State at No. 15 Northern Illinois. The Huskies’ slim chance to start moving past Fresno State in the BCS standings begins Wednesday against their main challenger in the MAC West. Ball State is 9-1 overall and 6-0 in the league, but the odds of the Cardinals sneaking into the BCS as a one-loss MAC team (as NIU did last year) are remote. Ball State is unranked and its loss was to North Texas.

    Other Observations

    • Fresno State checked in at No. 14, one spot ahead of Northern Illinois and three spots ahead of American Athletic Conference leader UCF. The Bulldogs would be an automatic bid if the season ended today. However, Fresno State is creeping closer to the top 12, which would guarantee an automatic BCS bid no matter where the automatic-qualifying conference champions finish. The Bulldogs’ lead over the Huskies is also significant — Fresno has a BCS average of 0.4317 and NIU has a BCS average of 0.3505. The Huskies may have too much ground to make up against a Fresno team that may face Boise State in a Mountain West championship game.

    • Five SEC teams remain eligible for a BCS at-large bid. After Alabama, they include No. 7 Auburn, No. 9 Missouri, No. 10 South Carolina and No. 11 Texas A&M. The Pac-12 has three (No. 4 Stanford, No. 6 Oregon, No. 13 UCLA). No other league has more than two.

    • UCF’s win over Houston was enough to put the Knights ahead of Louisville even though the Knights handed the Cardinals their only loss of the season. UCF’s biggest gains were in the in the computer average where the Knights moved from No. 23 to No. 16. Louisville remains ranked five spots ahead of UCF in both the coaches’ and Harris polls.

    • Is Clemson iron-clad for a BCS bid? With Notre Dame out of the way and at-large teams from the Big Ten and Big 12 less attractive than Clemson, it’s looking more likely the Tigers could be an at-large BCS bid. With Clemson at No. 7 even a loss to South Carolina wouldn’t necessarily knock the Tigers out of the top 14. Clemson can ill-afford upsets in the ACC and Big Ten championship games, and, of course, a second ACC loss.


    Notes on BCS selection:


    • Automatic BCS bids go to the top two for the title game, the champions of the ACC (Orange Bowl), Big 12 (Fiesta), Big Ten (Rose), Pac-12 (Rose) and SEC (Sugar). The American’s automatic bid is not tied to a particular bowl.

    

• Notre Dame receives an automatic bid if it finishes in the top eight.

    

• A champion from a non-automatic qualifying league (Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt and non-Notre Dame independents) receive an automatic bid if it finishes in the top 12 of the standings or if it finishes in the top 16 and ahead of a champion from a non-AQ conference.

    

• To be eligible for an at-large BCS bid, a team must have nine or more wins and finish in the top 14 of the BCS standings.



    • Once automatic tie-ins are placed, the selection order for BCS bids goes as follows: 1. The bowl losing the BCS No. 1 team to the championship game, 2. The bowl losing the BCS No. 2 team, 3. The Orange Bowl, 4. The Sugar, 5. The Fiesta.

     

Unpublished