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Thursday, March 30, 2017

College Football

Lane Kiffin following Nick Saban’s example in not calling plays

Lane Kiffin FAU

Lane Kiffin has long taken pride in calling offensive plays for teams he coaches — even as a head coach in the past. But that will be changing at FAU, and you can credit Nick Saban’s influence as the reason.

Kiffin will have offensive coordinator Kendal Briles call plays for the Owls this fall, and they will be using Briles’ playbook. When asked why, Kiffin told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that it’s because it will free him up more.

“Part of hiring him was we really wanted to be able to let someone else run it,” Kiffin said of Briles. “For the first time ever, come out to practice and not call plays. It’s different for me and kind of boring. It does allow you to do a lot more off the field.”

He said watching the way Saban did things Alabama made him realize he needs to give up some control with play-calling so he can do more.

“You reflect on things and how you can do things better,” Kiffin said. “The last place I was at I was watching Coach Saban do that. It really allowed him to do other things by not calling the defense. I see what it is, especially here with so many other things to do.”

This strategy seems to work well for many coaches. Even Saban’s rival, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, recently gave up play-calling duties and raved about how much it freed him up.

Spending a few years under Saban seems to have been a positive development for Kiffin.

Mel Kiper: Joe Mixon is most talented RB in draft

Joe Mixon

No one really knows where Joe Mixon will be taken in next month’s NFL Draft, but the general consensus among scouts and talent evaluators is that the former Oklahoma running back has incredible potential.

Mixon has little chance of being selected ahead of Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and possibly Christian McCaffrey, but that has everything to do with his off-field issues. Just ask ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper.

“On talent, he’s the best running back in the draft,” Kiper told Jason Lisk of The Big Lead. “On talent, and on ability, the kid averaged over six yards a carry in nine games this year, he averaged almost 15 yards a catch, he had a 97-yard kickoff return against Ohio State, he’s 228 pounds and he ran 4.43. He was a top kid coming out of high school, so he’s an elite — like [Leonard] Fournette — to me he’s a better back than Fournette, on talent.”

Of course, talent is not the biggest concern for teams when contemplating whether they should give Mixon a chance. Mixon was infamously suspended for the 2014 season after knocking out a woman nearby the Oklahoma campus, breaking several bones in her face. A video of the incident was released back in December. He was also suspended last season for an incident with a parking attendant.

Despite all that, Kiper would be surprised if Mixon slips past the second round.

“Initially, I thought he would be a third-round pick. … I went on ESPN and said third round. Then, I kept hearing, ‘Ain’t gonna get to the third round, he’s a second-rounder,’” Kiper said. “Then you hear maybe late first. … Teams like Oakland at 24, Green Bay, those type of teams would I think at least be possibilities. If you had to say, ‘Where do you think?’ I don’t think he goes any later than in the second.”

At least three teams have reportedly labeled Mixon off-limits, but the 20-year-old’s stock is definitely on the rise. It wasn’t long ago that it looked like Mixon might go undrafted. That now seems highly unlikely.

QB Brandon Harris will transfer from LSU to North Carolina

Brandon Harris

Brandon Harris announced on Sunday that he has decided to transfer from LSU to North Carolina.

Harris is going to graduate from LSU this summer and become a graduate transfer so he can play in the fall for the Tar Heels.

Harris was also being recruited by Texas and Arizona. He was LSU’s starting quarterback as a sophomore in 2015 but lost his job early last season to Danny Etling. Harris has thrown for 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during his career.

One thing Harris will have to figure out quickly is how to spell Tar Heels correctly, because he messed it up in his hashtag announcement.

Report: Lane Kiffin sued for fraud over staff position by former Alabama receiver

Lane Kiffin FAU

Drama follows Lane Kiffin wherever he goes.

The Florida Atlantic head coach is reportedly being sued for fraud by a former Alabama wide receiver who claims that Kiffin misled him on a coaching position in order to get closer to a recruit.

Antonio “A.C.” Carter, who played for Alabama from 1999 through 2001, claimed in a court filing that Kiffin had led him to believe that an assistant strength and conditioning coaching position was his before ultimately being told that he’d failed a required background check, according to Christopher Walsh of SEC Country. Carter contends he put forward the necessary paperwork showing that the misdemeanor charges on his record had been appropriately resolved.

Carter says Kiffin told him that his hiring was “done,” leading Carter and his wife to quit their jobs to help Florida Atlantic on National Signing Day. He was tasked with recruiting a former 4-star prospect whom his family had just celebrated the new year with weeks before, a relationship Carter argues the coaching staff knew about and tried to take advantage of. The recruit ultimately signed with FAU, and after that happened, Carter was told he had failed the background check.

Kiffin has had a rocky few months, starting with this whole ordeal. He’s been coach at FAU for a short time and he’s already facing legal action, which is really something.

Nick Saban goes off on reporter who asks if Alabama offense will be conservative

Nick Saban

Alabama held its first official spring practice on Tuesday, and Nick Saban wasted no time getting fed up with the media when he was asked a question he didn’t appreciate.

With former offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin now gone and the way the Crimson Tide blew a late lead in the National Championship Game, there has been speculation that Alabama will be more conservative on offense next season. What are your thoughts on that, coach?

“I don’t know where you came up with where we go to ball control,” Saban said, according to ESPN.com. “That’s not what we do. The New England Patriots threw the ball over 60-something percent of the time, which is more than we threw it. So, where does that assumption come from or do you do what everybody else in the media does — create some s— and throw it on the wall and see what sticks, which is what I see happening everywhere?

Saban mentioned the Patriots because former Bill Belichick assistant Brian Daboll is now the offensive coordinator at Alabama. Saban started by ranting about how his team lost to Clemson because it didn’t execute, not because the approach was overly aggressive.

“We didn’t block them,” he said. “We didn’t execute very well. We didn’t throw the ball accurately when we had open people and a couple of times we dropped it. I think it was more a lack of execution than it was something schematically that we were doing. …

“If we had caught some passes in the national championship game — we had some guys open — we wouldn’t have had to control the ball. We would have scored more touchdowns.”

Although it seemed totally unrelated, Saban also took the opportunity to air his frustrations about the new NCAA rules on satellite camps.

“So we say we don’t want third-parties dealing with players,” he said. “So we’re not going to let the high school coach bring a guy to camp, but some third-party guy can bring him to camp now. Makes no sense at all. But all the people who have common sense, they don’t say anything about it. But the people who scream the loudest will get the thing changed and it’ll mess everything up. That’s the way it goes. The way it goes in the world, politics, just the way it goes.”

The high school camp issue led to a feud between Saban and Jim Harbaugh last year, which you can read more about here.

All of this in his first official press conference of the year? Good to see Saban hasn’t changed much over the offseason. You can see the video from the presser below:

Lane Kiffin says he ‘got in trouble’ for dog years joke at Alabama

Lane Kiffin FAU

Lane Kiffin made some questionable comments about his time working under Nick Saban just before he parted ways with Alabama, and very few people believe that was a coincidence. Kiffin isn’t exactly claiming it was, either.

In an appearance on “The Dan Le Batard Show” on ESPN Radio Monday, Kiffin was asked if he was happy at Alabama. The FAU coach admitted he faced many challenges in Tuscaloosa.

“I had a unique situation where for the first time my family didn’t come with me — my kids and my wife — so that made it, outside of the football part, not so fun because they were across the country,” Kiffin said, as transcribed by Saturday Down South. “That played into that. I think it would have been much more enjoyable had they come … Versus coming somewhere, where the only reason you are going there is to dive into football, to learn from Coach Saban and to win a bunch of games. And to have a blast on the field like we did. We went 40-3, so it was a good time (on the field).”

When Le Batard asked Kiffin how much of a toll coaching at Alabama took on him, he hinted that he created some issues for himself with a candid interview he gave to Sports Illustrated.

“I already got in trouble for that statement one time,” Kiffin said with a laugh. “When I called it the equivalent of dog years. I thought it was kinda funny at the time, but I guess not.”

Kiffin could have been referring to the media reaction, but we would not be surprised if Saban was irritated by some of the things he said. We already said prior to the National Championship Game that we believed the SI interview was one of the reasons Kiffin was fired so abruptly.

To say the relationship between Saban and Kiffin went stale would probably be an understatement.

Texas recruiting LSU transfer QB Brandon Harris

Brandon Harris

Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman confirmed on Monday that the program is recruiting LSU transfer Brandon Harris.

Harris was LSU’s starting quarterback in 2015 but was benched early in the 2016 season in favor of Danny Etling and is looking to play for another school. He is set to graduate this summer, which would allow him to play in the fall as a graduate transfer at another school.

Herman says Texas is recruiting Harris.

According to an article by the Baton Rouge Advocate last week, Harris also has visits set up with North Carolina and Arizona. He could take a visit to a fourth school as well.

Harris has passed for 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during his college career and rushed for seven scores.

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