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#pounditSunday, April 18, 2021

College Football

Mac Jones once had legendary trash talk for Nick Saban in practice

Mac Jones

Mac Jones showed tremendous patience at Alabama when he waited for his opportunity behind both Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa, but sitting on the bench for two years certainly didn’t shake his confidence. Jones was so confident in his abilities, in fact, that he even talked trash to Nick Saban when he was an underclassman.

With Jones’ stock rising heading into the NFL Draft, Trey Wingo did some research on the star quarterback and came across an awesome story in a 2019 piece from Sports Illustrated. In it, former Alabama safety Jared Mayden recalled a time in practice when Jones was burning the Crimson Tide’s defense as a scout team quarterback. He kept connecting on deep passes to wide receiver Tyrell Shavers, and eventually Saban told Jones to knock it off so the team could work on other stuff.

According to Mayden, Jones had a surprising response.

“Well, tell your defense to stop it,” Jones supposedly told Saban.

Mayden said there are few players who have the courage to talk to Saban that way.

“There’s not too many people that go back and forth with Coach Saban,” the defensive back said. “For a quarterback to have that type of charisma about himself, you know I’ll be behind him all the time.”

Mayden didn’t say how Saban took the remark, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he appreciated it. While most people are used to seeing the serious side of the legendary coach, Saban has actually had some hilarious exchanges with players behind the scenes.

Of course, Jones went on to lead Alabama to a national title. Whatever Saban saw in him, he had a good reason for it.

Legendary Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger dies — dead at 87

Legendary Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger died on Saturday, his family announced.

Schnellenberger’s most notable head coaching stint was at Miami, where he won a national championship in 1983. Current Miami athletic director Blake James issued a statement honoring Schnellenberger after his death was announced.

Schnellenberger had a long and impressive resume at multiple levels of football. He famously recruited Joe Namath to Alabama as Bear Bryant’s offensive coordinator in 1961. He later moved to the NFL, where he served as offensive coordinator for the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins.

His most notable accomplishment came at Miami, where he took over a severely ailing football program and turned them around with strong recruiting and a then-revolutionary passing game. It culminated in an 11-1 season and national title in 1983, a year that included the team’s famous Orange Bowl upset of Nebraska. Schnellenberger also had a successful stint at Louisville, and a less successful one-year tenure at Oklahoma.

Schnellenberger went 158-151-3 overall at the college level.

Nick Saban provides update on Alabama’s QB situation

Nick Saban

Nick Saban on Wednesday provided an update about Alabama’s quarterback situation.

Mac Jones was Alabama’s starting quarterback last season and led them to the national championship. Now the race is on to see who will replace Jones, who is headed to the NFL.

Alabama has begun its spring football workouts. Saban said Wednesday that Bryce Young is leading the race.

Young is a five-star recruit from Mater Dei in Southern California. He backed up Jones last season and saw very little action, throwing for 156 yards and one touchdown. Paul Tyson and Jalen Milroe are also in the competition.

Even though Young is a highly-touted recruit, Tyson should not be discounted from consideration. There has been a lot of positive talk about his character and work ethic.

Lane Kiffin trolls Nick Saban again with funny Alabama car

Lane Kiffin

Lane Kiffin had some fun with Nick Saban again on Twitter.

On Wednesday, Kiffin shared a photo on Twitter of an old Chevy Celebrity that had an Alabama logo for a front license plate. Kiffin joked that he “found a new ride” for the “GOAT” if he takes a pay cut.

Kiffin has previously complimented Saban as the “GOAT,” which is an acronym for “greatest of all time.” So despite the needling of his former boss, Kiffin has great respect for the Alabama head coach.

Kiffin also sent some funny “rat poison” Saban’s way on Twitter last week with a different car photo.

Kiffin is entering his second season at Ole Miss. He was the offensive coordinator at Alabama from 2014-2016.

Ole Miss fans! It’s time to jump aboard the Lane Train! This Lane Train shirt is a perfect gift for you or a friend – you can buy it here.

Ed Orgeron says he has learned his lesson about infamous defense quote

Ed Orgeron

LSU coach Ed Orgeron is shying away from bold proclamations about his team this season.

Orgeron memorably said last September that the Tigers’ defense was “so much better” than it had been at any point of the team’s 15-0 championship season in 2019. That comment aged terribly, as the Tigers surrendered 492 yards per game, the fourth-worst mark in the entire FBS. The defense’s performance was so bad, it ultimately cost Bo Pelini his job as LSU’s defensive coordinator.

On Wednesday, Orgeron said he felt the defense was improving from 2020, but alluded to his previous comments in noting why he was being a bit more conservative with his praise.

“You know, I’m going to be careful what I say about last year to this year, because last year I said something and it come back to bite me,” Orgeron said, via John Brice of FootballScoop. “So I’m going to be guarded in what I say.

“I do see a difference. I see our guys with their cleats in the grass. I see communication being better. I see the defense simpler. I see our guys attacking and playing football. But I’m going to hold judgment to the season. Lesson learned.”

It would be hard for the defense to be worse, but Orgeron’s note of caution is smart. He was definitely flying high ahead of last season as the coach of the reigning national champions, and it seems he just got a bit carried away. There’s no way the guy wants to be trolled all season again, so he’ll let the team’s play do the talking this time.

Lane Kiffin calls out Paul Finebaum for getting him fired with ‘Miley Cyrus’ comment

Lane Kiffin

Lane Kiffin joined Paul Finebaum’s show on Monday, and he used the opportunity to remind the host of their sore past. Namely, Kiffin still believes Finebaum played a role in his firing from USC.

Kiffin said during the appearance that Finebaum got him fired by comparing him to Miley Cyrus.

“You still owe me because you did get me fired at USC that Saturday morning by saying I am the Miley Cyrus of college football,” Kiffin said.

Finebaum owned the 2013 remark and admitted he was trying to make a name for himself.

“For those of you who didn’t see this, I’m blushing even beyond the normal blush of makeup,” Finebaum said. “I said that on ‘College Gameday.’ It was my first year at ESPN, and coach, I was trying to make a name for myself. And unfortunately, you just happened to be the next victim. I do feel badly about that.”

Kiffin also needled Finebaum about still having something against him for leaving Tennessee after one season.

Kiffin is a pretty straight shooter, so it’s not too surprising that he brought this up on Finebaum’s show. It’s also not surprising that he brought up his USC firing. He has shown us many times over the last few years that he still is not over what happened. If you got fired on an airport tarmac after a road loss, you’d probably be bitter about it too.

Ole Miss fans! It’s time to jump aboard the Lane Train! This Lane Train shirt is a perfect gift for you or a friend – you can buy it here.

Bobby Petrino thinks Illinois State coach owes him apology

Bobby Petrino

Bobby Petrino thinks that Illinois State’s coach owes him an apology over what transpired between their programs.

Petrino’s Missouri State squad was originally scheduled to face Illinois State on Feb. 20. However, Missouri State asked to postpone the game until April due to poor field conditions, including snow and ice on the field.

Illinois State’s coach Brock Spack questioned the explanation from Missouri State. He cited a photo of the soccer field in saying the fields looked fine.

Fast forward to March, and Illinois State began the season 1-3. They decided on Sunday to shut down the remainder of their spring football season. Their reason was “to protect the health and safety of the players and ensure their readiness for the upcoming 2021 fall 11-game slate.”

That means the April 17 makeup game has been canceled.

“Maybe their coach owes Missouri State an apology for the fact that we couldn’t play a game because of snow and ice and that he tried to pop off that we had some other underlying reasons — which is totally wrong. Other than that, I don’t have anything to say about them,” Petrino said during his weekly press conference on Monday.

Maybe Petrino is right.

Missouri State is 3-1 this spring and has three games remaining on its spring schedule. They went 0-3 under Petrino in the fall. This is the 60-year-old’s first year at Missouri State.

Rondale Moore shows off insane athleticism at Purdue Pro Day

Rondale Moore

Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore is one of the most intriguing prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft, and he may have boosted his stock with his performance at the Boilermakers’ Pro Day on Tuesday.

Moore measured at 5-foot-7, which is two inches shorter than the 5-foot-9 he is listed at. That is one concern NFL teams have about him, but his explosiveness cannot be ignored. Moore ran an unofficial 4.29 in the 40-yard dash, which is comparable to Tyreek Hill.

Moore also impressed scouts with his 42.5-inch vertical leap.

Moore battled injuries the past two seasons, which is another reason he is a difficult prospect to evaluate. He had 114 catches for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman in 2018. He also added 213 yards and two scores on 21 rushes and was a return specialist for Purdue.

Many analysts have predicted Moore will be a first-round pick due to his playmaking ability, and his pro day performance could help solidify that. While plenty of players have shown us that blazing speed in drills doesn’t always translate to the NFL (here is one great example), you can understand why teams are excited about Moore.

Najee Harris had awesome gesture for Alabama teammates at Pro Day

Najee Harris

Najee Harris is not taking part in Alabama’s Pro Day on Tuesday, but it seems like nothing was going to stand in the way of the star running back being there to support his teammates.

Harris was supposed to fly from Dallas to Birmingham on Monday night, but his flight was canceled due to inclement weather. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Harris then decided to make the nine-hour drive to Alabama so he could be there in time for the Crimson Tide’s Pro Day, which began at 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

Alabama will hold a second Pro Day workout on March 30, so Harris could participate in that one. Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith also chose not to take part in drills on Tuesday.

While scouts won’t be able to get a close look at Harris on Tuesday, NFL teams will likely be impressed by his commitment to supporting his teammates. Harris has gone viral for his ridiculous leg muscles and is projected by most to be the first running back drafted next month. Being a great teammate can only help his stock.

Urban Meyer discusses ‘awful’ NFL free agency process

Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer did not enjoy his first taste of free agency in the NFL.

Many of the deals in free agency are reached in the two days prior to actual free agency beginning during what some call the “legal tampering period.” Players are not allowed to meet with teams until free agency officially begins. The result is teams like the Jags had to reach many deals without Meyer being able to first meet with the players in person.

The Jacksonville Jaguars coach made clear that he found the experience “awful.”

“I guess in the old days you could bring them in and meet them, then have dinner with them and find out their football intellect, find out their character and things like that. So we had to do a deep dive on every guy that we signed,” Meyer said, via Doug Samuels of Football Scoop. “To answer your question, it was awful. I don’t believe it should be that way. I’m not sure how that rule came about, but, to me, that’s not good business.”

Understandably, Meyer would like to meet with players before signing them and committing a lot of money to them. The problem is if you don’t act quickly, players can sign elsewhere. So for Meyer, this is a bit of a blind process.

Meyer’s dislike of the process didn’t stop Jacksonville from being very active early in free agency. Meyer has to feel somewhat comfortable with those moves considering how aggressive the Jaguars were.